Headlines: May 10, 2023

· The Pulse
  • The city is once again accepting applications for the Residential Boulevard Gardening Program, which allows Edmontonians to create gardens on city-owned grassy strips between the sidewalk and the road. Free permits are available to do low-impact gardening, and the city will waive the $75 annual fee for license applications submitted in 2023 for more ambitious gardening projects. The program only applies to developed residential boulevards maintained by residents or a residential complex. The city said it received hundreds of applications for the program when it launched last summer.
  • The Office of the City Auditor presented a report to the city's audit committee on May 8 showing that most city departments failed to consistently track or evaluate whether city grants and subsidies worth more than $800 million were spent effectively over the past five years. Although the city's governing documents outline best practices, the report found most departments are unaware of the documents and lack training on how to use them to administer grants and subsidies. The committee accepted recommendations to create a framework to help make future funding decisions and have Financial and Corporate Services train, monitor, and provide guidance to other departments. Coun. Jo-Anne Wright told reporters the findings were "not terribly surprising," adding that administration did not always provide clear information about grant and subsidy spending during budget talks last year.
  • An Edmonton Oilers fan was reportedly sent to hospital after someone at a Moss Pitt watch party outside Rogers Place was allegedly biting fingers. One fan said their finger was fractured and the tip had to be sewn back on. On April 29, police shot a man who stabbed two people near a watch party and later charged him with two counts of aggravated assault and possession of a dangerous weapon. Last week, organizers made the watch parties open to adults only and began enforcing a wristband and no re-entry policy. Police Chief Dale McFee said more security cameras have been added to the area, along with an increased police presence. The city also hosts a separate family-friendly Oilers game viewing area in Churchill Square.
  • Edmonton Oilers forward Zach Hyman was not present during the team's morning skate on May 9, and it is unknown whether he will participate in Game 4 of the playoff series against the Vegas Golden Knights on May 10. Hyman showed signs of injury after taking a knee to his right thigh area in Game 3. His absence would require the team to shuffle its lineup and select a different player to be in front of the net during power plays. Goalie Stuart Skinner, who was pulled in Game 3 after letting in four goals, was in the starter's net during practice, suggesting he will open Game 4.
  • Yellowhead County Mayor Wade Williams wants Alberta's political parties to postpone the provincial election to focus efforts on the wildfire emergency. "This election is nothing but a distraction at this point when we, Albertans, need every government official to roll up their sleeves and fight for this province before we don't have a province to come back to," said Williams. He is asking all Albertans, mayors, and reeves across the province to contact their MLA about the issue.
  • UCP Leader Danielle Smith made her first campaign stop in Edmonton to announce the UCP's plan to fight crime and violence. The plan includes using ankle bracelets to monitor dangerous offenders out on bail, increasing funding for the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT), expanding the province's cyber crime unit, and putting more money toward Internet and Child Exploitation (ICE) teams. The UCP has also proposed sending sheriffs to the Canada-U.S. border as part of anti-fentanyl and gun tracking teams. NDP justice critic Irfan Sabir criticized the UCP's track record, saying the UCP "took funding for police away from municipalities in 2019, withheld resources from victims of crime, and refused to fully fund women's shelters." The Alberta NDP's public safety plan focuses on restoring municipal police funding and investing in integrated teams of police and community and social service providers.
  • The province clarified its one-time emergency financial support for wildfire evacuees is available for people forced out of their homes for seven days total, rather than the seven consecutive days it initially announced. "If residents were evacuated, returned to their homes, and then were re-evacuated, they are eligible if it's a cumulative total of seven days," Colin Aitchison, acting director of government communications, said in a statement. Eligible adults can receive $1,250, plus $500 for each dependent child under 18.