Posts Tagged ‘homicide’

August 17 Edmonton Headlines


Good morning, Edmonton. It’s time for newsrooms to slow down.

We’ve been talking a lot more about news and content creation in the last few weeks. And I think everything we want to see; balanced crime stories, in-depth reporting, accurate stories can be achieved if newsrooms embrace the lack of deadlines the Internet provides and slow down.

Fearmongering crime stories could disappear if newsrooms worked the stats, thought about whether they were terrified to walk the streets (and if they aren’t, refused to let people sensationalize the stories), considered the causes of crime, sought prevention options, and demanded more of politicians and police than tough-on-crime announcements.

Then, a front page screaming about murder becomes a story about how homelessness has actually been one of issues behind Edmonton’s 2011 homicide rate, and perhaps looks at what’s been done to house more people (and improve their mental health or addictions), and the pressure on civic leaders is to improve the safety of Edmonton’s homeless, push harder for provincial dollars in housing, mental illness and healthcare, and addiction treatment. Then politicians cannot get away with telling the cameras they will “clean up the streets” (whatever that means).

The race to get the story into the news machine first damages everyone involved. It hurts the credibility of the media outlets who commonly treat factual inaccuracies as no big deal, and it fails the citizens who trust these outlets for information that shapes their reactions to the world around them. Reporting the news is a tremendous responsibility, and not just a game of  ‘who had what story first.’

Yesterday there was a story from CBC about a strip club opening in Old Strathcona. That’s not going to happen. It sounds like paperwork and City bureaucracy are to blame. But if the owners of X Bar (a strip club) didn’t want to apply for a new strip club, how did that become the story? By going too fast.

Slowing down, and getting reaction from the bar owners and City staff on the license applications, we could have a story about how the process to get a strip club works (if there was another level of paperwork involved), or – better yet in my opinion – how a bar location that keeps closing in failure keeps re-opening. That last one spins into a question for the City of Edmonton, Old Strathcona Business Association, and commercial property owners in the area; what are they doing to preserve the neighbourhood as heritage and boutique?

CTV strip club Google Alert(Side note on that strip club story: CTV followed – we’ve talked all about that lately too. Then changed the story when it turned out the southside strip club wasn’t happening. You can see a Google Alert above, since they changed the story on the same URL. Kudos to CBC for creating a new item on their website for the second story, ensuring an Internet trail. Newsrooms need to learn to deal with the mistakes, not wipe them out, or they won’t get better. It also helps folks, like me, find out what you’ve been up to beyond the last day or so.)

Update: Even if the City approved a strip club in the bar location, and the renovations happen to have been something extra the operators were thinking about seeking and the extra paperwork and delays dissuaded them, then the stories missed a step in confirming with the bar and building owners what was coming to Whyte. The permit would have just been the first step of working on the story, not the story itself.

The Journal had a story about a Fort McMurray man who went to Los Angeles to get brain surgery. Doctors told him to get the surgery and he went. Waiting an extra day would have taken one part of the story from “Another guy probably had the surgery covered by Alberta Health Services, I want it too.” to “Why the heck are Albertans forced to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for a surgery they can’t have done in Canada?”

(Side note to that last link; not sure why the CBC felt they should leave in the Journal’s line about the other guy who might have received coverage. The Journal’s follow-up said he did, and the CBC story didn’t need to mention it, or could have included the chased-down fact.)

All of the slow down links above take you to an editorial from The Walrus, a fantastic Canadian magazine, that states speedy news is like a regular diet of fast food, and calls for a “slow news” movement. Similar to the slow food movement it would be a shift to deep, thorough, important information instead of churning out bits of information here and there. Just because there’s information in a story doesn’t mean it’s helping or is teaching us anything about the world we live in.

All that, and I’ve only given you a couple of today’s stories. More ahead. (more…)


August 12 Edmonton Headlines

Look, leaf, I don't know what kind of orders you're getting from the tree, but I demand you get back up there.

Welcome to the end of the week, Edmonton.

Edmonton Police are going to try and bust people for carrying knives and concealed weapons. This is one of the enforcement steps following a crime announcement from the chief and mayor. The Edmonton Police Service (EPS) is also sending more officers into the five most violent neighbourhoods in each police division.

But you probably woke up as terrified as ever, just like the Edmonton Sun thought.

