Headlines: Oct. 10, 2023

· The Pulse
  • Boyle Street Community Services and Bissell Centre partnered to host the Friendship Feast on Thanksgiving Day to provide meals for Edmontonians experiencing homelessness. The organizations hosted two sittings, with the first offering traditional Thanksgiving food and the second featuring Indigenous cuisine, including bannock and stew. More than 3,100 people are experiencing homelessness in Edmonton, according to Homeward Trust.
  • A new hybrid office workspace is set to open in an Edmonton highrise in May 2024 as efforts to convert vacant office buildings increase. International Workplace Group (IWG) is opening the space in the Park Plaza Building at 98 Avenue and 106 Street, providing a hub for freelancers, small businesses, and large corporations. Despite the shift to remote work during the pandemic, companies are still looking for flexible office spaces, said IWG Americas CEO Wayne Berger. The new workspace is one of 13 opening across Canada. Edmonton's downtown office vacancy rate hit 24.2% in the third quarter of 2023, according to real estate firm CBRE. The vacancies have led to efforts to develop a program to incentivize the conversion of office space to residential units.
  • The 132nd Avenue collector renewal project has earned praise from Canada's urban planning community for its efforts to balance needs of drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians in its design. The five-year, 7.3-kilometre project stretching from Fort Road to 127 Street involves narrower roads, dedicated bike paths, and new sidewalks. Stephen Raitz with Paths for People said Edmonton "is being a leader" with the project's design, which he said makes more "efficient use of a public right of way." Coun. Erin Rutherford, whose ward includes part of the project area, said she has heard mixed feelings about the design, but said the reduction from two driving lanes in both directions to one lane in each direction is because 132 Avenue is "meant to be a residential road, not an arterial."
  • A Postmedia analysis of city council voting records shows that Mayor Amarjeet Sohi and councillors Keren Tang, Andrew Knack, Jo-Anne Wright, Aaron Paquette, and Ashley Salvador have emerged as the dominant voting block. The data showed they voted together more than 75% of the time and were on the winning side of those votes more than 84% of the time. The reporting didn't include which issues the councillors agreed on most often.
  • Palestinian and Israeli groups in Edmonton held rallies in response to violence in Israel and Gaza over the weekend. One of the organizers of a rally in support of Palestine held in Castle Downs on Oct. 8 said Edmonton's diverse Palestinian community is devastated but also frustrated by narratives surrounding the recent events. The Jewish Federation of Edmonton also scheduled a gathering for Oct. 9 to "stand in total and complete solidarity with Israel." The Edmonton Police Service said that while there were no immediate safety concerns in the city, it was increasing patrols around some community centres and places of worship "out of an abundance of caution."
  • New home builds in Edmonton have declined by 30% in the first six months of 2023 compared to the same period last year, according to a report from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). Among the reasons cited for the decrease were higher interest rates, increased construction costs, and labour shortages. The rest of Canada saw a 1% increase in new builds, with a surge in new apartment construction in Toronto and Vancouver. The CMHC expects the housing market in Edmonton to rebound in the fall, particularly in the single-detached home segment.
  • An Edmonton LRT car has been transformed with vibrant art through a public art project created by local artists Michelle Campos Castillo and Roger Garcia, who both came to Canada as refugees from El Salvador when they were children. The design is a tribute to Salvadoran culture and was inspired by the artists' childhood memories and experiences. "We grew up with mango trees and lemon trees and avocado trees, so we wanted to bring those bright visuals to transit, which can be a bit drab in the winter — and commuting is hard," said Campos Castillo. The SuperTrain Residency project is a collaboration through the Society of Northern Alberta Print-Artists, the Edmonton Arts Council, and Pattison Outdoor Advertising.
  • Edmonton police have ruled the death of a man found unresponsive in Chinatown on Oct. 5 as non-criminal. Homicide detectives were initially called in to investigate the death, which had been considered suspicious until an autopsy was completed on Oct. 6.
  • An advocacy group is encouraging Edmonton residents to make their homes accessible for trick-or-treaters with mobility challenges and special needs. Treat Accessibly aims to make Halloween more inclusive by eliminating barriers such as stairs and closed doors. Edmontonians can register to have their homes marked on a map indicating accessible houses. Edmonton will also be one of nine cities across Canada to host a Treat Accessibly Halloween Village on Oct. 21 on Summerside Grande Boulevard.
  • The Edmonton Oilers are gearing up for the upcoming NHL season determined to win the Stanley Cup. "One thing that's guaranteed is we'll do everything in our power to achieve our goal and get to that point," said forward Leon Draisaitl. The team is confident in their offence, with three 100-point players from last season, and the league's best power play. The Oilers have made only a few tweaks to their roster and focused on fine-tuning their system during training camp. The regular season begins Oct. 11 in Vancouver, and the team will host the Calgary Flames for the Heritage Classic on Oct. 29th at Commonwealth Stadium.