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September 21, 2017
September 13, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Everything at all the meetings

Written by Jeff Samsonow

Edmonton City Hall. photo: Dean Smith (Creative Commons)

There is so much to get to with city council and our two school boards wrapping things up before the election we’re going to keep our ranting and soapboxing to a minimum today.

More seriously, this is actually kind of helpful, since you won’t have to follow every single reporter and newsroom that are at the meetings, publishing different stories, and you can maximize your social media time with better uses. We’ll also be sure to grab the last few stories from the meetings for our Friday Headlines.

Now on with all the news!

Urban Planning

The Edmonton Public School Board (EPSB) is closing some schools, as it does occasionally, consolidating buildings in older neighbourhoods. The interesting thing with the latest closures, is that the local community league in Jasper Place was hoping to keep a school by the new LRT stops. The argument being that closing schools where the City is trying to increase density and bring in more families hurts the overall goal for Edmonton. The City hasn’t had much luck getting the school boards to work with it on these infill plans.

A somewhat contentious new development in the Holyrood neighbourhood didn’t get its public hearing as planned because of the large city council agenda this week. Councillors could have moved the hearing to Thursday, but voted that down and instead pushed this off to the new council elected next month. There is work happening at the Holyrood site, however, which probably bodes well for its eventual approval anyway.

Edmonton can soon have more breweries, distilleries and wineries in places that aren’t industrial neighbourhoods. This means more kinds of local alcohol being produced in our city, and likely more brewpubs. I could really go for a whiskeypub too.

Speaking of which… Polar Park Brewing is about to take over the old Bee Bell Bakery space in Old Strathcona!

Transportation

Well, in the end every member of city council voted for playground zones. Guess a few calls and emails over the weekend convinced even the final few councillors to move ahead with more 30 km/h zones. This means that more than 400 parks, playgrounds and schools will have 30 km/h speed limits every day of the week, 7:30 a.m. until 9 p.m. It’s an excellent step forward for safety on our streets.

City officials say the latest speed-limit change will add no more than six seconds to a driver’s commute.” Keep this quote ready for all the cranky people complaining on your social media streams (or at your family dinners).

There’s a big chance of survival if you’re hit by a driver doing 30 km/h, while there’s a big chance of death if the driver is doing 50 km/h. The next debate coming to Edmonton (among other places) will be reducing speed limits to 30 km/h on all of our residential and neighbourhood streets.

Not so scary! photo: City of Edmonton

Somewhat related, photo radar ticketing is down, and that’s a good thing since it means people are driving closer to the existing speed limits. Although, people are still speeding, they’re just dropping it down about 6-12 km/h on average. This will create one additional budget item for the next city council, since a few million dollars in lost photo radar revenue means traffic safety programs will have to be funded in other ways. (Still a good problem to have.)

Also for the next council (that’s a real recurring theme this week), the 747 bus between the Edmonton International Airport and Century Park Transit Station will need to secure funding to keep running. There could be some talks with Leduc and Leduc County about helping to pay for the bus route, though that might mean detours instead of a direct ride to Edmonton. This should be a no-brainer for city council to keep running. If we don’t have a direct transit connection between the airport and the city, you can kiss your future 💯 travel reviews goodbye, as well as any chance at landing major tech or millennial-friendly employers.

Still more meeting stuff

At the final Audit Committee meeting of this term, councillors heard that the City’s procurement and bidding system is a mess and could be costing us a lot of money.

With $1-billion in annual contracts signed for everything from major construction projects to professional services, it’s not clear how much money Edmonton could be wasting. So, let’s be optimistic? Other problems are conflicts of interest and sole source contracts. Things are supposed to be in the process of being fixed, with all new procedures in place by next March.

Edmonton’s public school board will also be looking at a way to allow people to challenge the names of schools. This is on the agenda because of calls nationally to remove John A. MacDonald’s name from schools, and here in Edmonton there’s a call to remove Frank Oliver’s name from his landmarks because of his racist actions.


Around the city

Edmonton is hosting a massive gathering of Indigenous elders from across the country. One of the goals of the unprecedented meeting of thousands is to find ways to connect with younger generations of Indigenous people.

Police in our city aren’t fans of body cameras, and it doesn’t sound like they’ll be forced to wear them anytime soon. Calgary’s police force, however, is ordering up more cameras.

Edmonton needs meal programs at all of our schools. There’s no reason this simple plan can’t be put in place (other than, of course, money being allocated). It’s great to see organizations helping at some schools, and the provincial government testing out programs, but it’s a solution long overdue. Let’s hope the momentum continues to keep students fed.

Mental health funding for post-secondary schools is welcome, and will help support a number of programs at all of our city’s colleges and universities.

A local paramedic is working through his PTSD with art.

The Walterdale Bridge is supposed to open this month. Only two years late! (I’m still not buying it. Not until I’m literally driving or walking across the bridge.) It would have been great to keep the old Walterdale for people walking and biking, but at least it sounds like pieces of it will remain down by the river.

You know what is on time and on budget? The funicular! I already want a second one on the southside of the river, around the new Indigenous art park or the Kinsmen.

Accidental Beach is now boosting our local economy.

Got myself one of these sweet tanks today. On sale now at @vividprint on Whyte.

A post shared by Jeff Samsonow (@jeffsamsonow) on


Public engagement

The final City Council meeting of the term wraps today, starting at 9:30 a.m. You can see the agenda online. The meeting will stream live from Council Chambers. (A lot of items are covered in our links above, but we’ll be sure to grab the rest for our next Headlines.)

There’s an open house Wednesday night for the redevelopment of the St. John’s School Site in the Oliver neighbourhood. It’s 6 – 8:30 p.m. at Robertson-Wesley United Church.

This post was updated Wednesday, September 13, 2017

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