The Pulse: June 3, 2022

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

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  • 23°C: Mainly sunny. Wind becoming southeast 20 km/h gusting to 40 near noon. High 23. UV index 7 or high. (forecast)
  • 0-4: The Oilers lost to the Avalanche in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final. Game 3 is in Edmonton on June 4. (details)
  • 7pm: The Oil Kings play the Seattle Thunderbirds in Game 1 of the WHL Championship Series. (details)
  • 1: Alberta's first case of monkeypox as been confirmed, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said on June 2. (details)

The door of Bike Edmonton with a notice posted on it, and a closeup of the notice from the Alberta Labour Relations Board indicating a unionization effort.

Bike Edmonton unionization part of a wave of non-profit labour-organizing

By Brett McKay

With the employees of Bike Edmonton unanimously voting to unionize, the shop has joined a growing trend of labour organizing within non-profits in Alberta.

"For a lot of people, they're working in the non-profit that they are because they care about the work of the organization and the organization itself. Which I think can be different than a lot of businesses where you're working there for the job," said Chris Chan, an employee of Bike Edmonton who once served as its executive director. He is now part of the bargaining unit represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 1099, after it was certified in April.

The non-profit sector has traditionally seen low levels of union representation in Alberta, but there has been a surge in recent months, beginning with Alpha House in Calgary, which brought attention to traumatizing environments facing shelter workers. That was followed by successful campaigns at the Central Alberta Women's Emergency Shelter and the Trinity Place Foundation of Alberta.

"We have never had such a big push from non-profits," a CUPE organizer told Taproot. "Last year was the first time I think we've seen a big push on non-profits in Alberta in quite a while, and we're still getting calls."

The conditions experienced by staff in housing non-profits and emergency shelters staff are somewhat different from those at Bike Edmonton, which provides services and education for cyclists and promotes a safer and more widespread cycling culture. But an underlying issue among non-profits of all kinds is a culture of selflessness and service in a sector that tends to be underfunded.

Employers often seize on workers' drive to have a positive social impact to justify less-than-adequate wages and burnout-inducing workloads, CUPE president Rory Gill said.

"It really does seem to be a siege mentality within the non-profit social services sector, which is, 'We've got to keep the funding up, we've got to focus on the clients,' and anything that takes away from that is negative and looked on negatively," Gill said. "And it's used as an excuse to oppress – and I don't use that word lightly – really oppress the people who work there."

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Headlines: June 3, 2022

By Kevin Holowack

  • The city is telling Edmontonians to practice vigilance after several aggressive coyotes attacked a dog walker in Thibault Park on May 31. It is denning season, said Troy Courtoreille of the animal control park ranger peace officer program, so the attack may have been spurred by coyote pups in the area. He described the attack as "highly unusual" and the first within city limits to involve multiple coyotes. Feeding coyotes normally draws a $500 fine, but if officials determine someone had been feeding them near the attack site, it could lead to a court appearance, he said.
  • Temitope Oriola, professor of criminology at the University of Alberta, took a closer look at a report on school resource officers in the Edmonton Catholic School District, noting that while it indicated the program is popular, the report does not measure the effectiveness of having police officers in schools, nor does it take into account potential harm. The Catholic school board and Edmonton Police Service decided to keep the program after receiving the report; the Edmonton Public School Board paused its SRO program in September 2020.
  • Drone Delivery Canada has launched a 12-month term for its commercial delivery operations in partnership with the Edmonton International Airport. The Ontario-based company will be using drones to transport cargo for the logistics companies Ziing Final Mile and Apple Express to designated landing zones from its base in the Leduc County industrial park. "(We're) proud to be the first airport in Canada to have commercial drone delivery services in full operation. Our partnership with DDC is helping create a flight path forward for this growing industry," said Myron Keehn, vice-president of business development with EIA.
  • CBC spent some time with the teams patrolling LRT stations as part of the Community Outreach Transit Team (COTT) initiative, a partnership between the city and the Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society. It started with two teams working from 8am to 10pm on weekdays; in February, council approved $3.9 million to expand the program to seven teams by this summer, including overnight and weekend shifts. Officers have been called to LRT stations and transit centres 682 times this year, while the number of unhoused Edmontonians is estimated to have doubled since the start of the pandemic.
  • Edmonton experienced the lowest deterioration in housing affordability in Canada in the first quarter of 2022, with a cost rise of only 1.1%, while the country as a whole experienced the worst quarterly deterioration in more than 27 years, according to a new Housing Affordability Monitor report by the National Bank of Canada. On average, it takes 31 months to save up for a down payment for a $445,395 home in Edmonton, compared to 452 months (37 years) in Vancouver.
  • Rollie Pemberton, better known as Cadence Weapon, published a memoir called Bedroom Rapper. The 36-year-old Edmonton-born hip hop star's career includes the "scene-melting" debut album Breaking Kayfabe, a stint writing album reviews for Pitchfork, several nominations for the Polaris Prize, and opening for Public Enemy, Rihanna, De La Soul, and other superstar acts, as well as once serving as Edmonton's poet laureate. "I personally feel like I have already lived a few different lives. And I feel like there's a story worth telling now," Pemberton told Postmedia.
  • MacEwan University has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Edmonton International Airport to collaborate on new internship and research opportunities for students and faculty and "create new jobs through innovation." The school recently signed similar agreements with the Edmonton Elks, a handful of domestic and international hydrogen companies, and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.
  • Kingsway Legion Branch #175 will likely see a reimbursement from its 2020 property tax bill after council's executive committee agreed that the biggest Royal Canadian Legion branch in Edmonton was overcharged in light of recent tax assessments. Because it has a liquor licence, the branch does not benefit from the property tax exemption enjoyed by other legions, but its tax rate was adjusted in 2021 to reflect the fact that its halls are not licensed 100% of the time.
  • The Edmonton Oil Kings are gearing up for their series against the Seattle Thunderbirds as part of the WHL Championship Series. "It's almost surreal," captain Jake Neighbours told reporters, noting that most of the current Oil Kings have not played a WHL championship series before.
  • Danielle Smith, Brian Jean, and Independent MLA Todd Loewen have officially announced their bid for UCP leadership, joining former finance minister Travis Toews in the race. Premier Jason Kenney announced that Jason Nixon, minister of environment and parks, will act as interim finance minister.
People shopping at an outdoor market greet a dog at a vendor's table

Weekend agenda: June 3-5, 2022

By Debbi Serafinchon

This weekend, you can celebrate Pride with activities throughout the capital city, plant a tree to connect with our roots, get the whole family engaged in the arts, sample some craft beer, or visit the vendors at a couple of 124 Grand Market locations.

Find even more fun things to do in the Arts Roundup.

Photo: Find produce, sauces, art, jewelry, and more as the 124 Grand Market opens two more locations for the season. (124 Grand Market)