The Pulse: June 13, 2022

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

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  • 21°C: A mix of sun and cloud with 60% chance of showers. Risk of a thunderstorm in the afternoon. Wind becoming northeast 20 km/h gusting to 40 in the morning. High 21. UV index 7 or high. (forecast)
  • 15-59: The Elks lost to the BC Lions on Saturday night in their first regular season game. (details)
  • 2-3: The Oil Kings lost to the Seattle Thunderbirds on Saturday night at Rogers Place. (details)
  • 7:30pm: The Oil Kings take a 3-2 series lead into Game 6 of the WHL Championship Series. (details)

A woman wearing a T-shirt that reads "I (heart) YEG Chinatown" behind a crowd on a tour

Chinatown 'like a wound that we all have,' says advocate

By Karen Unland

A mother is only as happy as her saddest child, says Hon Leong of the Chinatown Transformation Collaborative (CTC). If Edmonton is the mother, Chinatown is that unhappiest child.

"If we want to be a family in this city, we have to take care of everyone. Not just our own — everyone," he told Episode 182 of Speaking Municipally. "When we realize that Chinatown is like a wound that we all have, then that is part of that road to recovery."

Much has happened since Taproot's civic affairs podcast recorded this episode with Leong as well as Chinatown event organizer Sharon Yeo and city planner David Holdsworth. On June 9, the city announced its Downtown Core and Transit System Safety Plan, which includes an operations centre in Chinatown to be jointly run by the city and the Edmonton Police Service, dispatching police, peace officers, and social agency staff where needed. The plan is the city's response to Justice Minister Tyler Shandro's demand for action in the wake of the deaths of Hung Trang and Ban Phuc Hoang and concerns about transit safety.

The recording also pre-dates the CBC's revelations on June 10 about the events leading up to those deaths, namely that Justin Bone, the man accused of killing the two men, was taken to Edmonton by RCMP three days before the May 18 homicides, even though his bail conditions prohibited him from being in the city unsupervised, and that Edmonton police spoke to him but neither detained him nor connected him with mental health or addictions supports. The police service had not disclosed its officers' interactions with Bone during highly charged discussions about police presence in Chinatown, after which city council set the police service's base budget at $407 million and directed the development of a new funding formula.

Mayor Amarjeet Sohi deplored the release of offenders into the community without care. He asked Shandro's department for a review — which the province has already rejected — and called on the Edmonton Police Commission for a "fulsome investigation into what led to this failure to keep Edmontonians safe and whether it reflects any systemic practices."

Because of the concentration of social services in or near Chinatown, and the inadequacy of those services to meet the need, the area has become a place where people with nowhere else to go end up, hence the large degree of social disorder.

"The Chinatown I remember growing up was one that was very vibrant. My family would visit Chinatown in the commercial areas especially on the weekends where we would have family meals together and do a lot of our grocery shopping," said Yeo, remembering produce sold on the street and enticing smells wafting from windows. "That's something that is not a part of my current Chinatown visits. It's a very different streetscape than the one I remember."

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By Mack Male

  • The Community Property Safety Team (CPST) — a joint effort between Edmonton Fire Rescue Services and the Problem Properties Initiative that launched earlier this year — has issued 23 orders to private property owners to secure vacant buildings. "We're already seeing improvements on more than half the orders issued. As a result of these efforts, the community fire risk is now significantly lower," said Rob McAdam, deputy fire chief of public safety.
  • City-owned vehicles have racked up more than $69,000 in fines from mobile and automated enforcement sites over 2020 and 2021, Postmedia reports. Drivers were responsible for paying their own tickets until July 2021 when the city began covering the cost — the result of recent labour arbitration decisions — amounting to $15,413.
  • The Edmonton International Airport said the end of COVID-19 testing requirements for travellers to the United States will "positively impact the passenger experience." The changes came into effect on June 12. "We fully support the U.S. government's decision and this further aligns with the broader international community that have removed vaccine mandate and COVID protocols," said Steve Maybee, vice president of communications, operations and infrastructure at EIA.
  • The Edmonton Soaring Club will re-open on July 3, once again providing the opportunity to pilot an engine-less glider. "It's probably the closest thing to being a bird," said Patrick "Peanut" Pelletier, an active fighter pilot with the Royal Canadian Air Force.
  • Three coyotes believed to be responsible for an attack in the Terwillegar area on May 31 have been put down. Colleen Cassady St. Clair, professor of biological sciences at the University of Alberta, said the neighbourhood has seen increasing reports of coyotes in recent years.
  • Alberta has experienced 429 wildfires so far this year, which is slightly below the five-year average. "We've had about just under 13,000 hectares of forest burned so far," wildfire information officer Josee St-Onge told Postmedia.
Council chambers inside City Hall

Coming up at council: June 13-17, 2022

By Mack Male

City council will continue with its agenda from last week — including the recommendation for a one-year pilot for the pedestrianization of 102 Avenue — before moving on to committee meetings. Community and public services committee is scheduled for Monday, urban planning committee for Tuesday, executive committee for Wednesday, and audit committee for Friday.

  • There were an estimated 2,765 individuals in Edmonton experiencing homelessness as of April 2022. An audit of the city's response to homelessness recommends that the city develop a corporate-wide plan to integrate and coordinate response efforts, with associated recommendations to ensure accountability and evaluation. Administration said the new plan will be developed by Dec. 31, 2023.
  • Implementing Edmonton's Community Energy Transition Strategy — which aims to reduce emissions by 35% by 2025 and 50% by 2030 — will require $1.2 billion of public funding over the next four years "for urgent, scaled-up action" which is "significantly higher than the City of Edmonton can realistically manage alone." Administration is targeting a spend of $100 million annually, with the balance to come from the provincial and federal governments. Becoming carbon-neutral by 2050 will require significant public and private investment of about $42 billion with a higher front-end investment of $2.4 billion per year over the next decade.
  • The city received 13 applications for the 2021 Edmonton Economic Incentive Construction Grant program, 10 of which were approved and began construction by March 31, 2022. Estimates suggest those 10 projects represent $551 million worth of private investment.
A glass of beer bearing the words "Arcadia Brewing Co."

Coming up this week: June 13-17, 2022

By Debbi Serafinchon

This week offers chances to better understand how to harness differences in your workforce, what it takes to build a global startup, what's going on with farmland in Alberta, what the mayor envisions for Edmonton, and how data can de-risk the future. Plus, bikes and beer!

Find even more listings in Taproot's weekly roundups.

Photo: Biking and Brews on Friday will start at Work Nicer and make its way to Arcadia. (Arcadia/Facebook)