The Pulse: Dec. 14, 2022

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

Sponsored by:

Want this in your inbox? Sign up to get The Pulse by email. It's free!


  • -3°C: Clearing early in the morning. Wind northwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 becoming light in the morning. High minus 3. Wind chill minus 12 in the morning and minus 7 in the afternoon. (forecast)
  • 6-3: The Edmonton Oilers (17-13-0) defeated the Nashville Predators (12-12-3) on Dec. 13. Zach Hyman had his first NHL hat trick. (details)

A map identifying major employment areas in the regional growth plan

Regional approval for Villeneuve Airport Area plan put on hold for now

By Mack Male

Sturgeon County has withdrawn its application for the area structure plan for the Villeneuve Airport Area following "continued questions" about its alignment with the regional growth plan.

The application had been slated to go to the Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board for review on Dec. 8, having received second reading by Sturgeon County council on Aug. 24. A review of the proposal by EMRB administration and Lovatt Planning Consultants identified several "inconsistencies" with the Edmonton Metropolitan Region Growth Plan, and recommended that the board reject the application.

"While we are confident in our application for the Villeneuve Airport Area Area Structure Plan, withdrawing it gives us the opportunity to further engage our regional partners and confirm our plan, which will support more than $1.8 billion in economic benefit and more than 1,750 jobs in the region," Megan Candie, senior communications officer at Sturgeon County, told Taproot. "We listened to feedback from regional partners and heard there were continued questions regarding our application."

The primary objection appears to be the proposed expansion of major employment to areas not identified in Schedule 3A of the regional growth plan. Sturgeon County contends that the regional growth plan defines lands within and surrounding regional airports as major employment areas, but the recommendation to reject its application only considers lands within the airport, which neither Sturgeon County nor the EMRB has jurisdiction over.

"We look forward to discussing this interpretation with EMRB administration," Candie said.

Other objections include the omission of land-use planning, phasing of development, and infrastructure staging from the ASP; the need for significant regional infrastructure upgrades to enable the proposed development; a lack of mitigation measures to accompany the agriculture impact assessment; and a lack of information about infrastructure for alternative modes of transportation.

Sturgeon County said its application included most of this information — though some of it was relegated to appendices — and that it has committed to addressing the concerns. The county plans to meet with EMRB administration to discuss the comments in more detail and intends to resubmit its application for approval in early 2023.

Continue reading

Headlines: Dec. 14, 2022

By Kevin Holowack and Mariam Ibrahim

  • Mayor Amarjeet Sohi kicked off discussions on the city's 2023-26 operating budget during the Dec. 13 council meeting with amendments proposing additional funding for snow clearing, on-demand transit, affordable housing and transit safety, along with $60 million in cuts to city administration costs. The mayor told reporters his proposals would fund items Edmontonians want. "We heard from Edmontonians that they are not satisfied with the level of service for snow and ice clearing," Sohi said. He also noted the on-demand transit program can't continue without funding, "so we need to sustain that. It is a very high priority for Edmontonians."
  • The Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, NAIOP Edmonton, BOMA Edmonton, and the Urban Development Institute – Edmonton Metro issued a joint statement to raise "deep concerns" over city council's ongoing budget deliberations. The four organizations, which claim to represent "thousands of city-builders" including entrepreneurs, startups, businesses, and developers, say the current budget lacks clear direction. "The motions passed thus far scatter priorities and are not related to the core mandate of municipalities," said Chamber CEO Jeffrey Sundquist. The statement also accuses council of maxing out the municipal borrowing debt limit and relying on "pay-as-you-go funding," which will require tax increases. Budget items singled out include $100 million for new bike lanes, over $34 million for an expanded district energy system, and $53 million for climate-resilient city facility upgrades.
  • A comment by Mayor Amarjeet Sohi that included the phrase "spending like a drunken sailor" was captured by a hot microphone on Dec. 12 as council considered a motion from Coun. Erin Rutherford to spend $10 million over four years on natural land acquisition, a $3.5-million increase over the amount allotted in the draft capital budget. The motion passed by a 9-4 vote with Sohi and councillors Tim Cartmell, Karen Principe, and Jennifer Rice in opposition. Speaking to reporters later, the mayor said the comment "wasn't a reference to anyone or anything. I was just thinking aloud." He wouldn't say whether he is concerned with council's spending decisions so far. "What matters is the final number ... and my hope is that number will be reasonable for Edmontonians," Sohi said.
  • The province announced the formation of a new 12-person Edmonton Public Safety and Community Response Task Force to implement initiatives that will "help provide more life-saving services to Edmontonians struggling with addiction and homelessness while enhancing public safety within the city." Mike Ellis, minister of public safety and emergency services and chair of the new task force, said the group will be "discussing the immediate concerns that are going on in the Edmonton area right now." Mayor Amarjeet Sohi expressed his displeasure with the announcement, noting that city council was "not, in any way, included in the creation of the task force," which also lacks representation from the urban Indigenous community and racialized Edmontonians. He also said that councillors Tim Cartmell and Sarah Hamilton were "handpicked by the UCP government" for the task force and are "not there to represent city council." Coun. Andrew Knack said in a tweet that while there are "good people on the task force, it was formed using a terrible process."
  • The mother of a 23-year-old man who died by suicide at the Edmonton Remand Centre has launched a lawsuit against the province and Alberta Health Services. A statement of claim filed in Court of King's Bench alleges "cruel conditions" amounting to a breach of the man's charter rights after he was subject to crowding, violence from other inmates, harassment from guards, unhygienic conditions during the pandemic, and unreasonable limitations to his access to medical care, including addictions treatment and medication. The man "would not have died but for the negligence of Alberta and AHS," the statement reads. None of the allegations have been proven in court. Alberta Justice and Alberta Health Services have both declined to comment on the lawsuit.
  • Edmonton's Food Bank received a $10,000 donation from Ukrainian Canadian Social Services (UCSS) to help provide food to Ukrainian newcomers and other Edmontonians in need. "A lot of Ukrainians are coming with just backpacks and suitcases," said UCSS president John Shalewa, "which basically is nothing as far as starting a new life in a new country." The food bank has also been supporting Ukrainian newcomers with English lessons and employment preparation through its Beyond Food program.
  • Porter Airlines, a regional airline based in Toronto, announced it will soon offer daily flights between Edmonton International Airport (YEG) and Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ). Starting Feb. 14, the airline will offer one daily flight, which will increase to three per day on April 19. According to a press release, introductory round-trip fares will start at $250.
  • In a piece for Toronto Life, Mississauga resident Jackie Thomas said she "hated everything" about Alberta after moving to the province and decided to return to the Toronto area three months later. The 33-year-old corporate director bemoaned life in Edmonton, including a lack of "buzzy city energy," a dormant dating scene, a slow rental market, and a lack of opportunities for corporate workers. "Toronto has jobs and entertainment galore," she said. "You won't find such a vibrant place anywhere else in Canada — and definitely not anywhere in Alberta." The article drew the ire of some Edmonton Reddit users, although others agreed with the assessment.
A look at the home page of the Neurodevelopmental Disability Navigator Toolkit

