Headlines: July 28, 2023

· The Pulse
  • The Community Outreach Transit Team, which connects vulnerable people with community services, has expanded to seven teams of outreach workers from the Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society and transit peace officers. COTT launched with two teams in September 2020 and grew in 2022. It now runs seven days a week from 6am to 2am and is expected to continue operating until at least 2026.
  • Provincial data shows emergency services in Edmonton responded to 753 overdose incidents in the past month, compared to 306 in the same period last year. More than half (57%) of the 1,321 overdose responses across Alberta since June 26 were in Edmonton. Darren Markland, an intensive care doctor at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, told CBC up to 30% of overdose patients in his unit are unidentified, having been found unconscious or dead on the streets or in the river valley. He said he has never seen so many overdoses and deaths due to drug poisoning in his 20 years at the hospital.
  • The city began exploring ways to encourage bats to live in Edmonton as natural pest control after council voted to scrap its aerial mosquito control program in 2022. This year, the city began a bat monitoring program, which is the first-ever official assessment of what kinds of bats live here and where. Cory Olson, a program coordinator for the Alberta Community Bat Program, said bats in Edmonton are healthy for now but may be at risk due to white-nose syndrome, a bat-killing disease that first appeared in Alberta in January. Olson also said keeping pet cats inside is "one of the most important things that we can do to help bats in the city."
  • Evolution Wonderlounge has suffered damages resulting in expensive repairs for the fourth time in six months. Police say it appears one person broke in on the morning of July 27 by smashing the window with a rock and left with an undisclosed amount of cash. Rob Browatzke, one of the bar's owners, estimates about $10,000 in damages and property theft. He said he believes it was a crime of opportunity and not a hate crime, but he added that "when you've got the climate the way it is right now, and you've got a Pride flag hanging outside, and you're the only place getting hit on the block, you can't not think that."
  • Edmonton Centre MP Randy Boissonnault spoke to Postmedia about what his new cabinet post means for Alberta. He said his job as minister of employment, workforce development, and official languages is to work with Canadian workers to ensure they are "prepared and ready to embrace the jobs of the 21st century."
  • Rod Klumph, a councillor for the Town of Barrhead, walked from the Alberta Legislature to Fort Assiniboine to draw attention to Fort Assiniboine's bicentennial celebrations, which took place July 7-9. He began the 160-kilometre walk on July 1 and arrived July 6.
  • Tyson Gordon Jr., a 14-year-old Edmonton cricket player, has been playing as a member of Jamaica's under-15 cricket team since January. "Growing up, I tried to teach him that you've got to decide what you want to be in life. If you want to be a cricketer, you've got to start from a young age," said his father, Tyson Gordon Sr., who played for Jamaica's senior national team in 2005 and played for Canada in the Cricket World Cup in 2011.