(While I agree a lot of long-term plans, especially if they involve buzzwordy task forces and work groups, are more political than practical, can we at least give the new police chief a week or two on the latest plans?)

By the way, Sun staff, our homicide rate is not “skyrocketing.” You can see here and here that our homicide rate is fairly steady, declining for the most part in the last few decades (as is the general trend across Canada). So, unless an increase of 0.4 homicides (per 100,000 people) in the most recent decade is a huge jump to you, things are not as terrifying as you may think.

Countering that claim like that I feel like a certain website that was set up to counter newsrooms’ fearmongering crime claims

Also, I prefer to call it a homicide rate, not murder rate, because not all of the deaths are going to result in murder charges (either 1st degree murder or 2nd degree murder) and some of them may result in no charges at all (self-defense, police shootings are two examples).

Alright, that’s enough media crime yammer, let’s see what else is going on in Edmonton. I don’t believe it’s just crime and death. (more…)


August 11 Edmonton Headlines

We sure are!

Good Thursday to you, Edmonton.

The police chief and mayor revealed a little more detail on where Edmonton is going in new crime-fighting and crime prevention programs. They’ll need help from the provincial government to fund some of the ideas. They could probably also use some help from the courts and parole systems to ensure the worst, and repeat, offenders don’t get out as often as they sometimes do. But crime prevention is really going to be the long-term key.

Among the items: more social workers and social assistance, more enforcement in high-risk neighbourhoods, trying to get tougher laws, or punishments, for knives and “edged weapons,” domestic violence awareness.

It all sounds good, but money and the actual projects and help will have to come through for anything to improve beyond our current state. (And, a reminder, we are currently seeing decreases in crime right across the country. Mack’s got a new look at some homicide numbers too.)

Just a quick, cynical, side note: If the mayor wants money, because that’s what help from the provincial government will be tied to, for programs both provincially and city-run, would he be willing to give up the downtown arena $100-million request? That kind of money could get a lot of people off the street, build-up mental health treatment, increase social assistance, and create crime prevention activities and programs.

A unanimous city council vote on a sports stadium? I guess that’s what happens when the city isn’t paying and the new stadium is privately financed.

Duncan Kinney has been crunching the numbers on Edmonton’s deal, because it doesn’t sound like anything is working or making lots of people happy with the current plan.

Arena-free from here on out (today anyway). (more…)


August 10 Edmonton Headlines

This was the scene Tuesday at 9pm. So bright!

While this column spins its way around the downtown arena quite a bit, municipalities do get the worst deal when it comes to taxes. Provincial governments, which have power over municipalities like Edmonton, should think about changing the tax rules to allow cities and towns to tax more than property.

Police want you to be on the lookout for an older Chevy Suburban after a shooting in south Mill Woods. The two guys shot are known to police and aren’t talking. No crime should go unpunished, and no crime is more important than another to the victims. But this kind of crime, a shooting that happened in public, is one that justifiably leaves people upset and scared.

We should hear more from the police chief today on new plans to take on violent crime, but the largest way to solve such problems lies outside of policing with social agencies, housing, mental health, and addictions treatment, community groups, and school and recreation resources.

Here’s a good example of a couple of guys who used sports to get university educations.

While there’s going to be a need to involve all kinds of other groups in keeping our city as safe as possible, police budgets are not going to get smaller in the near future.

Five years after a man was shot by Edmonton police the case is still in the courts in appeals and reviews.

Alright, that’s where we’re starting today, but next we’re heading to Whyte Avenue. (more…)


August 9 Edmonton Headlines

Our saviour.

Let’s start Tuesday with the good old downtown arena, shall we.

The Mayor says the City of Edmonton is negotiating a downtown arena deal in good faith and would hope the other side – the Katz Group and Oilers – is doing the same. The question arises after a story last week about Enoch as a possible back-up location for the Oilers. The Mayor also wonders what impact the Katz Group’s PR offer to MLAs will have on a request for $100-million in provincial government money.

Daryl Katz might need a few “No Men” around these arena planning meetings.

Also, wouldn’t it be funny, at least a little, if the City of Edmonton just said “You know what, enjoy Enoch.”

Come on, it would be hilarious.

Not hilarious: that “revitalizing downtown” almost always includes mega-projects.

