The Pulse: Nov. 30, 2023

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  • -3°C: Mainly sunny. Wind up to 15 km/h. High minus 3. Wind chill minus 16 in the morning and minus 7 in the afternoon. (forecast)
  • Purple: The High Level Bridge will be lit purple for Stomach Cancer Awareness Day. (details)
  • 6pm: The Edmonton Oilers (8-12-1) play the Winnipeg Jets (12-7-2) at Canada Life Centre. (details)

A large public square with trees and murals spills from the street into an alley.

Award-winning design firm has more city-shaping work ahead

By Colin Gallant

After receiving significant recognition at the recent Edmonton Urban Design Awards, EDA Planning + Urban Design is set to continue shaping Edmonton's neighbourhoods, with projects in Garneau and Oliver, as well as downtown on 103A Avenue NW.

Jason Pfeifer, senior urban designer and landscape architect with EDA, told Taproot that his firm works on urban design layers by considering culture and community. "It's how do you recognize, celebrate, and enhance community, culture, and infrastructure?," Pfeifer said. "Along with that, it's being sensitive to the social issues in the areas that we're working in."

At the design awards, held on Nov. 24, EDA received honourable mentions in the urban design plans category for its Boyle Street and McCauley analysis and preliminary design, and in the civic design category for its Jasper Avenue New Vision.

EDA also received an award of excellence in the sustainable urbanism category for its work on the Strathcona Backstreet Neighbourhood Renewal.

The Strathcona backstreets project was essentially an addendum to EDA's work on Strathcona Neighbourhood Renewal, which dates back to 2017. It was funded in part by the Old Strathcona Business Association, the city's Neighbourhood Renewal Program, the city-funded Low Impact Development program offered by EPCOR and a Green Municipal Fund grant from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

"With that project, there's a lot of credit to share around," Pfeifer said. "By piecing together every bit we could, and overlapping different programs and working together with a lot of different people in a collaboration, we were able to maximize the outcome we can get out of the space."

A critical part was transforming two parking lots into pedestrian plazas. That's one way EDA made navigating alleyways more safe and inviting.

Though parking can be a hot topic with folks who rely heavily on cars, Pfeifer said attitudes are changing.

"We've worked on a few projects where we're reducing the number of parking (stalls)," he said. "It's easier and easier, year after year, to get people on board with that. It's an easier case to make when you're asking the business, 'Would you like to have one parking space for one, potentially a few, customers to visit your business? Or would you like to have a patio space that could fit 10 people?'"

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Headlines: Nov. 30, 2023

By Kevin Holowack and Mariam Ibrahim

  • Mayor Amarjeet Sohi and several councillors expressed concern about bullying allegations against Coun. Jennifer Rice made by several of her former staffers. Sohi said his office brought concerns about Rice's behaviour to the integrity commissioner in October and plans to contact the commissioner again in light of the allegations reported by Postmedia earlier this week. The mayor also raised concerns about a lack of whistleblower protections for council assistants, whose only recourse for filing complaints is through the integrity commissioner, a process that reveals their identity. Rice has refused to take media questions since Postmedia's story was published.
  • The Edmonton Police Service has charged a 19-year-old man with three counts of manslaughter and three counts of negligence causing death in connection with the March shooting deaths of constables Travis Jordan and Brett Ryan. Dennis Okeymow is accused of trafficking a rifle used by 16-year-old Roman Shewchuk in the deaths of the constables and in a separate shooting of a Pizza Hut employee several days earlier. "It's heartbreaking that the trafficking of a firearm has led to multiple deaths and life-altering injuries," Staff Sgt. Eric Stewart said in a release.
  • CBC spoke to residents living near the former Domtar wood treatment plant in north Edmonton about their concerns over contaminated soil. The site caught the public eye in 2018 when more than 100 homeowners in the area received warnings about soil and groundwater contamination and again in 2021 when Alberta Environment began the most recent remediation efforts. The site is now slated for residential, parks, and public utility development, and Alberta Environment has signed off on its cleanup. Residents are waiting for the long-overdue results of an epidemiological study into cancer rates in the area that began in 2019.
  • Members of the Eritrean community rallied outside city hall on Nov. 29 to call on authorities to press charges in connection with an Eritrean festival that erupted in violence on Aug. 19. At the time, police read the rarely used Riot Act, more than 90 officers were involved in breaking up the fight, and the city revoked the festival's event permit. Police say no charges have been laid so far and the investigation is ongoing. Kibrom Mender, president of the Eritrean Canadian Community of Edmonton, wrote a letter to Mayor Amarjeet Sohi saying the decision to revoke the organization's permit was an infringement of Charter rights. Lambros Kiriakakos, chair of the Coalition of Eritrean Canadian Communities and Organizations, said violence and protests at Eritrean events this summer were a "premeditated and coordinated attack" against the Eritrean community.
  • MacEwan University reappointed Craig Monk as provost and vice-president, academic, a position he has held since 2018. His new term officially starts July 1, 2024, and runs to 2030. Highlights of his tenure so far include leading the institution's transition to undergraduate university status and the creation of its bicameral governance structure.
  • Borealis Lights, a new drive-through Christmas display in St. Albert, is giving visitors a chance to see more than 800,000 lights, various displays, and a "holiday tunnel." The attraction opened in the Kinsmen RV Park on Nov. 17 and will be open daily until Jan. 7.
  • Edmonton Oilers players Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sam Gagner, once heralded as teenage saviours for team, reflected on the paths their careers have taken in the NHL. With 822 games under his belt, Nugent-Hopkins is on track to play the most games of any other player in the team's history. Gagner, who fans have nicknamed 'Papa Oiler' following his recent double hip surgery, has returned to play for Edmonton for the third time in his career.
A view from raised seating at the back of Council Chamber, looking down at city councillors sitting in a row at a long desk

Calls for public engagement: District planning, proposed changes to MGA

By Kevin Holowack

Here are opportunities to offer your thoughts on civic matters, including Edmonton's district planning and the province's proposed changes to legislation affecting local politics.

More input opportunities

Photo: The current city council's inaugural meeting in October 2021. (Mack Male/Flickr)