Headlines: May 11, 2023

· The Pulse
  • Mayor Amarjeet Sohi delivered his 2023 State of the City address to hundreds of attendees at the Edmonton Convention Centre on May 9. The event was hosted by the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce. Sohi's speech highlighted the city's efforts to cut $60 million from the budget over four years, collaborate with regional municipalities on hydrogen production, and improve safety and cleanliness. The mayor also encouraged attendees to advocate for Edmonton's interests when speaking to provincial election candidates, echoing the city's recently launched Ask About Edmonton campaign, which aims to advise residents on what to ask candidates. The 2023 address marked a shift in tone from 2022, when Sohi criticized the UCP for holding back Edmonton's economy.
  • The city announced $6.5 million in funding to improve downtown vibrancy and safety through the Downtown Vibrancy Fund and the Meet Me Downtown Grant, both of which are for projects that support the goals of the Downtown Vibrancy Strategy. In 2023, the Downtown Vibrancy Fund will put $5 million toward long-term and strategic projects, and the Meet Me Downtown Grant will put $1.5 million toward events, activities, and festivals. Catherine Crowston, executive director of the Art Gallery of Alberta, said she is confident the efforts will encourage people to go downtown and to the arts district. The city also introduced a mascot, a "fun-loving emoji" called Marvin, that will appear on city branding and advertising this summer.
  • Cooler weather has offered some relief to crews fighting Alberta wildfires, but another difficult stretch is expected with hot weather in the forecast. Some parts of Yellowhead County, including Evansburg, were allowed to return home on May 10, but Wildwood and Lobstick Resort remained under mandatory evacuation. As of May 10, 78 wildfires were burning across the province, with 24 out of control, and about 17,860 residents were under evacuation orders, down from 24,000 on May 9. Wildfires have burned 410,000 hectares across the province so far this year, which is about double the average in an entire season. The northern Alberta communities of Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation, East Prairie Métis Settlement, and Fox Lake are all reporting significant damage, with 85 homes in Fox Lake confirmed destroyed.
  • The city announced that a section of 170 Street, from 87 Avenue to 90 Avenue, will be closed starting 9pm on May 12 to accommodate the installation of a new pedestrian bridge truss structure. The shared pathway will also be closed. The road is set to reopen May 15 at 6am, but the shared pathway and the 170 Street ramps to the West Edmonton Mall parking lot will remain closed until the pedestrian bridge is completed in summer 2023. Construction on the pedestrian bridge started in late 2021.
  • The city is inviting Edmontonians to take the Moose Hide Pledge on May 11 as part of the Moose Hide Campaign. The campaign focuses on challenging men and boys to speak out against violence toward women and children, but people of all genders are invited to show support. The city, along with the Canadian Native Friendship Centre and Indigenous Sport Council of Alberta, are hosting a public event at City Hall Plaza from 1pm to 4pm featuring a ceremony, speakers, traditional drumming and dancing, and a community walk.
  • The city has announced opening dates for outdoor swimming pools. Weather permitting, the Fred Broadstock Outdoor Pool will open May 20, the Queen Elizabeth Outdoor Pool and Kinsmen Spray Park will open May 30, the Oliver Outdoor Pool will open June 3, and the Borden Natural Swimming Pool will open June 10. The Mill Creek Outdoor Pool will remain closed this season due to ongoing rehabilitation and is expected to reopen in 2024. More information about outdoor pools is available on the city's website.
  • Construction is underway on a new water feature at the Alberta legislature grounds as part of a $20-million upgrade to its pools and walkways. The old wading pool has been torn up, and the dome fountain has been closed since 2020 due to the pandemic and mechanical issues. Construction on the new feature is expected to be finished in 2024. Earlier this year, Albertans were allowed to vote on three possible design concepts, and the province announced last month that 65% of respondents preferred the "river" concept because it featured more green space and less concrete.