*****

I threw in an update to Monday’s Headlines shortly after posting, but the update from the chief of the Edmonton Police Service yesterday was to wait for Wednesday.

But, any plan will need help from everyone. I’d also like to see more 24-hour (or at least 18 or-so hours) opportunities for libraries, school and after school programs, recreation, community centres, and things that can generally occupy kid and teen minds and time. That, more police on the streets (on the actual street, not another 3oo officers or anything), increased police, social worker, and mental health treatment in schools, greater resources for mental illness and addiction, and housing-first plans for the homeless and I think we’d be on track for a city everybody could agree on as safe.

But I fear we might just see more police hired.

Monday afternoon in south Mill Woods didn’t pass by quietly. A drive-by shooting, in the Knottwood portion of the neighbourhood, has put two young men in hospital. This is not a random shooting, and the victims aren’t sharing any details about who might have opened fire on them with police.

As an update to some talk we had yesterday on a crime blog, here’s Adam’s follow-up.

The man convicted of beating Edmonton bus driver Tom Bregg is looking to appeal his “dangerous offender” status. That status puts him in prison without a set release date. Though, one story says he’s filed that appeal and another says it’s just in the works. That means we’ll likely be waiting some time before this gets to the Alberta Court of Appeal.

It might take some time to wind through the courts, but it’s going to have to get to that before we know if Edmonton Police made the right call on releasing the name and photo of an HIV-positive 17-year-old, accused of not disclosing her status to sexual partners – which is a crime in Canada. But we will have to wait for the court case before knowing who is a victim of what and if there are changes to how police may act in a future case.

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It’s long, long overdue to try some late-night transit on Whyte Avenue, and Edmonton in general. A bit strange that Southgate becomes this cab drop-off. We should just run 6-12 bus routes through the overnight that allow people to be transported to other busy hubs and neighbourhoods. Will this just shift problems to Southgate where bus-loads of people try to get cabs? Why is the Edmonton Transit System so scared of all-night transit?

A fatal fire at an Old Strathcona senior’s home will push back others waiting to get into seniors housing.

Edmonton, and Canadian, soldiers continue to come home as the military mission in Afghanistan winds down.

The University of Alberta is offering a new certificate in aboriginal sport and recreation.


August 8 Edmonton Headlines

Well, that might be going a bit too far.

Hello Monday! And hello Edmonton.

Just to check: the Edmonton Oilers still play in Edmonton.

And the Katz Group wants to help with your PR, you know, if you need it or anything.

Forget the murder hype, we’re all safe. While that headline may be an oversimplification, it’s great to see at least one newsroom trying to challenge the scary, headline-grabbing homicide count. Now, if the same sentiment could seep off the editorial page and onto the front page – where we usually see the homicide and violent crime stories themselves – we’d really be onto a more balanced view of Edmonton.

The columns have come after Everybody in this city is armed?! was launched. So, keep up the pressure on newsrooms to dump the “If it bleeds, it leads” approach and talk to you like you know your own city. Which, we’re about to see in the next couple of stories, is still very much needed.

Stuff like saying “…rash of violent crimes in the city.” without including any stats or information on whether that’s true is what unnecessarily hurts the city’s image and leads to an ill-informed view of what’s going on and what may lead us to some solutions.

Or blaming crime on families with working parents and immigrants. That’s probably not helping any discussion on crime. Or football. Or whatever this iNews880 blog is about.

Balance those crime statements!

We should hear more on crime from the police chief today. (Update: He’s working on things.)

It’s Monday and we’re just getting this week going. More Edmonton news after the jump. (Which makes less sense if you’re reading this as a result of a direct link.) (more…)


August 5 Edmonton Headlines

Welcome to the end of our short August week, Edmonton.

Edmonton’s playing major catch-up on infrastructure – our roads, public buildings, LRT, etc… – some might even say we’ve got an infrasturcture debt that’s way past due. That’s an important factor to remember when talking about pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into a downtown arena, without any clear plans on all of the exciting, truly revitazling buildings and infrastructure that is supposed to go around the arena.

And, even then, it might not be the best way to spend all that money. Other cities don’t seem to be getting ahead after dumping money into a new arena or stadium. Is a downtown arena truly going to change our city, or is Edmonton simply following the lure of big promises and the fear of upsetting a fan base?