Toolkit aims to help families of children with neurodevelopmental disabilities

By Karen Unland

Families of children with autism, cerebral palsy, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder now have access to a free online resource called the Neurodevelopmental Disability Navigator Toolkit.

The toolkit is set up to help caregivers understand their children's neurodevelopmental differences, as well as to explain the pathways to support and share the perspectives of other families in similar situations.

"Many of our families are seeking information and services outside of a clinic appointment with their healthcare provider," Carol Wilson of the Learning and Development Centre at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital said in an Alberta Health Services piece about the resource. "Having the ability to virtually access a credible online toolkit on their own time, as well as be able to share the resource, can greatly improve the experience for our families."

It's challenging enough to raise a child with neurodevelopmental delays without the frustration of trying to find trustworthy and applicable resources, parent Melissa Dobson said in the overview video in the toolkit's introduction. "There are great models in our healthcare system of navigators walking people who have diseases through a journey," she said, adding that people and caregivers outside the acute care system could also use that kind of help.

In addition to modules on autism spectrum disorder, FASD, and cerebral palsy, the toolkit includes information on transitioning to adulthood, pathways to support, and mental health challenges, with reference to services available in Alberta.

Dobson noted that the toolkit is also helpful for friends and family, teachers, and the public, creating an opportunity to make the world a more welcoming place for people like her son, who has FASD.

"Children and adults with NDDs aren't going to change," she told AHS. "We have to change the world we live in by doing a better job of embracing those who don't fit the mold."

The project was co-sponsored by the Kids Brain Health Network and the Azrieli Foundation with help from several community organizations and post-secondary institutions, including the Glenrose and its foundation, Autism Edmonton, the Edmonton and Area Fetal Alcohol Network, the Cerebral Palsy Alberta, CASA Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health, NAIT, and the University of Alberta.

Image: A look at the homepage of the Neurodevelopmental Disability Navigator Toolkit. (Alberta Caregiver College)

A newspaper clipping of a letter to the editor under a banner reading "Opinions" and signed by "One Who Is Disappointed"

A moment in history: Dec. 14, 1928

By Scott Lilwall

On this day in 1928, one anonymous resident was unimpressed with Edmonton's new slogan. The letter to the editor captured here might just be one of the oldest surviving examples of a grand Edmonton tradition: Complaining about the city's many slogans.

One of the city's first unofficial slogans was City Beautiful, which was chosen in 1914 in a contest put on by the Edmonton Industrial Association, with a hefty prize of $50 in gold. The 1928 slogan "All Together For Edmonton," which was so hated by the aforementioned letter writer, was chosen from about 14,000 suggestions. (Of course, the letter argues Edmonton's tagline "cannot compare for a moment" to the B.C. capital's "Follow the birds to Victoria." So one might question the writer's own taste.)

The opening of the City Centre Airport in 1929 cleared the runway for one of Edmonton's best-known slogans: Gateway to the North. The nickname came about with the increased air traffic to northern Alberta, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories, and was later bolstered by the airfield's role in providing supplies to the Soviet Union and Alaska during the Second World War.

Since then, the city has tried on a seemingly unending number of identities. Only one has ever been actually sanctioned by the City of Edmonton, which decided in 1947 that "The Oil Capital of Canada" would be the city's official slogan. But community boosters, trade groups, and others have suggested endless other identities, ranging from "Crossroads of the World" to "The Heart of Canada's Great North West" to the "Top of the World."

Some of the city's nicknames have been bigger targets for ridicule than others, such as the "Official Host City for the Turn of the Century" in the 1980s or the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce's attempt to make"Turning Up The Heat" catch on in 1994.

And, of course, there is the "City of Champions." While never an official city slogan, the entrance signs on Edmonton's city limits bore the famous tagline for 30 years. While City of Champions was initially used to refer to Edmonton's sports success in the 1970s and '80s, its real power came after Mayor Laurence Decore used it to describe the volunteers who stepped up after the devastating 1987 tornado.

The past few decades have seen Edmonton pull away from using slogans and nicknames to try to establish its identity. The old "City of Champions" nickname was pulled off signs in 2015. In 2012, the Make Something Edmonton task force, which was focused on building the city's reputation, declared city slogans were an outdated concept. That said, it did inspire the "wall of encouragement" on Melcor's 100 Street Place Building, which declaims in giant letters Take a risk. It's the most Edmonton thing you can do.

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.