Headlines: May 24, 2023

· The Pulse
  • The city announced that the new Northeast River Valley Park is set to open in late summer 2023. Located at 17 Street NE and 153 Avenue NE, the park has 190 acres of developed parkland, which is more than Hawrelak Park's 168 acres, and connects with existing river valley trails. Amenities include a lake, a children's playground, picnic sites, and a 25,000-square-foot event centre. The park was formerly known as Our Lady Queen of Peace Ranch North and is adjacent to the area covered by the Horse Hill Area Structure Plan, which includes five future neighbourhoods and an expected population of 70,000 residents. The new park's name will be chosen after Edmontonians have the chance to provide input as part of a concept-planning process, which the city expects to begin later this year.
  • Environment Canada's special air quality statement for Edmonton, which was issued on May 16, was lifted on May 23 as air quality reached low risk according to the Air Quality Health Index. However, it was still in effect for regions east and west of Edmonton, along with parts of northern Alberta. Poor air quality due to wildfires has prompted several statements for Edmonton and surrounding areas since the end of April.
  • Rain and cooler temperatures across the province have dampened wildfire behaviour, according to Alberta Wildfire information officer Christie Tucker. "Many of the major wildfires burning received some rain, which means these are good days for firefighters to make real progress on containing these fires," Tucker said, while reiterating that the wildfire season is "far from over." Firefighters from the United States arrived to assist efforts on May 23, and teams from New Zealand and Australia are expected soon. Around 10,000 people remain under evacuation orders, including residents of Fox Creek and Little Smoky west of Edmonton, and the East Prairie Métis Settlement in northern Alberta. Wildfires are estimated to have burned over one million hectares across the province this year.
  • Last week, city council accepted administration's cost-saving recommendations for the south extension of the Capital Line LRT to keep the project within budget. Administration made the recommendations in April. The changes include building the Heritage Valley Station at ground level instead of above grade and eliminating the addition of 800 more stalls at the station's park and ride. The construction of the Twin Brooks station will go forward, although some Twin Brooks-area residents expressed opposition to a station in their neighbourhood during an executive committee meeting earlier this month. Council voted against a request by Coun. Jennifer Rice to have city planners explore how much would be saved by deferring the station's construction and replacing the station's wood fence with a concrete or brick sound barrier.
  • Explore Edmonton has announced the performer lineup for this year's K-Days, which is scheduled to run July 21-30. The lineup consists of mostly Canadian artists, including Three Days Grace, Tegan and Sara, and Elijah Woods from the pop duo Elijah Woods x Jamie Fine. In addition to main-stage performances, Explore Edmonton has arranged for local entertainment at the new Cristal Palace Spiegeltent. All performances are included with admission. Advance tickets to K-Days are available online.
  • The Edmonton Social Planning Council and Public Interest Alberta published their Alberta Child Poverty Report for 2022. The report is released annually to help policy-makers, advocates, and decision-makers reduce child poverty. The 2022 report addresses how to measure child poverty, poverty in Indigenous and racialized communities, child care, housing, food insecurity, and taxation and income redistribution. The authors note that Alberta does not have a poverty reduction strategy and missed an opportunity to coordinate with the federal government, which released its first-ever poverty reduction strategy in 2018. "The provincial government has a long way to go to become a province where all citizens — especially children — can live in dignity," they wrote.
  • O2 Planning + Design received an award of excellence from the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects for the Ribbon of Green project, which "provides a far-reaching vision for the sustainable use and preservation of the North Saskatchewan River Valley and Ravine System." Ribbon of Green is one of two streams of work happening as part of the city's River Valley Planning Modernization Project.
  • The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) is launching a new Verified Traveller program that will replace the Trusted Traveller program. Verified Traveller screening lines will be available by June 21 at select domestic and international checkpoints at airports across Canada, including the Edmonton International Airport. In a release, the federal government said the new program will ease congestion and provide travellers with benefits at security checkpoints such as keeping laptops in their carry-on and not having to remove their shoes, belt, and jacket.