I’m trying out something different with this week’s Headlines, so let me know if it’s a nope or this seems like a good idea.
Today, we’ll focus on stories that I think are important, investigative and also might have flown under the radar with the usual pile of stories from city meetings, crime coverage or the Alberta Legislature dominating local news in the last week or so. On Friday we’ll take a look at what’s happened in Edmonton this week to get you caught up over the weekend.
— Kent Morrison (@KentMGlobal) November 15, 2017
Accessibility of winter
I’ve been watching a few stories on street de-icing and snow clearing come in and thinking about how to tie them together within a bigger context. I think I’ve got one: accessibility of our city.
Our city is obviously built around personal vehicles being the primary form of transportation, and that’s not likely to really shift much over the next few years. Although even small shifts can mean a lot on road maintenance and environmental concerns.
Anyway, local newsrooms surely struggled to find people who drive who don’t like the new bike lanes being cleared as quickly as arterial roads. Barely double-digit bike lane kilometres vs. 3,000 kilometres of arterial roads – yeah, it’s a real war on cars.
The thing is, clearing our new bike lanes downtown and through Old Strathcona allows people to make different choices on their winter travel. And that includes people who may not be able to afford a car, or even a bus pass. That’s ultimately what we’re enabling by building bike infrastructure, more ways for families and people without cars to get around Edmonton safety. Everyone deserves that option.
Also, I think the great job we’ve seen so far on clearing bike lanes (and arterials) is going to expose Edmonton’s biggest problem with winter accessibility. Our sidewalks. The system of asking property owners to clear sidewalks (within 48 hours of snowfall) is inefficient and I expect to see plenty of people walking, and wheel-chairing, in bike lanes for their safety. We might not be able to afford a system that clears all of our sidewalks, but something in our core neighbourhoods, our most walkable, might be worth considering sooner rather than later.
This connects with a story from Vue’s annual look at all things winter, with a focus on the many ways we continue to make sports and recreation accessible for people with disabilities. Winter should be for everyone!
Edmonton’s cult of staring is back in the news with a longread from the Globe and Mail’s Jana Pruden. This isn’t the first time people have looked into the spiritual group, but I wonder if the current climate around harassment and assault with the #metoo moment will put things into a different perspective. Certainly if the group is tied to a business like The Oasis Centre it would be interesting to see if that becomes a target of a boycott or other efforts of those trying to do what they think is the right thing to break up the group and get women out. As I said, it’s a longread, but it’s worth your time.
If you didn’t happen to catch the stories last week, downtown Edmonton music venue and restaurant The Needle is closed (indefinitely) after stories of sexual harassment and assault started coming out.
And, hey, as bad as this might be for your band, business or the music scene, it’s nothing compared to the awful things we make people working and participating in the industry to endure. That’s the focus right now, as it should be.
If you’re lamenting the “loss” of a venue while people are sharing their stories of harassment, abuse and sexual assault – or the similar loss in any industry – keep that to yourself and instead amplify the voices of victims and help build a system that doesn’t terrorize women and minorities for a few extra dollars or fame.
Edmonton’s decades of two-team dominance continue, with soccer club FC Edmonton folding just before the weekend. In recent years, Edmonton’s also seen its baseball team(s) fold and its lacrosse franchise leave town, and many of our non-NHL and CFL teams have had/needed involvement or ownership from the big two. We’re also in danger of losing the rodeo after 44 years.
The worst part of this is that we have municipal resources like Clarke Park, Northlands Coliseum and Remax Field (the baseball park) that can become drains on City funds when they sit empty. The next worst part is that people who might enjoy sports other than hockey and football don’t get to enjoy watching those sports played live in Edmonton. It also hurts the entertainment factor for families and those looking for more reasonably priced sports tickets.
This latest loss could also have an effect on Edmonton’s involvement in a World Cup bid. “…we need to kind of get over ourselves with the idea that we’re big for events and we need to think more about how we support things week-to-week.”
Meanwhile… Edmonton is double-booked for major events in the summer of 2020 and might get looped in on Calgary’s bid for the Olympics.
Edmonton’s Somali community has lost a local leader, after the sudden death of Sheikh Osman Barre.
Pregnancy Pathways is doing the kind of community work that gives people the chance to keep living and building their lives. It’s also an excellent example of the many ways we can do affordable housing better, incorporating it into various social programs so that it’s not always a separate ask. Housing is fundamental the success of just about any government or civic programming.
Similarly, Our House gives men a place to live while they work on their addictions.
And I just thought this story about the Wiccan leading the University of Albert’s chaplain services was a good one to read.
Edmonton’s Executive Committee meets today, at 9:30 a.m. You can see the agenda online. Items include the financial statements of the city’s businesses improvement areas (our business associations), what major tenants leaving downtown mean, the one percent art program, improving our river valley trails and the next steps on employee harassment. The meeting will stream live from the River Valley Room.
The Urban Planning Committee meets at 9:30 a.m. You can see the agenda online and the meeting will stream live. Among the topics to be discussed are developer contributions in some projects, how we take care of City trees, and an update on Accidental Beach.
There’s an information session on three LRT-related projects in southwest Edmonton, 4 – 8 p.m. at the Ellerslie Rugby Park. You can get the latest details on the Heritage Valley Park and Ride, Capital Line’s south extension and the 135 Street connection at the Anthony Henday.
Want to see what’s up on the river crossing for West Rossdale? Check out a business plan and redevelopment plan information session at the Old Timer’s Cabin, 5 – 8 p.m.
Small business in Edmonton, particularly on main streets, is the focus of the next Great Ideas Great City event Wednesday evening. This is a free event, running 6 – 8:30 p.m. at City Hall.
Engage Edmonton, the festival of public engagement, is back tonight, 4 – 8 p.m., at the Crestwood Community League.
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