The Pulse: Feb. 29, 2024

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

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  • -4°C: Becoming cloudy in the morning then periods of snow. Wind becoming northwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 in the morning. Temperature falling to minus 7 in the afternoon. Wind chill minus 5 in the morning and minus 15 in the afternoon. UV index 1 or low. (forecast)
  • Blue/Green/Pink: The High Level Bridge will be lit blue, green, and pink for Rare Disease Awareness Day. (details)
  • 3-2: The Edmonton Oilers (35-20-2) defeated the St. Louis Blues (30-26-3) in overtime on Feb. 28. (details)

Stairs leading into Edmonton's river valley.

Explainer: the battle over a proposed national urban park in Edmonton

By Stephanie Swensrude

An Alberta MLA says his private member's bill, now set for debate as the legislature reconvenes for its spring session, could grant both the provincial government and Albertans control over national urban parks, including one proposed in Edmonton's river valley.

"What happens to Albertans' green spaces is of paramount importance to the people of our province," Leduc-Beaumont MLA Brandon Lunty said, in a release. "While national urban parks may have some benefits, it's critical for the province to have more oversight when it comes to their creation and development."

If passed, Lunty's Bill 204 would amend the Municipal Government Act to prevent municipal councils from negotiating plans for national urban parks with the federal government without specified conditions from Alberta's lieutenant-governor.

Lunty told Taproot he thinks it's important to codify how the province is included in decisions on national urban parks. "This piece of legislation will ensure that those conversations are going to happen in the future," Lunty said.

The City of Edmonton said the province is participating "as an interested observer" in a working committee composed of the city, Parks Canada, and Métis and First Nations representatives.

Official discussions about a national urban park in Edmonton began in 2022. In August, councillors voted to move the project to the planning phase.

Ward Dene Coun. Aaron Paquette said he has supported a national urban park since the idea was first proposed. He acknowledged the province has a legitimate claim to being stewards of the river valley. But Paquette added that claim is mostly "on paper," because the city has taken stewardship responsibilities in practice. "Why (is the province) suddenly interested when they haven't been interested for so long? And why show that interest in the form of legislation that sort of comes out of nowhere, rather than picking up the phone or even walking the few blocks from the legislature to city hall?"

What would a national urban park mean for Edmonton? What would Lunty's bill mean for the proposal? And what is happening elsewhere with national urban parks? Taproot has sought to answer these questions.

Continue reading

Headlines: Feb. 29, 2024

By Kevin Holowack

  • The Alberta Labour Relations Board has approved the City of Edmonton's application to hold an employer proposal vote, which will allow eligible CSU 52 members to vote on the city's "best and final offer" of a 7.25%-wage-increase over five years with retroactive pay, hybrid work options, and other benefits. The electronic vote will take place from 7am on March 4 to 3pm on March 7. If the city's proposal receives a majority vote, it will form the new collective agreement, bypassing negotiations with the union. CSU 52 is calling on members to vote "no" on the city's offer.
  • The Bissell Centre is continuing to see the high demand for services it experienced in 2023, when 7,300 people accessed the facility. The organization has been hearing stories about frostbite, amputations, and people unequipped for the cold weather, said spokesperson Chris Schieman. Boyle Street Community Services has increased capacity at eight warming hubs across Edmonton amid the cold temperatures. Hani Quan, the city's director of affordable housing and homelessness, said there is shelter space for those who need it, even if some facilities are busy. "We have more shelter spaces right now in Edmonton than we've had ever, I think," said Quan.
  • The Conference Board of Canada's latest major city insights report predicts Edmonton will experience slowed economic growth in coming years due to easing oil prices. The report anticipates Edmonton's GDP will grow 1.5% in 2024 and 3.4% in 2025. The slower economic growth is expected in spite of rapid migration-fuelled population growth. The board expects Edmonton's population to increase by 90,000 by the end of 2025. Anand Pye, CEO of NAIOP, says the 5,200 homes promised through the federal Housing Accelerator Fund last week are far short of the 30,000 homes and other infrastructure required to support the influx.
  • Jack Little, a long-time director of the Edmonton Heritage Festival and noted community-builder, died on Feb. 27 at the age of 83 after a battle with cancer. Little's legacy also includes time as a broadcaster, a board member of Edmonton's Food Bank, and a collaborator with several community and business organizations.
  • CBC's This is Edmonton podcast explored the state of Edmonton's condo market, which has largely remained stagnant and is one of the most affordable in Canada. Host Clare Bonnyman looked at apartment-style condos with real estate agent Sara Kalke, and business reporter Madeline Smith discussed signs that a shift is underway in the market.
  • CTV News spoke to a group of four online friends from the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States who travelled to Edmonton to meet for the first time and share their passion for the NHL and the Edmonton Oilers. The friends shared their positive experiences with the hospitality and openness of Edmontonians. "Every person I've met has been so super nice" and "genuinely surprised that people from out of town had come," said Australian Sam Miller.
  • The UCP government is introducing a series of new restrictions on wind and solar projects in Alberta, which come into effect March 1. The province's moratorium on renewable energy projects, introduced last summer, ends Feb. 29. The new policies include making developers responsible for reclamation costs, creating buffer zones around wind and other projects to protect "pristine viewscapes," and not allowing renewable energy developments on certain classes of agricultural land.
Rendering of a proposed residential development in the Windsor Park neighbourhood, viewed from the north-west, with the Butterdome in the background

Calls for public engagement: 76 Ave, Windsor Park, Fort Sask brand

By Kevin Holowack

Here are opportunities to inform the City of Edmonton's project to renew 76 Avenue, a proposal to upzone properties in Windsor Park, and branding in Fort Saskatchewan.

  • 76 Avenue Renewal (explore) — The City of Edmonton plans to renew 76 Avenue between 75 Street and 99 Street, through the neighbourhoods of Ritchie and King Edward Park. Residents can complete an online survey about their experiences using the street until March 3.
  • City Brand Review (Fort Saskatchewan) — The City of Fort Saskatchewan is updating its brand and identity for marketing materials and other assets. Residents can attend a drop-in session on Feb. 29 to discuss branding with city officials or complete an online survey before March 8.
  • Windsor Park Rezoning (advise) — The City of Edmonton received an application to rezone three adjoining properties on 116 Street in the Windsor Park neighbourhood. The developer wants to upzone the sites from small-scale residential to medium-scale residential, which would allow for a 23-metre residential building with possible ground-floor commercial space. Residents are invited to ask city planners a question or share their thoughts about the application until March 10.

More input opportunities

Photo: Green Space Alliance is looking to build a 23-metre or six-storey residential building in Windsor Park, just west of the University of Alberta near the Butterdome. (Green Space Alliance)

A title card that reads Taproot Edmonton Calendar:

Happenings: Feb. 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.