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December 16, 2017
November 17, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: Friday, November 17, 2017

Lots to talk about

Written by Jeff Samsonow

 

Hey, we’ve been playing around with the schedule and format of Headlines the last few weeks, so we appreciate your patience as we figure out the right amount of local news curation. And, don’t worry, no matter what we’ll still find time to rant about stuff

Now, it’s been a really, really busy week at City Hall and the Alberta Legislature, so let’s get you caught up. 

In a rare turn of events, city council told a developer they weren’t doing a good enough job and denied a variance to plans to build affordable housing. The Mezzo project passed at city council last year even though City staff and most neighbours didn’t want it to for a long list of reasons. Now the developer is back saying they couldn’t land a deal with any non-profits to build affordable (family) units in the building, which has also flipped from rental to condo. Good for the new city council demanding better. It’s the only way we’re going to get affordable housing built in more communities, and much-needed family units in all the highrises going into our core neighbourhoods (the new plan all but eliminates 3 and 4-bedroom units, so at least the affordable ones would be something at this point to get a few families in). 

I’m a little worried by how much the developer is quoted talking about a pressing need to get building before their financing falls through. Hopefully city council is willing to let the site sit empty before they give up on housing our neighbourhoods need. 

A look at re-design of the remand centre by Manasc Isaac. image: Edmonton Police Commission

A number of organizations have come together to officially pitch the old remand centre as a future “wellness centre” with multiple services and even some housing for people in need of resources to get off the streets. 

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We’re going to need to wait a few weeks to hear more about what’s going on with the Metro Line, and what potential ways forward there are. The LRT line continues to be plagued by trouble with its signalling system and maybe it’s time to do more than small fixes. This is back at city council in early December.

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There’s a push to get work going on an LGBTQ advisory committee before council breaks for the holidays. 

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After word that the Edmonton Ski Club’s lease will be terminated by the City, we’re hearing there’s a potential to amalgamate local hills into one giant skiing entity. The Edmonton Ski District?

Not long for this world? photo: Northlands

As the deadline for taking over Northlands Coliseum speeds closer, the City is going to consider demolishing it right away. This will be part of the 2018 budget discussions in early December.

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Some parking fines will be going up. Consider this your warning.


Digging deeper

There are a pair of local news investigations I want to highlight. The first is from the Edmonton Journal’s Elise Stolte. Postmedia’s city hall reporter has a series looking at workplace harassment at the City. It appears to be a real problem. 

Stories include how the City actually deals with the problems, including the fact people being accused of harassment will see all the details being reported and even who is making the claims. Morale is taking a real hit when harassment goes unchecked. The City is also reluctant to release detailed numbers on how bad the harassment might be. But the auditor gives us a little more insight, with one-in-five employees reporting workplace harassment or bullying. 

This is going to be discussed more at committee next week, and the City is already talking about how the reporting system is going to change. 

CTV Edmonton has been looking at the Edmonton Combative Sports Commission (ECSC), after the death of a fighter here in the city. The series examines our municipal fight commission, how it works and how it relates to the death of Tim Hague who some say should not have been in the ring before he died. He died days after a fight where he was beaten quite badly, which is now under investigation.

The City has asked previously for the Alberta government to take over fights, as Alberta is one of the last provinces where this is still handled at the municipal level. CTV’s series also looks at other decisions of the ECSC, continuing to raise questions about whether the City has the resources to oversee and run combative sports events.


Football team name

The momentum seems to be sticking right now, in the discussion around changing Edmonton’s CFL football team name. We’ve got more on this in our own post on the issue

One item that is new since that post went up, however, is a poll that shows almost as many Canadians find our football team’s name as unacceptable as they do Washington’s NFL team name. 

We’re also creating some new potential branding for Edmonton’s team, if you’d like to recommend a new name.


Under the dome

Alberta Legislature domeThere was some big news at the Alberta Legislature this week, as a busy fall session continued. 

We saw Bill 24 pass, which strengthens rules around student privacy when they join gay-straights alliances (GSAs) at school. This means kids can’t be outed to their parents by a teacher or staff. 

We also have our first look at potential rules and regulations for legalized marijuana, including where it will be sold.  

And the leader of the new United Conservative Party (UCP) will get a chance to become an MLA with a byelection called down in Calgary, after another UCP member stepped aside as MLA. Although, it can be said that Alberta’s conservatives sure don’t appear very united right now.


Public engagement

The entire day has been set aside for city council to hold a public hearing into one development project in Holyrood. It got bumped to this special meeting because it was pushed off a very busy previous agenda when the meeting ran late and so many people showed up to speak.

If you want to see what Beaumaris Lake could look like after some renovations, check out the first open house about new concept plans on Saturday. The open house runs 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. at the Good Shepherd Anglican Church. There’s another open house Tuesday.

Now that the election is done all of the City’s public engagement activities are back. This includes the Edmonton Insight Community, which answers questions on a whole range of topics by emailed surveys. Get in on that if you want to share your thoughts.

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