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December 16, 2017
November 21, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Believe women

Written by Jeff Samsonow

As the repercussions of the “me too” campaign continue to hit Hollywood and major arts centres, Edmonton has another shockwave of its own this week. Downtown music venue, bar and restaurant The Needle Vinyl Tavern is facing calls to do something about sexual harassment. 

A quick search on Twitter and Facebook, and even the business’ response, shows this may be bigger than one person’s harassment and the details we’re hearing so far. The news is already having a quick on the busy venue, with cancellations and changes for bands and artists appearing on stage.

More people are leaving, or might leave The Needle. If you know of job openings in Edmonton’s hospitality industry, share that on social media so folks can find new work if they need to.

UPDATE: The venue is temporarily closed after multiple artists moved their shows to other spots in Edmonton.

It was a few weeks ago that Edmonton’s theatre scene was dealing with our first major story related to this overdue wave of women defying the silence of sexual harassment and assault. It was unlikely to be the only reckoning for Edmonton’s arts industry and this, too, will also not be the end.

And in somewhat related arts news, the Edmonton Public Library has happened to book another guest embroiled in controversy before an appearance. This time it’s George Takei, who is facing his own accusations of sexual assault. 

Connected to the coverage, believing sexual assault victims was among the reasons we called out one item in local news last week, when an Edmonton editorial questioned the damage to men’s reputations.

And, of course, the arts are nowhere near the only industry where women have long been harassed, silenced and pushed out. This is systemic and societal. As owners of The Needle are surely learning today, saying you’ll do something to change for the better and actually doing something are very different things, and we aren’t seeing enough of the latter just yet. 


Workplace harassment

The City of Edmonton is facing up to a lot of failures as a workplace. Over the last week, Edmonton Journal city hall reporter Elise Stolte has been detailing the bullying, workplace harassment, damaged morale and broken complaints system that’s left City employees hurt and distrustful. 

A large portion of staff have reported toxic and harmful work situations, with many of those people left alone in a system that didn’t support them. The news series culminated Monday with the Audit Committee, where the City’s auditor laid out his own investigation of the situation, which is supposed to result in a new reporting structure to deal with workplace complaints

For all of us, the provincial government is going to be introducing changes to Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety Act, which will classify workplace harassment and abuse as a job hazard. Then, when someone needs to take sick days or a leave of absence related to their emotional or mental health, it is reported to the Alberta government as a workplace injury. It will be more difficult for employers with toxic work environments to get away with things for so long.


Treaty 6 stories

Now that the football team’s season is over, the most important decision of the off-season is whether many Inuit and Indigenous voices will be heard and the CFL club will change its name. In a city that claims it is for reconciliation and making it awkward for racists, let’s see if we’re just saying we’re changing or if we actually are making change.

After being cut down because of safety reasons, Garneau’s Tree lives on thanks to the salvaging of some of its wood. 

A St. Albert art gallery is hosting a new exhibit about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG), with the artist working with the “red dress” imagery that has become synonymous with too many deaths. In Edmonton, Churchill Station will have a new mural honouring the missing and murdered.

Artist Jason Carter is receiving a distinguished alumni award at MacEwan’s fall convocation (Tuesday). Carter’s art can be found on the southern portion of the Capital Line (along 111 Street) and the Edmonton and Calgary airports (not to mention other installations and galleries).

Edmonton is hosting an Indigenous take on MacBeth this week, giving the story a Cree inspiration (runs Thursday-Sunday).


Zoning, planning and building

This section is a little bit of everything, with some stories that speak to how Edmonton continues to grow.

A major development proposed for the new Valley Line LRT has a lot of questions and pushback. So much so, the public hearing into the proposal has been delayed, and now extended to allow more time for people to speak. This Holyrood project holds a lot of potential next steps for other transit-oriented developments, so the outcome will be watched by many.

The mayor’s pitch to fill in vacant downtown office space with new and growing tech companies picked up some steam with gaming company BioWare announcing it would move to ‘”innovation corridor”.

Zoning changes have allowed Edmonton distillery Strathcona Spirits – perhaps the tiniest in North America – to open its small space to visitors. Changes around distilling and brewing are allowing more businesses to open in more parts of the city.

Speaking of new rules and regulations, Edmonton’s got a rideshare company dedicated to people with disabilities. This is the kind of thing that makes the city’s changes to taxi rules worth it.

People traveling Highway 628 between Edmonton and Stony Plain are trying to raise awareness of its safety flaws, and get some upgrades before more people die on that stretch of road.  

And Edmonton is getting a new high school. It’s a good thing too, since we are facing a potential space crunch with students having no place to go in a few years.


Public engagement

Tuesday

You can take a look at the final concept plan for Dawson Park and Kinnaird Ravine, which will include a 25-year vision for the river valley spaces. The open house runs 5 – 8 p.m. at Alex Taylor School.

The plan for Beaumaris Lake is not quite finished yet, so you can also take a look Tuesday evening at three different options for the stormwater lake. At the Good Shepherd Anglican Church, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.

If you want to see potential locations of a new bridge over the North Saskatchewan in northeast Edmonton, check out one of two meetings this week. The first is Tuesday, 4 – 8 p.m., at the Bethel Lutheran Church. 

Wednesday

Second chance to see potential locations of a new bridge over the North Saskatchewan in northeast Edmonton (between Fort Saskatchewan and Sherwood Park). This one is at Horse Hill School, 4 – 8 p.m.

If you want to hear about all the projects happening in the Belgravia area, including neighbourhood renewal and traffic management, check out the open house on Wednesday, 5 – 9 p.m., at St. Paul’s United Church.

Thursday

Engage Edmonton, the city’s “festival” of public engagement continues this week, with a stop Thursday at Archbishop O’Leary High School, 4 – 8 p.m. The City is using these rotating events to collect public feedback on a number of issues. 

Same place and same time, there’s also an information session about the Londonderry Athletic Grounds Renewal Project.


This post was updated Tuesday, November 21, 2017.

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