The Pulse: Feb. 23, 2024

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

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  • 9°C: Sunny. Wind southwest 30 km/h. High 9. UV index 1 or low. (forecast)
  • Pink/Orange/Blue/Green/Red: The High Level Bridge will be lit pink, orange, blue, green, and red for Girl Guides World Thinking Day. (details)
  • 7pm: The Edmonton Oilers (33-18-2) host the Minnesota Wild (26-24-6) at Rogers Place. (details)
  • 8pm, Feb. 24: The Oilers (33-18-2) host the Calgary Flames (27-25-5) at Rogers Place. (details)

A crowd of people on stage at a convention.

Explainer: Edmonton's complex regional cooperation landscape

By Colin Gallant

Several of the five municipalities that have voted to leave Edmonton Global say they remain committed to regional economic development — but will do so through other organizations.

So, what are the other economic development organizations that serve the Edmonton region? How does their work differ from one another? What are their results? And what do municipalities say about them? Taproot endeavoured to take a regional look to answer those questions.

In December, Strathcona County signalled its intent to leave Edmonton Global (though the process takes two years). Mayor Rod Frank and council cited budgetary restrictions for the decision. Edmonton Global's 14 members are responsible for $5 million in fees per year. Member contributions are determined by population and tax base. Soon after Strathcona County's decision made news, Sturgeon County, Parkland County, Devon, and The City of Fort Saskatchewan followed suit.

Edmonton Global is currently on a listening tour to find ways to improve the situation. It involves regularly scheduled appearances before member councils, as well as hiring two consultants, and a self-organized subcommittee of members to improve relations.

Some say cooperating as a region is just inherently tough. In November, Robert W. Murray and Chris Steele, both with financial ties to Edmonton Global, wrote in a Postmedia op-ed that the concept is proven but will take time. "In Alberta, regional collaboration remains an idea still in its infancy," they wrote. In December, Simon Boersma, Morinville mayor and shareholder chair for Edmonton Global, told CBC much the same thing. "Any time that we look at organizations that encompass more than two or three people, it's like living in a family trying to figure out how that is going to affect you," Boersma said.

Frank, meanwhile, said Strathcona County would continue its regional development work through the Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board, Edmonton International Airport, the Edmonton Region Hydrogen HUB, and Alberta's Industrial Heartland Association. He also said the county may reconsider its exit from Edmonton Global before the 2025 deadline.

A central idea behind regional economic development organizations is about savings. While each municipality can work on its own economic development, participating in collective organizations that promote the overall region means smaller municipalities have a larger reach with fewer dollars than they otherwise would.

Edmonton Global's mandate is to attract foreign investment into the region. Though other regional development organizations work to build collective economic opportunity, none focus primarily on international companies.

To map Edmonton's regional development landscape, Taproot reached out to the Heartland Association, the Edmonton Regional Innovation Network, the EMRB, and the HUB, as well as several municipalities. Most responded to questions, though some declined to respond and others did not answer all inquiries by press time.

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Headlines: Feb. 23, 2024

By Kevin Holowack

  • The City of Edmonton and TransEd will conduct a simulated emergency at the Mill Woods Stop on the Valley Line Southeast starting at 11am on Feb. 23. Regular service will continue at the south platform, and no other stops will be affected. The city asks anyone using the Mill Woods Stop to follow the direction of emergency services. The simulation is expected to take two hours, and could impact traffic around the LRT stop.
  • The Edmonton Police Service responded to a fight between a man and a GardaWorld security guard at a downtown parkade early on Feb. 20. Police said they found the security guard in medical distress. He was pronounced dead in hospital. On Feb. 22, police said a 30-year-old man was taken into custody "in relation to breaking into vehicles," but detectives are still investigating what led to the security guard's death. The incident, along with the Jan. 23 shooting at city hall, have raised concerns about the safety of security guards. Criminologist Dan Jones said security guards are taking on risky work for low compensation, and lack the tools to do what is expected of them.
  • Edmonton's $1-million homes are larger on average than $1-million homes in other Canadian cities, according to a new report from Royal LePage. Edmonton homes in the million-dollar range have an average of 3.3 bedrooms, 2.9 bathrooms and 2,675 square feet, compared to the national average of 3.2, bedrooms, 2.1 bathrooms, and 1,760 square feet. "Depending on the market that you are shopping in, a $1-million home can mean something very different," said Karen Yolevski with Royal LePage.
  • Statistics Canada's labour force survey found Edmonton's working-age population, meaning people aged 15-64, grew faster than any other major Canadian city over the past year. Edmonton's chief corporate economist Felicia Mutheardy said the city's economic forecast shows net population growth in 2023 was 4.7% and projects 3.5% growth in 2024.
  • Students from Lillian Osborne High School, Esther Starkman School and Greenfield School took part in a "human library" event at the McKay Avenue School Archives and Museum on Feb. 22. The event was an opportunity for students to hear from guest speakers and ask questions about race, inequality, and diversity in leadership. Among the guest speakers were Mayor Amarjeet Sohi and MLA Janis Irwin.
  • University of Alberta president Bill Flanagan wrote an op-ed for The Globe and Mail highlighting Canada's need for skilled professionals to stay competitive globally. "The demand for skilled professionals is acute, and our decisions today will determine our competitive stance and economic prosperity for years to come," he wrote.
  • The NHL has laid out its plans for NHL All-Star Games for the next two seasons. The Edmonton Oilers are among the teams that have expressed an interest in hosting after 2026. The Oilers last hosted an All-Star game in 1989.
  • Postmedia obtained answers to the Alberta government's survey on potential changes to the Local Authorities Election Act and Municipal Government. The results show 81%, or 4,717 survey respondents, said listing political parties on local ballots could create issues or challenges. Answers to the survey's multiple choice section showed more than 70% of respondents opposed adding party labels to municipal ballots. Alberta Municipalities reiterated its opposition to party labels on local ballots and called on the province to abandon the idea.
  • Residents in Westlock voted in a plebiscite to ban rainbow crosswalks and only permit government flags to be flown on town property. About 1,300 voted, with 663, or 50.9%, in favour of the ban. The vote was prompted by a petition signed by more than 700 residents after a rainbow crosswalk was painted in the town last summer. The results of the plebiscite mean the crosswalk will now be removed.
A title card that reads Taproot Edmonton Calendar:

Happenings: Feb. 23-25, 2024

By Debbi Serafinchon

Here are some events happening this weekend 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.