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September 21, 2017
August 14, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: Monday, August 14, 2017

Edmonton's got to fight too

Written by Jeff Samsonow

 

As we watch Nazis – literal fucking Nazis – march in the United States we not only have to remember that things aren’t perfect here in Canada, Alberta and Edmonton, but we also need to consider what we can do to help. And it is time to decide to help or get out of the way.

There are a lot of people to help and protect in this rising wave of right-wing violence and hate. Basically, if you aren’t a white, straight able-bodied man you are in danger of being attacked and, if certain politicians have their way, you are in danger of losing legal and human rights. And this all completely applies here in Edmonton and Alberta.

But then the question becomes, what do we do? I can offer a few suggestions, but there are many more opportunities to be found in our city and I would suggest that I – a white guy – am not necessarily the best arbiter of all the best ways to help.

In Edmonton, we can ask our politicians to stop letting police racially profile our neighbours, friends and colleagues from BIPOC communities. For almost two months there have been frequent requests across Alberta to stop the practice known as “carding” and all we’ve got so far in Edmonton is another review of the practice. That’s not good enough for BIPOC Edmontonians (and LGBTQ Edmontonians and homeless Edmontonians and other vulnerable people who are targeted for their otherness) who are being stopped by police for no real reason – these are not interviews or interrogations related to any crime.

Ask your city councillor to get police to stop this practice in Edmonton. And ask your MLA to ban it everywhere in Alberta.

Edmonton has indeed used Inuit people as a mascot. image: Postmedia

We also have a football team with a name that is not appreciated by many in Canada’s Inuit community. And, make no mistake, Edmonton has Canada’s largest population of Inuit outside of the north so this is a local issue on all accounts.

While there are many who argue the name isn’t that racist, it is derogatory to many people and the longer the team keeps the name without discussion, the longer it ignores those voices. And Inuit people are asking Edmontonians to pressure the team to change the name, since the team and CFL don’t appear willing to do the right thing. This is a call you can answer.

Again, contacting your city councillor is a good start. The City promotes and supports the football team in many ways, and they hold some power in the conversation (the City owns Commonwealth Stadium, it provided ETS park and ride to the games, it spends tourism money on the team, etc.). You can also let the team know that it should follow the recommendation of the chair of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and stop using Indigenous peoples as a sports moniker.

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Other things you can consider to help stem the growing tide of hate, are one or more of these 150 acts of reconciliation. You can also let the men in your life know it’s OK to have feelings. And, if you’re a man, please know that sharing your emotions, your pain, and your thoughts does not make you weak and will be welcomed by many. Angry white men are the biggest threat of violence we face, and we need to work to break down the stigma of masculinity and allow men more outlets than simply violence and silent suffering.


New city charter

Alright, this is a tone shift of epic proportions, as we’ll now talk about new rules for municipalities in Alberta. Put on your boring goggles and prepare to ride.

The draft version contains 38 regulations aimed at improving services and attracting investment as well as plans to collaborate on joint concerns and develop an infrastructure funding system based on provincial revenues...”

Regulations! Services! Infrastructure funding! You may want to grab another coffee before we continue.

A lot of the changes to the Municipal Government Act will clean up wording and make minor alterations to regulations that need some modernizing for our big cities. But! Stay with us now…

Some of the changes will allow Edmonton (and Calgary) to shake up how a few things are done. That includes ensuring housing agreements stick on a home’s title, even after sale. So, for example, an affordable housing designation remains on a property after it’s sold. That could go a long way to preserving housing people can afford to live in.

Bar hours could change, which might open up the possibility of staggered closing times for different kinds of establishments, avoiding a crush of people hitting the street at the same time. Although, bars won’t be allowed to stay open beyond the existing 2 a.m., so we’ll have to see if this changes anything.

Some traffic rules could change, which includes allowing our city to set its own speed limits (instead of the default 50 km/h) and making room for new kinds of bike infrastructure.

A couple of the big changes come in the form of increased taxing levels for derelict buildings and increased fines for some bylaw infractions. While it’s not a new tax exactly, the City of Edmonton would be able to add a new sub-class to make people pay more for sitting on an empty, contaminated or abandoned property. This is great news for neighbourhoods that are currently staring at illegal surface parking lots and long vacant gas stations. The bylaw fines will come in handy in areas where the current maximum, $10,000, isn’t enough to deter someone with deep pockets. The new maximum would be $100,000.

After years of working on this, the one thing that was always considered, or hinted at, or feared, was whether or not the cities would get more taxing powers. That ended up being a no-go. There is supposed to be a new provincial funding system that’s tied to government revenues, instead of various granting cycles though, and it’s hoped that will mean more money, or at least more predictable money, for big items like transit and housing.

We know you love to give feedback on government proposals, so you can add your thoughts on the changes until October 10.


Around the city

We’ve got a new contender for mayor! One of the good things about elder Taz Bouchier running will be the definite inclusion of social issues in the discussion.

Edmonton’s police union is on the hook for a defamation lawsuit against a lawyer who often takes on cases of people filing complaints or accusing the police of wrongdoing.

St. Albert’s mayor has been found to be in violation of the Municipal Government Act, but won’t be removed from office months ahead of the next election.

A woman paralyzed when she was cycling to work and hit by a driver, won’t be thrown out of the country.

The Alberta Indigenous Games are in Edmonton this week, with 1,000 athletes competing in ten different events. This is just a month after Treaty 6 hosted the World Indigenous Games. It’s been an exciting summer around here for Indigenous sports.

Speaking of sports… Tuesday night is a great chance to enjoy Edmonton’s river valley ballpark, with some championship baseball.

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