The Pulse: May 16, 2022

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  • 19°C: A mix of sun and cloud. 30% chance of showers early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Risk of a thunderstorm late in the afternoon. Wind southeast 20 km/h becoming light near noon. High 19. (forecast)
  • 2-0: The Oilers defeated the Los Angeles Kings in Game 7, advancing to the second round of the playoffs where they'll play the Calgary Flames, who beat the Dallas Stars in overtime. (details)
  • 27: The number of minutes Oilers captain Connor McDavid played in the Oilers' win over the Kings, scoring a goal and an assist. (details)

The old air-traffic control tower at Blatchford framed by the new community entrance

Affordability seen as key to Blatchford achieving mission

By Karen Unland

The high cost of the few homes that have been built so far at Blatchford is cause for concern, say the hosts of Taproot's civic affairs podcast.

But Speaking Municipally's Mack Male and Troy Pavlek are not as impatient with the development as Ward pihêsiwin's Coun. Tim Cartmell, who noted in a May 9 blog post that 2,750 residential units should have been built there by now according to the Blatchford Business Case approved by city council in 2014, but just 32 have connected to the Blatchford Renewable Energy Utility so far.

That gap is worrisome, but it's important to remember the big picture, said Male.

"Blatchford was never going to be built in five or six years," he said on Episode 178. "This was always going to be a multi-decade build. Should we be questioning the pace? Yes. And making sure that we're on track? Yes. But I don't know that we should be throwing everything out for Blatchford quite yet."

Cartmell also noted that "there is nothing affordable about these homes," with prices for townhouses ranging from about $600,000 to $900,000. That affordability angle was a bigger deal to our city hall observers.

"If we think that developments like Blatchford and infill in general are going to be a key part of how we bring City Plan to life, it's really problematic that it's not accessible to more people," said Male.

At those prices, it's not clear that Blatchford will attract families who are sensitive to the market forces that would encourage active transportation and transit use over driving and parking. "Part of the dream of Blatchford is ... you can have a no-car household with bicycles and access to the LRT and walking. If people living in Blatchford don't adopt that en masse, I think it is fair to say that the experiment to some extent has failed," Pavlek said.

Cartmell suggested changes such as making developed land available to builders below market value, partnering with private developers, and cutting back the district energy utility. His motion to ask administration to prepare a report on Blatchford's development was postponed until the week of May 24.

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Headlines: May 16, 2022

By Karen Unland

  • Edmonton has officially recognized Pride Corner, commemorating the resistance of members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community to street preachers who would blast their message on the corner of Whyte Avenue and 104 Street. "This was incredible to have an official proclamation from the mayor and to just be officially recognized," organizer Erica Posteraro told CTV. "A lot of people, especially queer folks, have felt pretty unsafe on this corner due to some religious street preachers that have been in the area and said some pretty harmful and homophobic things."
  • Of the 59 homicides in Edmonton involving members of Central and East African communities, 30 are unsolved, members of the Somali community heard at a May 14 meeting with police aimed at better understanding what is preventing the resolution of cases and exploring what can be done to prevent future deaths. "I think somehow there is that … disconnect," moderator Guled Kassim told Postmedia. "So my takeaway is I don't know how many more of these we have to do before they realize that both parties have to communicate with each other," he said.
  • An 800-foot extension of the High Level streetcar to a new terminal just north of Whyte Avenue is set to open on May 19 after more than a decade of planning by the Edmonton Radial Railway Society. The society has the largest fleet of heritage streetcars in Western Canada.
  • "The playoffs are all the buzz in Alberta's capital city, once the stage for hockey icon Wayne Gretzky, and these days for Oilers star Connor McDavid. But just below the city streets lined with happy fans decked out in the team's orange and blue are train tunnels where an entirely different kind of drama is playing out," writes the Toronto Star's Edmonton-based team in a piece describing a night in the life of downtown as it intersects with houselessness, the opioid crisis, and violence.
  • Students at Lillian Osborne High School won Junior Achievement's Big Pitch competition with their company, called Gaia, which turns disposable masks into unique jewelry. They're donating 10% of their earnings to Waste Free Edmonton to support sustainable initiatives.
  • The province has promised $70 million over the next three years to add 4,900 student spaces to five Edmonton post-secondary institutions. More than half of the money will go to the University of Alberta to create 3,200+ seats in science, engineering, nursing, and business; the rest will be split among Concordia University of Edmonton, MacEwan University, NAIT, and NorQuest College. The Council of Post-Secondary Presidents of Alberta welcomed the news while noting room for growth, while the opposition NDP called the move "deeply hypocritical" in light of approved tuition increases.
  • Swastikas were spray-painted on and near the Ukrainian National Federation Hall at 98 Street and 106 Avenue, an act the Ukrainian Canadian Congress says should be investigated as a possible hate crime. Russia has justified its invasion of Ukraine as an effort of "denazification", and the vandalism seems to be the work of "someone who is obviously influenced by Russian propaganda," the Ukrainian federation's Marco Levytsky told Global News.
  • Pope Francis will visit Edmonton during his six-day trip to Canada at the end of July, a sequel to the apology he made in April for the role Catholics played in residential school abuses.
Edmonton police cars parked in front of an apartment]

Coming up at council: May 16-20, 2022

By Emily Rendell-Watson

Community and public services committee is scheduled to meet on May 16, with executive committee on May 18. There is also a utility committee meeting on May 20. Here are some of the key items on the agenda:

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Oiler fans gather outside of Rogers Place on a sunny evening

Coming up this week: May 16-20, 2022

By Debbi Serafinchon

While we wait for Round 2 of the NHL playoffs to begin, this week offers opportunities to learn how to improve business, better understand race in the criminal justice system, harness hydrogen, retrofit with solar, and build cities better.

Find even more listings in Taproot's weekly roundups.

Photo: Rogers Place will continue to be a hotspot now that the Oilers have made it through to Round 2. (Mack Male/Flickr)