Speaking of the fan base…sounds like the Oilers would look for close-to-home options if the downtown arena plans fell through.

Good for iNews/CHED for trying to balance a story about how newsrooms should try and tell a more honest, full story about life in Edmonton and drop the “If it bleeds it leads.” approach. Wait, no, I take that back. They “balanced” it with a story full of sensational quotes that says nothing about whether crime reporting is accurate.

They did not try to counter the claims that our homicide rate is “unacceptable” and our city unsafe. Probably because there’s nothing as quotable in that. (More on this story below, in the PC leadership race.) Here’s your balance: crime is dropping in Edmonton, and across Canada, and Edmonton is experiencing a 2011 jump in homicides for unclear reasons.

That doesn’t take anything away from the victims of crime and their families. It might even help catalyze people into more action on crime prevention if crime stories made up a more representative portion of news coverage. Right now it’s so prevalent you’d think very little else goes on. That is indeed the perception that makes it into newscasts and newspapers outside of Edmonton.

It’s nice to see a Journal columnist saying we’re safe in Edmonton. That, however, doesn’t make the front page as homicides routinely do.

We should hear from the chief of the Edmonton Police Service next week with some new plans and approaches to crime in Edmonton.

I really thought I could end the week with a little less on crime reporting. Especially with downtown arena in the Headlines. Shows what I know. (more…)


August 4 Edmonton Headlines

Good morning, Edmonton. How’s about we start with scary crime again?

I want to write a little more about a new website launched Wednesday later, but suffice to say Edmonton newsrooms are still going to for easy quotes on murder and crime.

Councillor Kim Krushell is paraphrased (not directly quoted in the story) as blaming northern Alberta workers getting out of hand for some of our troubles. Why would the CBC then try and back that up with stats?

Premier candidate Gary Mar wants to be the next leader of the Alberta Progressive Conservatives so he can tackle our “unacceptable” murder rate. Don’t worry, the story doesn’t get into details about whether or not we have an unacceptable murder rate, or how this year fits into Edmonton’s annual crime patterns, it’s just a tough-on-crime line from a politician served up to keep the newswheel spinning.

The interesting thing about that 630CHED/iNews880 Gary Mar story this morning is that it follows a Wednesday afternoon story talking about this new push to have a better conversation about crime in Edmonton. It took all of 14 hours to run one story talking about how easy, sensational quotes and a lack of research in stories is more fearmongering than reporting, and jumping right back to the short “objective” piece that doesn’t challenge what anyone says about how scary and violent Edmonton is.

This is where objectivity is crap.

If the reporters, editors, producers, and everyone else involved in getting a story out to Edmontonians aren’t walking around absolutely terrified of being killed why do they let people talk about our city like it’s a horrible place to live? I know they aren’t doing it on purpose; there are deadlines, and the people quoted answer the phone right away. But the irony of running a story about how a new premier will clean up our streets hours after one calling for better, more researched, fair stories better not be lost on every “journalist” in Edmonton newsrooms. This isn’t about your audience misinterpreting your stories, this isn’t about one or two people that are always quoted, this is about how the stories are put together and presented. The Chief can come out and tell us we’re in a fairly safe city every day, but if newsrooms sensationalize our crime what’s the point?

It’s also interesting to note a line like this in a Sun editorial: “…Alberta’s capital city has recently become known more for its violence than anything else.” How does that happen without the newsrooms pumping out story after story about how violent it is? News coverage has about the largest role to play in how a city is viewed from the outside. I challenge Edmonton’s newsrooms to tell a more balanced Edmonton story.

Unless staff members of the newsrooms really are terrified to leave their house. Then I guess this is their story.

Sigh. I guess I’m just leaving my soapbox out all of the time now. (more…)


August 3 Edmonton Headlines

Some days you really aren't getting anywhere.

Good Wednesday to you, Edmonton. Yes, it’s already the middle of the week.

We were talking yesterday, and last week, and when annual crime statistics came out, about context in crime stories. Today there’s a story about a suspicious death investigation at a senior’s home fire in Old Strathcona. Some of the news stories are hinting at the fact police are looking at a suicide as the centre of the crime, which involves another’s death. This CBC story is a little more open about it.

