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May 27, 2018
February 2, 2018

Edmonton Headlines: Friday, February 2, 2018

Building up gets easier

Written by Jeff Samsonow

Some Edmonton neighbourhoods could be getting taller. New rules proposed for high-rises could mean towers up to 18 storeys would be easier to build if developers stuck to the new regulations. It will also mean reduced consultation needed to build such towers in our dense core neighborhoods, near major transit hubs and a few malls. (Going much taller will still require lots of extra approvals and consultation.)

The changes also offer incentives of extra height if developers build more family units (specifically three-bedroom apartments). This kind of change is much-needed as Edmonton attempts to create more density in mature neighbourhoods. There’s no way we do that successfully with towers full of one-bedroom apartments.

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It turns out, if developers of projects would meet with community members before they do their first designs they could get a lot more buy-in. If not ideas they hadn’t even been considering. That’s what’s happening with a redevelopment in Lendrum and, while we’ll have to see as it winds its way through official City channels and consultation, it looks like people are happier with this project than others that they see for the first time at a mandated open house.

Over in Bonnie Doon, the mall’s redevelopment is also looking for community input before applications are made to the City. I bet they get more neighbourhood buy-in on their designs because of this too.

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You know how Edmonton has long been touted as one of the best municipalities in the world at diverting trash from landfills? How we’re soon going to be keeping 90% of household waste from just rotting in garbage dumps?

Well…

It turns out we’re barely diverting half of our household waste from the landfill, if it’s even that much. A new report from the City’s auditor says we’re trending down right now too, so there’s no way we get to 90% of trash kept out of landfills any time soon.

We were supposed to be so good at this!

One of the things that has to change is making sure more separation of garbage, recycling and compostable materials is done by us at home. It will probably mean more types of bins for disposal and pick-up. And obviously we need to get moving on that because our reputation as garbage gurus is tanking fast.

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The quarterly update on opioids brought another reported increase in the number of people dying from overdoses. Every couple of days, someone dies. Harm reduction has to become a larger part of the fight against overdoses, with talk now starting of how personal trauma, poverty and our lacking housing supports put people at risk of addiction and also less safe conditions to use drugs in. So far, not much we’re doing is turning the tide of overdoses.

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We’re two years into it and nobody knows what Vision Zero is.”

The debate over the fountain design at city hall continues. Never before has a foot of water sparked so much debate

If you want even more LRT discussion (and who doesn’t?), you can check out the latest Facebook live video from Postmedia city hall reporter Elise Stolte, as she chats with councillor Andrew Knack about the Valley Line west extension.


Business stories

The world’s largest marijuana facility is beginning its work at Edmonton’s airport. We are going to be one of the major hubs as Canada creates an entirely new (legal) industry. 

This is among the reasons the Edmonton International Airport is reporting another big year.

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Dave Mowat is retiring from his position as president and CEO of ATB Financial after eleven years at the top of the crown corporation (and seeing its assets and revenue double).

One of the people who brought the blues to Whyte has passed away.

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A new degree in fashion business management offered by the University of Alberta could help bolster our local fashion industry.

The Gibbard Block in the Highlands neighbourhood is going to undergo some major work, but continue to be a community hub. La Boheme will be closing, but new restaurants will be opening in the building next year, along with revamped bed and breakfast rooms. 

The old YMCA will become Williams Hall. image source

Downtown, the old YMCA building is getting a second life too. 

Scottish Imports is closing after nearly 60 years in business.

GRadio is trying to get more local businesses playing local music in their shops and stores.

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Over at the Edmonton Sun, Graham Hicks is writing a few columns on local business, with an eye to how our city can keep diversifying itself from oil and gas industries. He’s got items up about Radient Technologies and Yardstick Testing and Training.

We touched upon one opportunity Edmonton has, with an under-utilized Indigenous population being a potential key to our tech industries


Social issues

The whisper network in Alberta politics needs to be amplified so people harassing those around them, and below them on the org-chart can’t keep getting away with it. 

We all have to be part of this because, right now, when women do come forward too many people try to push and terrorize them back into silence. And more of us obviously need to find ways to open up our eyes to what’s happening because all of these “me too” stories of sexual harassment and assault are full of other politicians (and entertainers and business owners and… ) who never saw anything untoward. Which is unlikely.

Somewhat related… politicians elected to the Alberta Legislature will soon have more ways to report bad behaviour of other MLAs.

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A Sherwood Park lawyer is part of the new lawsuit related to Canada’s “Indian Hospitals”. Much like we only recently came to understand what we did to Indigenous peoples in residential schools, this lawsuit is going to unearth a lot of ugliness for Canadians who weren’t taught the truth about our segregated medical system. 

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There are going to be more therapy and counselling options at the Zebra Centre, for children who have been abused. The money is mostly going toward ensuring more of the needed experts and resources are at the office when children need them, in the same visit, instead of forcing families to travel to multiple appointments all over the city. 


School news

Well, this isn’t going to do anything to heal the rift between Edmonton’s public and Catholic school boards. A trustee at the Edmonton Public School Board is joining the calls to hold a referendum on whether we still need a separate school system for one particular religion.

As Edmonton’s schools find ways to work with more students with autism, the school boards are also working on ways to help families identify if their child may have autism

Jan Reimer gets a school in her name. image source: EPSB

Edmonton municipal politicians are getting their names etched on new schools this year. We had the official opening of one named for the city’s first openly gay councillor last week, and this week we’ve got the same ceremony for a school named for our city’s only woman to be mayor, Jan Reimer. She was recently on The Broadcast if you want to hear a little more about her time running Edmonton.

Canadian students have had some relief with frozen tuition rates the last few years at our city’s post-secondary schools, and there are new calls to also freeze tuition for international students. The higher fees those students pay to learn here may be helping balance the books right now though.


Edmonton Arts

The city’s top music and film prizes were handed out this week, with rocker-turned-country artist Dan Davidson picking up the music award and documentary filmmaker Adam Scorgie taking home recognition for his work.

Project Compass is a new book about Edmonton that offers a unique take on the novel, as a story written by four different authors from four different corners of the city.

You can also check out a profile of actor and stuntman Eugene Brave Rock (you recently saw him in Wonder Woman) in the new issue of Avenue Edmonton.


Long-standing rivalry

Friday is regular season game 500 between the University of Alberta’s Golden Bears hockey team and their rivals of more than a century, the University of Saskatchewan Huskies.

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