The Pulse: June 8, 2022

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  • 21°C: Sunny in the morning then a mix of sun and cloud with 60% chance of showers late in the afternoon. Risk of a thunderstorm late in the afternoon. Wind becoming southeast 20 km/h gusting to 40 in the morning. High 21. (forecast)
  • 2: The second case of monkeypox was confirmed in Alberta, which Dr. Deena Hinshaw confirmed is not linked to the first case. (details)
  • 4-0: The Oil Kings defeated the Thunderbirds in Game 3 of the 2022 WHL Championship Series. (details)
  • 8:05pm: The Oil Kings play the Thunderbirds in Seattle for Game 4 of the 2022 WHL Championship Series. (details)

The mayor and city council sitting around the table in council chambers

Councillors' actions on police funding differ from candidates' words

By Karen Unland

City council voted 12-1 on June 7 to approve a $407-million annual base budget for the Edmonton Police Service starting in 2023, going against what some said they would do during the election campaign.

The multiple-choice Taproot Survey asked candidates "What should be done about the police budget?" Here's how they answered:

  • "Increase it as determined by the funding formula." — Jennifer Rice in Ipiihkoohkanipiaohtsi and Tim Cartmell in pihêsiwin
  • "Freeze it until it is in line with comparable cities." — Amarjeet Sohi, Keren Tang in Karhiio, Ashley Salvador in Métis, and Jo-Anne Wright in Sspomitapi
  • "Decrease it somewhat." — Erin Rutherford in Anirniq, Anne Stevenson in O-day'min, and Michael Janz in papastew
  • "Defund the police altogether." — no one

Andrew Knack in Nakota Isga said he did not have a position on the issue. "A motion was passed in 2021 to review the funding formula and I believe one of the possible outcomes is to still use the formula but add in other programs and services that focus on prevention," he told Taproot at the time to explain why he answered that way. "So instead of a single large increase to policing, money would be spread out between social programs as well as policing."

Sarah Hamilton in sipiwiyiniwak, Aaron Paquette in Dene, and Karen Principe in tastawiyiniwak did not answer the question.

Council came into Tuesday's meeting with a motion on the table from Rutherford to set a baseline budget of $385 million per year, reflecting what the police currently get from the tax levy but not including the $22 million they have been receiving from the depleting Traffic Safety and Automated Enforcement Reserve. Cartmell's amendment to raise the base funding to $407 million passed 12-1, with Janz the only dissenter.

Council also voted against aligning the Edmonton Police Service budget with current budget processes in other departments, choosing instead by a vote of 11-2 to ask administration to consult with EPS and the Edmonton Police Commission to develop a revised funding formula. Janz and Knack were on the losing side of that vote.

A follow-up motion from Paquette, directing administration to return later this year with a report outlining "all current sources of police funding for comparable municipalities within Canada with over 500,000 population" broken down per capita using publicly available data, passed unanimously.

The Taproot Survey invited voters to answer the same questions that were put to candidates. An analysis of the first 16,000 responses indicated that 43.1% wanted the police budget frozen until it was in line with comparable cities; 23.8% supported increasing the police budget as determined by the funding formula; 21.4% said the police budget should be decreased somewhat; and 11.6% called for defunding the police altogether.

Photo: Edmonton's city council at its inaugural meeting in October 2021, shortly after the election. (Mack Male/Flickr)


Headlines: June 8, 2022

By Kevin Holowack

Two wrestlers stare each other down in the ring while a cameraman captures the action

Edmonton wrestling school rolls out of pandemic and into first main event

By Brett McKay

Edmonton's Top Talent Wrestling Academy had its grand opening in April 2020, just as the first wave of pandemic restrictions hit. After years of online seminars and limited capacity runs that kept the school afloat, founder Justin Lawrick feels he's finally able to test the potential of his passion project.

"This is my first chance to really dig my feet into this and see exactly what I can do with the school," said Lawrick, who wrestles under the name Heavy Metal and applies nearly 20 years of experience to the school, where he is one of the head trainers alongside Michael Richard Blais.

Designed for an industry characterized by gymnastic bodybuilders and combat athletes who have acting chops, Top Talent's three-month programs are meant to give students the fundamental skills they need to perform safely – working the ropes, taking a fall, and such. It also helps them craft the in-ring presence and iconic characters that tend to distinguish successful careers from short ones. Lawrick feels this full-spectrum approach to training is missing in the province.

"This is a business," Lawrick asserted. "A lot of the people that come through here ... they want to make a living out of it. That's kind of what separates us from other schools. I can't think of really any other school in Alberta that teaches at the level that we do with the intent of pushing people out to, hopefully, succeed."

Along with cultivating local performers, Top Talent aims to bring an audience to them, hosting a live event on June 23 at Midway in Edmonton, featuring wrestlers from Mexico, the U.S., and across Canada.

The classes have drawn some "brand-new students that just watch wrestling on TV and want to check it out," but more often it's people with some professional background. While live events were on hold due to COVID restrictions, many turned to gyms like Top Talent to get much-needed time in the ring. Among them was Zoë Sager, a Prairie Wrestling Alliance titleholder who previously trained at two other schools before enrolling with Top Talent.

"We're putting our bodies in each other's hands," Sager said. "Training is definitely something that everyone needs, really any stage, to keep sharp and be able to know with confidence that you're not going to hurt who you're going to be in the ring with."

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A newspaper clipping with the heading "Public Notice" indicating an agreement between the Town of Edmonton and the "Edmonton Electric Lightning and Power Company"

A moment in history: June 8, 1893

By Scott Lilwall

On this day in 1893, the Edmonton Electric Lighting and Power Company was looking to issue debentures to raise some cash.

The company was still relatively new; it had been founded only two years before by a handful of local business owners with the promise of bringing electricity to the young town. The company built a coal-fired power plant on the river bank and put up street lights down seven blocks of Jasper Avenue. For the first time, Edmonton's main street had electric lighting ... sometimes. The lights were generally on for only a few hours each night.

For the next few years, the fledgling company would have to contend with two major challenges: a growing population and a rising river. The power company had trouble keeping up with the demand for more juice as the town grew. On top of that, floods in both 1899 and 1900 damaged the plant, leaving Edmontonians without power for weeks.

The company started constructing the Rossdale Power Plant further up the bank in 1902 to help address the issues. But by that time, residents were not satisfied with the services offered by the company. That gave a mandate to the town government to buy the Edmonton Electric Light and Power Company, including the power plant and its equipment. It became the first municipally owned electric company in Canada. In 1905, the city started offering around-the-clock power service to 53 customers.

Since then, the city's power company has gone under a few names: the Edmonton Light Department and Edmonton Power among them. In 1996, the city merged its electricity, water, and natural gas operations into one entity: EPCOR. While the city remains EPCOR's only shareholder, the corporation also does business in other parts of Alberta, as well as in Ontario, B.C., Arizona, and Texas. In 2009, the power-generating side of EPCOR was split off into a publicly traded company called Capital Power

Since the split, EPCOR has returned to some power generation, such as the company's 51-acre solar farm that is set to open soon in the Edmonton river valley. The project has been a controversial one: the company has said it will lead to a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, but concerns remain over the large project's impact on the local environment and wildlife. And as a publicly owned company, at least one Edmonton city councillor has raised concerns over the salaries paid to EPCOR's leadership.

This is based on a clipping found on Vintage Edmonton, a daily look at Edmonton's history from armchair archivist @revRecluse — follow @VintageEdmonton for daily ephemera via Twitter.