The Pulse: Jan. 25, 2024

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  • -1°C: Mainly cloudy. Wind up to 15 km/h. High minus 1. Wind chill minus 11 in the morning and minus 3 in the afternoon.(forecast)
  • Blue/Green/White/Red: The High Level Bridge will be lit blue, green, white, and red for Robbie Burns Birthday. (details)
  • 7pm: The Edmonton Oilers (27-15-1) host the Chicago Blackhawks (14-31-2) at Rogers Place. (details)

A person with blonde hair and black glasses gives two thumbs-up while standing before a domed pavilion lit with bright purples and blues.

COP28 experience sees advocate push for curriculum change

By Ashley Lavallee-Koenig

Grade 11 Sherwood Park student Shelby Hartman says that while climate change is top of mind for her generation, there remains a knowledge gap between advocates and the general population that prevents faster change.

That gap is why Hartman, one of 60 global youth chosen to attend the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference in December, is now calling for the Alberta government to add climate change education to the provincial curriculum.

"One of my big concerns is a lot of people aren't really educated on climate change," Hartman told Taproot. "Most adults I talk to about climate change, they have the same level of knowledge or less than me, which seems really odd. So, definitely there's a very big information gap between the general population and those people who campaign about climate change, so that bridge needs to be fixed."

Hartman said the Alberta curriculum should change, but added governments and politicians should also shift their approach to climate change, especially with the language and information they use.

"They just keep it in these crazy high scientific terms that most people don't understand, and no one's going to go out of their way and look it up if they just don't understand it," she said. "Some people will, but not everyone will, so we need to reach the general population, not the elite select few at the top."

Hartman said adding climate change to the curriculum could move the needle on this point. "The government controls (the) curriculum and controls how we educate our youth, so if they implement climate change in the curriculum, and climate change knowledge at a comprehensive level for each grade, then climate change knowledge overall will increase and also children can educate their parents."

Hartman's trajectory to attending COP28 began with her childhood passion for the outdoors. This naturally expanded into environmentalism as she grew up. "As a little kid you take all these little actions … (and) you know why you're doing them, but you don't understand the bigger picture," she said.

Hartman said COP28 was an opportunity to see the bigger picture, and one central takeaway from the experience was the shared effect that climate change has had on people across the globe.

"It was just very enlightening to know that we're all in this together, and then it was also very educational to learn about how different groups react to climate change," she said.

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Headlines: Jan. 25, 2024

By Kevin Holowack

  • The Edmonton Police Service said the man who fired a gun in Edmonton city hall on Jan. 23 is facing six charges related to firearm use and possessing incendiary material. Police identified him as 28-year-old Bezhani Sarvar. Commissionaires, which provides security services at city hall, confirmed that Sarvar worked as a security guard for the company since 2019, but that he was never assigned to city hall. Before the incident, Sarvar posted a now-deleted "manifesto video" to social media. John McCoy, executive director of the Organization for the Prevention of Violence, suggested the video is an example of a phenomenon called "salad bar extremism," which often takes the form of a "mishmash" of grievances layered with mental health issues or disorders.
  • Stories have emerged of City of Edmonton staff whose actions likely prevented violence on Jan. 23, including staff who contacted police and brought others to safe areas. A class of Grade 1 students was on a field trip at city hall when the shooting started. One staff member successfully kept a group of kids safe and calm and Stanley A. Milner Library staff looked after children as police filled the area. The unarmed security guard who detained the shooter until police arrived "went above and beyond his normal duties," Commissionaires said in a statement. "We are very proud of him, and thank him for taking such bold and brave action to protect the public."
  • The city signed an agreement with Varme Energy, under which the company will build a privately funded and operated waste-to-energy facility about 40 kilometres northeast of Edmonton. The parties say the agreement will produce green electricity and industrial heat while diverting approximately 150,000 tonnes of residential garbage from the landfill each year. Varme says it will complete construction as early as 2027, and the city will send residual garbage waste for a period of 15 years. It will be Canada's first industrial-scale waste-to-energy facility that integrates carbon capture and storage.
  • Edmonton Public Schools are experiencing higher-than normal class sizes in most grades, according to a report to board trustees. Grades 4 and higher are also seeing a larger proportion of English language learners, and all grades are seeing a higher proportion of students with disabilities. School board chair Julie Kusiek said trustees expect a larger increase next year and continued growth over this academic year. The board wants the province to fund the construction of new schools in the upcoming spring budget, Kusiek said.
  • Christopher McDonald, a captain with Edmonton Fire Rescue Services, was arrested on Jan. 16 and charged with three child pornography-related offences. In a release, Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams said it began investigating McDonald last October following reports of him sharing "high volumes of child sexual exploitation materials online," and that various electronics were seized during a search of his Morinville-area home on Dec. 28. McDonald is also charged with two counts of unsafe storage of a firearm. He is scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 15 in Morinville.
  • The city's Winter Patio Grant program has awarded grants to 27 businesses to spend money on heaters, furniture, blankets, and lighting for the 2023-2024 winter season. The city said it invested more than $50,000 into the program this season and provided grants of up to $2,000.
  • Sofina Foods says it will be conducting safety tests at two Edmonton plants on Jan. 25. Residents can expect to hear emergency siren tests at the company's 7727 127 Avenue NW location at 10am and at its 9620 56 Avenue NW location at 4pm.
  • The province released an online feedback form as part of a broader engagement effort around "refocusing" health care in Alberta. A series of in-person engagement events are scheduled across the province in the coming months, including in Edmonton on Feb. 20.
Sunrise or sunset over a foggy field, with a couple buildings in the distance

Calls for public engagement: Park planning, downtown revitalization, floods

By Kevin Holowack

Here are opportunities to get involved in engagement efforts affecting Edmonton, including strategic planning for the city's newest river valley park and two downtown revitalization projects.

  • North Saskatchewan River flood study — The province is seeking feedback on new flood hazard maps for the North Saskatchewan River in the Edmonton area. The maps identify areas at risk of flooding and will help with long-term planning. The section of the river being mapped runs from slightly west of Devon to Township Road 570, northeast of Fort Saskatchewan. Residents and landowners can submit feedback about the maps and associated reports through an online form until Feb. 12.
  • 103A Avenue and 99 Street Streetscape and Pedway — The city has begun a second round of engagement for two separate downtown revitalization projects: a new streetscape for parts of 103A Avenue and 99 Street and an underground pedway between the Churchill LRT Station and the upcoming Station Lands development. A What We Heard report based on the city's previous engagement says participants generally liked the idea of improving the pedestrian experience with the streetscape, but reactions to the pedway were mixed, with concerns largely centred on safety. Residents can review design booklets for the streetscape and the pedway, and share their thoughts on an online discussion board, until Feb. 13.
  • Northeast River Valley Park Strategic Plan — The Northeast River Valley Park, the newest park in Edmonton's river valley, opened in September. The city now seeks feedback from residents to inform the park's strategic plan, which will include its vision, guiding principles, and approach to naturalization, restoration, and programming. Residents can share their ideas until Feb. 29.

More input opportunities

Photo: The Northeast River Valley Park, which still hasn't been named, offers a lake, a 25,000-square-foot event centre, and year-round activities. (City of Edmonton)

A title card that reads Taproot Edmonton Calendar:

Happenings: Jan. 25, 2024

By Debbi Serafinchon

Here are some events happening today in the Edmonton area.

And here are some upcoming events to keep in mind:

Visit the beta version of the Taproot Edmonton Calendar for many more events in the Edmonton region.