The Pulse: March 8, 2024

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

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  • 5°C: Mainly sunny. Wind up to 15 km/h. High plus 5. Wind chill minus 8 in the morning. UV index 2 or low. (forecast)
  • Purple: The High Level Bridge will be lit purple for International Women's Day. (details)
  • 1 hour forward: Clocks go forward one hour at 2am on March 10 for Daylight Saving Time. (details)
  • 2-4: The Edmonton Oilers (38-21-2) lost to the Columbus Blue Jackets (22-31-10) on March 7. (details)
  • 10:30am, March 9: The Oilers (38-21-2) play the Buffalo Sabres (29-30-5) at KeyBank Center. (details)
  • 11am, March 10: The Oilers (38-21-2) play the Pittsburgh Penguins (28-25-8) at PPG Paints Arena. (details)

A prairie landscape of agriculture land next to urban development.

EMRB plans for one million more people by 2050

By Colin Gallant

The Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board is reviewing its plan for how the region grows in the future, and how it can accommodate a lot more people and jobs, but also retain agricultural land.

"There's no one else doing the work of planning for what it means to add another million people and 470,000 jobs in less than 25 years, and how the decisions that we make today will affect the future of this region for the next generation and generations to come," EMRB board chair and mayor of Parkland County Allan Gamble told Taproot.

The region's population growth is unprecedented. An Edmonton Global report released in January says the Edmonton region experienced its highest-ever migration in 2022, welcoming more than 45,000 new residents, with 33,000 of them international newcomers. That report forecasts 29,000 new residents to move into the region this year alone, and a total regional population of 1.7 million within four years.

The EMRB is nearing the end of work on a five-year interim review of its growth plan, the document that guides how its 13 municipal members collectively grow. The province approved the original plan in 2017. The current review work was started in 2022 and culminates with potential amendments that could be proposed by this coming fall or winter.

The review has also been expanded to look at existing major employment areas and mechanisms to add future ones, as well as the EMRB's Regional Agriculture Master Plan. The review's scope was broadened in June. The decision was partly inspired by friction between board members on developing the Villeneuve Airport Area related to major employment areas.

"The two components are very much interconnected and are the complete focus of the regional growth study," Gamble, who is the first rural mayor to chair the board, said. "The primary objective is to better understand the rate at which land is being absorbed, and the future land supply needed to accommodate the recently updated population, employment, and dwelling unit projections."

An EMRB report published in August offers these projections. The EMRB's 13 municipalities had a combined population of 1.48 million people in 2021. By 2050, the report forecasts that the population will grow to between 2.01 million and 2.63 million people. On employment, the report estimates that the region will have between 1.01 million and 1.36 million jobs by 2050, up from the 763,000 jobs it had in 2021.

The board will work to determine terms of reference for a comprehensive 10-year growth plan review immediately after this interim review wraps. The larger review begins in 2027.

Photo: The EMRB is working to balance the preservation of agricultural land while reviewing its major employment areas during a review of its growth plan. (Sturgeon County/Flickr)


Headlines: March 8, 2024

By Kevin Holowack

  • City of Edmonton lawyers appeared in Court of Kings Bench on March 7 in an effort to get $25,000 from the Coalition for Justice and Human Rights after the group's case against the city's encampment removal policy was dismissed in January. City lawyers said the money would cover some of its legal bills and deter similar legal actions in the future. Avnish Nanda, a lawyer with the coalition, said the effort to create a deterrence is "concerning" because the city knows its policy could be unconstitutional, which city lawyers dispute. Nanda also said the coalition's injunction application led to a "better encampment clearing policy," and that the coalition was acting to "protect the life, liberty, and security" of unhoused people.
  • Coun. Andrew Knack and Coun. Keren Tang spoke to CBC about whether Edmonton's infrastructure can accommodate a rapidly growing population. More than 100,000 people arrived in Edmonton over the past two years, bringing the population to 1.14 million in 2023, which Knack said is "way faster" that expected, raising concerns about infrastructure and amenities in both new and mature communities. Tang questioned whether the current emphasis on maintenance rather than adding new facilities will lead to growth outpacing needs, especially in communities beyond the Anthony Henday that lack recreation centres, libraries, and community halls. The city projects a population increase of 3.6% in 2024, 2.6% in 2025, 2.2% in 2026, and 2% in 2027.
  • Edmonton waste management picked up about 66,000 tonnes of organic waste from homes in 2022, of which 81% was diverted and 19% sent to the landfill. More than 11,500 tonnes went to the landfill in 2022 because it was mixed with garbage or recycling, or lost before composting, and the city expects a similar amount in 2023. Council heard last month that Edmonton is nearing its capacity to treat organic waste and may need to treat 121,000 tonnes in 2027, much of which will be diverted to the landfill if no solutions are found.
  • The Women's National Basketball Association is holding a pre-season game in Edmonton on May 5 when the Los Angeles Sparks will face the Seattle Storm at Rogers Place. It will be the WNBA's second consecutive year hosting a pre-season game in Canada. WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said Edmonton was chosen for its sporting history, pointing to the Oilers and the Elks, as well as the Edmonton Grads, the historical amateur women's basketball team. In 2022, an NBA exhibition game at Rogers Place sold out in minutes, suggesting Edmonton's basketball fan base continues to grow, said Engelbert.
  • The Edmonton Oilers have made another acquisition, picking up defenceman Troy Stecher from the Arizona Coyotes. Stecher has a relatively small stature and "profiles as a great depth defenceman", wrote sports columnist Zach Laing. Earlier this week, the team acquired forwards Adam Henrique & Sam Carrick in a series of trades.
  • Spencer O'Brien, a 17-year-old local ninja athlete, is preparing to represent Canada at the World Ninja League Championships, taking place in North Carolina from June 21-24. Spencer was introduced to the sport by his father, who is a ninja coach, and the pair first got involved at Fitset Ninja in Kingsway Mall.
  • Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan has joined the NDP leadership race. McGowan has been president of the labour organization since 2005, and previously ran for the federal NDP in Edmonton Centre in 2015. MLAs Sarah Hoffman, Kathleen Ganley, Rakhi Pancholi and Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse are also in the race to replace Rachel Notley. The election will happen on June 22.
A title card that reads Taproot Edmonton Calendar:

Happenings: March 8-10, 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.