Headlines: March 21, 2024

· The Pulse
  • Edmonton city hall will reopen to the public on March 25, two months after an attack inside the building prompted a security review and multiple repairs. Visitors will now have to undergo security screening and bag checks at a dedicated entrance, while city staff and media must display visible identification within the building. Mayor Amarjeet Sohi, some city councillors, and municipal staff have gradually returned to the building since the first week of February, with additional employees and guests returning in mid-March. No one was physically injured in the Jan. 23 incident, during which a gunman fired several shots and threw a Molotov cocktail in atrium.
  • Edmonton city councillors weighed in on Coun. Sarah Hamilton's decision to leave a meeting early last week to attend at a United Conservative Party fundraiser. Some questioned whether it was appropriate to miss council business for a partisan event. "We all had to reschedule things in our calendar to accommodate the extended meeting, and we had a good 24-hour notice," said Coun. Keren Tang. Others said they have questions about whether Hamilton's attendance was a violation of council's code of conduct, which prohibits councillors from attending partisan events in their capacity as an elected official. In a statement, Hamilton defended her participation in the event and clarified that she was only there in a personal capacity.
  • Edmonton's Bissell Centre and Boyle Street Community Services are facing a funding shortfall for day shelter services after Edmonton city council decided during a private meeting not to renew temporary gap funding that began in 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mayor Amarjeet Sohi noted the funding was always meant to be temporary and highlighted the need for the provincial and federal governments to take responsibility for long-term support. It was the second recent funding decision council made in private affecting the city's social services sector, following a funding cut to EndPovertyEdmonton.
  • The City of Edmonton is urging property owners to examine their property assessments and contact the city with any inquiries ahead of the March 25 deadline to file formal complaints. Property assessments reflect the market value as of July 1, 2023. Owners can compare the assessment of their property to similar properties in their neighbourhood on the city website. Tax amounts mailed to property owners in May can't be disputed.
  • The City of Edmonton has awarded $1.5 million in grant funding to 11 community organizations for programs aimed at preventing and intervening in gang violence. The grants are provided by the federal Building Safer Communities Fund. The initiatives range from cultural and physical activities to educational workshops and mentorship programs, all designed to offer alternatives and support to vulnerable community members.
  • Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi says he plans to discuss options to better support struggling arts and culture festivals in the city. "I am going to dig deeper into this and possibly come up with some solutions that may involve some public money but also how we mobilize the private sector," Sohi said. Earlier this week, the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival launched an appeal for community support as it faces budget challenges and rising costs, while the Works Art and Design Festival has had to reduce its duration because of financial pressures.
  • Fort Edmonton Park is poised to receive a $1.5 million loan from the City of Edmonton to help recover from the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and closures prompted by wildfire smoke. Council's executive committee approved the loan during its March 20 meeting, but the decision requires final approval from city council. The park is also exploring other ways to generate revenue, including seasonal events and a potential admission fee increase, said Darren Dalgleish, CEO of the Fort Edmonton Management Co.
  • An updated 10-year facilities plan from Edmonton Public Schools projects student enrolment will increase from 115,000 in September 2023 to about 176,000 by 2033. The division could reach 100% capacity by the 2026-27 school year without new schools, said superintendent Darrel Robertson.
  • The death of an Edmonton security guard who got into an altercation with a man in a parkade after responding to a series of vehicle break-ins has been deemed "non-criminal." While the guard's death was initially deemed suspicious, an autopsy has since ruled out homicide. An Edmonton Police Service sergeant said he couldn't elaborate on the cause of death because it is no longer a criminal matter.
  • The University of Alberta and the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology have been selected as test centres for NATO's Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA). Their inclusion in the DIANA network allows both institutions to expand their research and development capabilities in technologies with both civilian and military applications, the province said in a release.