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November 20, 2017
November 3, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: Friday, November 3, 2017

Kids can stay

Written by Jeff Samsonow

They could move into an apartment next year. Photo by Alexander Dummer on Unsplash

Watch out, kids can now live anywhere in Edmonton! Alberta is following every other province and scrapping the discrimination against children that’s allowed them to be banned from some apartment buildings and condos.

It’s sort of a weird thing to have stuck around this long.

And it will stick around a bit longer for condo units, allowing owners 15 years to transition. That term isn’t set in stone yet, but it’s likely a trade-off to keep this from becoming a fight with condo associations who feel this somehow hurts the value of their homes, so I doubt the government will budge much, if at all. (But definitely let your MLA know if you think that human rights shouldn’t be phased-in. Or let the justice minister know.)

So, I guess my opening statement should be: “Kids can live anywhere in Edmonton 15 years from now!”

The 15-year transition for condo owners aside, rental units will have to accept people of all ages starting in January, as will all new condominium projects. That will be the law.

There’s a list of reasons this is good news for Edmonton. The ability to live anywhere in the city is great for families, offering economic mobility to more people. Doubly-good news with our young population.

It also means our city’s attempts to increase density in older neighbourhoods gets some help. If we consider that most infill has been high-rise towers and multi-unit buildings with mostly one-bedroom units (we really don’t have a scourge of skinny homes, no matter the wailing from some communities) the changes mean we’ll actually see more families staying and moving into older neighbourhoods. The combination of Edmonton’s infill efforts and the changes to human rights legislation should also put some pressure on developers to think about offering more family units in their buildings. Yes, people with kids want to live in central, walkable neighbourhoods. 

This is all stems from a court decision about seniors that found Alberta’s human rights legislation lacking when it came to age discrimination. There will still be an allowance for seniors-only buildings, with age restrictions starting at age 55 (or older). 


Bike Lane Snowpocalypse 

Well, it finally happened. The moment we’ve been warned about for months. The day we were told to fear.

The first snow fell on our new bike lanes.

Then, the improbable occurred. The thing we were told wouldn’t ever happen, happened. 

Lanes were being used by people still cycling to work. In winter weather. After it snowed. 

The City, with barely a year to prepare, had somehow found a way to clear snow from these confounded paths. 

Clearly this has to be an anomaly. It could never continue through the entire winter, as it does in many other cities.

For now, Edmonton appears to have avoided armageddon. But for how long???

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Probably because of these bike lanes – and not the weather and other poor human decisionspeople driving had hundreds of crashes on Wednesday morning. And another 70 Thursday morning as the snow continued. These bike lanes are a real hazard to safety.

Many roads, and the downtown bike lanes, will be sprayed with a new salty anti-icing agent to see if it helps keep from snow sticking and allow for easier cleanup after snowfalls. That doesn’t mean you can speed around when it snows though!

Hey, if you like mapping stuff, check out Winter Biking. And if you’re biking through the winter, add your own observations. I think it could be a pretty cool mapping tool to see where people are cycling the most and where we’re doing a good job of keeping lanes and paths clear. (Thanks to Darcy for pointing it out to me.) 

Somewhat related to the war on cars… multi-use trails through our river valley are important to the soldiers on the people-powered side of the battle. There are spots throughout the valley that are private land, or a combination of private and public. We need these spaces to remain open and accessible for people who choose not to drive everywhere. 


Family Violence Prevention Month

Edmonton has proclaimed November asFamily Violence Prevention Month. The focus of the month is on men doing more to end violence, and the cycles of violence, that exist in too many families. 

This comes after years of increasing support and funding for programming to help men and boys learn more about what they can do to stop the violence. The recent recession in Alberta was blamed for a lot of the uptick in violence, but that’s a symptom of a system that still has too many men ignoring their feelings or getting trapped in their own dysfunctional cycles

If you or anyone you know needs to talk to someone about family violence, the City’s got a list of resources you can check out and people you can reach out to

Speaking of cycles of violence and toxic masculinity, the Modern Manhood podcast is an excellent place to listen in on men talking about these kinds of things, and their feelings, openly. An episode from earlier this year focused on these topics specifically

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Somewhat related, posters for a new play from Northern Light Theatre that focuses on telling a women’s story are being ripped down. The theatre’s general manager says this is an example of “…silencing a woman’s voice and a woman’s story.”


Edmonton prison problems

Edmonton’s prisons for men and women are singled out in the annual report on Canada’s prisons (which, overall, says we aren’t rehabilitating enough people, and the system needs changes to make it more effective at keeping people from re-offending).

The Edmonton Institution (maximum security, for men) is under multiple investigations, including a criminal one, after more than a year of reviews into sexual harassment and intimidation. Mostly of women working at the prison

The Edmonton Institution for Women is under scrutiny for how it may be mistreating prisoners with mental health issues and Indigenous women

Meanwhile… a case winding its way through the courts raises a lot of questions about the segregation of young offenders and the problems that can create and exacerbate


City council pre-season

As city council’s orientation meetings wrap up the new councillors should be up-to-speed on what their next four years will look like and the new term begins to take form. The draft budget hits next week, so there won’t be much more time for the new council to get ready to get to work. 

As the preparatory meetings continued this week we got some glimpses at issues to come. These include a reminder from the city’s chief economist to choose major projects wisely, consider late-night transit as an economic driver (especially for businesses along strips like Whyte Avenue and people working shifts), look at examining what it could look like to have private transportation companies help with the new transit strategy (including taxi companies, rideshares like Uber and TappCar and carshares like Pogo), and maybe keep our outdoor pools free for another summer.

There was also the first “social forecast“, which looks at items like poverty, immigration, public safety, connection to the community and social inclusion.

Social Forecast 2017 report image: City of Edmonton

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