Headlines: Feb. 22, 2024

  • City manager Andre Corbould believes it will be "a matter of weeks" until Edmonton's city hall reopens to the public after the Jan. 23 shooting. The city invited news media for a briefing inside the building on Feb. 21 for the first time since the incident. Corbould said the building should remain accessible to the public, but the city is looking at "the most unobtrusive" way to ensure people don't bring in weapons. He also said that his office, not council, will be making decisions about security, and that the Edmonton Police Service and an unnamed municipality are doing a security review. He also confirmed the estimated cost to repair damages from the attack is $100,000.
  • Edmonton city council approved renaming the Oliver neighbourhood to Wîhkwêntôwin, a Cree word meaning "circle of friends" that was chosen by the Oliver Community League after public engagement. The city's naming committee approved the change in August 2023. The city said it will now begin changing the name on websites, maps, signs, bylaws, and other documents at an estimated cost of $680,000.
  • Administration presented a list of cost-cutting options to Edmonton city council on Feb. 21, as part of efforts to reallocate $240 million to core services and council priorities, and to reduce the operating budget by $60 million. The city says it has already found $45 million in savings, through efforts such as streamlining two city departments, redeploying some staff members, and cuts to external training, travel, consultants, and hosting. Council is expected to review an updated list of cost-saving options on March 12, ahead of the spring budget adjustment.
  • During a visit to Edmonton, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the federal government has reached an agreement with the city to fast track the development of more than 5,200 housing units over the next three years. In total, the federal government is investing $175 million in Edmonton through the Housing Accelerator Fund.
  • Edmonton city council unanimously approved a bylaw to rezone a 65-hectare quadrant of the Griesbach neighbourhood for Canada Lands Company to build a mix of single-family and multi-residential homes. The Crown corporation's plan involves demolishing more than 500 affordable rental units currently on the land, of which 85% have three or more bedrooms with below market rents. The corporation said it plans for Griesbach to have 20% affordable housing, but Postmedia reported there is no way to ensure that will happen. NDP MP Blake Desjarlais said just 16% of the planned units meet the definition of affordable housing, and there are "many, many, many people in Griesbach" who will be out of a home.
  • The Arabian Muslim Association received a federal investment of $29,663 to install security measures at Al Rashid Mosque, including CCTV, a panic alarm system, security lighting, and a new door. The funding was provided through the Security Infrastructure Program, which is available to private, non-profit organizations "linked to a community at risk of being victimized by hate-motivated crime."
  • CBC's This is Edmonton podcast spoke to Antidote Movement Club founder Andrea Yacyshyn for its latest episode focused on new approaches to exercise and how fitness classes and programs are focusing more on joy and less on struggle. Host Clare Bonnyman also spoke to University of Alberta professor Kerry Courneya whose research focuses on the benefits of exercise for cancer patients.
  • Premier Danielle Smith delivered a televised speech on Feb. 21 to outline the UCP government's fiscal policies ahead of next week's provincial budget. During the speech, Smith signalled the province will limit spending while increasing the Heritage Savings Trust Fund in an effort to reduce Alberta's reliance on resource revenues. "There is no doubt in my mind we are capable of achieving these goals; but we need to start today and stick with it fervently year after year," she said. Smith also said higher income tax rates or a sales tax are not the answer to budget challenges.
  • Residents of Westlock, a town north of Edmonton, will vote in a plebiscite on Feb. 22 on whether to ban Pride crosswalks. The vote comes after the town received a petition advocating for a bylaw that would only allow white-striped crosswalks and permit only federal, municipal, and provincial flags to be flown on municipal property. More than 700 of Westlock's 4,802 residents signed the petition. Town council has opposed the plebiscite, saying it would give Westlock an image of being discriminatory.