Headlines: July 19, 2023

· The Pulse
  • The Edmonton Police Commission has announced Jayan Nagendran as its newest member. Nagendran, a full-time surgeon who is also co-founder of Tevosol and an associate professor at the University of Alberta, was appointed by the Government of Alberta and will serve a three-year term until April 24, 2026.
  • Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said he had "a very productive meeting" with Jason Nixon, Alberta's minister of seniors, community, and social services, about the "inadequate" availability of 24/7 shelter spaces in the city. The province has said more than $5 million will be available this winter to support an additional 450 temporary shelter spaces, and it is now accepting applications from operators who want to open permanent Indigenous shelters and women's emergency shelters. Sohi and Nixon also "committed to work together to find long-term solutions such as investing in permanent supportive housing to end houselessness in Edmonton."
  • Doug King, a criminal justice professor at Mount Royal University, says Edmonton is far safer today than it was in the 1990s. "We are now, compared to the peak in 1990, 30% less likely to be a victim of a crime today than we were in 1990," King told CityNews. "And crime severity is less than it was in the 1990s." He suggested the onus is on police to find a solution when crime rates rise. "Are they responding in a manner that is sufficiently enough people in their plan to do what they wanted, and then, is it working? And if it isn't working, then they need to change what they're doing."
  • The city said it has completed 11 solar photovoltaic (PV) installations on its buildings, with another eight in progress and six more in planning and design. The installation at the Edmonton EXPO Centre is Canada's largest rooftop solar PV installation, according to the city, and has helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 617 tonnes of CO2e as of June 2023.
  • Housing starts in Edmonton decreased 13% year-over-year from June 2022 and June 2023, though the city did see a small 3% increase (seasonally adjusted at annual rates) from May 2023 to June 2023. The Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation (CMHC) said the national month-to-month increase in housing starts of 41% between May and June this year was the largest change in the past 10 years. "Despite this, total year-to-date housing starts for the first half of the year were 8% lower than they were over the same period in 2022 as the high interest rate environment continues to challenge housing starts through increasing borrowing costs," said Bob Dugan, CMHC's chief economist.
  • According to Environment Canada, Edmonton's smokiest year on record — based on "smoke hours" counted when the haze from wildfires reduces visibility to 9.7 km or less — was 2018, when the city recorded 229 smoke hours. So far this year, Edmonton has recorded 194 smoke hours, making it the second-highest on record. "By the end of this season we might not be in second place anymore, if this year continues the way it has been," Natalie Hasell, a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada, told CBC News. "We do see another long stretch of hotter and drier conditions coming."
  • West Edmonton Mall has welcomed four new African penguins, which relocated from the Vancouver Aquarium as part of an international breeding program intended to help endangered species. The African penguin has been listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) since 2010. The mall now has 21 in its flock.
  • Media personality J'lyn Nye is leaving the broadcasting business after 34 years. "It's been a wild ride, with some incredible highs and lows," Nye said. Her last day at 630 CHED will be Aug. 18. Nye starts as director of marketing and digital content at the Edmonton Police Service on Aug. 28.
  • Health Minister Adriana LaGrange's mandate letter from Premier Danielle Smith instructs her to "reform the management and structure of Alberta Health Services to better decentralize decision-making and resources to the front lines and local communities." LaGrange told CBC that AHS has grown beyond its original focus on acute care since it was formed from the merging of regional health authorities in 2008. NDP health critic David Shepherd questioned whether it made sense to "rip apart the system at a time when it is already in chaos and already in crisis."