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August 20, 2017
July 6, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: Thursday, July 6, 2017

Change is coming.

Written by Jeff Samsonow

Edmonton’s inner ring road neighbourhoods. image: City of Edmonton

Big changes to Edmonton Transit are now about one week away from moving forward. That’ll be when the strategy hits the city council agenda, and, I would suspect, passes with most of the councillors in support.

The strategy’s been two years in the works, but we’ve really only been looking at the details for about a week. The biggest change is to focus more routes, and more frequency inside of Edmonton’s “inner ring road”, between 75 and 178 Streets, from Whitemud Drive to the Yellowhead. Those mature neighbourhoods will start to see increasing routes, likely as early as next spring.

Living outside of that inner ring road will mean higher frequency routes on major streets and feeding into the centre of the city from transit stations. Neighbourhood routes will definitely be affected the further out you go.

This means there’s a lot to think about in terms of getting people to and from those “outer” transit stations and connections (perhaps with “dial-a-bus” or deals with taxi and rideshare companies) increasing DATS to help riders with disabilities and other innovations around the loss of circuitous neighbourhood routes. The idea of working with private companies has caught a lot of attention.

Alright, because you love to read PDFs about municipal policy, you can click the report cover below to check out all the details.

Even if the strategy moves forward next week, the finer details are yet to be nailed down. So, watch for public engagement on the Transit Strategy, and definitely let your councillor know what you think about our city’s transit future.

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A new low-income transit pass is expected to help up to 40,000 people access more transportation, which is about double of initial estimates.

Some of the transit systems around Edmonton picked up some money from the provincial and federal governments to bolster their rides.


Police defending street checks

The Edmonton Police Association is standing by street checks, even though a look at the numbers has proven racial profiling. Check out the open letter below (forgive the screenshots, shared version of the letter has been taken offline):

You can also read the open letter at the Edmonton Journal’s website.

(We’ve got the whole story as it continues in Edmonton. Short version: Edmonton Police numbers analyzed by CBC and Black Lives Matter show Indigenous and Black Edmontonians are stopped way more often than white people might be. Street checks, also known as “carding” are when police stop someone who isn’t accused of a crime or believed to be connected to a crime, even as a witness, and collect their ID and personal information. You don’t have to offer up the information, but that’s got to be hard to deny a police officer standing right there.)

Following the police chief’s open letter sent to the Edmonton Journal, the police union has done up its own letter. Neither the chief nor the union appears ready to face reporters on the issue though. But don’t worry, the police union rep hasn’t ever seen another officer do anything racist, not in his 20 years, so clearly there can’t be systemic racism at play. (But police officers do seem to agree that they work in “a toxic culture of blame and fear.”

Again, we see Edmonton Police getting defensive about the accusation of racism. Nobody is calling individual officers racist. A person doesn’t have to be a racist to act in a racist way or uphold racist values our society is built upon. And street checking Indigenous and Black Edmontonians more often than white people would fit with what we’ve seen across North America and in a city struggling with reconciliation. It’s very disappointing the Edmonton Police refuse to discuss what their own stats say about their work on city streets, and ways to improve relationships with communities now calling for change.

And, if the union rep thinks media coverage has been “irresponsible” he’s welcome to sit down with me for an interview to set the record straight. But he better bring some proof that the process solves and prevents crimes to justify the racial profiling. (Pretty bold that he’s slamming stories about carding as “anecdotes” when that’s all the EPS and chief have offered up in their responses so far.)

For more on the story of street checks in Edmonton, check out our post capturing everything that’s been happening since CBC Edmonton and Black Lives Matter-Edmonton released their separate investigations of police data.


Around the city

The University of Alberta appears to have inequality of pay and representation for professors. A sample examination shows women, people of colour and Indigenous professors are making less than their white or male counterparts, and also make up a much smaller portion of teaching staff. Less than one percent of the professors on the publicly available list were Indigenous and it’s not known if any had a disability.

Part of the World Indigenous Games is the (re)discovery that can happen at the host sites, like Maskwacis, through the sports but also the many conferences and programming scheduled this week.

Google’s Skynet DeepMind is coming to Edmonton, partnering with the University of Alberta as it continues to become an international hub of AI research and tech.

Edmonton’s urban bee plans are doing really well. And now the beekeepers want more bees! (They also want to be able to sell the honey the bees make.)

Mill Creek may yet return to its original flow to the river valley, through a process called daylighting. Right now the creek is diverted into a pipe between Old Strathcona and the river. The mayor is being asked to see what he can get out of the provincial and federal governments to help bring back the natural resource.

Here’s a great use of parking spaces, as a pop-up parklet.


Public engagement

The Community and Public Services Committee meets today, at 9:30 a.m. You can see the agenda online. The meeting will also stream live from the River Valley Room.

There’s another open house tonight about the future Metro Line LRT extension through northwest Edmonton, 4:30 – 7:30 p.m., at the Castle Downs YMCA.

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