The Pulse: Dec. 13, 2021

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  • -13°C: Mainly sunny. Increasing cloudiness early in the afternoon then 30% chance of flurries late in the afternoon. Fog patches dissipating in the morning. Wind up to 15 km/h. High minus 13. Wind chill minus 27 in the morning and minus 21 in the afternoon. (forecast).
  • 23: As of Friday, Dec. 10 there are 23 known cases of the Omicron variant in Alberta. (details).
  • 3-1: The Oilers (16-10-0) lost to the Hurricanes (19-6-1) on Dec. 11, extending their losing streak to five games. (details).

An Edmonton police vehicle, with Christmas lights in the background

Police funding a contentious issue as council prepares to make decisions on 2022 budget

By Emily Rendell-Watson

City council will continue deliberating the 2022 operating and capital budgets this week, and Mayor Amarjeet Sohi has asked councillors to bring their amendments for both to the next budget meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 14.

One of the major items so far is the police budget, an issue that Edmontonians who participated in Taproot's People's Agenda project indicated was especially important to them, in light of the public hearings into racism and policing that led to the creation of the Community Safety and Well-Being Task Force.

Police Chief Dale McFee, who presented to council on the police budget last week and took questions, wants to see the Edmonton Police Service continue with the funding formula that the previous council approved (which guarantees an increase each year based on population growth and inflation). The city spends about 15% of its annual $3-billion budget on policing, and the current proposed property tax increase of 1.8% includes 0.7% for the police service.

McFee pointed to a need to continue making Edmonton safer by reducing crime and other social issues, while councillors raised questions about priorities like balance and overall financial sustainability in the capital and operating budgets. They also questioned McFee on how to measure results.

"I'm eight years in and I still don't know how to measure if we're getting the results that we need," said Coun. Andrew Knack. "I don't know what metrics we should be using, I don't know how to determine if we're getting good value for money, and I'm struggling with this as I have been for years … how do we finally create clear measures that we can follow and track?"

Taproot's Speaking Municipally broke down the police budget discussion in its latest episode, with co-hosts Mack Male and Troy Pavlek weighing in on the expected outcome.

"I don't think we're going to get a (police budget) decrease. I think at best, we're going to get a freeze," said Male. "I think what council is going to say is, 'We have this report coming back next year on some alternatives to the EPS funding formula.' ... I think they're probably going to be keen to wait for that before they make any large changes."

The report in question is in response to the 14th recommendation from the task force in its Safer for All report, calling for police funding to be brought in line with comparable cities and a portion of it be tied to specific performance. It also recommends reinvesting the savings into social services and "other community safety ecosystem needs." The report is expected back in the first quarter of 2022.

Continue reading


By Doug Johnson

  • Edmonton's slick, icy streets pose a risk to people with mobility issues, reports Global News. Christian Zyp, who became a bilateral amputee after getting meningitis a few years ago, said too many parts of the city are still too icy. Crews are applying sand and salt to sidewalks near seniors centres and active pathways, the city said.
  • City council is no longer planning on building a new compost facility at its waste management centre. Instead, it is opting to pay $5.8 million a year for the waste to be processed through three local private companies. The new facility was expected to be built by 2025 — as a replacement for the old compost facility which shut down in 2019 — to help the city divert more waste from reaching the landfill.
  • The 100th annual Izena Ross Summit was held at the Stanley A. Milner Library on Sunday. The event — which gets its name from Ross, the first woman to be a city councillor in Edmonton — celebrates female leadership in the city and highlights the need for more representation.
  • The Tawatinâ pedestrian bridge — which connects the Cloverdale and Riverdale communities — officially opened on Sunday. The 260-metre long shared-use pathway is covered in Indigenous artwork designed by Métis artist David Garneau.
  • A livable wage for a family of three in Edmonton is $18.10 per hour, according to the Edmonton Living Wage 2021 Update. For a single person, this amount is $21.26 per hour.
  • The Edmonton Police Service said that there have been no reports of fraudulent vaccine records since the start of Alberta's vaccine mandate. Creating or using a fake vaccine record carries fines of up to $100,000 for a first-time offence, and the act may also be subject to prosecution.
  • An Edmonton woman was given just a matter of months to live after her cancer surgery was cancelled. At least 15,000 surgeries have been cancelled after the province saw a fourth wave of the pandemic.
A cyclist riding in an Edmonton bike lane during the winter

Coming up at council: Dec. 13-17, 2021

By Emily Rendell-Watson

City council will aim to finalize the 2022 budget this week before the holiday season and scheduled break until Jan. 17. Here are some of the items that will be considered in addition to the budget this week:

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

Photo: City of Edmonton/Twitter

A ferry on the North Saskatchewan River.

Coming up this week: Dec. 13-17, 2021

By Andy Trussler

Photo: A ferry on the North Saskatchewan River. (Satpreet Singh/Instagram)