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December 10, 2017
February 17, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: February 17, 2017

We're on Treaty 6 land

Written by Jeff Samsonow

Strathcona County councillors don’t get to decide whether they’re on Treaty 6 land or not. They are. The least – the very least – they could do is acknowledge that at the beginning of some meetings. But they won’t be doing that.

The councillor who brought forward the motion, Dave Anderson, made a good point when discussing the notice of motion: “Making this statement would show that we are willing to stand alongside of the municipal, provincial and federal governments to recognize the First Nations people and our commitment to that reconciliation process.”

Many official Edmonton meetings and events begin with such an acknowledgement.

Now, it’s definitely not enough to just open meetings with a statement and never do anything else to build bridges to Indigenous communities here in Treaty 6. That was a fair point raised by one of the councillors (who did vote in favour of the idea). But you have to start somewhere. To not even consider the smallest of gestures may say much more about the state of reconciliation in Sherwood Park and Strathcona County.

If we could be so bold, perhaps Strathcona County councillors could benefit from the new online course from the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Native Studies. It is, again, the least we settlers could do to try and learn some history and reconcile with our Indigenous neighbours.


New Sexual Assault Research

The Edmonton Police Commission is hearing new research, thanks to access to EPS case files, that could help provide a better picture of what sexual assault looks like in our city, and what factors may predict someone’s chances of re-offending.

Among the details: most people who are sexually assaulted know the person who commits the crime; there’s more than one sexual assault reported to police every day; 94% of people assaulted are women, and almost 100% of the people charged are men. (This, of course, doesn’t take into account that most sexual assaults in our city go unreported.)

Meanwhile… the University of Alberta continues to work at changing how it handles sexual assaults on campus.


Transportation News

The mayor is beginning the public push for a promise of transit funding from the Alberta government. Edmonton is yet to really begin the work to get our LRT running west, and then possibly further north. The Alberta budget will be tabled soon, so this is part of the lobbying that will happen ahead of that.

Don Iveson is also talking about the lessons learned from our long-maligned Metro Line, including whether the city’s LRT to the west-end would avoid crossing major intersections at road-level. Our current LRT lines do cross intersections, and it’s sometimes quite a point of contention for people driving.

Oh, those darn drivers, why can’t they pay for their own roads?! We’ll probably have a small tax increase (all of us) to help pay to make the Yellowhead Trail into something of a proper freeway. One might think that one-billion dollars could sure help with some of that LRT funding…

In transportation safety, a fatality report is asking that doctors do more to keep medically unsafe drivers from being on the road, and making sure our various provincial rules and regulations make that easy. Alberta is one of the last provinces to not have some kind of reporting structure that makes doctors ensure people with some medical issues aren’t driving. It sounds like this might get hung up in regulation-wrangling for a while though.


Orphan Oilwells

We are gaining a big amount of “orphan” wells, pipelines and facilities in Alberta this week after a natural gas and crude oil company had its operations suspended by our provincial oversight body. The number of wells and site left abandoned is going to push the ability of the agency tasked with taking care of them.

Another story right before this one broke delved into the work to take care of these “orphan” wells and sites, some of which still require clean-up and reclamation.


At the School Boards

A couple of small updates from our school boards.

The Edmonton Public School Board is looking for one of their trustees to become the new chair, after the current chair submitted his resignation (for a good reason though!). The school board isn’t a full-time position like city councillor, hence it seems a little bit different with time commitments and rules.

Edmonton Catholic School District trustees, meanwhile, are arguing about receipts for professional development.


In Other News…

It’s not every day that a lawyer is disbarred. A prominent Edmonton laywer, however, now finds himself unable to practice law after serious allegations of misappropriation of client and law firm funds. This may not be the end of the story, as there may yet be criminal charges.

Expect to see Capital Boulevard gain a few pieces of public art for Canada’s 150th anniversary. (Capital Boulevard is 108 Street, from the Alberta Legislature up to MacEwan University.)

You even fitness track, bro? You probably don’t.

The Chinook Series is just about done, but it’s very worthwhile to check out. It might be Edmonton’s most diverse arts festival. And, after what we saw happen with a staging of Othello, this is the kind of presence we need in our city’s theatre and arts communities.