REMINDER: Over 250 of our neighbours will be joining Transit Camp 2023. We need your RSVP by March 15th for our catering.
What would it take to make transit faster, safer, and more frequent for everyone?
You are invited to our first annual "Transit Camp"- a no-cost gathering of transit riders and operators to learn and engage in building a better public transit system for everyone. Q&A with expert speakers, transit leadership, and a chance to make new friends and build solidarity with other riders from across Edmonton. Vegetarian lunch included with RSVP.
Over 250 have RSVP, but we hope to reach 500 and make the event as diverse as the city we represent!
I REGRET: to inform you that Hawrelak park is closing on Monday, March 13th for three years.
As I shared previously, during the December four year budget deliberations, I voted against and tried to rescope the Hawrelak Park renewal project. As such, while I am unable to move to cancel or halt the project, I will be active in providing feedback to leadership on these matters. I have, and will continue to raise concerns about the tree removal as well as the other concerns you and others have shared. I intend to be a regular observer of this project pushing to make sure it is on or ahead of schedule. The administration has shared information about the Hawrelak Park project here: https://www.edmonton.ca/projects_plans/parks_recreation/hawrelak-park-rehabilitation-project
For commuters, connectivity along the perimeter is to be preserved.
CELEBRATE: International Women's Day with discussion and dinner Wednesday March 8th ($25/sponsored)
(banner photo from this afternoon's March credit to Ray Harper)
I will be attending to listen. From the organizers:
Women are in the forefront today of all the battles in defence of their rights and the rights of all today. This banquet and forum on International Women’s Day is an opportunity for women to speak in their own name about the problems they and their collectives face, our efforts and battles to defend our rights and the rights of all, and our successes and challenges. Workers from different sectors of the economy and involved in different aspects of work to defend rights will be participating, and the forum will be organized to provide a space for as many people as possible to share experiences. The $25 ticket price is subsidized through donations from our union sisters and brothers. Free tickets are also available for those who need them. If you can afford to, please consider purchasing extra tickets which we can offer for those who lack the funds.
FRUSTRATIONS: the UCP provincial budget: Edmonton deserves a fair deal
Any challenge facing Edmonton today (safety on transit? Mental health in our streets? Exended wait times in the emergency? Sub-par education for our most vulnerable youth and bleak fortunes for our parents and seniors?) is rooted in a provincial government ideologically committed to austerity and corporate welfare for their friends and donors (https://www.nationalobserver.com/2023/02/28/news/oilpatch-funds-pro-smith-political-group-royalty-break).
And it's not just regulatory capture by the Orphan well owners. There's also deeply concerning connections between big developers and landlords and the Smith government (just like Ford in Ontario with the Green Belt): https://pressprogress.ca/companies-wealthy-developer-danielle-smith-nhl-hockey-ads/
I agree with Mayor Sohi when he commented that Edmonton's challenges are not being taken seriously by the UCP. And this not only short-changes Edmonton, but all of Northern Alberta who depend on Edmonton for Health Care, Education, Economic Growth, and leadership in so many sectors. When Edmonton thrives, the whole province thrives.
As we sprint towards the next provincial election, mere weeks away, I expect the UCP and Premier Smith will make announcements intended to buy some of us back with our own money. Here's Mayor Sohi on the Provincial Budget fine print: https://medium.com/mayorsohi/my-reaction-to-the-provincial-budget-a477b4eab4b6
To make matters worse, advocates suggest we are on the brink of a housing emergency: https://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/housing-emergency-edmonton-advocates-urge-alberta-for-action-on-housing-and-homelessness.
