Headlines: Oct. 12, 2023

· The Pulse
  • Alberta Health Services adopted a new "enhanced masking directive" to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in acute care facilities. The "Use of Masks to Prevent Transmission of COVID-19" directive allows leadership to require physicians, midwives, students, volunteers, and other workers to wear masks in acute care facilities. Patients, support workers, and visitors would also be required to wear masks, although AHS said that "(no) patient shall be denied services." The enhanced measures will be implemented based on factors such as hospitalization rate, number of outbreaks, and occupancy. Signs will be set up in areas where the policy is in effect.
  • The City of Edmonton Youth Council delivered recommendations to the urban planning committee to improve the transit experience of young people based on the results of a 2022 survey. The recommendations include greater bus frequency, better connection between universities and underserved areas, reduced fare prices, and improved convenience and reliability of ARC cards. The survey found that 61.3% of respondents said "drug use, houseless people, and dangerous people" make them feel unsafe, and 76.4% said improved safety and security would incentivize them to use transit. Meanwhile, just 8% believed the Edmonton Transit System was handling frequency well, and more than 70% were discouraged by long wait times.
  • Mayor Amarjeet Sohi suggested adding more than $5 million back into Edmonton's snow and ice clearing budget after the urban planning committee discussed a projected dip in snow-clearing service this coming winter. The city expects that it could take up to 22 days to manually clear bus stops, paths, and other public amenities, compared to 13 days last year. Clearing sidewalks, parking lots, bridges, and wheelchair ramps could take up to six days.
  • Edmonton Transit Service and researchers at the University of Alberta School of Urban and Regional Planning are working on a joint study to improve the design of Edmonton's bus shelters. Last year, 1,600 bus shelter glass panels were damaged, which cost the city $456,000. The study will ask users how to make the shelters safer, more accessible, and more comfortable, and will explore design options to withstand extreme weather and vandalism. A report from the Edmonton Transit Service Advisory Board also recommends more bus shelters, including heated shelters.
  • The Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations is conducting its 2023 State of the Nonprofit Sector in Alberta survey. The results will contribute to CCVO's annual State of the Sector report, inform CCVO's The Nonprofit Vote campaign, and guide collective advocacy. All nonprofits in Alberta are encouraged to complete the 16-question survey, which closes Oct. 13.
  • Jason Syvixay, director of metro strategy and advocacy with Urban Development Institute - Edmonton Metro, published an op-ed in support of zoning as a tool for inclusion and equity. Syvixay wrote that zoning has historically limited housing options for low-income and other marginalized populations, while zoning that encourages broader development can improve housing stability for newcomers and people with assorted family structures and incomes. A separate op-ed by Fleisch Delikatessen owner Katy Ingraham stressed the need to update Edmonton's urban planning guidelines, which were created in the 1960s. Ingraham wrote that increasing infill is the "only economically viable, environmentally responsible way to accommodate Edmonton's growth." Council is set to consider the updated zoning bylaw following a public hearing that begins Oct. 16.
  • Several city councillors made social media posts expressing their support for Israel. Coun. Tim Cartmell said he asked for the High Level Bridge to be lit blue and white after receiving many requests. The statements of support come in the wake of Mayor Amarjeet Sohi's recent comments about Israel and Palestine, which attracted both approval and criticism. Sohi has said his role is to "stand with Edmontonians" and not offer his personal opinions on global issues.
  • The TELUS World of Science is inviting the public to safely watch a partial solar eclipse at the RASC Observatory at Coronation Park for free on Oct. 14. The eclipse is expected to begin at 9:17am and end at 11:44am, and reach its maximum at 10:28am.
  • Edmonton Fire Rescue Services shared tips to reduce cooking-related fires as part of Fire Prevention Week. In a release, EFRS said there were 131 residential cooking-related fires in 2022, which caused an estimated $3.5 million in damages. You can reduce fire risk by watching food while it is cooking, turning pot handles inward, keeping a lid nearby to put over grease fires, and keeping kids and pets one metre away from the cooking area.
  • The NHL is hosting a free outdoor fan festival before the Oct. 29 Heritage Classic between the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames. The festival is set to happen in the Ice District on Oct. 27 and 28, and will feature live music, interactive hockey experiences, and a chance to take a picture with the Stanley Cup.
  • The Edmonton Elks announced that Commonwealth Stadium's upper bowl will be closed in 2024. In total, about 25,000 seats will be closed each game and about 31,000 will be for sale. The upper bowl will still be open during select games. Elks CEO Rick LeLacheur said closing the upper bowl is "key to enhancing the game day atmosphere and rebuilding our home field advantage by bringing our fans closer to the action." This year, the Elks have drawn an average of about 25,000 fans per game. Average attendance has been steadily falling since peaking at nearly 58,000 in 1982.

An earlier version of this item stated fixing 1,600 glass panels cost the city $350,000, however the city has since updated that figure to $456,000.