Headlines: March 4, 2024

· The Pulse
  • The City of Edmonton is exploring an urban farming program to use public land for growing food, raising chickens, or beekeeping. While people can currently apply for permits to urban farm on private land, the new program would allow commercial and non-profit applicants to use parks, urban spaces, rooftops, and other facilities, said Nicole Fraser with the city. The public can provide feedback through an online survey until March 10.
  • Prosecutors have dropped the obstruction charge against Edmonton journalist Brandi Morin, who was arrested and jailed for five hours on Jan. 10 while reporting on the dismantling of a homeless encampment. Morin, an Indigenous journalist who works for Ricochet Media, posted an update calling it a "huge win for press freedom," and thanked the people and organizations who campaigned for the charge against her to be dropped. A spokesperson for the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service said it decided to drop the charge after further assessment determined there was no public interest in pursuing the case.
  • The Alberta government announced construction will begin on 10 new schools across the province this year, including a new public school in south Edmonton for grades 7 to 12 and a new K to 9 Catholic school in Rundle Heights. The 2024 provincial budget includes $2.1 billion over three years for building and modernizing schools, with 14 projects in the Edmonton area, including funding to begin planning a new francophone school for grades 7 to 9 in the city's west end. However, with the rapid enrolment growth in the city, there is still a pressing need for more schools, said Edmonton Public School Board chair Julie Kusiek.
  • The Newcomer Entrepreneur Forum, which supports new Albertans with their business ventures, happened at the Edmonton Expo Centre on March 2. The event, hosted by the non-profit organization Business Link, features panels and workshops on topics such as provincial regulations and financing. Jezryl Austria, an immigrant from the Philippines and founder of the apparel business North Rage, said the support from Business Link was instrumental in launching his clothing line.
  • Edmonton ski enthusiasts got a chance to hit the slopes and trails thanks to a recent snowfall, after warm weather made for a challenging start to the season. "The snow is here, we're so happy to have snow," said Jim Rickett, president of the Edmonton Nordic Ski Club, which earlier had to resort to snow farming to maintain its tracks. The Edmonton Ski Club said it hopes to keep the slopes open until the end of March.
  • Edmonton woman Irene Lantz celebrated her 110th birthday on March 2, making her one of the city's oldest citizens. Lantz was born in Saskatchewan and moved to Edmonton in the 1950s. She stayed in her own home until she was 104 and has been living at the Canterbury Foundation since 2018. Her family attributes her long life to an active lifestyle, a healthy diet, and a positive outlook.
  • Michaella Montana, a journalist from Frog Lake First Nation and Edmonton, has made history as eTalk's first Indigenous full-time host. Montana has advocated for Indigenous visibility in media, actively promoting Indigenous stories and perspectives. "Since I've been working with eTalk we've covered so many Indigenous stories and TV shows and movies. We didn't have anything like that growing up," Montana said.
  • A new $5-million pedestrian bridge on the Trans Canada Trail has opened, connecting Fort Saskatchewan to Sturgeon County near Edmonton. The bridge was a major infrastructure project by the River Valley Alliance and was funded by Sturgeon County and Fort Saskatchewan, along with the provincial and federal governments.
  • Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi recalled the role of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in advocating for Sohi's release from an Indian prison in 1988. Mulroney, who died on Feb. 29 at the age of 84, was instrumental in freeing Sohi and helping him return from India, where he had been imprisoned due to his political activism as a student in Canada. "He said, 'Look Amarjeet, we discussed your case at the cabinet table, and we knew that what we are doing is the right thing to do to bring you back home.' And that was pretty touching," Sohi recalled.
  • A new $200 electric vehicle registration tax introduced in the 2024 Alberta budget is being criticized by electric vehicle owners and advocacy groups. The province says the tax will support road maintenance and also accounts for the fact that electric vehicle owners don't pay fuel tax. However, Electric Vehicle Association of Alberta president William York argued the tax is unfair because it applies regardless of a vehicle's weight or distance driven, and could discourage Albertans from buying electric vehicles.