While that wouldn’t make it anymore pleasant – it’s terrible to see people die and others forced out of their home by a fire – this little bit of context as to what might have happened helps people outside of the story know they’re safe. It’s that fear of random crime which is truly scary. And I think that’s where a lot of “tough on crime” talk comes from. Let’s put the context in EVERY crime story, not just as a smaller add-on somewhere else in the newspaper or newscast.

Unfortunately, in a lot of crime stories, without much detail as to what happened you can be left with a feeling that you’re in danger just being in Edmonton, or a certain neighbourhood. It shows how reporting right now (RIGHT NOW!) is fraught with the chances of fearmongering. Police have to be forthcoming with details, and they aren’t always. Sometimes, police are still investigating as newsrooms are working on their second, third, umpteenth version of the story.

We’re more likely to get details, information, and context, at a court case. But, by that point, people usually remember the first story or two about a crime as chosen by newsrooms (make no mistake, there’s no objectivity about selecting one crime over the dozens that happen each day). And, since not every newsroom has a constant presence at the courts, the initial stories usually get more play.

Working on a breaking news story for a day or more might be the best way newsrooms can get out information in a timely manner and avoid leaving any danger up to the imagination. It also means they have time to seek out good, reliable sources of information, challenge people who only seem to be trying to get into the news for a quote, be more careful with sidebar and spin-off stories, and truly be a part of the community they want to serve.

You don’t go around trying to frighten your friends and neighbours, nor would they talk to you a whole lot if you were vague about everything. Why do we allow our news coverage to be vague?

It’s time for you and me to ask newsrooms for a better level of crime coverage. We don’t need them to slap together a story, we need them to dig in and tell us why the stories are important, why the story matters, who and what is shaping our city. We need to demand a better discussion about crime in Edmonton.

Now, let’s see what’s happening in the rest of a pretty safe Edmonton. (more…)


Short Week Headlines

Click for more terrible front pages.

Good morning, Edmonton.

While we’re not trying to doom and gloom you, we are going to begin with homicides; stories that are most prevalent in Edmonton news right now.

Overall, Edmonton’s got 33 homicides on record in 2011. That’s the most of any city in Canada. Though, with stories like this and this from the Edmonton Sun you’d think we lived in a war zone. I doubt a death penalty would reduce one year’s higher than usual homicide rate. Let’s remember – ALL newsrooms - that our crime rate is down,down, down.

Also, I think I’ve mentioned this before in Headlines, but the Sun’s staffers should know that the highest penalty for murder in Canada is life in prison with no chance at parole for 25 years. Not 25 years and you’re out. We can also send people away as “dangerous offenders” in Canada, which means they do not have a release date at all. These tiny bits of information, usually added at the end of a story or an opinion piece, do have an impact on how people perceive crime and criminals.

After this weekend’s (and today’s) stories I am now officially pleading with Edmonton newsrooms to stop talking to criminologist Bill Pitt. “Everybody in this city is armed” sounds like the worst crime research ever.

There are connections to Edmonton’s Somali community within our high homicide rate, and within the homicide rate for the last number of years. Police continue to try and work with members of the community to solve the many murders and killings within this population. Though, the crimes reach right across Canada inside of Somali gangs. There are, of course, many Somali-Edmontonians willing to help police, and who want to see the city operate in a peaceful manner.

Detectives, and extra Edmonton Police officers brought in to help solve homicides, are busy. An excellent point made in this story that paramedics and medical staff likely help keep the homicide number down.

While police try to solve as many killings as they can, prevention of crime is going to be the key to keeping homicide rates down on a more permanent basis.

We might have started things off with homicide, though I do hope you don’t think I’ve switched to a “If it bleeds, it leads” approach with the Headlines. I mean, I don’t want to scare anyone into thinking Edmonton has a murder around every corner. It doesn’t.

Hopefully, by compiling a lot of the weekend stories (good ones, interesting ones, ones the Edmonton Sun had) we can have a fuller conversation about what’s going on in our city, and see the work of police, community groups, and individuals to bring killers to justice and keep things as safe as possible.

Now, just for criminologist Bill Pitt, let’s put away all of our knives and continue with the day’s stories. (more…)


July 19 Edmonton Headlines

No crazy-ass storms this morning. So, that’s a good thing.

