The Pulse: Jan. 29, 2024

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

Want this in your inbox? Sign up to get The Pulse by email. It's free!


  • 12°C: A mix of sun and cloud. High 12. UV index 1 or low. (forecast)
  • Green: The High Level Bridge will be lit green for the National Day of Remembrance of the Quebec City Mosque Attack and Action Against Islamophobia. (details)
  • 4-1: The Edmonton Oilers (29-15-1) defeated the Nashville Predators (26-22-1) on Jan. 27 in their 16th straight win. (details)

Councillors Sarah Hamilton, Erin Rutherford, and Ashley Salvador at a city council meeting in August 2023.

Report offers council service cuts and new fees to meet OP12 goals

By Stephanie Swensrude

The city's administration says councillors must make tough and significant cuts to services if they want Edmonton to be able to reallocate $240 million in its operating budget, as council has requested.

The suggestion is part of OP12, a council directive created in December 2022 that instructed administration to find $60 million in budget cuts and a further $240 million to be reallocated in the 2023-2026 budget cycle.

Little progress on OP12 has been made public since its creation. But now, in a report originally scheduled to be discussed at a Jan. 30 council meeting, administration has presented many options to meet council's request.

The options range from creating an online Edmonton Transit Service merch store to eliminating snow clearing in the river valley, selling off city assets, and cutting funds to organizations.

Taproot examined the report before the city took its meeting agendas off its website as part of meeting cancellations for Jan. 29 to Feb. 2. Those agendas included links to the report.

In the report, administration provides council with options ahead of the spring supplemental budget adjustment, where council will vote on cuts and reallocations.

So far, the report identifies $130.8 million that could be reallocated. To get to the $240 million targeted, however, the report presents more than 60 options that if enacted could broadly result in service cuts, funding cuts, and increases to existing fees or the introduction of new ones.

Selling off-street parking lots, such as the Stanley A. Milner Library Parkade, is one option in the report. Increasing fees by up to 7.5% and implementing new parking zones on some streets and in some parks is another option.

The report suggests creating an internally managed parking team to increase both efficiency and revenue from fees by more than $2.8 million. It also suggests an option to charge for the residential restricted parking program. While that program is currently free, the report said other jurisdictions charge for similar programs, and the city could make an additional $120,000 by 2026 if it elects to charge.

The report looks at eliminating snow clearing in the river valley, as well as disposing of some park space and reducing turf maintenance. It also includes the option to pull back programs like Front Yards in Bloom, Bloomin' Boulevards, pop-up gardens, and dog parks.

