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November 20, 2017
August 18, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: Friday, August 18, 2017

You are traffic

Written by Jeff Samsonow

One of the new Valley Line station designs. image: City of Edmonton

What a week for LRT in Edmonton. Or, at least a busy week to be talking about Edmonton’s future transit system expansions and how we will be getting around the city.

First, we got a potential date for the Metro Line to be running at full speed and full capacity, downtown to NAIT (which also means increased capacity for the Capital Line, downtown to Clareview).

Then, we got a couple of looks at the under-construction Valley Line extension, downtown to Mill Woods. Elise Stolte at the Edmonton Journal took a look at the opportunities with the southeast extension to bring infill housing, and commercial and retail infill, to the mature neighbourhoods along the line. Three plans now underway are the Holyrood Gardens development, the complete re-think of Mill Woods Town Centre and the *Strathearn Heights project, which has actually come back to the City asking for reimbursement for costs of some public infrastructure. (This raises an interesting point about whether some of these large infill projects along the LRT line will need more City investment to get developers on board.)

As Thursday wound down, the City also released its analysis of traffic flow along the Valley Line’s southeast leg, with estimated wait times at all of the intersections that this new street-level train will cross.

Now, the pro-driver media will have you freaking out about waiting for a couple of minutes at a handful of intersections across southeast Edmonton but you won’t be waiting at all if you’re on the train. And that’s what this really has to be all about, finding ways to get people out of personal vehicles and onto buses and trains (and bikes, and walking, where possible).

Changing transportation mode eases congestion. photo: Cycling Promotion Fund via City Metric

We’re one of Canada’s fastest-growing cities and more people moving here means more people moving around the city and there’s no way we can build more lanes of traffic to solve traffic problems. Plus, as we’re likely seeing with the new downtown bike lanes, people who do drive will find new routes to get around if they don’t want to be on streets with LRT or bike infrastructure, which just eases congestion more. The new LRT line is opening in 2020 and, barring Metro Line-like screw-ups, we probably won’t be talking about “how bad it is” by 2021.

Citizens are also being recruited to working groups on the Valley Line’s western extension. There were two meetings this week, and more next week. Anyone showing up to the public meetings and living in the neighbourhoods is eligible to be on the working groups.


New fees toothless

You’ll be able to see what dentists could charge for almost 2,000 services. Even though dentists can charge more than the new schedule of fees sets out, it’s expected this will have Albertans doing some comparison shopping and most dentists will drop their charges to be in line with the fees. We have the highest dental charges of any province.

The potential for prices dropping isn’t good enough for Alberta’s health minister, who is upset that this schedule of fees doesn’t go far enough to getting our dental charges in line with other provinces. Sarah Hoffman is actually telling the dentists to go back to the drawing board on this. Friends of Medicare also doesn’t believe this will result in savings for people going to the dentist, especially if insurance companies use the fee guide to set coverage rates but dentists charge more anyway.

This was a back and forth day on the story. It rolled out as good news from the Alberta Dental Association and College, but then it was slammed by the health minister and others (likely to continue through tomorrow’s news cycle). So, maybe we will have a new new fee guide soon if the pressure is enough to get the dentists to cut prices more?

Around the city

It seems that preserving Edmonton’s heritage buildings is going to require more than just a list of the buildings. And it’ll need more timely interventions if any of them are to be saved from demolition.

Edmonton continues to work at making it easier for our city’s homeless residents to vote in municipal elections. Vote numbers have gone up over the last two elections and it’s expected more people will vote this year.

Edmontonians with disabilities are among the most underemployed and unemployed. That’s why it’s such a success that Anthony At Your Service has 15 employees after five years of business in Edmonton. It’s a delivery service that employs people with intellectual disabilities and it’s worth using for its great service (I’m a happy customer) and because we need to employ more people who are ready, able and willing to work.

This kind of success should be a community celebration, since we have a long way to go yet on allowing people with disabilities to enjoy all aspects of our city. Sports and entertainment venues are notoriously bad for people who can’t stand, walk and move like those who are able-bodied.

Alberta Avenue is now the Piano District. After The Carrot Community Arts Coffee House lost its donated piano in a bit of mixup, a pile of pianos landed in their hands and they’ve spread them out up and down the avenue.

As Strathcona County touts its new connections on the Trans Canada Trail, I’m thinking about this fantastic story from Alberta Views which explores the trail’s failures for cyclists.

This Weekend

If you’re looking for other Edmontonians who are trying to make the world a better place, or you just need to see a bit of redemption of humankind, then Hate To Hope is a good opportunity for both. The annual rally will feature speakers who are fighting for social justice and human rights, and it’s raising money for The Mustard Seed’s poverty and homelessness programs.


*Correction: We had mentioned the Holyrood Gardens project was back at the City for some municipal reimbursement but it’s actually the Stratheran Heights development. (Updated August 20, 2017)

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