The Pulse: Aug. 18, 2023

The Pulse will be off for two weeks as Taproot takes a summer publishing break. We will be back in your inbox on Tuesday, Sept. 5.

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  • 13°C: Rain. Risk of a thunderstorm in the afternoon. Hazy in the morning. Amount 10 mm. Wind becoming northwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 in the afternoon. Temperature steady near 13. UV index 1 or low. (forecast)
  • Red/Yellow/Green: The High Level Bridge will be lit red, yellow, and green for the Edmonton Reggae Festival, happening on Aug. 19 at Louise McKinney Riverfront Park. (details)
  • 24-10: The Edmonton Elks (1-9) defeated the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (3-6) on Aug. 17. It was the team's first win of the season. (details)

An Edmonton Police Service vehicle parked in front of police headquarters

On the agenda: Police funding formula, Heritage River designation, and more

By Mack Male

City council returns from its summer break next week, just as Taproot Edmonton is starting ours.

A public hearing will take place on Aug. 21, and city council will meet on Aug. 22 and 23. Committee meetings resume the following week, with community and public services committee on Aug. 28, urban planning committee on Aug. 29, and executive committee on Aug. 30.

Here are some of the key items on the agenda for the next two weeks:

  • Administration recommends approval of a tweaked funding formula for the Edmonton Police Service, which includes a cap of 30% of civic department expenses, intended to keep police funding from growing more quickly than other expenses. Salary settlements would remain outside the formula, however, something Mayor Amarjeet Sohi has been critical of in the past. Based on an independent review conducted by PwC, the Edmonton Police Commission supports administration's recommendation. In its analysis, PwC noted that the recommended approach for salary settlements presents "a risk that policing budgets would outpace those of civic budgets" and that there is risk associated with "the unpredictability of forecasted settlements." Under the proposed formula, EPS could request additional funding through service packages.
  • Across the entire Edmonton Transit Service there is a gap of 260,000 service hours per year, based on an analysis completed by administration. Despite a 15% increase in population between 2015 and 2022 and the expansion of the city's roadway network, transit service hours per capita decreased. Several options are being considered to address the gap, including repurposing Valley Line Southeast LRT precursor buses, which would add approximately 70,000 service hours per year at a cost of $7.2 million.
  • The effort to designate the North Saskatchewan River as a Canadian Heritage River could take another step forward if urban planning committee agrees to support and advocate for the designation by writing letters to the provincial and federal governments. City council voted in 2021 to conditionally support the initiative led by Smoky Lake County. Since then, the provincial and federal governments have both endorsed the nomination.
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Headlines: Aug. 18, 2023

By Kevin Holowack

An electric bus in Edmonton Transit Service's fleet, with a decal that reads "battery-electric by Proterra" on the side.

Edmonton's electric bus supplier files for bankruptcy protection

By Nathan Fung

Proterra, the U.S.-based company that built 60 electric buses for the Edmonton Transit Service, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The company made the filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware on Aug. 7.

Proterra's voluntary petition states that the company has $818 million in total assets and $609 million in total debt. The documents indicate the City of Edmonton has an unsecured claim of more than $8 million in deferred revenue, putting it among the 30 creditors with the largest unsecured claims. The city said it couldn't provide additional information on what the unsecured claim entails as it is an active legal matter.

The other Canadian creditor on the list is the Bow Valley Regional Transit Services Commission, which has an unsecured claim of just over $1 million. That service has nine electric buses from Proterra in its fleet, which serves Banff and Canmore.

In statements emailed to Taproot, ETS branch manager Carrie Hotton-MacDonald said the city is assessing the situation and will be kept apprised of updates through both the bankruptcy filings and through Proterra directly.

"We have a robust maintenance program for the ETS bus fleet," Hotton said in a statement. "The city will make necessary adjustments to minimize any impacts as the situation evolves."

The city's order, which has been paid in full, consisted of three lots of 20 buses, with the final lot received in 2022. While the city isn't anticipating any additional orders, it continues to work with Proterra with respect to parts as needed. The 60 buses from Proterra are part of a total fleet of 964.

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Bicycles riding past the Chinese Garden with the Tawatinâ Bridge in the background

Upcoming events: Aug. 18-Sept. 4, 2023

By Debbi Serafinchon

While Taproot takes a short break to rejuvenate, here are some of the festivals, performances, exhibits, workshops, get-togethers, and other events you may want to add to your calendar between now and Labour Day.

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