Continue reading

Headlines: Jan. 29, 2024

By Mariam Ibrahim

  • Edmonton City Hall remains closed with no timeline for its reopening as restoration work continues following the attack last week that saw gunfire and a Molotov cocktail thrown inside the building's atrium. Council and committee meetings for the week of Jan. 29 to Feb. 2 have been cancelled, the city announced. City Manager Andre Corbould said security protocols are currently under review and that it's likely city hall will reopen in stages, beginning with staff access. "It's really important that we focus less on timelines and more on the conditions that we want to be met," he said. Damages from the attack are estimated at $100,000, Postmedia reported, citing an anonymous source. Bezhani Sarvar, 28, faces six charges in connection with the attack. His bail hearing is scheduled for Feb. 2.
  • The Edmonton Downtown Farmers Market held its final indoor market on the weekend after its association voted to dissolve and declare bankruptcy. The market's home had been in a 113-year-old building on 97 Street and 103 Avenue since 2019. Rising costs, a dramatic drop in vendors, downtown safety concerns, and reduced foot traffic during the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the decision. "There's no blame game. It's just the times and there have been so many things that led to this decision," said market manager Elaine Doucette. The market is planning an outdoor event in May on 104 Street downtown, she added.
  • An apartment fire that started while police were negotiating with a man barricaded in his suite sent seven people to hospital and caused significant damage to the building. The Edmonton Police Service said officers were sent to the building at 107 Street and 79 Avenue around 5pm on Jan. 25 to help carry out a court order against the man, and negotiations continued until the fire began inside his suite shortly before 1am. Police said they arrested the man as Edmonton Fire Rescue Services arrived at the scene. Some building residents were rescued from their balconies by firefighters, and many were taken in by neighbours after escaping the flames.
  • Edmonton native Andrew Comrie-Picard is a core member of the group behind the Transglobal Car Expedition, which began in New York on Jan. 9 and passed through Edmonton on Jan. 25 en route to the North Pole. The team will traverse multiple continents during the 17-month expedition, collecting data on cosmic radiation and light pollution, and monitoring ice conditions. The journey is set to conclude in the summer of 2025 after circling the globe and returning to New York.
  • The Edmonton Oilers are one game away from an NHL record for most consecutive wins after they extended their winning streak to 16 games in their 4-1 victory against the Nashville Predators on Jan. 27. In a video message shown during the game, former Oilers goaltender Grant Fuhr congratulated current Oilers goalie Stuart Skinner on breaking his record of 10 consecutive wins set during the 1985-86 season. "It's exciting. Obviously it's a great run, obviously the goalies have played great," team captain Connor McDavid said. After a rough start to the season, the Oilers are now considered Stanley Cup contenders, sitting third in the Pacific Division. The team is currently on an extended break and will return to the ice to face the Vegas Golden Knights on Feb. 6.
  • More than 500 people in Leduc have signed a petition to save a homeless shelter and support centre known locally as the Hub from closure due to potential bylaw and permit changes. "The triple threat of an expiring operating permit, lease ending, and lack of a new location — risks leaving Leduc without a shelter," Susan Johnson, executive director of the Leduc Hub Association, told Global News. The centre provides shelter space for up to 10 beds, social support, and food for vulnerable people in the community. Laura Tillack, Leduc's deputy mayor, said the city has encouraged the hub to apply for an extension to its development permit to stay in its current location, and that bylaw changes to restrict where the centre can operate are not being considered.
  • The Alberta government will introduce a "parental rights" policy this week, Premier Danielle Smith announced Jan. 27 on her call-in radio show. During the United Conservative Party's annual general meeting last November, members passed a resolution that said teachers, schools, and school boards should be required to get parental permission if a student chooses to be addressed by a different name or pronouns. Smith said the UCP caucus has since discussed the policy and done broad consultations. Kristopher Wells, the Canada Research Chair for the Public Understanding of Sexual and Gender Minority Youth, said on X that "any policy changes are only going to make it worse" for trans and non-binary youth in Alberta.
  • The Alberta NDP leadership election to replace Rachel Notley will happen on June 22, the party's provincial council announced on Jan. 27. Candidates have until March 15 to register for the leadership race, with a spending limit of $500,000 and a requirement to disclose their donors. Party members who purchase or renew their memberships by April 22 can vote in the race. Notley announced her resignation earlier this month, after leading the party for nearly a decade.
A picture looking up at a flight of stairs and an entranceway below the city crest, where a sign reads "Council Chamber".

City cancels meetings after attack at city hall

By Tim Querengesser

The city has cancelled its council meetings from Jan. 29 to Feb. 2 in the wake of the events of Jan. 23, when a person allegedly walked into city hall with a long gun, fired several rounds, and lit several incendiary devices.

No one was hurt. Police arrested a suspect on the scene. Bezhani Sarvar, 28, faces six criminal charges.

"Public decision-making meetings are valuable because the efforts of Administration, the governance of City Council and the feedback of Edmontonians come together to build our community," Andre Corbould, city manager, said in a release on Jan. 26. "We recognize that the recent event was distressing and frightening for those present in City Hall, and we will ensure appropriate arrangements are in place for people to return safely."

City hall remains closed, the release said. There is no timeline for when the building will re-open to the public.

Corbould told CTV the shooting and fires have traumatized city employees who work at city hall. "We are going to take some time to focus on the work that needs to be done, and really focus on staff and the psychological safety that's required to make them feel better," he said.

A title card that reads Taproot Edmonton Calendar:

Happenings: Jan. 29, 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.