Headlines: Dec. 19, 2023

· The Pulse
  • A Court of King's Bench hearing over proposed homeless encampment removals has ended with an interim injunction until Jan. 11 stating that the city and Edmonton Police Service can't proceed with the removals unless certain conditions are met. Justice Kent Davidson ruled that police can remove tents if there are immediate health and safety risks, but can only do so with 48 hours' notice and if the city has informed social service agencies of the plans. They must also consider cold weather conditions, and can only carry out the removals if there is enough shelter space available for people being displaced. The city, police, and Coalition for Justice and Human Rights all agreed on the conditions. Police had initially planned to begin dismantling about 135 tents across eight encampments in the city's core beginning Dec. 18, but faced the emergency injunction application and widespread public criticism. About 100 protestors gathered outside the Edmonton courthouse on Dec. 18 to oppose the planned sweeps.
  • Several advocates and observers have drawn attention to a discrepancy between statements from Edmonton city councillors and officials with the Edmonton Police Service about plans to dismantle homeless encampments in the city's core. An affidavit from Staff Sgt. Michael Dreilich says city representatives agreed with police plans to remove the tents, and Deputy Chief Warren Driechel said on Dec. 18 that city operations were involved in the planning. Mayor Amarjeet Sohi and Coun. Anne Stevenson, however, both said they weren't aware of the plans before they became public through social media posts. In a statement published to Instagram Dec. 18, Sohi said recent events "have highlighted gaps in coordination on the encampment response plan and the need for increased collaboration," adding that he has called an emergency meeting on Dec. 20 between representatives from the police service, city, and social services providers to discuss decision-making changes, the communication process, and coordination efforts.
  • Asia Gladue, an 11-year-old cancer survivor from Valleyview in northwest Alberta, chose to forgo her Make a Wish Foundation dream of visiting Graceland to instead help Edmonton's homeless by supporting the Hope Mission. During a July visit to Edmonton, she was impacted by the sight of people experiencing homelessness and decided to spend her wish packing food hampers and crafting Christmas cards for Hope Mission clients. Asia was the fifth child in northern Alberta to grant a wish of giving back through the foundation's "I Wish to Give" category.
  • The provincial government announced it will make changes to the Edmonton and Calgary city charters to limit housing cost increases while supporting housing needs. Key changes include altering off-site levies to prevent unnecessary cost escalation and repealing inclusionary housing to avoid driving up new housing costs. Cities will no longer be able to introduce building code bylaws related to energy consumption and heat retention, with the government instead standardizing building codes across the province. The changes will be posted online for 60 days before going to cabinet for final approval.
  • Alberta Ethics Commissioner Marguerite Trussler is investigating the dismissal of Dr. Deena Hinshaw from a part-time position with the Alberta Health Services Indigenous Wellness Core, CBC reported. The investigation comes after more than 100 physicians signed a letter calling for an ethics investigation into the dismissal. The controversy arose when Hinshaw's job offer was rescinded shortly after an internal announcement, leading to resignations from Dr. Esther Tailfeathers and Dr. Braden Manns in protest, citing the decision as a setback for Indigenous health care and trust. Premier Danielle Smith has denied any involvement in Hinshaw's dismissal, saying AHS staffing decisions "were made by AHS." Details on the scope and status of the ethics investigation remain unclear, but Tailfeathers and Manns said they provided testimony to Trussler in October.
  • The Edmonton Elks have signed American defensive back James Wiggins, the team announced Dec. 18. Wiggins previously played with the New Orleans Breakers in the USFL during the 2023 season and was a 2021 NFL Draft pick by the Arizona Cardinals. He brings a record of 87 tackles, one sack, and five interceptions in 32 college games, and has had professional stints with the Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs, and Green Bay Packers.