Headlines: Nov. 8, 2023

· The Pulse
  • Councillors discussed the details of the draft 2024 budget during a council meeting Nov. 7, including the proposed 7.09% property tax hike. The increase is 2.13% higher than what council previously approved for the four-year budget cycle and is largely attributed to police salary settlements, the new police budget funding formula, and utilities. The budget includes an additional $8 million from a higher than expected EPCOR dividend, which could be used to decrease the tax rate to about 6.7%, or to invest in services such as transit. Council begins its budget adjustment debate on Nov. 21.
  • Two people have died, and one person was seriously injured in recent fires at homeless encampments in central Edmonton. Advocates say the fatalities highlight the urgent need for more shelter and housing solutions as winter approaches. The fatal fires are part of a worrying trend, said Jordan Reiniger with Boyle Street Community Services. He noted that 118 of the agency's clients died between the end of June and first week of October. "Every trend that we're seeing is moving in a bad direction," Reiniger said. Mayor Amarjeet Sohi acknowledged the crisis and highlighted the city's efforts to provide 1,700 additional shelter beds this winter, and called for more federal and provincial support.
  • WestJet announced new non-stop service from the Edmonton International Airport to Atlanta, Nashville, and San Francisco as part of its 2024 summer schedule. The new routes are expected to boost tourism and business opportunities for the region, said airport president and CEO Myron Keehn. The Atlanta route begins April 29, the Nashville route on May 2, and the San Francisco route on June 20.
  • The Valley Line Southeast LRT, which opened Nov. 4 after a three-year delay, is receiving positive feedback from commuters. CTV News spoke to commuters on Nov. 7 who were impressed with the line's service and convenience. "This has opened up the doors for me, in southeast Edmonton, to services (and) stores that I wouldn't normally have downtown," Doug Brinkman said. The $1.8-billion line is expected to serve 30,000 passengers daily between downtown and Mill Woods. It will be operated and maintained by TransEd, the consortium that built the line as part of a public-private partnership with the city.
  • An Edmonton accessibility advocate called out the city for its lack of wheelchair access at the Pleasantview Dog Park grand opening on Nov. 4. Marla Smith said the issue reflects broader accessibility challenges in the city, and posted about her concerns on social media. The city apologized and referred to the situation as an "inconvenience," a term Smith criticized as dismissive of the broader human rights implications.
  • An escaped calf led authorities on a wild chase through city streets on Nov. 7 after it got loose from its owners at Farmfair at the Edmonton EXPO Centre. The animal was eventually roped and tranquilized under the supervision of a vet after evading capture for several hours. No injuries or property damage were reported.
  • The Edmonton Police Service reported a decrease in shootings for October 2023 compared to last year at the same time, with 13 incidents, but said there has been a 46% increase in shootings overall this year. "This threat to public safety remains an ongoing concern for us and is the reason we will continue to actively work to reduce gun violence on our streets," Staff Sgt. Eric Stewart said. Police said there have been 193 shootings in Edmonton between January and October.
  • An Edmonton man says his family is traumatized after Edmonton Police Service tactical officers forcibly entered his Kilkenny neighbourhood home on Nov. 2, mistaking it for a kidnapping scene. "They were ordering me to the ground at gunpoint," James Potts told CTV News. Kids in the home were also ordered to the ground, he said. The RCMP, which led the operation based on a false kidnapping report it received, apologized to Potts said he can make a claim for damages to his home. Edmonton police defended the officers' actions as necessary due to the perceived imminent threat. RCMP is investigating the incident as public mischief.
  • The Edmonton Oilers have placed 31-year-old goaltender Jack Campbell on waivers with the intention of assigning him to the American Hockey League's Bakersfield Condors. Campbell, who signed a five-year, $25-million contract with the Oilers 16 months ago, has struggled this season, with a 1-4-0 record, a 4.50 goals-against average, and a .873 save percentage. Over his career with Edmonton, he has played 41 games, maintaining a 22-13-4 record with a 3.53 goals-against average and a .886 save percentage.