The cost of a new downtown arena will be more than the $450-million pricetag currently tossed about. Of course, roads, sewers, LRT and transit connections (and lots of other stuff the City will have to build) were always going to be needed, it’s just more official now in a report back to Councillor Ed Gibbons. And with Northlands not ready to stop booking concerts and events things could get messy (and even more expensive). Maybe things will get so complicated billionaire Oilers owner Daryl Katz will just build the arena himself.

What? It’s possible…

I’m not sure I buy the headline on this story that members of Edmonton’s Somali community are fleeing the city but it is a group that’s seeing constant homicides, mostly due to drug and gang connections of younger Somali men.

There won’t be a Weekend to End Breast Cancer in Edmonton. Also, how did it cost $2.1-million to feed under 800 people, staff medical tents and run a website. Did the website cost $1.2-million?

Edmonton’s Ronald McDonald House is looking to expand. Again.

A giant apartment fire last week started because of bed bug extermination.

*****

Canada’s energy ministers are meeting in Alberta, talking about a national energy plan. Oh, oil companies are sponsoring a big portion of the conference, so I’m sure the environment will be on that agenda somewhere.

Speaking of energy companies running the show…the Premier’s promise to keep bitumen upgrading jobs in Alberta meant nothing

It was so hot in Alberta yesterday…that we set a new power record.

Watch out for ticks.

*****

West Edmonton Mall’s got some renovations going on, and will be adding more U.S. stores.

If we get out of this rainy weather, there’s a new place for you to go swimming in the river valley.


July 18 Edmonton Headlines

It was all bright lights and stormy skies and then, boom, blue sky and sun.

Good morning, Edmonton. Were you awake early enough to catch that freaky-sky storm this morning?

The construction on 99 Street is a mess. Neighbours wanted to be consulted. Urban planning wasn’t so much a part of the project as basic transportation fixes. (A bias note: I’m on the Strathcona Centre Community League and we are also not pleased about how the City of Edmonton handled any of this.) It’s a disappointment when considering that major projects such as the 99 Street and Scona Road work will not be revisited for decades.

Speaking of poor planning…sounds like councillors forgot about getting the City to lead development in the northeast. It’s an important piece of Edmonton’s land plans, since it could be key agricultural land for years to come.

Northlands doesn’t want to sign a non-compete clause over the downtown arena. Shocking. So, neither the provincial nor federal governments want to put in $100-million for a new Edmonton arena, and Northlands doesn’t want to give up Rexall Place. This could not be going better.

Edmonton’s 29th homicide of the year is the fourth of a Somali man.

Police, medical examiners, and Crown prosecutors are all busy with Edmonton’s murders and killings this year.

Speaking of medical examiners…the outgoing Chief Medical Examiner is Graeme Dowling

The Edmonton Police Service is looking at getting new cars. Mostly because Ford isn’t going to make Crown Victorias anymore and that’s what currently makes up the cruiser fleet.

Feels like there are a lot of missing persons cases this summer…and social media is a big part of the latest

*****

More than half of the people who come to Canada each year don’t get to stay. Alberta’s Employment and Immigration Minister wants to see more temporary foreign workers actually stay here as immigrants (and bring their families).

Oil and gas drilling stimulus might have been a terrible idea. But it will take an audit of the government programs to really figure it out.

If the governing Tories can get out of deficit (basically, if oil and gas prices rise more) they’ll be looking to increase travel budgets.

On healthcare…more nurses are being hired!

Health Link made a sexy mistake. Also, people still use phone books.

Slave Lake fire victims are getting some Alberta government-built temporary homes.

Six candidates came up with $40,000 and are running to be the next Premier of Alberta.

On education…the candidates are coming out swinging against, well, against their own governing party. It’s so weird when one party has been in power so long and leadership candidates have to differentiate themselves from themselves.

In other political news, the Alberta Party is setting up headquarters on Alberta Avenue. That seems very fitting.

*****

And St. Albert is hosting the Alberta Indigineous Games this week.


July 14 Edmonton Headlines

It’s a busy news day, with plenty of big stories in Edmonton, so let’s get this going.

Developers don’t like “The Way We Green” – the City of Edmonton’s environmental plan. Suburban development would actually carry its full cost? We’d be more like San Francisco? Geez, why WOULDN’T we do this?!

