The Pulse: March 13, 2023

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

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  • -4°C: Mainly cloudy. 30% chance of flurries in the morning and early in the afternoon. Wind up to 15 km/h. High minus 4. Wind chill minus 15 in the morning and minus 8 in the afternoon. UV index 2 or low. (forecast)
  • Gold: The High Level Bridge will be lit gold for the 52nd Annual JUNO Awards and JUNO Week. (details)
  • 4-7: The Edmonton Oilers (36-23-8) were defeated by the Toronto Maple Leafs (40-17-8) on March 11. (details)

A view of the outside of The Orange Hub

On the agenda: Financial updates, council complaints, and capital projects

By Mack Male

This week, a public hearing will take place on March 13, and a city council meeting will take place on March 14 (with a continuation the next day if required). The performance-evaluation committee for the city manager and city auditor will also meet this week, on March 17, after last week's meeting was postponed.

In October, city council approved a funding formula for the Edmonton Police Service for 2023 and voted 11-2 to revisit the debate about a funding formula for future years. This year's first discussion related to the funding formula was supposed to happen this week, but it has now been postponed to June 13.

Here are some of the key items on the agenda:

  • Edmonton finished 2022 with a surplus of $81.5 million, according to the city's preliminary year-end financial results, mainly due to lower-than-anticipated fuel and utility costs, as well as unfilled vacancies. The surplus would have been even higher had it not been for an $18.2-million overspend on the snow and ice control budget.
  • In its year-end financial update for the capital budget, administration said it expects to briefly exceed the tax-supported debt servicing limit (which is 18% of tax-supported net operating expenditures) in 2027 and 2028, restricting future debt financing. The city had about $3.9 billion in total debt as of Dec. 31, 2022.
  • The integrity commissioner received 33 complaints in 2022, eight of which were investigated (seven arose from the same social media post). Most of the complaints were related to blocking on social media, alleged conflicts of interest, and councillors attending political events.
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Headlines: March 13, 2023

By Mariam Ibrahim

  • A city pilot program is offering sign language interpreters and other accessibility aids to help people who are deaf or hard of hearing access activities at recreation centres. The one-year program, launched April 2022, has a budget of $30,000 and has had eight families sign up so far. Amandeep Saggu said the program has helped her two sons, who are both deaf, look forward to swimming lessons. "Before that, there was a lot of frustration," Saggu, who is also deaf, said through an American Sign Language interpreter.
  • Alberta Health Services has once again declared a Shigella outbreak in Edmonton after five new cases required hospitalization. The move comes about one month after the health authority said the outbreak was over. "Even with heightened public health surveillance for illness, we recognize there are cases that go undetected and given case numbers are rising again, AHS is acting in the interest of public health by reopening the outbreak," AHS said in a release. Since the first Shigella case on Aug. 17, 2022, 211 people have become ill, including 144 who needed hospitalization. No deaths have been reported.
  • An Edmonton doctor who worked in a COVID-19 intensive care unit reflected on the 3rd anniversary of the pandemic, which was declared on March 11, 2020. Neeja Bakshi, an internal medicine physician, said that there continues to be many COVID patients, which isn't likely to change, but "for the first time in three years, it really actually feels like something is shifting." The latest data from Alberta Health Services shows that 518 people are hospitalized with COVID, including 12 in the ICU. To date, 5,622 deaths have been recorded.
  • An Ipsos poll conducted for Global News found that 44% of Albertans feel less safe since the pandemic started and 40% said they would not walk alone at night in their neighbourhood. The poll also found that 20% don't feel safe walking in their neighbourhood during the day. Coun. Andrew Knack said the city is working on ways to address community safety concerns, including transit safety investments and refocusing police patrol efforts.
  • Canadian travellers experienced frustrations over the weekend after Edmonton-based Flair Airlines blamed maintenance issues for several cancelled flights. The cancellations came as Flair also confirmed that four of its airplanes were seized by an American lessor in what the airline called a "commercial dispute." John Gradek, an aviation and supply management lecturer at McGill University, said the seizures could hurt Flair's brand credibility. "You can still get a good deal,'re taking some chances," Gradek said.
  • Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley accepted the Edmonton Strathcona nomination during a pre-election rally at NAIT on March 11. In a speech, Notley said the NDP platform will focus on building a future-proof economy through diversification, and investments in health and education. She later told reporters the party will fight for votes across the province, but "are not taking Edmonton for granted." The provincial election is scheduled for May 29.
Ingredients to be added to a tomato based rice noodle bowl and side dishes

Coming up this week: March 13-17, 2023

By Debbi Serafinchon

Things to do include a chance to hear innovators' pitches, a film premiere about fathers of sons with autism, a conversation with the minister of technology and innovation, a luncheon with construction leaders, and the start of another dining week.

Find even more things to do in Taproot's weekly roundups.

Photo: Crossing the Bridge Noodle Soup is among the dishes offered by Dagu Rice Noodle during Edmonton Downtown Dining Week. (Edmonton Downtown Business Association)