Headlines: April 24, 2024

· The Pulse
  • Redevelopment plans for Hangar 11 in Edmonton's Blatchford area are in question after a massive fire destroyed the historic Second World War-era structure on the evening of April 22. The Edmonton Police Service says the fire, which broke out around 7pm and quickly engulfed the white wooden structure, is being investigated as suspicious. NAIT temporarily closed its main campus due to poor air quality from the smoke. The hangar was intended to be the centrepiece of a $40 million mixed-use development that would include student housing and commercial space, accommodating about 250 people. Its future is now uncertain, said Hangar 11 project founder Tim Antoniuk.
  • Edmonton city councillors debated a potential 8.7% property tax increase during a meeting on April 23 that ran late into the evening. Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said that while he hopes to find areas to reduce spending in the operating budget, several factors are putting pressure on the City's finances, including inflation, higher labour costs, lower provincial funding, and previous underinvestment in key municipal services. "We can probably reduce property taxes to Edmontonians if the province is stepping up," said Sohi, who is working on setting up a meeting with the provincial municipal affairs minister.
  • Ward Anirniq Coun. Erin Rutherford published an op-ed in Postmedia discussing the role of Edmonton's city council in managing the financial health of the City. Rutherford wrote that while keeping taxes low is politically popular, it can be detrimental to the long-term viability of a city. "When we don't address growth and inflation, we are digging ourselves a knowingly bigger hole and not effectively using our resources because they are spread too thin," Rutherford wrote.
  • Edmonton city council has approved the construction of two new supportive housing sites in Garneau and Canora, which will provide nearly 100 homes by 2026 for residents at risk of homelessness. The Garneau site will have 34 units, while the Canora site will have 63. Both will also have barrier-free suites for people with disabilities. The projects, funded by the city's affordable housing budget and additional funds from the Alberta Affordable Housing Partnership Program, will be managed by Homeward Trust upon completion.
  • Demand for retail space in Edmonton is increasing even as retail sales slow, according to the latest Edmonton Retail Insight report from real estate firm JLL. Demand is outpacing supply, the report says, with major international and national retailers like Nike, Uniqlo, and Moncler expanding in Edmonton. The growth in the city's retail market is supported by factors such as population growth, the oil and gas industry, and government employment.
  • Empty seats were visible in Rogers Place on April 22 as the Edmonton Oilers faced off against the Los Angeles Kings in Game 1 of the NHL playoffs. Despite an announced sellout, about 180 tickets were still available just before the game started. The unsold seats were largely due to returned holds from the Kings and the NHL. With ticket prices higher than last year, some fans are choosing to skip early-round games, with more than 275 seats unsold for Game 2 and a significant number available on the resale market.
  • Edmonton Oilers forward Adam Henrique, who was recently acquired from the Anaheim Ducks, scored a pivotal goal during the team's game against Los Angeles Kings on April 22, ending his playoff goal drought, which was the longest in NHL history at 4,333 days. His last playoff goal was in Game 4 of the 2012 Stanley Cup finals.
  • Fort Edmonton Park is celebrating its 50th anniversary this season. The park, which opened on May 17, 1974, is known for its immersive cultural heritage programs, including the Indigenous Peoples Experience, paranormal tours, and the historic Capitol Theatre. As part of the celebrations, the park is encouraging Edmontonians to share their memories on social media using the hashtag #FORTED50, and will give away 50 family passes during the anniversary weekend in May.
  • Liz O'Neill, the long-serving executive director of Boys & Girls Clubs Big Brothers Big Sisters of Edmonton & Area has announced her retirement effective Aug. 31, after a 45-year tenure. Under her leadership, the organization grew substantially, expanding its services and reaching more than 3,900 children and youth. Kerry Woodland and Kim Collister will take over as new co-executive directors effective July 1, the organization's board of directors said.
  • The Alberta government is considering allowing alcohol sales in grocery and corner stores, a move that has sparked concern among local liquor store owners. Service Alberta Minister Dale Nally said a panel of MLAs is exploring the idea, but no decisions have been made as the government is still reviewing feedback from industry groups and advocacy organizations. The Alberta Liquor Store Association and other industry representatives say increased competition from the change could harm locally owned small businesses.