Headlines: Sept. 7, 2023

· The Pulse
  • The city's emergency reception centre for Yellowknife wildfire evacuees at the EXPO Centre is adjusting its operating hours because of reduced demand. Registered evacuees can continue to access on-site supports such as food, clothing, and health services, but overnight lodging is no longer available as most evacuees were staying in off-site hotels. The centre has registered 7,432 evacuees and 1,238 pets since it opened on Aug. 18. Officials lifted the evacuation order for Yellowknife on Sept. 6, three weeks after a nearby wildfire threatened the Northwest Territories capital.
  • A report at council's utility committee shows that 70% of businesses are compliant with the single-use items policy the city introduced on July 1, with the rest working to reach compliance. Complaints about the bylaw decreased from 536 in July to 122 in August. It will likely be amended in November to bring it in line with changes to the federal single-use item policy.
  • Anticipation is building in Edmonton's real estate industry as the city works with industry groups to develop an incentive program to convert office space into residential units. Developers see opportunity in Edmonton because the resulting residential units would typically be mid-market and align with the needs of newcomers and young adults, said Cory Wosnack with Avison Young. Edmonton previously provided incentives to encourage office conversion in 1997, which led to the successful conversion of 16 buildings, more street-level vibrancy, and a healthier office market. According to a report from Avison Young, Edmonton's downtown office vacancy rate was 20.5% in the second quarter of 2023. The results of the city's engagement with industry will be presented to council's executive committee on Oct. 13.
  • The Court of King's Bench heard arguments related to a proposed injunction from the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta against Jobber and iStock. The association says the companies broke the Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act by including an unauthorized use of the term "engineers" in a job ad for software engineers, while the companies argue the term is widely understood as distinct from regulated engineering professions. Justice John Little reserved his decision to a later date.
  • City councillors have been sharing their favourite local parks throughout the summer as part of the Pick-a-Park initiative. The city encourages residents to also share their favourite parks, which they can do by using the hashtag #PickAParkYeg and tagging the city and its parks department on social media.
  • Parks Canada is asking visitors to Elk Island National Park to follow posted speed limits after a bison was struck and killed on Aug. 10. It was the sixth bison to die in the park after being hit by a vehicle since 2020.
  • The Canadian Football League Players Association, which represents CFL players, is taking issue with the league's decision to let the Labour Day Classic on Sept. 4 between the Edmonton Elks and the Calgary Stampeders go ahead despite smoky conditions in Calgary. Association executive director, Brian Ramsay, said the issue has come up repeatedly since 2019 due to wildfire smoke. Environment Canada's air quality index measured "high risk" throughout the day in Calgary on Sept. 4, but the CFL said local readings at the stadium showed moderate risk.
  • The Alberta government and Enoch Cree Nation are partnering on the construction of a new surgical facility that will be built on the First Nation west of Edmonton. The new facility, set to open in June 2025, will provide about 3,000 orthopedic surgeries annually. It will be operated by the First Nation and provide services to Indigenous and non-Indigenous patients.
  • The Canadian Energy Centre, an agency also known as the "war room" created by the UCP government to promote the province's energy industry, spent $22 million last fiscal year on a media campaign, according to its most recent annual report. The amount is around three times what the agency received in government grants the previous year. Little information about the campaign is available, but the Canadian Press reported it was led by advertising agency DDB and was directed at the United States, Europe, the United Kingdom, and Canada.