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December 10, 2017
June 29, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: Thursday, June 29, 2017

The numbers don't lie

Written by Jeff Samsonow

I think we’ve got to start today where we left off yesterday. Yup, still talking about the racist practice of street checks, or carding, by Edmonton Police.

The great thing about the digital age we live in is that when you see a story you can not only do some Internet searches to confirm details, or facts, in any number of ways, you can see how a story might have come together. This idea of “showing your work” isn’t done enough and it’s great to see all of the data from Black Lives Matter Edmonton’s digging into EPS carding stats. At the very least you can share that link with people tweeting at you about how carding isn’t so bad or things are being blown out of proportion.

An example of street check data which shows how skewed it is for women. image: Progress Alberta and Black Lives Matter

Speaking of denial, Edmonton Police says there’s no racial profiling happening when they demand ID and other information from people they encounter each day. Even though Indigenous and black Edmontonians are many more times more likely to be stopped by police. If you, or someone you know, have been carded by Edmonton Police, the CBC would like to hear your story. Get in touch with the reporter on the story, Andrea Huncar.

Along with EPS, there will be people Edmonton, and in the local media, that say “…an outright ban could hamstring police in investigating or suppressing crime.” Of course, police have yet to produce much in the way of proof the street checks prevent or solve crime. Anecdotal evidence from officers makes for great quotes and PR, but doesn’t solve the systemic racism of carding. It’s a practice that is being reviewed or banned in other cities and it should be banned here in Alberta.

We’ve been talking about Edmonton Police street checks this week. See what we’ve been saying, and what’s been in the local news coverage, from Wednesday and Friday


Planning for the future

Ice District 2, north of the downtown arena. image: Ice District Properties

The next phase of the downtown arena district had its unveiling this week. While a lot of the talk of new residential towers is about how this will replace “parking lots”, let’s keep in mind the area also housed low-income Edmontonians in the MacDonald Lofts (now owned by the arena district developers), includes Boyle Street Services (which says it doesn’t want to move) and is a home of sorts to people who may not have an actual house to go to. The towers and new park look great, but let’s hope this next phase of downtown revitalization includes more for the community that already lives there and doesn’t just push out low-income and homeless residents in the name of progress.

When Edmonton moved to build that new downtown arena, it forgot to do something about its old one. Only now is the City really working to figure out what to do about Northlands Coliseum and the old arena district. Part of that plan includes the new Northlands Expo Centre and combining its efforts with the Shaw Conference Centre. Northlands still owes the city millions of dollars to cover the cost of building the Expo Centre and is now running out of money. A lot of the discussion is also happening behind closed doors. So, yeah, that’s all going great.

Speaking of old city councils, the councillors back in 2009 were the last to turn down a property developer’s request to build a tower. Yes, it’s been pretty easy to get them approved since then. Which is why it’s more than a little surprising to hear a new building in Oliver is not moving ahead. Perhaps this council is feeling some buyer’s remorse after approving a controversial 80-storey tower?

This time it’s for real at the old Camsell Hospital site? The owner is asking for some new zoning changes, but it might mean the hospital continues to sit empty while another part of the property is developed. Edmonton needs to start putting in place more “sunset” clauses on empty lots and property development permits, which set deadlines for how long a site can sit empty or un(der)developed. The hospital has been empty for more than 20 years, while the current redevelopment has been in progress for more than a decade. It’s doubtful city council says no to the requested changes, lest the site definitely sit empty longer, but either way we’re still years away from anything new being built on the site.


Transportation news

Edmonton Transit is rolling out its latest bus route cuts this weekend, continuing to move resources to overcrowded and busy routes. This latest redirection comes days ahead of a major new transit strategy being discussed at city hall. It’s a direction the mayor says Edmonton has to take.

A bus bridge over the Yellowhead and CN rail yards, which could become an LRT or BRT connection, is now part of future LRT and transit planning to the northwest. This becomes an important piece of transit infrastructure as the southwest is now pushing its way up the priority list on where LRT expands next, which couldcould delay the northwest extension.

Edmonton’s got some new rules and new fines for rideshare companies like Uber and TappCar. The big changes are reducing decal sizes on rideshares to keep from anyone hailing them like a cab, and the increased fines for a variety of offences. But increasing the fines won’t do much if none of the tickets ever stick. Meanwhile… St. Albert has created its own rules for rideshares to join the cabs in that city.


Public engagement

The Audit Committee meets this morning, at 9:30 a.m. You can see the agenda online. The meeting will stream live from the River Valley Room.

Open house about the west extension of the Valley Line LRT, as it relates to crossing the intersection of 87 Avenue and 178 Street at West Edmonton Mall. The open house is at Aldergrove Community Hall, 6:30 – 9:30 p.m.

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