Headlines: March 6, 2024

· The Pulse
  • Mayor Amarjeet Sohi expressed optimism about making progress on housing and homelessness in Edmonton following a landmark meeting with municipal, Indigenous, provincial, and federal representatives on March 5. "This is the first time that I know that four orders of government have come together at the same table to talk about how we can better coordinate existing funding, where the gaps are, and what more we need to do together to tackle this crisis," Sohi said. Representatives discussed options to address the crisis, including improving government coordination, accessing national housing strategy funds, and speeding up the creation of affordable housing. The meeting was called after Edmonton city council declared a housing and homelessness emergency in January.
  • Coun. Tim Cartmell, who chairs council's utility committee, says EPCOR's communication efforts were not sufficient during the ban on non-essential water use in Edmonton and surrounding areas. EPCOR representatives attended the committee's March 4 meeting to provide an overview of an equipment failure at the E.L. Smith water treatment plant that prompted the ban. The committee also heard from some of the 250 business owners EPCOR directly contacted to cease operations or reduce water use. "EPCOR's communication efforts must improve dramatically," Cartmell said in his statement posted online. "While their approach was fair and equitable, this was not clearly communicated and understood by the affected customers."
  • Changes to Edmonton's zoning bylaw are concerning some residents who worry about the new developments that are now permitted in residential areas. Julie MacLennan says she has concerns about the lot next to her McKernan home being rezoned to allow the construction of a four-storey apartment. While councillors unanimously approved the rezoning during a Feb. 20 hearing, both MacLennan and the McKernan Community League argued the development doesn't fit with the neighbourhood's character. Coun. Michael Janz said the city needs to find ways to increase density amid a climate crisis and housing emergency. "We never want to be in a situation where 40 residents are held back from having a home because of one," Janz said.
  • The Jan. 23 attack at Edmonton city hall was politically motivated, RCMP said during a March 5 news conference. "Our investigation shows that his actions, including the use of violence, led us to believe that this was a politically motivated crime and ultimately led to the supporting terrorism offences here," Supt. Glenn Sells told reporters. Bezhani Sarvar, 28, has been charged with counselling commission of a terrorism offence and possession of property for terrorist purposes. He is due back in court on March 15 as his case transitions from provincial to federal jurisdiction.
  • Edmonton's housing market improved in February as detached home sales increased by 60% compared to the previous year, according to the latest monthly report from the Realtors Association of Edmonton. The average price of an Edmonton home is now $407,458, which is a 10.4%-increase over the same time last year, while detached homes hit an average of $508,411, a 5.2%-increase from January 2024 and a 10.7%-increase from February 2023.
  • Construction on the Valley Line West LRT project is continuing in 2024, with significant work on 107 Street and 102 Avenue planned, and the development of new LRT stops connecting Lewis Farms to downtown. The project hit several key milestones in 2023, including the demolition and reconstruction of the Stony Plain Road Bridge, progress on an LRT bridge over Anthony Henday Drive, and progress on the elevated guideway between West Edmonton Mall and the Misericordia Hospital. Marigold Infrastructure Partners is building the 14-kilometre line, which is expected to be complete by 2028.
  • Edmonton Oilers players Zach Hyman and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins became off-ice heroes after they helped three teens push their car out of a snowbank in Edmonton's west end on the weekend. "Next day I was like, 'No way that just happened,'" said Karson Scholtes, who was driving the car. "I don't think anyone would have believed me if there was no picture proof."
  • Edmonton-based Flair Airlines is seeking to acquire several Boeing 737 Max 8 planes from the now-defunct Lynx Air. Flair CEO Stephen Jones said in court filings that the company should be allowed to bid on Lynx's assets alongside other major airlines in a court-supervised sale. Jones said acquiring planes would support the company's growth plans, though some observers noted Flair's financial challenges, including $67.2 million owed in unpaid taxes, could hold it back.
  • The Edmonton Oilers have placed forward Sam Gagner on waivers for assignment to the American Hockey League's Bakersfield Condors. Gagner, who has been with the Oilers for three stints since being drafted in 2007, has scored five goals and made five assists in 27 games this season. His career with the Oilers includes 116 goals and 211 assists over 569 games.