Over in Alberta Venture, Preston Manning is arguing that business needs to think more about the environment.

The Premier (still Ed Stelmach at this time) says the provincial government won’t be putting direct money into Edmonton’s downtown arena. There might be some infrastructure money though. I would take that to mean helping with LRT, sewers, and roads. If Gary Mar becomes the next Progressive Conservative there also won’t be money for the arena’s construction. And the federal government already turned down the opportunity to put $100-million into a new home for the Oilers.

Speaking of starchitecture…the Bank of Montreal building at Jasper and 101 Street is indeed going to be demolished. The City’s planning department issued demolition permits to the new owners, which caught the heritage department off-guard. A campaign sprung up to save the 48-year-old building, but it will soon be a parkade. Yes, a parkade.

If the building had been 50-years-old it could have been protected as historic. So, the City probably needs to better communicate between departments and loosen the 50-year rule. (They also need to toughen up the penalties for owners who let buildings waste away.) If not, we will become a temporary city which continually replaces anything of note or worth. (Probably with more of those great beige buildings we have so many of downtown.)

Do we have to make everyone in the planning department watch our “history” episode to learn that old stuff can be cool?

Speaking of knocking down buildings

Alright, more news coming right up. (Told you there was lots today.) (more…)


Two Years of Edmonton Headlines

Stick around and we'll play some tunes.

Good Wednesday to you, Edmonton. Today marks two years of these here Headlines. How’s it going to for you, still digging them?

Since we first started I’ve tweaked one or two things, including moving away from slotting in the stories under the newsrooms they’re from, and zinging the newsrooms all of the time. Now I try to just zing the newsmakers and stories.

Thoughts, comments, and requests are always welcome.

Now, on with the news!

Will we have two Walterdale Bridges? Could the old one (the current, green one) become a hub of food and shops for people crossing the river and enjoying a built-up Rossdale neighbourhood once the EPCOR building is gone? Sounds neat, but the timelines might not match up.

We do have a new food spot in the river valley though, in Louise McKinney Park.

OK…the Mayor was talking about making it easier to move to the suburbs, and now he wants to get rid of traffic lights so he can get around in his car without having to be driven “nuts.” What’s up with all this?

You might have noticed a lot of black smoke over the downtown yesterday afternoon. There was a big apartment fire that sent four residents and two firefighters to hospital.

The University of Alberta’s leading the way with its National Institute for Nanotechnology.

*****

We were talking yesterday about the need to turn away from gangs and criminals, report them to police when they break the law or kill someone, and an elder on the Samson Cree First Nation is saying just that in Hobbema. He’s saying it because a child was shot dead while sleeping inside a home. People may fear retaliation, but the larger the problem gets, the longer things go on without killers going to prison, the larger the risk of dying while doing nothing.

Edmonton also had a man killed this year who was not the intended target.

I’d still call triathlete Paula Findlay’s MRI a healthcare queue jump. Sure, it’s nice she’s a sports star and chose to have it done in the public healthcare system, but if she could have gotten “an immediate MRI scan if she had gone to an emergency room…” she should have gone to an emergency room.

Perhaps an answer here is to ensure athletes, professional and amateur have a line to healthcare since it’s part of their job. In terms of amateur athletes, maybe representatives on provincial or national teams and levels could land that pseudo-workers’ comp.

It has been a tough year in Alberta for disasters. Central Alberta is now flooded (there’s flooding in northern Alberta too, and fires).

*****

If you’re looking for patios (you know, when the sun eventually returns) Edmonton’s got three new ones – at three restaurants I quite enjoy.


July 12 Edmonton Headlines

Hello Edmonton!

Speed on green cameras are back! Govern your driving accordingly. (And this will likely help balance the police and City budgets because we all know you’re going to get caught speeding.)

It’s raining and raining but the last decade was still too dry, and we lost plenty of trees.

As the war in Afghanistan, or, rather, the Canadian military’s fighting role in Afghanistan, comes to a close, there will be plenty of looks back at what was accomplished. Edmonton’s military base certainly played a central role since the first invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

The observatory at the University of Alberta has a permanent home. Though, I’m sure they’ve heard that one before.

If you notice a guy sitting outside of SUB at the University of Alberta campus it’s because he’s on a hunger strike, looking to get a PhD supervisor.

