- City council's Emergency Advisory Committee held a special meeting on May 8 to review the status of wildfires across the province and discuss city support for evacuees at the Edmonton Expo Centre, where more than 2,000 people have registered so far. Although the Alberta government declared a provincial state of emergency on May 6, the committee determined Edmonton does not require a local state of emergency. Officials say the fire risk in the city can be managed by Edmonton Fire Rescue Services, which has responded to 185 brush, grass, and wildland fires this year as of April 30. In addition to supporting evacuees at the Expo Centre, the city has sent 12 crews plus equipment to contribute to response efforts in Entwistle, Yellowhead County, and Strathcona County.
- Due to the risk of wildfires in and around the city, Mayor Amarjeet Sohi and city manager Andre Corbould are urging Edmontonians to adhere to the fire ban issued May 2. Corbould further urged the public not to assume fires in the city are related to encampments. "We know for a fact many of them have been started by humans with cigarettes, and it's not encampments," said Corbould. The fire ban, which prohibits open burning, fireworks, backyard fire pits, and some barbecues, will remain in effect until further notice.
- Officials have lifted some evacuation orders for Entwistle, Parkland County, and parts of Yellowhead County, including Edson, which saw 8,000 people flee last week due to wildfires. No structures were destroyed in Edson, but around 25 homes were destroyed elsewhere in Yellowhead County. Edson Mayor Kevin Zahara encourages residents to return slowly as grocery stores are not fully stocked and emergency departments only reopened on May 8. Residents of Wildwood and Evansburg were not yet allowed to return home as of May 8 due to a lack of critical services.
- Around 700 firefighters are currently on the ground battling Alberta wildfires. Premier Danielle Smith said she expects up to 1,000 reinforcements to arrive next week from Yukon, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, while additional crews from Ontario and Quebec have already arrived. The premier has also contacted the federal government for help, including military support, strategic airlifts, engineering support, and water purification resources. Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry in Edmonton, which has 300 soldiers trained in firefighting, is calling for reservists to join the effort. Manitoba said on May 8 it would send firefighters and equipment to be based in Lac La Biche.
- The Alberta government announced a one-time emergency payment for anyone under a wildfire evacuation order for seven straight days or more. Every eligible adult will receive $1,250, along with $500 for every dependent child under the age of 18. Evacuees can apply online or by calling 310-4455 beginning May 9.
- Around 100 Edmontonians gathered downtown on May 8 to protest the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service's decision not to charge Const. Ben Todd of the Edmonton Police Service for excessive use of force against Pacey Dumas, an Indigenous man, during a 2020 arrest. The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) said in its decision that there were grounds to believe Todd committed a criminal offence. The Crown has not provided specifics on why it determined there was no reasonable likelihood of conviction. The victim's lawyer, Heather Steinke-Attia, suggested Alberta should adopt British Columbia's "clear statement" rule, which requires prosecutors to explain their decision not to press charges in cases involving police. When asked about the case, neither UCP Leader Danielle Smith nor NDP Leader Rachel Notley indicated whether they would support such a policy.
- The Edmonton Police Service has provided details about the suspect in the fatal stabbings of a mother and her child outside Crawford Plains School shortly before 5pm on May 5. Chief Dale McFee said the man was known to police, had been charged numerous times for assaulting minors, and had a "history of mental health concerns." Police also learned the man attempted to access the school prior to the stabbings. He remains in hospital after being shot by officers. McFee suggested the case reflects gaps in health and justice system supports and called the "lack of accountability" for people who commit violent offences "concerning."
- The city launched its first Edmonton Business Census, which aims to collect data to help inform how the city supports businesses, attracts investments, and improves services. Businesses across Edmonton can participate online by completing a five-minute questionnaire. Starting May 15, some of the city's summer students will spend four months collecting information door to door in Ward O-day'min. The city will analyze and publish the results after data collection wraps up in August.
- The city has invested an additional $1.96 million into its Change for Climate Solar Program to provide rebates to Edmontonians interested in installing solar panels on their roof. The program began accepting applications on May 8, and rebates are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The solar rebate program is slated to be replaced by Edmonton's Clean Energy Improvement Program (CEIP), which will transition from a pilot program to a fully funded program in 2024.
- The Edmonton Riverboat is returning to the North Saskatchewan River for its 2023 season beginning May 14, which is Mother's Day. The kick-off cruise runs from 10:00am to 12:30pm and includes music, a photo booth, and brunch.
- The Edmonton Elks have signed 11 players, including seven selected in the 2023 CFL Draft. New sign-ups include Canadian wide receiver Aidan Pearce, Edmonton-born defensive lineman Riley Szafranski, and American defensive lineman Darel Middleton. The Elks also signed a Global Draft pick, kicker Dean Faithfull from the United Kingdom.
Headlines: May 9, 2023
By Kevin Holowack and Mariam Ibrahim