The Pulse: May 1, 2023

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

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  • 28°C: Sunny. Wind south 20 km/h gusting to 40. High 28. UV index 7 or high. (forecast)
  • Blue: The High Level Bridge will be lit blue for Celebration of Falun Dafa Day. (details)
  • 5-4: The Edmonton Oilers defeated the Los Angeles Kings on April 29 and will advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs against the Vegas Golden Knights. (details)

Geese in front of the pond surrounded by trees at Hawrelak Park

On the agenda: Homelessness response, trees, and investment performance

By Mack Male

This week, community and public services committee will meet on May 1, urban planning committee will meet on May 2, and executive committee will meet on May 3.

Here are some of the key items on the agenda:

  • Although more than 15,500 people have been housed through Housing First programs in Edmonton since 2008, the number of people experiencing homelessness has nearly doubled since 2019 and agencies are struggling to keep up. The city spent about $14.1 million on its 2022-2023 winter response, and administration has identified several options for the upcoming winter that council will consider as part of an update on Edmonton's approach to supporting those experiencing homelessness. Currently, there is $1.25 million of funding available for the 2023-2024 winter response.
  • In order to plant two million new trees by 2030 and achieve 20% total canopy coverage by 2017, administration recommends increasing incentives and programs for tree planting and preservation on private lands. Naturalization is expected to be the largest contributor to the city's goals for trees. The city currently maintains an inventory of 385,000 trees, 2,500 hectares of natural area tree stands, and 1,000 hectares of naturalized areas. A private tree bylaw, which administration does not recommend, would cost about $1 million to develop and implement.
  • An update on the William Hawrelak Park Rehabilitation Project suggests at least 741 trees are at risk, with an estimated 112 to be removed. An earlier assessment suggested about 220 mature trees would be removed.
  • According to the 2022 Investment Committee annual report, the city's investment funds totalled $3 billion as of Dec. 31, 2022, and all the city's investment funds outperformed their benchmarks in 2022. The largest fund, the Ed Tel Endowment Fund, paid $54 million in dividends to the City in 2022 — the largest contribution in the fund's history.
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Headlines: May 1, 2023

By Mariam Ibrahim

  • The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team is investigating after an Edmonton Police Service officer shot a stabbing suspect near an Oilers fan zone watch party where thousands were gathered to watch Game 6 on April 29. Police responded to a weapons complaint around 9:20pm and found an injured man and woman, and a suspect with a knife. EPS said in a statement the suspect "would not comply with police direction and an officer subsequently discharged their firearm and struck the suspect." Police said the injured woman suffered critical stab wounds, and the injured man was in serious but stable condition.
  • The Edmonton Oilers defeated the Los Angeles Kings 5-4 in Game 6 of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, advancing to the second round to face the Vegas Golden Knights. Kailer Yamamoto scored the game winner with 3:03 left in the third period, while Klim Kostin, Leon Draisaitl, and Connor McDavid also scored for the Oilers. Goalie Stuart Skinner was praised for his performance, saving 40 of 44 shots on goal.
  • Residents of Entwistle and Evansburg, west of Edmonton, have been evacuated due to an out-of-control bushfire. The fire, which is moving towards the hamlets due to strong winds and dry conditions, has led to the destruction of at least one house and several outbuildings. Parkland County has declared a state of local emergency and three Alberta Emergency Alerts have been issued since April 29. The Parkland County fire chief said firefighters are working with RCMP to ensure everyone's safety. The cause of the fire is currently unknown. As of 5:30pm on April 30, there were 40 active wildfires across the province.
  • In an opinion piece published by Postmedia, the chair and co-chairs of the Edmonton Metro Region Economic Recovery Working Group argue that all political parties and their leaders should use the working group's report, released April 3, as a guide for building a sustainable economy in the Edmonton region. The report highlights opportunities in hydrogen and net-zero economy, global food security, life sciences, and artificial intelligence. "The report is a clear roadmap for how the right investments, supports, and policies can build a prosperous and sustainable economic future for our region," Searle Turton, Lisa Baroldi, and Malcolm Bruce wrote in the piece. It also calls for a $10-million fund to help the Edmonton International Airport attract direct air connections to key markets around the world to support economic growth.
  • The average home price in Edmonton will rise by 1.5% to reach $433,500 by the end of 2023, according to the latest forecast from Royal LePage. The real estate firm had predicted a 1% increase in its previous forecast released in January, but found that higher interest rates had less impact than expected. "We had anticipated that the sharp rise in interest rates would hurt employment, and it didn't," said Royal LePage president Phil Soper.
  • The southwest Edmonton neighbourhood of Chappelle led the city in complaints for snow on sidewalks for the second straight year, with 191 complaints made to 311 between October 2022 and April 2023. Alberta Avenue, Charlesworth, Grovenor, and High Park also ranked among the top 10 neighbourhoods for complaints. Across the city, 7,781 total complaints were made during the 2022-23 winter season, compared with 7,901 the previous season. Under city bylaws, property owners are responsible for clearing the majority of city sidewalks.
  • Teamsters Local Union 362, which is leading unionizing efforts at an Amazon warehouse south of Edmonton, held a barbecue and rally outside the facility on April 26. Chance Hrycun, with the union, said there is a "substantial difference" in pay between Amazon warehouse employees and workers represented by the union at other warehouses. He added that Amazon employees do hard, monotonous, and repetitive work over the course of 10-hour shifts. An Amazon spokesperson said in a statement that all employees can choose whether to join a union, "but the benefits of direct relationships between managers and employees can't be overstated." Approximately 40% of eligible workers need to sign union documents before a vote can take place through the Alberta Labour Relations Board.
  • Tony Cashman, a popular Edmonton storyteller and historian, celebrated his 100th birthday with friends and family on April 29. Cashman, who has written 15 books and created more than 700 episodes of The Edmonton Story, was designated as an "Edmontonian of the century" in 2004, which was the city's centennial. A documentary exploring Cashman's life is currently in development and set for release in August.
Two scenes from anime films, one depicting two adults in winter clothes holding a baby while drinking tea, the other showing a young woman flying above clouds

Coming up this week: May 1-5, 2023

By Debbi Serafinchon

This week offers a keynote on preventing gender-based violence, a deep dive into election data, a celebration of artistic excellence, a discussion of mental health for entrepreneurs, a Prairies-wide pitch night, and two anime blockbusters.

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

Photo: Two films directed by Satoshi Kon — Tokyo Godfathers and Paprika — will be screened at the Art Gallery of Alberta on Thursday in celebration of Asian Heritage Month. (Supplied)