Headlines: Feb. 13, 2024

· The Pulse
  • Coun. Aaron Paquette has asked City of Edmonton administration to review any subsidy agreements with the Katz Group after CBC reported its Ice District subsidiary has filed a lawsuit against Boyle Street Community Services over a conditional $5-million donation. "When I saw the news that they were trying to claw back $5 million from Boyle Street because they hadn't fundraised hard enough, it sort of set some alarm bells ringing," Paquette said. The social services agency has been raising funds to pay for its new facility, the King Thunderbird Centre. Spokespeople for both organizations said they expect the matter to be resolved through a resolution process.
  • Edmonton city council unanimously approved one-time funding of $6 million from reserve funds for Explore Edmonton to double its operating budget. The agency, which is in charge of several major events and manages the Edmonton EXPO Centre and Edmonton Convention Centre, said the funding will help pay for property taxes, insurance, and other operating costs, and will help ensure it won't have to cut any programming.
  • The City of Edmonton's claim against U.S. electric bus manufacturer Proterra has increased to $82 million from just $1.3 million in damages filed last year. Court filings show the city is seeking damages for breach of contract and negligence, arguing the electric buses have consistently underperformed due to inadequate battery range and structural problems. The city bought 60 buses from Proterra, which began bankruptcy proceedings last summer. A representative from the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 569 told CBC last year that some buses had been off the roads for more than a year waiting for replacement parts.
  • The City of Edmonton says its proposed 7.25%-wage increase over five years for Civic Service Union 52 members is its best and final offer. "It has always been the City's goal to reach an agreement that is fair and equitable for CSU 52 members, the City and taxpayers," Michelle Plouffe, the city's chief people officer, said in a statement. "We believe our offer represents this balance and should avoid any potential strike or lockout." The city has applied to the Alberta Labour Relations Board to conduct an employer proposal vote among union members. The union held a strike vote over the weekend, which was scheduled to end the afternoon of Feb. 12.
  • Edmonton Public Schools and Edmonton Catholic Schools are struggling with severe overcrowding as student enrolment grows. The two school divisions are seeking more than $580 million from the provincial government to add about 11,000 new student spaces, as the city's population growth strains capacity, particularly in high schools. The situation has forced some schools to adopt staggered recesses, repurpose rooms, and add more modular classrooms. "We need new schools to be built fast and furious," said Edmonton public school board chair Julie Kusiek.
  • The City of Edmonton's Transforming Edmonton blog showcased the intended impacts of the city's new zoning bylaw, which came into effect at the beginning of 2024. The Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues and the Canadian Home Builders' Association expressed support for the changes, which are aimed at supporting increased housing options, more business opportunities, and greater development flexibility in line with The City Plan.
  • As Alberta experiences significant population growth, some are concerned about whether Edmonton has the infrastructure and resources necessary to meet increased needs. The Alberta Medical Association says there may not be enough healthcare workers and facilities to ensure new arrivals can access care in a timely fashion. "There's no question that it's causing a burden and a struggle for our already overburdened and struggling healthcare systems," said association president Dr. Paul Parks.