Headlines: April 12, 2024

· The Pulse
  • The City of Edmonton released a report on its proposed spring operating budget adjustments, which recommends an 8.7% tax increase for 2024, 2.1% higher than what council approved last November. Administration also recommends raising property taxes by 7% for 2025 and 6.4% for 2026, compared to the 5.3% and 4.7% approved last fall. Stacey Padbury, Edmonton's chief financial officer, said expenses have grown faster than expected, but staff now have a "much better sense" of how much costs will increase moving forward. Council is scheduled to debate the proposed changes on April 23 and 24.
  • CBC News looked at the intersection of 100 Street and 102 Avenue in Edmonton as a case study for how road design impacts safety. The intersection, which was redeveloped as part of the Valley Line Southeast project, features a multi-modal design to accommodate the LRT, pedestrians, bikes, and cars. Using a time-lapse video, CBC recorded 381 driving infractions over two days, nearly half of which involved cars blocking the crosswalk or the green bike box. Coun. Anne Stevenson said the data "raises questions about some of the design elements." A report evaluating six months of Valley Line operations on 102 Avenue is expected to go to council this fall.
  • Parkland County and Leduc County, Edmonton's neighbours to the west and south, have both declared early-season fire bans due to dry conditions and high winds, with multiple grass fires reported in the counties over the past few days. Alberta is expecting another intense wildfire season this year, driven by drought and above-average spring temperatures. The Alberta government maintains a map of active fire bans and advisories across the province.
  • Strathcona County council voted 7-2 to approve a rezoning bylaw that paves the way for the Sherwood Park Crusaders Hockey Society to build a controversial multiplex project beside the Jackson Homesteaders farm. The vote came after a public hearing that lasted until midnight and drew more than 50 residents. The bylaw will rezone a 17-acre parcel from agricultural development to light industrial. The Crusaders plan to build an $86-million multipurpose facility with 2,500 seating capacity.
  • Global Edmonton announced that broadcaster Brent Williamson will join the station as news director and station manager beginning April 22. Williamson has been an "indispensable leader and mentor to hundreds of journalists" and launched "countless careers and news programs," Corus Entertainment said in a release. He was most recently a regional news director and station manager for Global Manitoba.
  • Health Minister Adriana LaGrange announced the province signed contracts with two private ambulance companies to provide non-emergency inter-facility transfers in Edmonton and Calgary, which LaGrange said will free up Alberta Health Services ambulances. Associated Ambulance and Services will operate 26 ambulances in Edmonton, while Guardian Ambulance will operate 19 in Calgary. Guardian's parent company, Medavie West, was found by the New Brunswick Auditor General to lack oversight and underserve rural communities. Mike Parker, president of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta, issued a statement criticizing the contracts, pointing to what he called the UCP's "failed approach to for-profit health care."
  • The UCP government's proposed Provincial Priorities Act is drawing criticism from those concerned about its impact on research in Alberta. The act would prevent "provincial entities," which includes universities, from negotiating deals with the federal government without provincial approval. University of Calgary political scientist Lisa Young said introducing any kind of political interference into research adjudication and funding decisions would be "a huge blow to the entire research system in Canada." In a statement, Alberta Municipalities criticized a lack of consultation over the legislation and said the province "pivoted from its original rationale" of getting a fair share of federal funding.