Headlines: March 11, 2024

· The Pulse
  • City of Edmonton employees represented by Civic Service Union 52 overwhelmingly rejected the city's "best and final" contract offer, with 87.6% voting against it. The city's proposal included a 7.25%-wage increase from 2021 through 2025, which the union says is not enough given cost of living increases and inflation. CSU 52 president Lanny Chudyk said the vote results show there is a "misalignment" between the city and its employees, and called for negotiations to resume for a fair agreement. The union, which represents about 5,000 municipal employees including some Edmonton Public Library staff, could issue a strike notice as early as March 11 if no further discussions between the parties happen.
  • Advocates are concerned that the 2024 Alberta budget does not include enough funding to address Edmonton's growing housing and homelessness crisis. The budget includes $24.5 million in 2024-25, along with $70 million over the next three years, to add new shelter spaces and fund operational costs. However, the Edmonton Coalition on Housing and Homelessness called for more substantial investments in affordable and social housing to prevent the situation from worsening.
  • CTV profiled the Hope Mission, which is Edmonton's largest shelter provider. The organization recently expanded its operations to a new 30,000-square-foot warehouse, significantly increasing its capacity to support those experiencing homelessness. The facility includes a commercial laundry for shelters, a thrift shop, and a school lunch program. The organization is facing growing demands due to mental health and addictions issues, a lack of appropriate housing, and an increase in newcomers and refugees.
  • Consulting company disABILITY Accessible by Design is helping public and private spaces become more inclusive for those with disabilities. Brad Bartko, an Edmonton resident born with Cerebral Palsy, co-founded the company with his wife Jennifer in late 2021. Since then, their company has provided staff training and accessibility recommendations to 36 establishments, focusing on inclusive language and reducing barriers for people with a variety disabilities. Bartko was also the lead consultant for Edmonton's K-Days festival in 2023 to enhance its accessibility.
  • Erin McDonald, chair of the City of Edmonton's Naming Committee, appeared on CBC's Radio Active to speak about how the committee's operations are evolving. "We're now looking at the names that are being requested on a much deeper level, thinking about the future of the city and contemplating could this name potentially cause harm," McDonald said. She said this might mean selecting names that aren't people but are instead concepts or ideas that can be more universally celebrated.
  • Family and friends of a 13-year-old girl who was sexually assaulted inside a family change room at the Terwillegar Recreation Centre last week are calling for improved security measures at city facilities. "The city needs to be accountable for this," a family friend said, suggesting the city introduce a wristband policy that would require ID be shown before entry. Coun. Tim Cartmell said he's already met with city administration to discuss options in response to community safety concerns. A 20-year-old man suspected in the attack turned himself in to the Edmonton Police Service, though his name has not been released pending formal charges.
  • The Gateway, the student-run newspaper at the University of Alberta, successfully passed a referendum with 60% of the vote to create a dedicated fee unit to ensure its financial sustainability. The victory follows years of the newspaper operating on reserve funds, advertisements, grants, and donations. "In an age of student apathy and funding cuts to media all over Canada, this was a tremendous win," Gateway editor-in-chief Katie Teeling wrote in an online post.
  • Edmonton police arrested and charged a 34-year-old man after a metal projectile was thrown off a Whitemud Drive overpass on March 6 and seriously injured a woman who was travelling in a vehicle next to her infant. It was the latest in a series of incidents being investigated by the Edmonton Police Service in which bricks, rocks, and a concrete slab have been thrown onto Whitemud Drive from the 53 Avenue overpass. Police say they are investigating whether the most recent incident is connected to previous reports.
  • The Ukrainian National Youth Federation held a rally on March 9 in Edmonton's Churchill Square to honour the children who have died in Russia's war on Ukraine. Federation president Inna Ivchenko said the demonstration aimed to highlight the war's impact on the country's people. "We just wanted to show people that it's not only about the army (and the fighting), it's about civilians," Ivchenko said.
  • The Office to Advance Women Apprentices Alberta celebrated its grand opening in Edmonton on March 8 to coincide with International Women's Day. The office is supported by a $2.354 million federal grant and aims to support women in the skilled construction trades.