Headlines: Feb. 27, 2024

· The Pulse
  • The City of Edmonton reiterated its "best and final offer" to CSU52 members, which includes a 7.25% wage increase with retroactive pay, hybrid work options, and other benefits. The city also launched a page on its website outlining the "key terms" of its offer, as the parties remain at an impasse with the potential for a strike or lockout looming. The city says its offer balances the needs of its employees and the public as it faces a projected $50 million year-end deficit and financial challenges for the 2024-2026 budgets. Union president Lanny Chudyk said the city's offer doesn't include anything new after 18 months of bargaining and questioned why city workers should have to face the consequences of budget constraints. "We have a council, to put it bluntly, that hasn't budgeted for labour increases in their budgets for a number of years," he said.
  • A Phase 1 parking ban on major roads is in effect for Edmonton after a blast of wintry weather and frigid temperatures swept into the city. As much as 30 centimetres of snow fell in Edmonton over an 18-hour period, leading to many collisions. The Phase 1 parking ban is expected to last about 48 hours and prohibits parking on arterial roads, collector roads, bus routes, and within business improvement areas as crews work to clear snow and ice. Any vehicles not moved from Phase 1 routes may be ticketed or towed. Residents can check the Roadways Snow Clearing Map for updates.
  • A new City of Edmonton report projects the city's organic waste volumes will increase to 121,000 tonnes by 2027, more than eight times the 13,700 tonnes processed in 2020. The increase is attributed to the success of the city's green cart program, which was introduced to single-family homes in 2021. The report, which will be discussed at council's utility committee on March 4, proposes three options to deal with the increased waste: building a new outdoor composting facility, further investing in the trash digester, or outsourcing to meet the future demand. Council is expected to review more detailed options in September.
  • Members of Edmonton's Black community are collecting stories and oral histories as part of the Jasper Place Community History Project in west Edmonton, which was launched in 2020 with support from the city and province. Community member Donna Coombs-Montrose, who came to Canada from the Caribbean in the 1960s, is working with a team of contributors collecting stories, videos and photos about the people who have made Jasper Place their home. "It speaks to my being, it speaks to my community and people wanting to see themselves in the history of Canada," Coombs-Montrose said.
  • Erick Ambtman, who was the executive director of EndPovertyEdmonton until recently, said he believes city council's decision to slash the organization's budget will effectively force it to close. "Functionally, that is shuttering the organization. That's closing us," he said. Council made the decision to cut the organization's budget by $600,000 this year in private. Coun. Michael Janz said there has been progress on issues the organization was meant to address, including childcare and public transit. "It was a question of, should we be spending millions of dollars on this vehicle, on this committee?" he said.
  • The Yellowhead Tribal College in Edmonton has introduced a program that trains students in identifying wildfires using drone technology. The certificate program, which is free to Indigenous applicants, aims at enhancing early detection and response to forest fires. The Alberta government recently declared an early start to the 2024 wildfire season due to warm and dry conditions.
  • The Alberta government announced changes to daycare grant funding, a move aimed at easing the transition to a $10-a-day system. Starting in March, daycare operators will receive 80% of their affordability grants and subsidies at the beginning of the month, addressing a major complaint about delayed payments. In late January, daycare operators started rolling closures to protest the delayed payments.
  • The Calgary Chamber of Volunteer Organizations (CCVO) released its Alberta Nonprofit State of the Sector 2023 report, titled Facing the Storm. The report notes that while revenues stabilized, increased expenses put pressure on communities and organizations. It also reported struggles with recruitment, retention, and staff burnout, with 63% of Alberta non-profits finding it challenging or very challenging to meet demand. The CCVO is holding online events to inform its policy priorities and budget requests.
  • Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid is on track to become the first NHL player in 35 years to achieve more than 100 assists in a single season, following Wayne Gretzky. McDavid is leading the league with 68 assists through 53 games. Across the NHL, his 89 points put him third, behind Colorado's Nathan MacKinnon's 96 points and Tampa Bay's Nikita Kucherov's 102 points.