The Pulse: March 7, 2022

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

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  • 1°C: Mainly cloudy with 60% chance of flurries. Wind northwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 increasing to 40 gusting to 70 in the morning. Temperature falling to minus 6 in the afternoon. Wind chill minus 13 in the afternoon. UV index 1 or low. (forecast)
  • 1,164: There are 1,164 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 77 in intensive care. Alberta reported nine new deaths on March 4. (details)
  • 7:30pm: The Oilers (30-22-4) will play the Flames (33-14-7) in Calgary. (details)

A screenshot of Temitope Oriola giving a video-conference

Commission should question police about fatal shooting, says criminologist

By Karen Unland

The Edmonton Police Commission should ask the Edmonton Police Service hard questions about the recent deaths of a robbery suspect and a bystander, says a criminology professor who studies civilian oversight of the police.

"The commission cannot simply accept whatever explanation they've been given," Temitope Oriola said of the Feb. 23 shooting, in which police killed the resident manager of a Central McDougall apartment complex as well as a man said to have an imitation firearm. The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team is investigating.

Oriola said the police commission should "invite the police to come speak with Edmontonians about what happened and what they're doing to ensure that such an incident never repeats itself."

This would be a departure from the way the police commission has been performing. Oriola took exception to an opinion piece written by police commission chair John McDougall and published before a Feb. 17 public meeting where several members of the public raised concerns about how the police were dealing with the convoy protests. That meeting fell short of expectations from those hoping for the commission to hold police accountable.

"I would have expected a much more robust public forum, and not an overly or excessively moderated discussion where people don't feel like what they've said is actually being heard," Oriola said on Episode 168 of Speaking Municipally, Taproot's civic affairs podcast. "And certainly, the police commission cannot be on the defensive when the police are being criticized by members of society, because, in fact, that is the job of the oversight agency."

Oriola, who was named a special adviser to the province in 2021 to assist in its review of the Police Act, said one of his recommendations was to have police commissions have a more explicitly supervisory role.

"While it does not have to degenerate into adversarial relationships, it cannot be one of just unquestioned loyalty or obedience where no one knows who is actually in charge."

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By Mack Male

  • The city declared a Phase 1 parking ban on Friday due to heavy snowfall that contributed to nearly 140 collisions reported to police. The ban is expected to be lifted tonight, with no need for a Phase 2 ban. Edmonton typically receives 19 cm of snow in March, followed by 14 cm on average in April, Edmonton weather nerdery reports.
  • Wild pigs, which have been spotted recently in Ardrossan and elsewhere around the city limits, would cause "absolute destruction" if they find their way to Edmonton's river valley, warns University of Saskatchewan professor Ryan Brook. "Wild pigs are the worst invasive wild mammal on the planet — I don't think there's any debate about that," Brook told Postmedia. The city doesn't have a plan to deal with wild pigs, a spokesperson said.
  • The province has announced $251 million over three years for 15 school projects across Alberta, including a new high school in Castle Downs and a new K-9 school in Lewis Farms. Both are part of the Edmonton Catholic School District — Edmonton Public Schools received no capital funding. "We are at capacity in most of our high schools," said EPSB board chair Trisha Estabrooks. "If we do not receive announcements about a new school, we will be completely out of space in all of our schools by 2027."
  • A letter written by the Women's Advocacy Voice of Edmonton (WAVE) says the city needs to do more to make vehicles for hire safe and equitable. "Each day that passes without proactively making efforts to address safety in Edmonton's vehicles for hire is a day when another Edmontonian risks being sexually assaulted," the group wrote. City council's community and public services committee will receive the annual vehicle for hire report today.
  • The Edmonton-based Progressive Contractors Association of Canada, which represents more than 100 construction companies across the country, has pledged to make jobs available for Ukrainian refugees. "There is a major need for skilled workers right now in our industry and for anyone displaced by the current conflict in Ukraine interested in joining us, we are extremely willing to do what we can to assist them in this regard," Shane Jones, spokesperson for PCL Constructors Inc., told Postmedia.
  • Edmonton Oilers star Connor McDavid has signed an endorsement deal with BetMGM, becoming the first active athlete for one of the four major North American sports leagues to work with the company. "It's also a real honour to be on the same BetMGM team with star athletes like Wayne Gretzky and Kevin Garnett, both of whom I admire very much," McDavid said.
  • On Friday, Premier Jason Kenney said his government would work through the weekend to develop a relief plan for high gas prices. "We can't undo the global forces that are pushing up energy and other costs," Kenney said. "But because the Alberta treasury does benefit from additional resource revenues when prices go up, we think we have some capacity to provide people with at least some relief." An announcement is expected this week.
Mayor Amarjeet Sohi and Councillor Andrew Knack wear masks at council's swearing in ceremony

Coming up at council: March 7-11, 2022

By Emily Rendell-Watson

Community and public services committee meets on March 7, urban planning committee meets on March 8, and executive committee is on March 9. There is also a special city council meeting scheduled for March 8. Here are some of the key items on the agenda:

  • City council is set to discuss Edmonton's face-covering bylaw on March 8, after the Alberta government lifted its mask mandate on March 1. Council was required to review its bylaw when the province lifted its rules, but the city has not yet met its threshold for its second trigger: 100 or fewer active COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people for 28 consecutive days. There have been several developments ahead of the meeting, including the city asking for resident input and Premier Jason Kenney announcing that he wants to amend the Municipal Government Act to force municipalities to lift their mask bylaws. He plans to introduce those changes in the legislature as early as this week.
  • Executive committee will consider the requirements and proposed priorities for a coordinated program and budget for city-owned historic resources. The city currently does not have a program or budget that is focused on the stewardship of historic buildings or sites, but owns and maintains 61 of them.
  • The community and public services committee will look at options to regulate designated driver services, but administration recommends continuing to regulate these services under the business licence bylaw.
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Portraits of five writers and poets participating in She, the Rock

Coming up this week: March 7-11, 2022

By Karen Unland

This week's calendar celebrates women and queer history, explores careers and lessons in communication, and salutes those who do local good:

Photo: Hear Emily Riddle, Dawn Carter, Rayanne Haines, Jacqueline Baker, and Dwennimmen at She, the Rock (SkirtsAfire)