The Pulse: June 7, 2021

Here's what you need to know about Edmonton today.

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  • 16°C: Mainly cloudy with 30% chance of showers in the morning. Showers beginning near noon. Risk of a thunderstorm in the afternoon. Wind becoming northeast 20 km/h gusting to 40 near noon. High 16. (forecast)
  • 3 million: Alberta has delivered 3 million COVID-19 vaccine doses. As of June 4, 66% of the population have received a first dose and 13% are fully vaccinated. (details)
  • 96: The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units dipped below 100 for the first time since April 16. (details)
  • 10,000: About 10,000 additional surgeries were delayed during Alberta's third wave of the coronavirus pandemic. The 25,000 surgeries delayed during first and second waves are still being rebooked now. (details)

A hydrogen bus.

City of Edmonton recommends $65.5M capital budget increase

By Mack Male

Administration is recommending a $65.5 million increase to the approved capital budget in the spring 2021 supplemental capital budget adjustment. That would bring the total approved tax-supported capital budget to more than $9.6 billion, including $7.1 billion in the 2019-2022 budget and $2.5 billion in 2023 and beyond.

The 2021 construction season kicked off in early May with 268 projects underway. The City of Edmonton's capital program was not reduced due to the pandemic in "an effort to support jobs and the economy in line with the efforts of other orders of government."

The recommended adjustments include $12.3 million due to budget overruns, $13 million for new projects including two Edmonton Police Service projects totalling $12.7 million, and $34.9 million in new funding for existing projects including $1.26 million to purchase two hydrogen buses as part of the bus fleet replacement project.

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By Michelle Ferguson

  • The Downtown Business Association is launching a pilot program with Nook Café to "educate and train businesses wanting to take a proactive approach" to the opioid crisis. DBA director Puneeta McBryan called for more provincial support, following a spike in overdoses last week.
  • A four-day ceremony of healing and prayer is being held on the lawn of St. Joseph's Basilica to honour the 215 children found buried at a former residential school site in Kamloops. The ceremony will be held until Tuesday.
  • The city is launching a new anti-racism grants program. The program will support local non-profits and grassroots initiatives with the development of anti-racism projects and events.
  • A group of Edmonton doctors sent a letter to Premier Jason Kenney urging him to cancel or postpone the Calgary Stampede and other major summer events. "In our opinion, it is unsafe to hold a major event such as the Calgary Stampede, which may draw attendees and participants from multiple provinces and countries..." reads the letter.
  • Convicted killer Bradley Barton's mistrial application was dismissed by a judge last week. The trial will proceed to a sentencing hearing, reports the CBC. Barton was found guilty of killing Cindy Gladue, a 36-year-old Métis and Cree woman from Edmonton.
  • The Boyle McCauley Health Centre's mobile clinic has provided vaccinations to over 1,700 Edmontonians since launching the program in April.
  • A new bursary aims to reduce financial barriers for LGBTQ2S+ post-secondary students in Edmonton and Northern Alberta. The Shane Scott Pride Fund was launched last week at the beginning of Pride Month.
  • The Re/Max Field is being restored and upgraded this summer. The Edmonton Riverhawks are set to debut on the field in 2022.
Coming up at council: June 7-11, 2021

Coming up at council: June 7-11, 2021

By Mack Male

The majority of what city council will consider this week are recommendations from committees, including an updated funding strategy for the 170th Street Footbridge, a minor update to the public engagement policy, the 2021 COVID-19 Relief Grant Program for The Orange Hub, and a restoration of the weed management program to 2020 service levels at a cost of $1.14 million.

Here's what else is coming up at city council this week:

  • Edmonton Global and the Edmonton International Airport are calling for a new $15 million regional Air Service Opportunities Fund to support flight attraction in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and "to ensure that the region can remain competitive globally to attract investment." If approved, the City of Edmonton would contribute $9.88 million over three years including $1.94 million in 2021.
  • The draft Safe Passing Distance bylaw would establish rules for safely sharing the road.
  • Bylaw 19756 would provide a guarantee of $3.3 million on a line of credit for the Edmonton Metropolitan Transit Services Commission for up to three years ending July 31, 2024.
  • Bylaw 19757 would provide a $4-million loan to the Edmonton Space & Science Foundation to bridge until funding from the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program for the Aurora Project is received.
  • Administration is recommending that 75 land use plans "that have fulfilled their purpose and are redundant" be repealed. Five area structure plans and the zoning bylaw require corresponding amendments.

Meetings are streamed live on city council's YouTube channel.

Photo: The weed management budget could be restored with council's approval. (Mack Male/Flickr)

The Buffalo and the Buffalo Fur Trader.

Speaking Municipally: Episode 132

By Mack Male

In Episode 132 of Speaking Municipally, hosts Troy Pavlek and Mack Male investigate what happened to the public art for the $155 million Walterdale Bridge.

The Edmonton Arts Council (EAC) had selected artist Ken Lum to provide "input for various aspects of the aesthetics of the new bridge, as well as two pieces of public art for the north and south river bank areas." But when the bridge opened in 2018, there was no art.

When asked about it at the time, the EAC confirmed the project was eligible for the Percent for Art program and said it would have more information in 2019. But that update never came.

It turns out that Ken Lum did create the two pieces but they have been sitting in outdoor storage since 2016. "The city has expressed worry that First Nations and Indigenous voices today would object to this work and read it as colonialist, despite my intentions," Lum wrote on his website.

Called "The Buffalo" and "The Buffalo Fur Trader", the two bronze pieces were to be installed on either end of the bridge. The pieces would "stare warily at one another across the expanse of the North Saskatchewan river – the wisdom offered by First Nations and Indigenous peoples vs. the folly of the rapacious capitalist represented by the hatted white man atop a pile of buffalo pelts," Lum wrote.

Photo: The Buffalo and the Buffalo Fur Trader. (Ken Lum)

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Coming up this week: June 7-11, 2021

Coming up this week: June 7-11, 2021

By Sara Gouda

  • Theatre Network presents Nextfest 2021 from June 3-13. The multidisciplinary art festival will promote the development of around 600 emerging artists.
  • The ADR Institute of Alberta is hosting a free webinar on the societal and political landscape when building relationships with Indigenous people on June 8. The event will cover the history of Indigenous communities in Alberta.
  • Edmonton Global is offering a free webinar on June 8 for investors about plant protein fractionation in the Edmonton Metropolitan Region. The event will outline opportunities for investments, and discuss strategies, analysis and finances.

Thanks to Kage for sharing his photo with us!