The Pulse: April 25, 2023

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  • 14°C: A mix of sun and cloud. 60% chance of showers in the afternoon. Wind becoming northwest 30 km/h gusting to 50 near noon. High 14. UV index 4 or moderate. (forecast)
  • Blue/White: The High Level Bridge will be lit blue and white for Yom Ha'atzmaut. (details)
  • 7:30pm: The Edmonton Oilers (2-2) play the Los Angeles Kings (2-2) at Rogers Place. (details)

Andre Corbould answers questions from a podium in front of the steps inside City Hall

City manager reports progress on expense-trimming

By Colin Gallant

The City of Edmonton's administration is well on its way to finding $60 million in spending cuts over the next four years, says city manager Andre Corbould.

"I would say we're definitely on track with the timeline. I'm sort of 90% sure I've got the first $15 million sorted out," Corbould told Taproot. "I've got about half of that figured out for the second, third, and fourth year."

The cuts are in response to the budget amendment known as OP12, in which council directed administration to find $15 million per year in savings without affecting essential services.

The amendment also directed administration to identify another $240 million over the four-year cycle that could be reallocated to priority areas. That will be more challenging, and it will require input from city council.

"Some of the next big work that we'll present to council is the result of the analysis of what's a core service and what's not a core service," Corbould said. "I believe we're somewhere in the order of 30 or 40 services reviewed out of the 170."

Council will ultimately decide which services to deem as core, but the public input gathered ahead of last year's budget deliberations will be considered, Corbould said.

"While we're not starting a fresh, new public consultation on this … we're hearing what the public has said and following a lot of that as we push through these ideas and examine them," he said.

Corbould also said the recent departures of deputy city managers in communications and employee services are not related to OP12, but hiring has been reduced by about 10%.

"I've termed it 'hiring restraint' because 'freeze' means you don't do anything, and we're not frozen — so it's a pretty important distinction," Corbould said.

Corbould will update council on OP12's progress in May, with the next major financial milestone expected in the fall budget adjustment, something he is already working on. Meanwhile, city council finalized the 2023 property tax increase of 4.96% after approving the spring adjustments to the operating budget.

Hear commentary on Corbould's progress report in Episode 217 of Speaking Municipally, which also takes a look at provincial funding for policing through HELP; changes to council's relationship with the Edmonton Police Commission; and funding for the Bike Plan.

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Headlines: April 25, 2023

By Kevin Holowack

  • A grass fire broke out near 127 Street and Anthony Henday Drive around 2:30pm on April 24. Just before 5pm, Edmonton Fire Rescue Services evacuated some residents of the Albany neighbourhood and brought the fire under control shortly after. No injuries or damages were reported, but crews remained on scene dealing with smouldering hot spots. Around 60 firefighters were on scene at the peak of efforts to subdue the grass fire, which came within metres of nearby houses.
  • Robyn Paches, president of the Oliver Community League, told CTV News the 2022 year-end crime analysis released by the Edmonton Police Service last week doesn't reflect the experience of most Oliver residents, but he has heard concerns from some about encountering unhoused people or witnessing drug use. According to Paches, the league doesn't want to create an "aura of fear or uncomfortableness" around such encounters, which are a "reality of being in a dense urban centre." Coun. Anne Stevenson of Ward O-day'min, which includes all the areas considered downtown in the EPS report, agreed with Paches and urged Edmontonians to consider the statistics in light of downtown's higher population density. Oliver is one of six downtown neighbourhoods that, according to EPS, collectively saw a 7.7% rise in criminal incidents, an 8.4% rise in violent criminal incidents, and a 2.6% increase in calls for service from 2021 to 2022.
  • City council's community and public services committee is set to receive a report on May 1 that provides an overview of the city's approach to addressing homelessness and presents further options and supplemental activities for summer 2023 and winter 2023/2024. The report notes that the number of people experiencing homelessness in Edmonton has nearly doubled since 2019, and service agencies have struggled to accommodate demand.
  • HomeEd, a city-owned non-profit housing corporation, has acquired Rundle at Riverview Crossing, a new 248-unit apartment development in the northeast neighbourhood of Abbottsfield. In a release, HomeEd said it would rent half of the units at least 20% below market rates to "enhance housing affordability." The apartment was developed by Ayrshire, which is also partnering with HomeEd on Parkside North, a new neighbourhood in Griesbach currently in the design phase.
  • Enoch Cree Nation and the Alberta government have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a recovery community on the First Nation west of Edmonton. In a release, the province said it is investing up to $30 million into a 75-bed facility that will provide addictions treatment for up to 300 people in the Edmonton area each year. Construction is expected to begin in early 2024. CBC News reported last February on Alberta's move to build recovery communities, a type of long-term residential treatment facility. Nine recovery communities are currently planned or underway across the province.
  • The 2023 provincial budget puts an additional $12 million toward new beds and staff at the Stollery Children's Hospital in Edmonton and the Alberta Children's Hospital in Calgary. According to a release, the Stollery will get 12 surge beds, one pediatric intensive care unit bed, and 52 new year-round critical care staff. The hospital currently has 236 beds.
  • More than 100 members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) picketed in front of the Edmonton Institution for Women on April 24 as part of the nation-wide federal worker strike. Strike captain Dennis Holmwood told CTV News the union's biggest issues are wages, hybrid work, and job security. About 4,000 PSAC members are in Edmonton.
  • There are speculations about which goaltender will play for the Edmonton Oilers during the fifth game of their playoff series against the Los Angeles Kings on April 25. Before making a comeback on April 23 to beat the Kings 5-4 in overtime, the Oilers were behind three goals, prompting a goaltender swap from Stuart Skinner to Jack Campbell. "I'm in a position to be able to choose from two great people," said head coach Jay Woodcroft. "We want to use every brain in the game, gather some opinions, and then we'll make the right choice."
Portraits of the six finalists for Connector of the Year

Voting opens for YEG Startup Community Awards

By Colin Gallant

Voting has begun for the "people's choice" categories in the YEG Startup Community Awards, an annual event organized by business people, students, and "YEG Superfans" to celebrate success within Edmonton's startup ecosystem.

Here are the nominees for the three categories whose winners are chosen by the community:

Community Initiative of the Year, recognizing a buzz-worthy program or event that brings people together for a common purpose:

Connector of the Year, recognizing someone "who is always ready to make an introduction to those who can help you or your startup grow and prosper":

New Startup of the Year, recognizing a company incorporated in 2022 or 2023 that is "turning heads and making waves in the local market and beyond":

Voting closes May 7. The winners of these awards and the juried categories will be revealed at a ceremony at Amii on May 10. Tickets are free.

Image: Connector of the Year finalists (clockwise from top left) Ashlyn Bernier, Tony Briggs, Paramita Chaudhuri Basu, Dale Schaub, Connor Nichols, and Stephanie Enders.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect changes to the list of companies up for New Startup of the Year.