The Pulse: April 9, 2024

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  • 12°C: Mainly cloudy. 30% chance of showers in the afternoon. Wind becoming west 20 km/h gusting to 40 near noon. High 12. UV index 3 or moderate. (forecast)
  • Green: The High Level Bridge will be lit green for Eid-al-Fitr, End of Ramadan. (details)

A photo that shows an LRT running beside a tall residential building in Edmonton

As Ottawa pushes for density near transit, research shows Edmonton has challenges

By Stephanie Swensrude

The federal government's recent push for cities to change rules that have limited dense housing near high-frequency transit has underlined new research, which shows Edmonton has not added population in many of these areas for decades.

On April 2, the Prime Minister's Office announced that to access a public transit fund Ottawa will introduce in the 2024 federal budget, municipalities must "take action that will directly unlock housing supply." Those actions include allowing high-density housing within 800 metres of high-frequency transit lines and post-secondary institutions.

The impetus is a desperate housing shortage across Canada. The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation projects the country needs to build 3.5 million additional homes by the end of the decade to restore affordability. Meanwhile, recent stats suggest Edmonton's housing starts were down 10% in 2023 as compared to 2022. The city was one of the fastest growing in Canada between 2016 and 2021. More than 100,000 people have moved to Edmonton since then and another 100,000 are expected in the next three years.

But despite this, new research suggests Edmonton has not added density on land that housing advocates say is most suited for density, and that new policies in the works may not fully fix that.

Jacob Dawang, a data scientist and a co-organizer of Grow Together Edmonton, has analyzed an 800-metre radius around 48 current and future LRT stations. Dawang also analyzed the city's draft district plans, which are meant to guide development as Edmonton grows to 1.25 million people. He found that population growth has been stagnant or even fallen within the proximity of nearly half the city's LRT stations, and that the forthcoming district plans don't specifically encourage increasing density near some of these stations.

Indeed, Dawang's analysis shows that between 2001 and 2021, the population grew by 10% or less near several stops, including the Meadowlark, Grovenor/142 Street, Glenora, Stony Plain Road/149 Street, Bonnie Doon, and Jasper Place LRT stops. His research also shows that, over the same period, the population has fallen near more than a dozen stops, including the Aldergrove/Belmead, Glenwood/Sherwood, and Millbourne/Woodvale stops. "There are a lot of stations in residential areas that have grown very little over the past 20 years," he said.

The findings are concerning, Dawang said, given Edmonton's increasing population. "We're growing at a super-fast rate … so we have to be ready. We have to be making these tough choices, and there will be growing pains, but these are really the tough choices and the tough discussions that we need to have if we're going to be growing by that much."

Dawang added that the city should maximize the return on the public dollars it has spent building high-frequency transit. "You have to remember that these are billion-dollar investments that we're putting into the LRT line. It's not someone's personal LRT line to take downtown. We really should be making the best use of these investments as possible."

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Headlines: April 9, 2024

By Mariam Ibrahim

  • A pilot project to clean up Edmonton's downtown core had a noticeable impact, businesses groups told city council's community and public services committee at its April 8 meeting. The project began last May, but funding is set to run out by July 31 unless city council decides during its spring budget debate to extend it to December with an additional $1.5 million. "The impact was undeniable," said Edmonton Downtown Business Association executive director Puneeta McBryan, calling it the bare minimum for cleanliness downtown.
  • The father of a boy who was killed in a dog attack in south Edmonton last week says the overwhelming negative attention since the death has been "brutal" and is affecting his ability to grieve. Wesley Grist said his son Kache was visiting from Osoyoos, B.C., and was playing a new video game moments before the attack. He said the dogs, which have since been euthanized, had never posed a risk like this in the past. The Edmonton Police Service is investigating the incident, and Mayor Amarjeet Sohi announced the city will review previous complaints about the dogs to identify any response gaps.
  • WestJet has introduced daily, year-round, non-stop flights from Edmonton to Ottawa starting April 29 and to Montreal beginning June 3. The airline said the new flights are in response to long-standing requests from Edmonton businesses. A town hall meeting with WestJet CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech and the Edmonton business community is scheduled for April 22 in Edmonton.
  • Native Hockey Alberta successfully concluded what might be its largest championship event to date in Edmonton, with 265 teams participating across all local rinks from April 4-7. The event included around 5,000 players and coaches from across Alberta, said president Clyde Goodswimmer, who has been involved in the league since it was founded in 1993.
  • Service Alberta Minister Dale Nally said he is concerned over the sale of four-litre vodka containers resembling milk jugs, which were recently spotted at a south Edmonton liquor store. T-Rex Distillery in St. Albert bottled the jugs, which sold for $49.95 each, but said it is halting their production. Nally's remarks come as he introduces red tape reduction bill, which, among other updates, aims to clarify the authority of ministers over alcohol pricing and policy decisions.
  • The Alberta Black Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Alliance, a group of six Alberta-based organizations, is calling on the provincial government to invest in programming that supports Black entrepreneurs. The alliance has received about $15.5 million under the federal Black Entrepreneurship Program to help Black-owned businesses launch, but that funding is now winding down. The alliance met with Premier Danielle Smith on Feb. 15 to make its funding pitch. "It's great that the federal government has provided the resources to catalyze this initiative, and we think that it's time that the province has skin in the game," said Samuel Juru, executive director of the Edmonton-based Africa Centre.
  • Postmedia published an op-ed suggesting that as Edmonton grows, river valley golf courses are not an efficient use of public green space. Kael Kropp and Stephen Raitz, the op-ed's authors, wrote that city council should consider using the 364 hectares of land allocated to municipal golf courses for uses that better meet the needs of Edmontonians. "Embracing this debate could unearth lesser-known perspectives on Edmonton's land use from diverse community members and interest groups," they wrote.
  • Veteran Edmonton broadcaster Daryl McIntyre has announced his retirement after a 41-year career, with his final day on 630 CHED Mornings set for May 31. McIntyre, known for his 33-year tenure at CTV News Edmonton, shared his decision in an online post, noting he will continue voice work, emceeing, and auctioneering post-retirement.
  • TSN's final NHL Power Ranking positions the Edmonton Oilers as Canada's top contender for the Stanley Cup, with a 36% chance to top the Pacific Division. Edmonton's next game is against the Las Vegas Golden Knights on April 10, where captain Connor McDavid is on the brink of achieving 100 assists for the season.
  • Edmonton Oilers defenceman Evan Bouchard set a new franchise record with his seventh game-winning goal of the season during the team's April 6 game against the Calgary Flames. Bouchard's performance this season includes career highs of 17 goals, 62 assists, and 79 points, positioning him as a potential finalist for the Norris Trophy.
A title card that reads Taproot Edmonton Calendar:

Happenings: April 9, 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.