The Pulse: Jan. 31, 2022

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

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  • 10°C: Periods of snow ending late in the morning then a mix of sun and cloud with 30% chance of flurries. Blowing snow in the morning and early in the afternoon. Amount 2 to 4 cm. Wind northwest 50 km/h gusting to 80 diminishing to 20 in the afternoon. Temperature falling to minus 16 in the afternoon. Wind chill near minus 23. (forecast)
  • 1,532: There were 1,532 people in hospital with COVID-19 in Alberta on Jan. 28, including 105 in intensive care. The province reported 13 new deaths, bringing the pandemic total to 3,531. (details)
  • 5:30: The Oilers (22-16-2) will face off against the Ottawa Senators (13-21-4) tonight at 5:30pm. (details)

A parking sign and pedestrian sign in front of an orange wall

Parkade and pedway decisions seem to contradict City Plan

By Karen Unland

Decisions to fund a parkade at the Orange Hub and a pedway to the Station Lands throw into question whether city council is committed to the City Plan, say the City Hall observers on Taproot's civic affairs podcast.

Council voted 9-4 in favour of building a $14-million parkade at the Orange Hub, replacing a structurally unsound parking garage. The city bought the building in 2017, against administration's recommendation, after MacEwan University vacated it to consolidate at the school's downtown location.

Coun. Anne Stevenson suggested setting the $14 million aside to see if the site could be redeveloped in a way that is more in line with the City Plan. Coun. Andrew Knack, whose Nakota Isga ward includes the 156th Street building, agreed with that idea.

"I would be shocked if there weren't developers who would be very interested in building a mixed-use development across the street from the LRT," he said.

But Michael Janz and Ashley Salvador were the only other councillors to agree, and Stevenson's motion failed, which disappointed the hosts of Speaking Municipally.

"We had an opportunity to demolish a parking lot and do something else on this property that is right next to an LRT line, and council doubled down and said, 'Nope, we're building an above-ground, three-level parkade,' " Mack Male said on Episode 164.

He and co-host Troy Pavlek were similarly disappointed with council's rejection of Stevenson's motion to cancel $26 million in funding for the 103 Avenue Pedway to Qualico's Station Lands project. The province approved this amended use of the downtown community revitalization levy on Jan. 26, so the next step is for council to vote to "borrow the money upfront to actually build the pedway in the hopes that it will be paid back through investment growth as a result of the CRL," Male said.

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By Mack Male and Doug Johnson

  • Michael Cooper, MP for St. Albert-Edmonton, attended the Truckers for Freedom Rally in Ottawa and images of him talking in front of flags bearing symbols of hate spread across social media. Mayor Amarjeet Sohi and St. Albert Mayor Cathy Heron said they were "troubled" by the photos. "We are all judged by the company we keep," wrote David Climenhaga in a roundup of reaction to Cooper's presence at the rally.
  • Local supporters of the Truckers for Freedom Rally converged on the legislature grounds on Saturday. A trucker convoy from Acheson held up traffic and blared their horns for hours in the city's core, and along major roadways including Anthony Henday Drive, Gateway Boulevard, and Yellowhead Trail.
  • Edmonton can expect to see between five and 10 cm of snow and winds gusting up to 80 km/h today. On Sunday, Environment Canada issued a special weather statement for the province — snow and strong winds will develop in Central Alberta and begin to move south.
  • Alberta Regional Rail is proposing the creation of a commuter rail line between Edmonton and Calgary, which would stop at a number of other communities along the way. The project is projected to cost about $2.2 billion, and the company estimates that it would take at least four months to lay the rail between the two cities.
  • The 93-year-old Acacia Lodge — a Whyte Avenue building historically used by Freemasons — was vandalized on Friday night with hateful messages, mostly relating to Freemasonry. "We were coming in for a breakfast meeting this morning and it was a bit of a shocker," said Fred Bowker, Acacia Building Association secretary-treasurer. "We've had graffiti on the side of the building a number of times, but it was not the type of words that were there today."
  • Edmonton Transit's mid-winter service adjustments — informed by feedback from residents — will start on Feb. 6. And starting on Feb. 14, on-demand transit will be available at the Hills at Charlesworth neighbourhood, and will take passengers to the Mill Woods Transit Centre.
  • As of Jan. 26, 413 out of the 1,247 inmates at the Edmonton Remand Centre were sick with COVID-19, up from just 21 on Jan. 14. Eight AHS staff and 19 correctional officers were also sick.
  • Data from the University of Calgary's Centre for Health Informatics show that the average amount of COVID-19 detected in wastewater readings in Edmonton has decreased since a peak on Jan. 3.
  • The UCP will hold a leadership review of Premier Jason Kenney at the Cambridge Red Deer Hotel and Conference Centre on April 9. Alberta's premier is currently sitting at an approval rating of 26%.
Organics bin and recycling on a snowy street

Coming up at council: Jan. 31-Feb. 4, 2022

By Emily Rendell-Watson

Community and public services committee meets on Jan. 31, executive committee is scheduled for Feb. 2, and utility committee is on Feb. 4. Here are some of the key items scheduled to be considered:

  • Executive committee will review a recommendation to council about the budget adjustments necessary to convert the Coliseum Inn to supportive housing. This project was funded under the federal government's Rapid Housing Initiative. If approved, the project will provide 98 new units of supportive housing for Edmontonians experiencing homelessness or in severe need of housing.
  • Community and public services committee will get a report on the results of the alcohol consumption in river valley parks pilot project. The data gathered indicates that the majority of people using designated sites followed the rules and regulations, while most violations were related to alcohol consumption outside of designated areas. Alcohol is no longer permitted in parks now that the pilot project has ended, but a permanent program could be established by city council.
  • Utility committee will hear about progress on the Edmonton Cart Rollout project, after approximately 250,000 homes received a garbage cart and food scraps/organics cart in 2021. The new method of sorting and putting out waste is part of the city's 25-year waste strategy. The report found that as of December 2021, more than 98% of carts were being set out properly.
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The LRT rolls beneath the High Level Bridge below a yellow sky

Coming up this week: Jan. 31-Feb. 4, 2022

By Andy Trussler and Karen Unland

This week's calendar offers a series of talks for a better world, some advice on problem-solving and advocacy, the next step in a pitch competition, and a look at heat islands and winter city design.

Photo: The sun paints the sky behind the LRT and High Level Bridge. (Justin David/Instagram)