Headlines: Oct. 24, 2023

· The Pulse
  • Edmonton's zoning rules will change significantly for the first time since the 1960s after city council voted 11-2 to approve a revised bylaw on Oct. 23 following a marathon public hearing. The new zoning bylaw will allow three-storey apartments, townhouses, row houses, or duplexes in any residential area across the city, ending the previous "exclusionary" zoning that limited many residential zones to single-family homes. The changes will also allow infill housing to be built on any residential lot, and aims to create a denser, more compact city with a variety of housing types and services available in each neighbourhood. The city began its Zoning Bylaw Renewal Initiative in 2018. The new changes take effect on Jan. 1, but developers can begin applying for permits now.
  • The city's winter curbside collection schedule will take effect Oct. 31. Food scraps carts will be picked up every two weeks, but recycling will still be picked up weekly. The city reminded residents to clear snow and ice off their carts, use a bag or paper liner for food scraps, shovel around their carts, and store carts away from cold wind when not in use. Residents can confirm their waste collection schedule on the city's website.
  • An increased police presence downtown may be pushing crime and disorder to other parts of the city, Edmonton Police Service Insp. Brent Dahlseide said in an update at a recent Edmonton Police Commission meeting. In February, the police service reassigned 12 officers to the Oliver, Cromdale, and Jasper west areas based on high call volume and crime incidents. Dahlseide said the three new beat patrols were created because of a shift in crime and disorder patterns. The officers had previously been assigned to central neighbourhoods covered by the Healthy Streets Operations Centre. "I would suggest displacement from the disorder that's going on right in the downtown core … is starting to spread farther out," he told commissioners.
  • Postmedia opinion columnist Keith Gerein took stock of the progress city council has made halfway through its mandate, arguing that much of its agenda "has been driven by the progressive camp" of councillors who have been determined to "shift city development, fight climate change, and improve equity." Gerein noted that their efforts have sometimes been met with opposition from more conservative councillors, particularly Karen Principe and Jennifer Rice, who often are in the minority during votes. While Mayor Amarjeet Sohi has often been aligned with the progressive bloc, Gerein described his overall leadership style as collaborative and positive.
  • Postmedia spoke to parents concerned that the lack educational assistants in schools is impacting their children's learning. Michelle Young, whose Grade 6 son has a learning disability, said he sees an educational assistant at his Edmonton Catholic school every other day. Last school year, he didn't have any educational assistant support. Another parent, Jenny Stokes, faced similar challenges getting support for her child with special needs because of insufficient funding and staffing. Edmonton Public Schools said in a statement it tries to provide support within its budget constraints, but was unable to give information on staffing levels.
  • The city's 2023-24 Vision Zero School Kit is now available for Edmonton schools to help encourage street safety. The effort is part of the city's Vision Zero commitment, which aims to eliminate all traffic fatalities and serious injuries from city streets by 2032. The kit includes a do-it-yourself lesson plan, updated classroom activities, signs to encourage safe driving, automated enforcement at approved sites, and street safety resources.
  • The Bakersfield Condors, which is owned by and affiliated with the Edmonton Oilers, have signed forward Sam Gagner to an American Hockey League contract. Gagner, who has played 16 NHL seasons, recently signed a professional tryout agreement with the Oilers but wasn't in any pre-season games due to his rehabilitation from hip surgeries. He has had two previous stints with the Oilers organization.
  • The provincial NDP says 90% of the 30,000 people who have responded to its pension survey so far are against the UCP government's proposal to create an Alberta pension plan. The NDP launched its own survey in September in response to the government pension survey, which the opposition called a "sham" because it does not directly ask Albertans if they want to leave the CPP. The province is currently holding telephone town halls on the topic, while the NDP says it plans to hold in-person consultations in cities across Alberta, including Edmonton.