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February 25, 2018
January 16, 2018

Edmonton Headlines: Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Big transit decisions

Written by Jeff Samsonow

The future?

It feels like just last week we were talking about our pending LRT plans. Oh, it was last week. And it will be next week too. It’s almost like we’re at a crucial point in transportation planning in Edmonton.

Edmonton is about to decide on its next mass transit options and opportunities. While it should be LRT from the downtown to west Edmonton and LRT from NAIT to the new Blatchford neighbourhood (the old city centre airport), things aren’t as sure as the looming deadlines would have you believe

The most likely switcheroo relates to the western LRT extension. There are some, including at least one new city councillor, who want to see if the City should scrap that for bus rapid transit (BRT). While it’s cheaper to build BRT, it costs more to operate because of the additional buses and drivers, so it ends up being equal in cost over a decade or more. As I mused last week, it’s kind of weird to be throwing out all these questions at the last minute, but transportation in Edmonton is always very political when it doesn’t favour someone driving their personal vehicle

BRT is also becoming a topic of discussion for the next slate of mass transit plans, including further to Edmonton’s southwest and extending from Blatchford to St. Albert in the northwest. The southwest councillors are bringing pressure (and some population numbers) to push for bigger investments down there instead of the north. This one has the potential to split council in a number of ways (north vs. south, LRT vs. BRT, suburbs vs. mature neighbourhoods).

Future LRT plans. Maybe. image source

An interesting angle that came up at the committee meeting Monday was that of developers in all of this. A number have jumped onto the City’s plans for transit oriented development (TOD) and LRT might be important to maintain those investments. It certainly might be needed to spur the kind of development, and increased density, needed in a sprawling city that’s running out of places to build. Even bigger examples include Century Park, Mill Woods Town Centre and now Bonnie Doon Shopping Centre

BRT just doesn’t present the same kinds of opportunities to spark development, get more people living in mature neighbourhoods and along transit corridors and move as many people efficiently. There are places we could use it, but our biggest and main lines need the increased capacity of trains. 

There’s also a pending discussion on another future plan for LRT to run along Whyte Avenue between the University of Alberta and Bonnie Doon. (And this doesn’t even get into the complete overhaul of Edmonton’s transit system.)

So many debates! Such important plans! Time to get involved!

It’s going to be a busy winter and spring related to LRT updates and decisions. 

If you want to get in on the conversation as city council makes some of the biggest decisions Edmonton will face in a generation, make sure to reach out to your councillor. You can also connect with your community league to see if they’re forming any official opinions on these plans. (To be fair, the mayor and some councillors are being vocal about the need to stick with LRT to west Edmonton. But it never hurts to add your own support.)

It’s perfect timing that the new episode of Walkcast is on just these topics. 


EQ content is brought to you in part by:

Deep dives

The City of Edmonton released the data it has on its workplace harassment. They dumped it all at once without much notice or fanfare, but city hall reporter Elise Stolte has still managed to dig through it

This follows on her series looking at harassment and bullying inside the municipal government. (There are a number of stories, usually linked, so poke around if you’re reading the series.) As the stories detail, this isn’t just about one-in-five employees reporting a toxic workplace, it’s also about the lack of a good reporting system – that doesn’t include supervisors doing the bullying and harassing knowing who is doing the whistleblowing. 

Following all this, and the City auditor’s own report, we’ve now got 85 cases of harassment under investigation. City staff also have external consultants to work with while a new reporting process is put in place to protect employees. 

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If you’ve see stories, or opinions (and more opinions), about the province’s curriculum review, Postmedia education reporter Janet French has a thorough look at what’s going into it and how it’s being done. The story also looks at some of our surrounding provinces and their own reviews. It starts to feel very un-political when you dig into the facts. It also makes sense to review all grade levels and subjects at the same time to ensure similar topics, themes and language for students as they make their way through school. 

Hopefully the most vocal critics of this review (especially those with platforms) read this story and see the multitude of voices going into the curriculum review. This isn’t some weekend retreat throwing together what, and how, students will be learning. This is a massive undertaking with a lot of input from across the province (and beyond even). 


Media milestone

You may have received a copy already, but Alberta Views’ 20th anniversary edition is out. Congrats to the magazine for continuing to lead the way in the province on in-depth looks at issues, profiles and amplifying voices from around Alberta. 
 
You can also see some of the articles from the 20th anniversary issue online now

Public engagement

The Urban Planning committee meets on Tuesday, at 9:30 a.m. You can see the agenda online. Items include rules around the distance between downtown liquor stores (or, at least one in particular) and parking requirements during property development and re-development. 

On Wednesday, the Community and Public Services committee meets, at 9:30 a.m. You can see the agenda online. Items include an update on the combative sports review, and a look at being part of a bid for the FIFA World Cup.

The Inter-municipal and Regional Economic Development committee meets on Thursday, also at 9:30 a.m. You can see the agenda online. Items include updates on an Edmonton airport accord, Metro Region board and private reports on annexation and regional co-operation. 

The Edmonton Police Commission meets on Thursday too, at 1:30 p.m

All of those meetings will stream live from the River Valley Room at City Hall. 

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Also on Thursday, there are two open houses to check out a project that could transform Jasper Avenue, between 92 Street and 109 Street. Specifically, for the blocks between 92 and 96 Streets and those 102 to 109 Streets. (This is not to be confused with the project happening to transform Jasper west of 109 Street.) Sessions are 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 – 8:30 p.m at CKUA.

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