The Pulse: Aug. 11, 2023

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

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  • 22°C: Mainly sunny. High 22. UV index 6 or high. (forecast)
  • Red: The High Level Bridge will be lit red for Cariwest, which is happening downtown from Aug. 11-13. (details)
  • 29-38: The Edmonton Elks (0-9) lost to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (7-2) on Aug. 10, extending the team's home losing streak to 22 games. (details)

Coun. Andrew Knack stands at a podium, his hand raised, as he takes his oath of office

Changes to election law should be made independently: councillor

By Karen Unland and Nathan Fung

Coun. Andrew Knack hopes Premier Danielle Smith's directive to review the law governing local elections will address problems that arose from amendments made in 2020.

In her Aug. 4 mandate letter to Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver, Smith asked for a review of the Local Authorities Election Act and recommendations "for any necessary amendments to strengthen public trust in and the integrity of our municipal election laws."

The premier's call to revisit the act stood out to Knack, the councillor for Ward Nakota Isga, who also sits on the board of directors for Alberta Municipalities. The legislation definitely needs a review, Knack told Taproot.

"We've heard from, even within Edmonton, the City Clerk's (office) and how the last changes for the 2021 election made it very challenging for the clerks to administer the election as well as they would like," he said.

Bill 29, or the Local Authorities Election Amendment Act, was introduced by then-municipal affairs minister Kaycee Madu. It changed the rules for municipal and school board elections, allowing people to donate up to $5,000 for as many candidates as they like and no longer requiring candidates to disclose their donors before election day. The bill also changed the rules around election advertising.

Alberta Municipalities criticized the changes back in 2020, and said the bill "demonstrates a lack of respect for the role of municipal councils, our democratic mandate, and Alberta's voters." Knack himself expressed disappointment at the way the UCP government, then under Premier Jason Kenney, handled Bill 29.

When McIver and Justice Minister Mickey Amery review the Local Authorities Election Act, Knack said he hopes they find a way to avoid a situation where elected representatives are making changes to election laws. He said the ideal way to do that is to go through an independent citizen panel, similar to how Edmonton made changes to its ward boundaries in 2020.

"The way I would hope that they would be looking to make any changes is the same way that most other municipalities operate, which is (to) bring in independent Albertans, who have no ties to any parties or things like that, and let them sit at the table to come up with recommendations that can be accepted," he said.

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Headlines: Aug. 11, 2023

By Kevin Holowack

  • The Tyee obtained the June edition of an internal newsletter that points to "signs of an internal revolt" against Chief Dale McFee of the Edmonton Police Service. In the newsletter, Edmonton Police Association vice-president Cory Kerr said members are "tired of doing more with less," raised issues with "nepotism," criticized the deployment of provincial sheriffs to Edmonton, and called on EPS to do an employee engagement survey to learn reasons for the discontent. Criminologist Temitope Oriola said Kerr's statements suggest "major trust and morale issues" and a "deep division between the leadership and rank-and-file." The Tyee's reporting comes as city council prepares for what is expected to be a tense debate about a multi-year police funding formula on Aug. 23.
  • Fans who attended opening night of the Edmonton Folk Music Festival on Aug. 10 encountered wet and muddy conditions after this week's rainfall. Crews worked throughout the day preparing the site, which festival producer Terry Wickham said is "as bad as (he's) seen." When interviewed on Aug. 10, Wickham said he was confident the grounds should dry out for the weekend acts, although some forecasters were predicting the risk of a thunderstorm on Aug. 12.
  • The city's Animal Protection team seized 56 cats on Aug. 9 from a home at 112 Avenue and 90 Street after receiving an animal welfare complaint. Fire, police, and EMS services were called to set up ventilation while the cats were removed due to "alarmingly high" ammonia levels. The cats, some of which were in poor health, were taken to the city's Animal Care & Control Centre and will be assessed individually.
  • The city is launching new temporary safety signage to promote responsible behaviour while using shared e-scooters and e-bikes. The signs encourage riders to share pathways and bike lanes, connect users to the Discover YEG map, and highlight key safety guidelines. The city has also installed additional e-scooter and e-bike parking corrals.
  • Liron Zamir, an Edmonton woman originally from Israel, has been incurring thousands of dollars in pregnancy-related medical costs while she waits for the federal government to process a permanent residency application she submitted more than two years ago. Raj Sharma, a Calgary-based immigration lawyer, said Zamir is among many people in Canada living in limbo because of delayed decisions from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, a problem that was worsened by the pandemic. As of July, Canada had a backlog of 801,000 immigration applications, down from 2.4 million in 2022.
  • A CC-130J Hercules, a type of tactical airlifter used for a variety of missions, was seen above Edmonton on Aug. 10 conducting trials to determine the potential future use of the CFB Edmonton runway. The airlifter weighs 80,000 kilograms and has a 40.38-metre wingspan. It is the newest Hercules to be used by the Royal Canadian Air Force.
  • The Edmonton Riverhawks posted an AUA ("ask us anything") on the Edmonton subreddit to take questions from fans and learn what the city wants to see at baseball games next year. In the post, the team noted it is working on ways to address long concession lineups and to add more parking.
A smiling woman in a feathery, sequined carnival costume participates in a parade down an Edmonton street

Weekend agenda: Aug. 11-13, 2023

By Debbi Serafinchon

This weekend offers a night market, a celebration of Caribbean culture, a chance to swap treasures, a rainbow river float, a film and discussion on anti-Asian racism, and a sleepover under the stars.

Find even more things to do in the Arts Roundup and the Food Roundup.

Photo: Cariwest brings the sights, sounds, and tastes of the Caribbean to downtown Edmonton this weekend, with the annual parade starting at noon on Aug. 12. (Burwell School of Photography/Cariwest)