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October 22, 2017
July 27, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: Thursday, July 27, 2017

Conflicting plans

Written by Jeff Samsonow

Edmonton’s first challenge to its plans to end homelessness (forever) were up for discussion at the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board and… well, we’re doing the same thing we’ve always done.

The Hope Mission wants to redevelop the Herb Jamieson Centre to permanently allow 400 shelter beds, up from its current 350. The existing building will be torn down and a new one will take its place. Normally, this kind of thing wouldn’t attract so much attention. But if Edmonton is shifting its resources to get people off the street and into permanent housing in the next few years, 400 shelter beds might end up being a lot of wasted space that contradicts our new plan. And this, of course, isn’t Edmonton’s only shelter.

Neighbouring residents and businesses, already inundated with a majority of Edmonton’s homeless and social supports, affordable housing and supportive housing were arguing that this approval should wait until more details are rolled out on Edmonton’s new plan to end homelessness. (There’s also another plan to start putting affordable housing, in all of its many forms, in every corner of the city.) Much like many other debates on these kinds of issues, however, the neighbours lost and continue to take on the weight of all of Edmonton’s social problems.

It seems not everyone working for the City of Edmonton has read the report jointly written with Homeward Trust about this new direction. Councillors may want to make that a priority before they fully turn their focus to the election.

Now, this could come down to design. If the centre is focused on being a temporary shelter and we’re stuck with an empty building in a few years, it’s a failure. If the centre can be designed to be used in many different ways without new money and construction, it could end up being a worthwhile renovation that benefits the community for another 50 years. The money isn’t secured for the rebuild, so there’s time to make sure this works for Edmonton now, five years from and many years from now if we don’t need as much shelter space.

But, today, Edmonton’s new direction on ending homelessness is 0/1 on doing things differently.


Around the city

Edmonton needs more free Wi-Fi. Everybody quoted in the story seems to agree it’s a good idea, but nobody is ready to lead the charge. We are getting more access at LRT stations, but not a lot more is planned right now. While free Wi-Fi is helpful when you’re on the go and need to watch some Instagram videos, it’s even more important for people who might not have a lot of data on their phone plan or be able to afford a home Internet plan.

Edmonton’s getting a small new library branch in our booming southwest.

A new medicinal marijuana and hemp facility out in Strathcona County isn’t winning over its potential neighbours, even though an executive of the operation says they’re doing what they can to be upfront about the plans and be a good neighbour.

The Supreme Court ruled on how government should consult with Indigenous peoples when it comes to energy projects. This will obviously have an impact in Alberta, and on Alberta, when it comes to pipeline projects in the works and future expansions.

It’s heartening to see new ideas around saving more of our food and making sure we are actually eating stuff that would normally go to waste. And it’s important for restaurants, grocery stores and other businesses using a lot of food to work on these kinds of plans to cut food waste (and feed more people).


Public engagement

If you’re interested in the pending changes to Alberta’s Condo Act, there’s an open house tonight at the U of A’s Lister Centre, 4 – 8 p.m.

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