What about the 36% of the city who rents? Renters pay more than homeowners: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/real-estate/calgary-and-edmonton/article-renters-in-calgary-edmonton-pay-more-for-housing-than-homeowners-study/
ENGAGE: West 240 & Old Strathcona Public Realm Strategy:
UAPT hosted a public open house on Thursday, March 2 to gather preliminary feedback from the community. Thank you for your early input on the project vision for the West 240 Conceptual Master Plan. We encourage you to share your feedback through the online survey, open until March 17. https://west240.site/get-involved-2/
SHOVEL: Learn more about the City's Snow and Ice Strategy (hat tip to Councillor Tang)
(Via: Councillor Keren Tang) Last week, I had the chance to grab a Virtual Tea with Craig McKeown, the Branch Manager for Parks and Roads Services at the City of Edmonton. His area is responsible for anything and everything related to parks and roads including Snow and Ice Control (SNIC), which was what we talked about. We had a great conversation and were able to answer residents' burning questions about this critical service in our winter city. There were a lot of highlights, and I compiled them here to share with you. https://www.kerentang.ca/blog/snow-and-ice-services
WARNING: Edmonton Police Brutality caught on video. Officer duty status "under review"
This is a very troubling video to watch, especially if you are a parent. The boy in question was 18. If you've ever had a concussion or felt your head bounce against a cold unforgiving slab of concrete, do not watch this video.
Edmonton police officials are reviewing the duty status of a police officer captured on a security camera appearing to repeatedly punch a teenager. https://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/duty-status-under-review-after-video-shows-edmonton-police-officer-appearing-to-repeatedly-punch-suspect
Police Expert Lawyer Tom Engel: “I’ve seen a lot of use of force situations on video, and this was shocking,” said Tom Engel.
He compared the altercation to a hockey fight when one guy grabs the other by the shirt. There’s also a code of honour, he said, that you stop punching when the person goes down. But that didn’t happen in this fight. “He just kept punching away to the back of this person’s head as hard as he could, and it’s dangerous to punch people in the head — police officers know that,” he said. “This is a case where he could have killed this person.” Engel said the officer should immediately be suspended without pay, “and let the investigation take course.”
The Edmonton Police Service confirmed March 1 that the officer’s duty status is under review. Another Police Expert, Professor Temitope Oriola commented:
Temitobe Oriola, a criminology professor at the U of A and president-elect of the Canadian Sociological Association, added that even though ASIRT is investigating, punishment needs to be handed down “swiftly” to that officer by the EPS higher-ups, because taking too long to address the situation — or not addressing it at all — lends to a more violent police culture.
PROVOCATIONS FROM AROUND THE INTERNET:
“Galen Weston is the poster boy for excess”: This economist blames supermarkets for astronomical food pricesJim Stanford explains why corporate greed—not supply chain problems or inflation—is the reason for skyrocketing grocery bills (Toronto Life)
Let's talk parking politics: Parking requirements are the invisible forces that shape much of our cities, almost always for the worse. They take up space and encourage environmentally destructive sprawl: a standard parking spot is about 17 sq meters, though this can more than double in size when you take into account the driveway surrounding the spot, which makes them comparable to small studio apartments. They’re terrible for local environments: their paved surfaces don’t absorb water, leading to pollutant-rich flooding during heavy rainfalls. They’re expensive to build: a parking stall can cost between $40,000-60,000, which is usually subsidized through higher rents and steeper prices at the businesses they service. Many people do not connect the short term benefits of ample parking (e.g., the convenience of driving one’s car as close as possible to the door of one’s destination) with its disastrous long term effects: the catastrophic impacts of climate change, a generation-defining housing crisis, and cities that are completely inaccessible to people without cars. And yet, for all their urban dominance, parking requirements are almost always completely arbitrary. https://www.scopeofwork.net/paved-paradises/
Why bad street design is both costly and deadly:
We understand how frustrating the problem of bad street design is, especially because most communities don’t have a vision or language for an alternative. But you don’t have to accept the status quo. Strong Towns literally wrote the book on building safe and productive streets. We help public officials, professionals, and citizen advocates take control of their local streets. We’ve seen places transformed. The same is possible for your city, too.
What's happening in Toronto Post-Tory? How Left Populism Can Win Power in Toronto: https://breachmedia.ca/how-left-populism-can-win-power-in-toronto/
RECAP: Did you miss the presentations from Love in the Time of Fentanyl? You can watch them here:
1. Love In The Time of Fentanyl — watch online for free via PBS Independent Lens Documentary series: https://www.pbs.org/independentlens/documentaries/love-in-the-time-of-fentanyl/
2. Building Hope: Substance Use In The Trades
3. The 3Bs: Bikes, Buses, and Buildings
4. RSVP for Transit Camp 2023
5. Euan Thomson - Thinking critically about the Alberta Model
6. Evan Watson - Building Power in Community Services