Headlines: Sept. 6, 2023

· The Pulse
  • The Northeast River Valley Park is set to open to the public on Sept. 24 at 11am. The 190-acre park, located at 903 153 Avenue NE, connects with river valley trails and includes barn bridges, an ornamental lake, and an events centre. Opening day events will feature an open house, an Edmonton Public Library story walk, food trucks, and a city trade show. The city originally planned to unveil the park in August but delayed the opening until after the migratory bird season ended. The city said it will seek public input on long-term plans for the park, including its name, starting this fall.
  • The city lost its appeal to avoid paying photo radar and red light camera tickets received by city fleet vehicles. In a decision released Aug. 30, the Alberta Court of Appeal upheld previous arbitration decisions supporting a policy requiring the city to pay the tickets. The policy changed in July 2021 after an arbitration case found making drivers pay the fines in addition to receiving disciplinary action punished them unfairly. Since then, the city has paid nearly $50,000 in photo enforcement fines. The policy only applies to photo enforcement tickets and not to drivers who are pulled over and ticketed.
  • Residents of the Castledowns Pointe condo building in northwest Edmonton were advised to evacuate immediately because of concerns about the building's structural integrity. The four-storey building, constructed in 1999, was found to be structurally unsound by engineers investigating damage caused by a fire in March. In a letter to residents, the property management company said the engineers found that "under certain conditions, all or a portion of the building could fail structurally (i.e. collapse)." A city spokesperson said the city would issue an official notice to vacate on Sept. 5.
  • The Alberta Human Rights Tribunal ruled that the Edmonton Police Service discriminated against two Black men, Yousef John and Caesar Judianga, who had called 911 for help in May 2017 after witnessing a disturbance outside their home. In its decision, the tribunal found that the officers' treatment of the men was based on stereotypes regarding Black men, "including that they were 'angry' and 'aggressive' and likely responsible for perpetuating a crime, not for trying to stop one." A spokesperson for the police service said it will apply for a judicial review of the decision. The tribunal hearing is expected to reconvene to determine how the men should be compensated.
  • As thousands of Edmonton students went back to school on Sept. 5, the Edmonton Police Service and Alberta Motor Association were outside of schools to remind drivers about traffic safety. During the 2022-2023 school year, drivers received 3,526 tickets in playground zones. Police said they plan to increase enforcement in school zones. "There are those that don't care or don't pay attention or think they're above it, so hopefully we'll encounter those people and get them straightened out," said Sgt. Kerry Bates.
  • Edmonton's Food Bank is continuing its appeal for donations as it experiences a high demand for its services. The food bank typically sees an increase in families requesting hampers during the back to school season, said Tamisan Bencz-Knight, a manager with the organization. She said the food bank is providing extra items that are suitable for kids, and noted that about 40% of the people it is currently helping are children. In Edmonton, 88 schools use the food bank for initiatives like the S.N.A.C.K. program, which provides students with healthy food at no cost.
  • The Alberta government announced it will provide $27.3 million over four years to the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary through the Major Innovation Fund. The investment is intended to help accelerate research and commercialization of medical devices, electronic and mobile health, clean energy, and space and defence technologies. The universities will partner with other post-secondary institutions and industry partners to attract investments in the tech sector. Alberta NDP critic Court Ellingson said in a statement that the funding isn't enough to attract necessary talent and investment in the province.