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June 25, 2017
June 16, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: Friday, June 16, 2017

Edmonton's bike future begins

Written by Jeff Samsonow

The future is that way.

Get on your bikes and ride! The downtown bike grid begins to open to cycle traffic today. Expect to start seeing City staff out and about trying to explain rules on using the lanes and how they fit into the downtown traffic system (especially the bike boxes at intersections). There’s going to need to be a lot of communication this summer as the bike network opens to ensure everybody traveling through the downtown knows how to move around safely and in consideration of others. (And, yes, people cycling can still use the street.)

Lights and signals, along with a host of other factors, will be monitored by the City to see if changes need to be made. That goes for the rest of this summer, as the full network opens, and through next year as use and implementation is recorded and adjusted.

This is a good news story for people who ride bikes, people who don’t like being stuck in traffic (fewer people driving should help with congestion on our roads) the overall health and environment of our city and businesses in the downtown. That goes for businesses with employees who bike and those that will likely see more business from people cycling by on safe and protected lanes. And the good news will extend to other parts of the city, as bike lanes and infrastructure expands out from the downtown, to the west and across the southside through Old Strathcona and Queen Alexandra.


Around the city

We’ve got an election update from the man watching all the candidates. The big news is that there’s a guy running in Ward 5 and the dream of an all-female ballot disappears.

Edmonton is moving ahead to make our city “Health City”. The plan includes creating more ways for our health research and innovation to stay here by connecting with public healthcare and businesses in Edmonton and Alberta.

Just under a week until National Aboriginal Day and a huge celebration in Victoria Park, as part of coast-to-coast-to-coast festivities that will be broadcast live by APTN.

Edmonton is among the cities getting new radio stations, or seeing current programming boosted in quantity and signal, thanks to a CRTC decision to license five Indigenous broadcast licenses (the other cities are Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa). Here in Edmonton, and across Alberta, existing broadcasts from the Aboriginal Multi-Media Society (AMMSA) will be bolstered by the licensing. The group already runs CFWE here in Edmonton.

Postmedia Edmonton’s Keith Gerein has a good feature story on the first year of medically assisted deaths in our province. 150 people have chosen to die this way in the last year, including 58 in the Edmonton area. No matter how you might feel about the procedure being legal, the story is a good and important read and I recommend taking a few minutes to hear the story of Martine Partridge and examine the changes in our health system and hospitals.


Media and makers

The City put out a news release ahead of the one-year anniversary of installing new safety rails on the High Level Bridge. The release mentioned that 2016’s suicide rates on the bridge were down, and newsrooms connected one to the other. Problem is, the barriers didn’t go in until last July, so the numbers would need to include the first six months of 2017 to actually give us the first year on the bridge.

But don’t let that get in the way of a good story! Or, in the case of CBC, Metro and CTV, a good news release re-write. (Corus and Postmedia made the same calendar mistake but used the news release as a starting point for larger stories about suicide. The Postmedia one in particular is a good look at suicide rates over the last two years.)

Now, when I talked with the City they did confirm that since January of this year police have only been called 10 times to the High Level for suicide attempts or other mental health issues. So, when looking at the 21 calls in all of 2016, it does look like the trend from last year continues. Although, all suicides were down in Alberta last year after a particularly bad year in 2015, so it’s probably too early to link anything to anything, especially since more money started flowing to suicide and mental health programming because of so many deaths by suicide two years ago.

I don’t think the City did anything to deliberately fudge the numbers, since their claims do seem to line up with the general trend. But it’s weird that half of the story was missing.

Making the Right Call (Again)

Corus Edmonton newsrooms (Global TV, 630 CHED, iNews880) are still identifying a man’s refugee status in a story that has nothing to do with immigration.

We wrote about this back in February because it seemed like an error of white privilege for Corus newsrooms (and CBC Edmonton) to include such a detail in a wholly unrelated story, which likely only served to whip-up online anger and racism (which it did). Of course the new story is doing that again. To continually include a detail like this before trial, sentencing, or any time it might actually be relevant to the charges and proceedings is to do nothing more than create anti-Muslim and anti-refugee anger.

I’m not going to belabour the point, which I think we made pretty well in our previous story. It’s just disappointing to see newsrooms failing to understand that the details they include in stories could lead to real-life consequences when they don’t ask “why” they’re including it. The writers may not think they’re maligning refugees, Syrians or immigrants (or Muslims) but that’s exactly how the wrong kinds of people will interpret a story that links sex crimes to refugees.

The publisher of Alberta Venture magazine, and CEO of Venture Publishing, has died. Ruth Kelly is being remembered as an Edmonton builder, a community supporter, and a mentor to many journalists who worked for her publications over the years. That she found success leading journalism ventures in male-dominated worlds of business and oil is truly a legacy in our city and province.

In our newsletter, we’ve been mentioning lots of Edmonton and Alberta indie media to support with money or your time (and social shares!). While Stump Kitchen may not quite fit the journalism model it’s a local show that is well worth your time. Oh, and your money is an option too.


Public engagement

Nothing today but on Saturday there’s an engagement session related to Beaumaris Lake and the rehabilitation of our stormwater facilities, 1 – 4 p.m. at Beaumaris Lake.

The City’s public engagement drop-in sessions continue, at Castle Downs Library, 1 – 3 p.m.

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