The Pulse: Oct. 2, 2023

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

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  • 15°C: Cloudy with 30% chance of showers in the morning and early in the afternoon then a mix of sun and cloud. High 15. UV index 2 or low. (forecast)
  • Green: The High Level Bridge will be lit green for World Cerebral Palsy Day. (details)
  • 1,463: Edmonton police issued 1,463 traffic tickets on Sept. 27 during Operation 24 Hours. (details)
  • 2-1: The Edmonton Oilers defeated the Calgary Flames in overtime on Sept. 29. (details)
  • 2-5: The Oilers lost to the Vancouver Canucks on Sept. 30. (details)
  • 8pm, Oct. 2: The Oilers play the Seattle Kraken at Climate Pledge Arena. (details)

A dug-out road in front of businesses separated by a fence

On the agenda: Winter shelters, affordable housing, and construction compensation

By Mack Male

This week, a public hearing takes place on Oct. 3, city council meets on Oct. 4 with a continuation scheduled for Oct. 5, and a special city council meeting takes place on Oct. 6.

Here are some of the key items on the agenda:

  • Administration will provide a verbal report on supporting vulnerable Edmontonians this winter. As of July, Edmonton had just 627 permanent shelter spaces, less than half the number needed. The province said on July 18 — when shelters in the city were experiencing record attendance — it would provide $5 million to create 450 temporary shelters this winter, and last week it said in a statement that Edmonton would have 1,727 shelter spaces. Homeward Trust says more than 3,000 people in Edmonton are experiencing homelessness.
  • Executive committee has recommended approval of a series of budget changes to facilitate the creation of about 74 affordable housing units. Despite submitting "very strong and compelling" projects to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation totalling about $80 million, just two were approved, for a total of about $15.4 million. Another $4.9 million will come from Alberta's Affordable Housing Partnership Program. "I am disappointed. I'm pretty sure we all are disappointed but we will continue our advocacy to the feds," Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said.
  • Coun. Andrew Knack is expected to request the creation of a policy to compensate businesses negatively impacted financially during major construction projects. The policy would provide financial assistance directly to business owners, not landlords. A previous draft policy proposed reducing property taxes during the construction project up to some sort of cap, with the forgiven taxes to be repaid after the project is complete should revenue increase beyond pre-construction values.
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Headlines: Oct. 2, 2023

By Mariam Ibrahim

  • Edmonton's Queen Elizabeth Planetarium has reopened after years of restoration work. The planetarium, which first opened in 1960, closed in 1983 after the adjacent Edmonton Space and Science Centre opened. Restoration work began in 2019 with a budget of $7 million, but was delayed due to the pandemic. The planetarium will now offer programming and will be available for rentals in the future.
  • Edmontonians marked the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, held annually on Sept. 30, with various events over the weekend to honour residential school survivors and the children who never returned home. Among the events was the third annual Orange Shirt Day Walk and Run at Kinsmen Park, and the unveiling of the Kihciy Maskikiy/Aakaakmotaani garden and the Mother Earth Circling sculpture at the Alberta Legislature grounds. Fort Edmonton Park welcomed thousands of visitors to its Indigenous Peoples' Experience, where Indigenous staff shared knowledge and history, and TELUS World of Science offered free admission for Indigenous visitors. Edmonton Public Schools held a ceremony to educate students about the past and promote ongoing reconciliation, and the Edmonton Police Service officers served soup and bannock, and engaged in dialogue with the community. Mayor Amarjeet Sohi reflected on the importance of the day in a series of posts on X, the social media site previously called Twitter.
  • A Belgravia resident is raising concerns about the slow response to complaints about an Airbnb property. Devon Beggs said the home next to his was operating as two short-term rental properties, leading to issues such as loud parties, garbage, and other disruptions. While Airbnb has taken down both listings, Beggs, who shared his experience during a news conference about housing issues hosted by Coun. Michael Janz, said more needs to be done to address the problem of "ghost hotels." Janz also emphasized the need for a landlord registry and stricter regulations for short-term rentals. Hosts of short-term home rentals in Edmonton have needed a business license since 2019.
  • A study done by Econsult Solutions found that a 75-kilometre section of the Trans Canada Trail that runs through Edmonton, known as the Amisk Waciw Meskanaw (Beaver Hill Road) Trail, generates significant economic, environmental, and health benefits each year. The study found the trail contributes $1.2 million in environmental benefits, $145 million in economic benefits, and $3.9 million in health benefits. The trail is 75% complete, with a 25-kilometre gap remaining. Kristine Archibald with the River Valley Alliance said the organization would like to see the trail completed within the next decade.
  • A new study has found that as the climate warms, Edmonton is expected to be more hospitable to wildlife compared to southern cities due to its geography and city planning. The city's river valley and ravine system "provides a tremendous amount of habitat for wildlife," said Colleen St Clair, a University of Alberta professor and one of the study's authors. Despite the positive outlook, Edmonton won't be immune to the impacts of climate change, said Catherine Shier, a city conservation coordinator who helped with the study. Planting more vegetation and reducing the urban heat island effect can help mitigate the impacts, Shier added.
  • Edmonton has become a hub for ant-keeping in the past few years, according to local enthusiasts. Zachary Liu, owner of Canada Ant Colony, which sells ants across the country, said he receives a significant supply of his ants from collectors in Edmonton. Enthusiasts are also helping scientists study the insects by providing information on how to better keep and feed ants in captivity. However, as the hobby's popularity grows, there's a risk of spreading disease and invasive species if people release the insects in the wild, said Calgary-based ecologist James Glasier.
  • Alberta's first Filipino park opened on Oct. 1 in south Edmonton. Mabuhay Park, at 26 Street and 14 Avenue, incorporates Filipino culture, heritage, and traditions. With a population of 65,000, Edmonton's Filipino community is the fastest growing demographic in the city, Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said during the park's opening.
  • Brandon Sutter announced his retirement from the NHL on Oct. 1 after the Edmonton Oilers released the veteran forward from his professional tryout agreement. "You need to be 100% healthy to compete in the NHL and although my health continues to improve, in consideration of my health and family, I am officially retiring from hockey," Sutter said in a statement released by the Oilers. Throughout his 13 seasons with the league, Sutter played in 770 regular season games.
People working in an open office with huge glass windows

Coming up this week: Oct. 2-6, 2023

By Debbi Serafinchon

This week's events include a meetup with a craftsman; a chance to meet Plug and Play's founder; a day to honour Indigenous women, girls, and others lost to violence; the debut of a poetry series; a look at how to respond to hate crimes; and an Q&A with graphic artist Amandeep Singh.

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

Photo: Plug and Play Alberta, which is based in Calgary, is opening a dedicated office space at Edmonton Unlimited. (Mack Male/Flickr)