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December 16, 2017
June 21, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Celebrate Canada's 15,000 years of history

Written by Jeff Samsonow

It’s National Aboriginal Day!

Edmonton has many events happening throughout the week, but today sees a festival and concert in Victoria Park as part of our city’s celebrations and a national broadcast on APTN. The festival begins at 10 a.m., although there is also a sunrise ceremony planned. The events through the day offer everyone in Edmonton a chance to enjoy our multitude of Indigenous cultures, history, music and food. There will be areas to explore First Nations, Metis and Inuit heritage (Edmonton has the largest Inuit population of southern Canada and the second-largest Aboriginal population of major cities).

This, of course, is also a way to explore our city’s efforts at reconciliation, and your own personal ideas of that too.

If you can’t make it down to Victoria Park today, you can see National Aboriginal Day events live thanks to ATPN, including a cross-country Round Dance coordinated for 11:20 a.m. (Edmonton time).

All that being said, it’s time to consider this a stat holiday. Not only would that give it more of a presence in our national psyche, it would allow more people to participate in events like everything happening today in Victoria Park.


Revitalizing Chinatown

As Edmonton’s downtown continues to see success around its new arena, a neighbourhood next door is hoping to not be forgotten as City money flows and excitement builds around the core. Chinatown has been in the news recently because of debate around the safe injection sites that could be going in or near the community, but another story is building.

Members of Edmonton’s Chinese community are trying to work with the City on a plan to bring some investment to the neighbourhood as other redevelopment happens nearby, and the LRT connects the southeast and west ends to our city centre more readily. The neighbourhood needs help because a lot of safety and community wellness items need direction (and money) from the City, as would redvelopment of Mary Burlie Park and an old CN rail bridge over 97 Street. The community doesn’t just want recommendations and studies to sit on a shelf.

There’s another neighbourhood awaiting revitalization at the top of the river valley beside both Chinatown and the downtown, so, this also needs to see us building a cohesive plan to bring people and businesses to the inner city, especially as LRT makes these communities more accessible. The Chinatown plan is important, but we need to start thinking about the neighbourhoods that are beside the one we make big plans for too.

This also ties into the question of our social services and programming, particularly for our homeless communities. Safe injection sites are just one piece of that inner city wellness strategy which also has to consider a future where almost all of these kinds of services aren’t situated in just a few neighbourhoods. We need affordable housing in every neighbourhood – mandated in all new multi-unit buildings – and we have to start spreading out our supportive housing and a variety of other social services, including shelters and safe injection sites as needed. Those services requiring more support and specialized care might not be able to be placed far from major transit routes in our newest suburbs, but they can certainly exist outside of about a half-dozen neighbourhoods of our city.


Around the city

There’s concern in Edmonton’s Muslim community after a late night Confederate flag party confronted a group of teens in a Castledowns parking lot. From the first-hand report it also doesn’t sound like Edmonton Police were taking the concerns too seriously. It’s good to see a story like this going public, since I’m sure so many more go uncovered or unreported and we all have to know this is happening and be ready to call it out in our day-to-day lives. I’m not saying you confront the next group of Confederate flag-touting idiots you see, maybe just start with your racist uncle or co-worker, but the more people know this kind of behaviour isn’t acceptable the more likely we are to keep someone from getting hurt. And protecting our community’s most vulnerable should always be a goal.

An Edmonton family faces being separated by deportation, after they got ripped off by someone who claimed they could help them file a claim to stay in the country. As the story notes, this kind of stuff happens to refugees, immigrants and temporary foreign workers frequently.

The City is going to review some of its policies around selling land that our public school board declared surplus to its needs. This is happening after the school board questioned the City selling that surplus land to private schools. There are also questions about whether at least one of the sites was supposed to be for new housing.

In other land development news… the City is trying to make it easier to build up industrial land in Edmonton. The potential changes could help keep more industrial development from leaking across city limits to other parts of the Capital Region. It also shows how heavily we rely on property taxes, both to try and cover costs of these new plans and the lengths we go to in order to keep growing that source of revenue.

University and college students will continue to see funding from the provincial government for mental health and wellness supports, after wondering if the money would continue to flow. This will include access to programming throughout the calendar year, not just the school year. The provincial government is also being asked to fund a mental health program for students in middle and high schools, after new research into a program in Red Deer showed promising results.

Edmonton’s had the same police force for 125 years. The Edmonton Police Service was the first in Canada to see a woman in uniform – Annie Jackson in 1912 – and an Indigenous officer – Alex Decoteau in 1911. This week the EPS is celebrating its milestone year.

Today is the longest day of the year. Enjoy all that sunshine, Edmonton!


Public engagement

The City’s public engagement drop-in sessions continue, at the Prince of Wales Armouries, 4 – 7 p.m.

The City has two interactive workshops happening at City Hall, related to the Edmonton Seniors Centres Strategy and Advancing Age Friendly Edmonton, both running 4 – 8 p.m.

The second public engagement session related to Beaumaris Lake, and the rehabilitation of our stormwater facilities, is tonight, 5 – 8 p.m. at Beaumaris Lake.

And there’s a public engagement session tonight about the Valley Line West LRT extension, 6 – 8:30 p.m. at the West End Christian Reformed Church, focused on the future crossing at 149 Street and Stony Plain Road.

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