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October 22, 2017
June 20, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Failing enforcement, increasing fines

Written by Jeff Samsonow

Logos, like the one on this TappCar, may need to be removed from car doors to keep people from hailing rideshares.

Edmonton is about the only place in the world news stories about Uber aren’t just the absolute worst. The ridesharing company is back at city hall, along with local competitor TappCar, because City staff want to increase fines for their drivers.

There’s a lot to unpack in these kinds of requests, since the whole cab and rideshare system is still undergoing an evolution, and cab companies are no fans of the upstart companies who operate without taxi plates (a whole other kind of issue lives there). The ridesharing companies have to abide by some different rules, namely not picking people up who hail them from the street. That’s at the heart of the request for bigger fees.

But!

The City appears to be striking out on all the tickets its handed out to rideshares in the last year, or at least to Uber, according to that company’s lawyer.

So, instead of just increasing fees that may never end up being paid – and enforcement that costs $1.5M a year – perhaps city councillors should focus on the other part of the request in front of them and re-word the bylaws for taxis and rideshares. Obviously bylaw enforcement officers aren’t sure what to do if all those tickets are getting tossed, or they’re being sent out without the right tools. Tighten up the wording, make it clear which companies can do what and how that looks.

That’s a much smarter option than trying to fill an increasing budget hole with the few fines that might actually get paid.


Speed kills, not speeding

Image courtesy: Strathcona County

Another day, another story blaming “speeding” for someone’s death on Edmonton streets.

People will die if they’re hit by a car going 50 km/h, so the speeding argument is as big a deflection as talking about people being “distracted” while driving, walking or cycling. Edmonton will actually only achieve its goals of zero deaths or seriously injuries in traffic collisions if we re-design our streets to keep cars moving at slower speeds – 30 km/h seems to be the scientific consensus – and protect people walking and cycling in other ways, with things like raised crosswalks, curb extensions and bike lanes. (At least we seem to be getting that last one right now!)

I know I keep saying this, but Edmonton’s newsrooms still seem to think all these killer cars and trucks are powering themselves. A person driving killed that woman and her dog, not “an SUV“.

Somewhat related, Edmonton is going to have its first Cyclovia next year, where streets are closed to vehicular traffic in order to activate the spaces in new ways. Imagine walking down the middle of the High Level Bridge!


Around the city

A Major Chinese tech incubator is opening up connections to North America here in Edmonton through TEC Edmonton and the University of Alberta.

The City is trying to increase the safety of women working in Edmonton’s erotic massage parlours, while balancing the risk of pushing the business underground.

Edmonton boxing fans watched a man’s final moments in a one-sided fight which took his life. The Edmonton Combative Sports Commission is reviewing the match, and the circumstances before, during and after, to find out if the fighter was put in a deadly situation. As this story notes, Alberta is the only province without a provincial commission to oversee fighting sports like boxing and MMA, so this kind of municipal review is unique to our province.

Fort Saskatchewan and Strathcona County may be headed toward some acrimonious annexation debate in the fall elections. The Fort, and its current mayor, wants to grab a piece of land to its southern border that the county, and its current mayor, don’t want to give up so easily.

That growing city of Fort Saskatchewan is also dealing with a multi-million dollar surplus this year and will, for the first time, come up with a plan for how its city council should deal with extra money in future.


Public engagement

Executive Committee meets today at city hall, beginning at 9:30 a.m. You can see the agenda online. The meeting will stream live from the River Valley Room.

The Edmonton Public School Board meets today, at 2 p.m. You can see the agenda online and the meeting’s live stream will be on the same page.

The Edmonton Catholic School District’s board of trustees also meets today, at 3 p.m. That agenda is online and the meeting will also stream live.

There’s an open house tonight about Plan Whyte, which will change how development happens in and around the heritage areas of Old Strathcona and Whyte Avenue. It’s 6 – 9 p.m. at the Old Timer’s Cabin.

And there’s also an open house about the future neighbourhood of Decoteau, in far southeast Edmonton (south of the Henday). That runs 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. at Ellerslie Campus.

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