The Pulse: Dec. 14, 2023

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  • 2°C: Cloudy. Snow beginning in the afternoon. High plus 2. (forecast)
  • Blue: The High Level Bridge will be lit blue for the J.P. Fiset Invitational Swim Meet, which is happening at the Kinsmen Sports Centre from Dec. 14-17. (details)
  • 7pm: The Edmonton Oilers (13-12-1) play the Tampa Bay Lightning (13-12-5) at Rogers Place. (details)

A man speaks at a microphone at a podium with the words Edmonton Global on it, while people in a crowd look on

Edmonton Global exodus extends to Sturgeon County and Fort Saskatchewan

By Colin Gallant

The councils in Sturgeon County and Fort Saskatchewan both voted on Dec. 12 to depart from Edmonton Global, following the same decision by Strathcona County on Nov. 30.

Sturgeon County said it had contributed about $600,000 to Edmonton Global since 2017, with annual amounts of $137,700 since 2020. Mayor Alanna Hnatiw said in a statement that Sturgeon County recognizes that "regional business attraction and development takes years to achieve," and she committed to summarizing her council's concerns for the Edmonton Global board.

All three departing municipalities made their decisions during budget deliberations. All will remain part of Edmonton Global for two years, receiving all benefits and remaining responsible for all dues during that time. Strathcona County Mayor Rod Frank said his county's dues are just under $500,000 per year. The two-year period is a requirement of Edmonton Global's off-boarding process.

Edmonton Global said in a news release that it believes municipalities should see their membership dues as an investment rather than an expense.

"We sincerely hope that over time, these shareholders will reconsider their decision and again take up their roles as active shareholders of Edmonton Global for the long term," board chair Enzo Barichello said in the release.

The decisions to leave may represent "a wake-up call for Edmonton Global — maybe they need to be doing more outreach with individual municipalities," St. Albert Mayor Cathy Heron told the St. Albert Gazette after Strathcona County voted to leave. "It might be a wake-up call for them to get back to some of their grassroots, get back to the sectors that they originally decided would be perfect for economic development in the region … more than just hydrogen and the airport."

Established in 2017 as an economic development agency that today represents 14 municipalities across the Edmonton region, Edmonton Global has seen one municipality depart. Bon Accord left soon after Edmonton Global's formation, due to its budget not matching the development agency's ambition, according to a spokesperson for Edmonton Global.

The latest decisions follow the Nov. 3 announcement of four task forces established as part of the second year of forward/slash, an effort organized by Edmonton Global to unite the region around economic development. The projects are meant to build "connective tissue" for economic development by engaging diverse stakeholders across the region that Edmonton Global serves, a spokesperson previously told Taproot.

Both Parkland County and Morinville made moves to leave the organization in 2020 before doubling back in 2022. Still, the decisions undoubtedly resurface the discussion of whether regional cooperation is working for all involved. Sturgeon County's departure comes just eight months after Hnatiw threatened to leave the Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board over a dispute on development of the Villeneuve Airport Area, though her county pushed through a revised development plan in September.

Frank said opportunities for regional collaboration exist with other bodies such as the Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board, Edmonton International Airport, the Edmonton Region Hydrogen HUB, and Alberta's Industrial Heartland Association. Sturgeon County echoed those sentiments.

Photo: A file photo from the 2018 launch of Edmonton Global. The launch saw an organization created with large ambitions for regional cooperation to spur economic development. But three municipalities have decided in recent weeks to leave. (Mack Male/Flickr)


Headlines: Dec. 14, 2023

By Kevin Holowack

  • The Metro LRT Line will be closed on the weekend of Dec. 16-17 for testing on the of the Metro Line Northwest Extension from NAIT to Blatchford. Replacement bus service will run between the NAIT and Churchill LRT stations every 15 minutes all weekend. Traffic at the Princess Elizabeth Avenue intersection may be affected because LRT gates will be down for longer than usual. In a release, the city said the new NAIT/Blatchford Market station could open in late December.
  • City council passed Coun. Tim Cartmell's motion requesting an outline for a pilot program for fare gates at transit centres as well as an amended motion asking administration for a cost-benefit analysis and recommendations. In May, Calgary received a report about safety and closed transit systems that found no correlation between safety and fare gates, and instead recommended infrastructure changes or a different staff model. On Dec. 12, the province re-announced its $8.3-million commitment to help recruit, train, and deploy 50 new Edmonton Police Service officers, who will primarily be assigned to transit areas and downtown.
  • An independent veterinary assessment of Lucy the Elephant said she is doing well at the Edmonton Valley Zoo despite her health issues. The assessment was done by the same veterinarians who assessed the 48-year-old Asian elephant in 2022. They found that Lucy's uterine tumour has regressed, but confirmed that her respiratory condition makes her unfit to travel. The zoo made changes to Lucy's diet and vaccine treatment following recommendations from a panel in 2022. It has also secured city funding to improve her living quarters.
  • Healthcare workers at the Stollery Children's Hospital are dealing with an overcrowded emergency room due to a spike in respiratory illnesses among kids, including influenza, COVID-19, and RSV. The surge is leading to full waiting rooms and long wait times, sometimes exceeding eight to twelve hours, said assistant clinical professor Amaly Rahman. The hospital opened an 11-bed surge unit on Dec. 8, which Rahman said helps but is only a temporary fix. Edmonton Public School Board chair Julie Kusiek said the division is doing all it can to prevent the spread of illness amid widespread absenteeism, including putting portable HEPA filters in learning areas.
  • Edmonton Public Schools is facing significant capacity issues due to a surge in student enrolment. Nearly 7,500 new students have enrolled since September 2022. Of the 213 schools in the division, 27 are at or above 100% capacity and 78 have at least 85% utilization. The division has already decided to close boundaries for 44 schools during the 2023-2024 school year, up from 32 the previous year, which means less flexibility for students.
  • Condo owners in Castledowns Pointe, a north-side residential building that was damaged by fire three months ago, have received large bills for special assessments that were done after engineers identified major structural issues with the building following the fire. Condo owners who spoke to CTV News received bills ranging from $8,000 to $12,000. The condo board voted against using $200,000 from its reserve fund to reduce their expenses. Possible future steps include tearing down the building or rebuilding it. The board says it is considering legal action against the developer, but it isn't the first option.
  • Workplace safety officials are investigating after a contractor died from a fall while working on a building owned by Imperial Oil in Strathcona County, just east of Edmonton. The building is near Imperial Oil's refinery, but a company spokesperson said it is being leased to a third party and is not connected with Imperial Oil's operations.
  • Mary Moreau, the newest member of the Supreme Court of Canada, appeared on the Alberta Unbound podcast to talk with Senator Paula Simons about growing up as a Francophone Albertan, her legal career, and moving to Ottawa. Moreau was born in Edmonton, studied at the University of Alberta, and practised criminal law, constitutional law, and civil litigation in the city. She was appointed to the Supreme Court on Nov. 6.
Aerial view of 11343 76 Avenue NW, which shares an intersection with McKernan School and the McKernan/Belgravia LRT station.

Calls for public engagement: Animal control bylaw, McKernan rezoning

By Kevin Holowack

Here are opportunities to add to discussions on civic matters that include rezonings in Woodcroft and McKernan, and renewing the city's animal licensing and control bylaw.

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