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February 25, 2018
December 12, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Digging deeper

Written by Jeff Samsonow

 

The biggest story in Edmonton over the last week has been the 2018 budget. City council held their last meetings of the year last week and passed budget adjustments for next year as part of that. 

We’ve got a pretty good rundown on all things budget in our Friday Headlines. It all went down as expected, with a 3.2% tax increase to cover day-to-day operations and councillors allocating about $12-million to various projects and organizations that all pitched for more money. 2018 will also be the last year with an annual levy for neighbourhood renewal before that’s rolled into regular operating costs.  


Combative sports moratorium

We’re expecting to hear the results of a review of the boxing death of an Edmonton fighter this week but, before that report is made public, councillors voted to put in place a moratorium on new fighting events for 2018. The mayor was also making it clear that he and council hadn’t yet seen the report, which is expected to go to the family of Tim Hague first. 

The local boxing, MMA and fight industry isn’t happy about the sudden announcement. 

Events that are already approved can still go ahead. And those that are scheduled but don’t yet have their paperwork in order could still find a way to get special approval. (Which begs the question of how stringent the moratorium really is.) 

Along with the report into the death of Hague, municipalities around Alberta continue to ask the provincial government to create a fight commission or oversight body, instead of every city, town or region having to have their own. Alberta is the only province that leaves this up to municipalities. 

Just a couple of weeks ago CTV Edmonton had an investigative series looking into the Edmonton Combative Sport Commission, which has come under scrutiny for the fight that lead to the death of Tim Hague and the series brings forward many other voices who have questions about Edmonton’s fight commission. The series is worth watching ahead of the report, and will likely be more relevant when details are revealed. 

I know Edmonton sports is all about the Oilers and the CFL team, but this series from CTV’s Dan Grummett is probably the best sports reporting in the city this year. 


Edmonton arts confronts itself

To say it’s been a tumultuous year for Edmonton’s arts scene is to understate what’s been happening, according to a year-in-review item from Gig City.

This is how fast change is happening though, and the old systems that favoured men and white people are being challenged and breaking down. This will likely continue next year, and I doubt this will be the only local industry to see headlines related to the status quo being pushed aside. 

Also, let’s not lament when we “lose” people or places that contributed to toxic environments. So many people – women, people of colour, members of the LGBTQ2S+ community, Indigenous peoples, those with disabilities – have never been welcome, never been embraced, never had chances to create, produce and thrive. That’s what we should lament right now. And that’s why we should keep pushing out old ideas, systems and people who won’t create space for others.

Somewhat related… Sexual assault services and resources are usually at capacity, and now they are well over-capacity as more people come forward, particularly as part of the “me too” campaign, which has hit Edmonton’s arts community as it has done in other cities.

“…the most meaningful way to help is to stop blaming victims and believe people who have experienced sexual assault.”


Queerflex 

I think this story about Edmonton’s first LGBTQ-friendly gym is worth sharing widely. Queerflex also appears to be the first gym like this in Canada. I don’t really have a whole lot else to say. The gym’s great. The story’s great. Just great.


The same story

It’s not unusual for local newsrooms (in any city) to do the same story, and it’s not that unusual for them to essentially duplicate a story from another newsroom. It’s a holdout from the days when each outlet felt it had to have that story for their audience because they might not have another way to find out about it (social media hasn’t killed this idea yet). 

Recently, you might have seen this CBC story about an Edmontonian who has been performing as a Michael Jackson impersonator as part of a personal salvation. Global has their own version of the story. Or you might have seen this investigative story from Postmedia about attacks on Edmonton Transit drivers then get a duplication from CBC.

It might be a waste of resources today when you could just link to a story you want your audience to see, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary. 

You don’t often see investigative stories get replicated though. Even that CBC story above is a truncated version of the Postmedia original.

CBC did an investigation into the health safety of nail salons this summer. It was a good story, which could put pressure on the Alberta government to increase protections of customers and bring in more licensing requirements, inspections and penalties. Now Global has done the same investigation

While many investigative stories can get repeated (or have similar treatments) much later after original publication – especially when it might be covered by a local outlet and then be a national story – to have the same story come out so soon feels strange.

Or this was totally awful timing for Global that they were working on the story and CBC beat them to air. They even appear to have looked at similar data for their story, with CBC reviewing inspection reports between 2013 and 2016 and Global having reviewed “…inspection reports of these facilities from the last three years…” It would really stink to work on an investigate story that someone else happened to be working on at the same time. Perhaps it just got shelved to allow for the CBC story to get out of the news cycle.

Anyway, I’m obviously a fan of pointing people at stories I think they should check out. I think all newsrooms should consider doing the same, especially as resources, staff and time dwindle. Reduced resources might be better spent on original stories instead of the same stories and the same interviews someone else already has. 


Public engagement

The Edmonton Catholic School Board has its last meeting of the year on Tuesday, at 3 p.m. You can see the agenda online. They are getting an update on school resource officers, which comes as Canada’s largest school board removes police officers from its schools. The board will also be talking about asking the Alberta government to take modernization money for Ben Calf Robe/St. Clare School and instead put that toward a replacement building.

Whyte Avenue’s heritage district

On Wednesday, there’s a trio of open houses related to planning and zoning issues. Plan Whyte, the latest on a long-awaited update to the Old Strathcona neighbourhood runs 6 – 9 p.m. at the Old Timer’s Cabin.

Griesbach neighbours can take a look at plans for a development where the Metro Line is eventually planned to go, 6 – 8:30 p.m. at St. Timothy’s School.  

And the Charlesworth community can attend an open house about a potential fire station, which would require some re-zoning, 6 – 8 p.m. at Ellerslie Campus School

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