Headlines: Dec. 14, 2023

· The Pulse
  • The Metro LRT Line will be closed on the weekend of Dec. 16-17 for testing on the of the Metro Line Northwest Extension from NAIT to Blatchford. Replacement bus service will run between the NAIT and Churchill LRT stations every 15 minutes all weekend. Traffic at the Princess Elizabeth Avenue intersection may be affected because LRT gates will be down for longer than usual. In a release, the city said the new NAIT/Blatchford Market station could open in late December.
  • City council passed Coun. Tim Cartmell's motion requesting an outline for a pilot program for fare gates at transit centres as well as an amended motion asking administration for a cost-benefit analysis and recommendations. In May, Calgary received a report about safety and closed transit systems that found no correlation between safety and fare gates, and instead recommended infrastructure changes or a different staff model. On Dec. 12, the province re-announced its $8.3-million commitment to help recruit, train, and deploy 50 new Edmonton Police Service officers, who will primarily be assigned to transit areas and downtown.
  • An independent veterinary assessment of Lucy the Elephant said she is doing well at the Edmonton Valley Zoo despite her health issues. The assessment was done by the same veterinarians who assessed the 48-year-old Asian elephant in 2022. They found that Lucy's uterine tumour has regressed, but confirmed that her respiratory condition makes her unfit to travel. The zoo made changes to Lucy's diet and vaccine treatment following recommendations from a panel in 2022. It has also secured city funding to improve her living quarters.
  • Healthcare workers at the Stollery Children's Hospital are dealing with an overcrowded emergency room due to a spike in respiratory illnesses among kids, including influenza, COVID-19, and RSV. The surge is leading to full waiting rooms and long wait times, sometimes exceeding eight to twelve hours, said assistant clinical professor Amaly Rahman. The hospital opened an 11-bed surge unit on Dec. 8, which Rahman said helps but is only a temporary fix. Edmonton Public School Board chair Julie Kusiek said the division is doing all it can to prevent the spread of illness amid widespread absenteeism, including putting portable HEPA filters in learning areas.
  • Edmonton Public Schools is facing significant capacity issues due to a surge in student enrolment. Nearly 7,500 new students have enrolled since September 2022. Of the 213 schools in the division, 27 are at or above 100% capacity and 78 have at least 85% utilization. The division has already decided to close boundaries for 44 schools during the 2023-2024 school year, up from 32 the previous year, which means less flexibility for students.
  • Condo owners in Castledowns Pointe, a north-side residential building that was damaged by fire three months ago, have received large bills for special assessments that were done after engineers identified major structural issues with the building following the fire. Condo owners who spoke to CTV News received bills ranging from $8,000 to $12,000. The condo board voted against using $200,000 from its reserve fund to reduce their expenses. Possible future steps include tearing down the building or rebuilding it. The board says it is considering legal action against the developer, but it isn't the first option.
  • Workplace safety officials are investigating after a contractor died from a fall while working on a building owned by Imperial Oil in Strathcona County, just east of Edmonton. The building is near Imperial Oil's refinery, but a company spokesperson said it is being leased to a third party and is not connected with Imperial Oil's operations.
  • Mary Moreau, the newest member of the Supreme Court of Canada, appeared on the Alberta Unbound podcast to talk with Senator Paula Simons about growing up as a Francophone Albertan, her legal career, and moving to Ottawa. Moreau was born in Edmonton, studied at the University of Alberta, and practised criminal law, constitutional law, and civil litigation in the city. She was appointed to the Supreme Court on Nov. 6.