The Pulse: Feb. 26, 2024

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  • -17°C: Snow ending late in the afternoon then cloudy. Wind north 20 km/h gusting to 40 becoming light in the morning. Temperature steady near minus 17. Wind chill near minus 26. (forecast)
  • 2-4: The Edmonton Oilers (33-19-2) lost to the Minnesota Wild (27-24-6) on Feb. 23. (details)
  • 3-6: The Oilers (33-20-2) lost to the Calgary Flames (28-25-5) on Feb. 24. (details)
  • 7:30pm: The Oilers (33-20-2) host the Los Angeles Kings (29-17-10) at Rogers Place. (details)

An infill building and an older building in Edmonton.

On the agenda: Success metrics, green builds, mental health

By Stephanie Swensrude

City council continues to meet in a hybrid setting to discuss the City Plan, higher energy efficiency standards, and mental health statistics.

There is a community and public services committee meeting scheduled for Feb. 26, an urban planning committee meeting scheduled for Feb. 27, an executive committee meeting scheduled for Feb. 28, and a city auditor recruitment committee meeting scheduled for Feb. 29.

Here are key items on the agenda:

  • A report details the 14 goals of the City Plan and establishes baselines to measure success. Goals include keeping the city's net carbon emissions under 135 million tonnes and being net-neutral by 2050. But the report suggests that, at the city's current rate, the carbon budget will deplete by 2037, 13 years ahead of schedule. Another goal is to welcome 600,000 new residents into Edmonton's redeveloping area, generally defined as inside Anthony Henday Drive. The current baseline population is about 811,000. One goal aims to have 50% of resident trips made using transit and active transportation; the baseline is 15%, a measurement from 2015. The city said the percentage has remained stable over the last 30 years, requiring "different and transformative approaches." The goals also include ensuring no one is in core housing need, meaning their housing is an appropriate size and costs less than 30% of their pre-tax income. The baseline for those in core housing need is a 2016 measurement, when nearly 50,000 residents faced such a challenge.
  • The city is limited in enforcing higher energy efficiency standards due to recent amendments to provincial legislation, but it can encourage and incentivize builders, according to a report going to an urban planning committee meeting. In June 2022, council asked administration to investigate ways the city could require more energy savings than the federal building code. The most recent federal codes include five tiers, which gradually decrease in energy consumption to net zero; provinces choose what tier to require. Alberta is set to adopt the first, least efficient tier on May 1. The city said it could work with stakeholders to advocate for higher tiers and explore incentives for greener builds. While the city's ability to require more stringent regulations is limited, it said it will outline opportunities in planning and development for climate action. Council is scheduled to receive a report on this approach in the next quarter.
  • About 35,000 people visited an Edmonton emergency room for addiction or mental health reasons between 2022 and 2023, according to a report to be reviewed at a community and public services committee meeting on Feb. 26. According to the report, nearly 5,000 people were admitted to inpatient addiction and mental health services between 2022 and 2023, a 20% increase compared to between 2019 and 2020. The report also notes that more than 1,200 people accessed detox and recovery services and 1,500 people accessed the opioid dependency program in Edmonton between 2022 and 2023. The report said there are 384 detox and recovery beds in the city.
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Headlines: Feb. 26, 2024

By Mariam Ibrahim

  • Edmonton has activated its extreme weather response to protect vulnerable populations as the city experiences severe cold, with up to 10 cm of snow expected by Feb. 26 and an overnight low of -26C. As part of the response, a third Winter Shelter Shuttle Service bus is operating, 50 temporary shelter spaces are available at the Al Rashid Mosque, and expanded day services are in place at the Bissell Centre and Boyle Street Community Services. The response is expected to last until 9am on March 1, but could be extended if cold conditions persist.
  • Applications are now open for the City of Edmonton's Community Mural Grant and Community Clean Up Grant. Applications for the Community Mural Grant are open until May 15. The grant provides up to $8,000 for projects that contribute to neighbourhood beautification and community engagement. The Community Clean Up Grant, which provides up to $1,000 in reimbursed funds to support waste removal efforts, is accepting applications until Sept. 30. The grants are offered through Edmonton's Capital City Clean Up program.
  • The Edmonton Football Officials Association is facing a shortage of referees, urging those interested in the sport to consider officiating. The association said the sport is growing in popularity across Edmonton. "There's more teams every year ... so we need to continue to recruit," said Parry Steen with the association.
  • Edmonton saw venture capital investment triple in 2023, with $188 million invested across 21 deals, the province said in a release. By the end of 2023, the province's five-year growth rate for capital investment reached 48.5%, with tech companies in Alberta securing $2.7 billion in investment across 350 deals.
  • Edmontonians gathered at Violet King Henry Plaza to mark the second anniversary of Russia's war on Ukraine. Yaroslav Broda, president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Edmonton Branch, emphasized the importance of maintaining support to prevent Ukraine from being trapped in a prolonged conflict. The Alberta Council for the Ukrainian Arts also launched a photography exhibit titled "Moments from the Battleground – the Photographs of Maxim Dondyuk," to connect locals with the realities of the war and provide a visual understanding of the crisis. Archpriest Cornell Zubritsky, who leads the Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Edmonton, says parishioners have become pessimistic as the war drags on. "The anger, the grieving, the lack of optimism is pretty prevalent," Zubritsky said.
  • Edmonton-Rutherford MLA Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse has announced her entry into the Alberta NDP leadership race. Calahoo Stonehouse, who is Mohawk and Cree, said her campaign will focus on environmental issues, including climate change and drought. Other candidates in the race to replace Rachel Notley are Sarah Hoffman, Kathleen Ganley, and Rakhi Pancholi. The vote is scheduled for June 22.
  • Delays from FortisAlberta in processing applications for solar panel installations are hindering the growth of solar energy projects outside of Alberta's major cities. Edmonton-based Boreal Connected Homes president Jordan Forsythe said the delays are frustrating customers as solar energy increases in popularity due to government grants and other financial incentives. FortisAlberta acknowledged the delays, adding that it is hiring additional staff and introducing new software in an effort to reduce wait times.
A title card that reads Taproot Edmonton Calendar:

Happenings: Feb. 26, 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.