Headlines: Feb. 20, 2024

· The Pulse
  • About two dozen members of CSU52 in Edmonton held a rally at the Muttart LRT station on Feb. 18 to pressure Mayor Amarjeet Sohi and city manager Andre Corbould for fair contract negotiations amid a looming strike. Sohi, who was attending a Family Day event at the Edmonton Ski Club, told reporters that while contract negotiations are the responsibility of city administration, he wants to see workers treated fairly. "I was one of them when I was a bus driver, so I understand how hard city employees work," he said. Last week, union members who work for the city voted 91% in favour of strike action, while members who work for the Edmonton Public Library voted 94% in favour.
  • The City of Edmonton has identified 203 derelict homes whose owners will be subject to a new higher tax rate. The derelict residential tax subclass applies to properties in mature neighbourhoods showing serious signs of neglect and is intended to encourage owners to maintain or improve the properties. The homes were identified in 54 neighbourhoods, with the highest concentrations of derelict properties located in the Highlands and Alberta Avenue areas. Edmonton became the first Canadian city to create a tax subclass specifically for derelict properties when council passed the bylaw in October.
  • The City of Edmonton says it has repaired more than 5,000 potholes since the beginning of 2024, a decrease from the more than 8,700 repaired during the same time last year. The city has received 156 pothole reports since Feb. 15, compared to 697 over the same period in 2023. Residents are encouraged to report potholes via 311 or the city's website, and those affected by pothole damage may be eligible for compensation after an evaluation process. Last year, the city repaired a total of 624,663 potholes.
  • The Edmonton Valley Zoo announced the arrival of two female Arctic wolves from France. They will be companions for the zoo's resident Arctic wolf, Tundra, after his previous partner, Shilah, died in 2022. The wolves, sisters from different litters, arrived on Feb. 14 and are currently in a 30-day quarantine before they can be introduced to Tundra and their new 5,000-square-metre habitat set to open this summer.
  • Romance novels are experiencing a surge of popularity, prompting shops specializing in the genre to open their doors. The Book Boudoir, Edmonton's first bookstore exclusively dedicated to romance novels, opened its doors to large lineups on Valentine's Day. Store owner Kelsey Orlecki said she had such a big turnout she had to turn customers away. "I want people to know that this is a safe space. You can come and shop and be comfortable in your own skin here," she said.
  • The UCP government's proposed policies affecting trans and gender-diverse youth are likely to face legal challenges, experts and advocates say. Advocacy groups Egale Canada and Skipping Stone are preparing for a judicial review, arguing the policies are on shaky constitutional ground, while legal experts from the University of Alberta and University of Calgary signed an open letter saying the policies would infringe on Charter rights. The policies, announced by Premier Danielle Smith on Jan. 31, would introduce restrictions on hormone therapy for those 15 and under and a ban on transgender female athletes in women's sports, among other proposed changes.