A very public killing has resulted in a teen getting the maximum youth sentence for second degree murder. That’s seven years, with four in custody and three under community supervision. Meanwhile…in adult court…a Sherwood Park woman gets five years in prison for driving drunk and killing two people – one in her car and one in an oncoming vehicle.

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Triathlete Paula Findlay got an MRI right away for her sore hip. The head of diagnostic imaging in Edmonton says anybody with a potential injury on load-bearing joints can get one right away to avoid bone breaks. But, when you throw in the fact 450 people are waiting to get an MRI each week, and Findlay’s father is a doctor who helped get the medical scan set up it does raise some questions about healthcare wait times and queues.

Speaking of diagnostic imaging…there’s a new cardiac MRI at the Mazankowski Heart Institute… Paula Findlay has already given it a whirl. (I’m kidding!)

Alberta’s Persons with Developmental Disabilities program (or PDD) is under scrutiny after the Journal discovered a man’s violent tendencies were never disclosed to the agency providing his care in Camrose. He is alleged to have killed his caregiver – though he found mentally unfit to stand trial.

South of the city, the Chief of the Samson Cree First Nation at Hobbema lost his five-year-old grandson in a shooting. The boy was just sleeping in his bed. For years, Hobbema has been plagued by violent gangs – and this is not the first child hit by a bullet while inside a home – and this comes as RCMP report they were making progress. Just like Edmonton’s Somali community (among others) needs to turn its back on gangs and realize there’s as much risk reporting criminals as not, Hobbema residents who want to live in peace need to keep up the struggle.

RCMP in Vegreville are cleared after shooting a man dead, and the judge in the inquiry is making no suggestions for similar situations in the future.

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Internet rates are up for debate with the CRTC. This is the follow-up to the CRTC’s decision to allow the big Internet companies to all but wipe-out unlimited Internet plans from smaller companies.

Wow. Most of the news today is a real downer.


July 8 Edmonton Headlines

This rain is actually a nice prelude to our series final on ShawTV Sunday. You'll see.

What a turn of weather in Alberta! We’ve got rain here in Edmonton, but there are tornados and even heavier rain in other parts of the province. Let’s hope for a little sun to break through this weekend.

The mayor and police chief sat down to talk about homicides in our city. I’m not sure more police officers will stop most killings. In fact, I’m really sure more police officers won’t. But that will likely be the political fix to this. That and something to do with knives.

Mack’s got a good look at some of the stats behind our murders, including the fact we likely won’t set all-time Canadian records, and whether we’re actually talking about homicide more than usual.

If the old Walterdale Bridge may not stick around I’d like to see parts of it incorporated into the new bridge or Rossdale development. It also better mean those pedestrian and bike lanes open up nicely on the new Walterdale.

It seems public pressure to save the old Bank of Montreal building on Jasper Avenue is opening up options at City Hall.

The old Telus building at 104 and 104 should be an Edmonton neon sign museum by the end of this year.

Meet the new boss – at CFB Edmonton.

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You can now check out, online, whether provincially accredited child care programs are meeting standards. Or, I suppose, if they are even provincially accredited.

Yes, after workplace inspection after inspection finds multiple safety violations it is time for the provincial government to take further steps. I think it’s beyond the point in figuring out if some new rules or penalties are required; they are.

The Alberta government wants more help to fight off mountain pine beetles, which did pretty well through the winter thank you very much.

Who said this: “I actually lived without a car for quite a while and I enjoyed it.” Would you believe a Progressive Conservative leadership candidate?!

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Canada Post is dealing with a backlog of 40-million pieces of mail, the poor dears. Glad we got a pile of junk mail like two days after the lockout ended. Priorities!

Will we soon be picking up a bag of (U of A created) chickpea chips?


July 6 Edmonton Headlines

Who ya gonna call?

Welcome to the middle of the week, Edmonton. How’s your hump?

Edmonton’s Somali community appears to be turning within, including launching a new series of posters, to try and solve the many murders that have hit them. We’re probably going to need more crime prevention than just posters though; perhaps libraries and youth centres could stay open way, way longer.

Maybe around here it would be like Whyte Avenue but with better access.” Umm, access is pretty darn good for folks who live in walkable neighbourhoods. Walkable shopping is a mall.

Our pals over at the Edmonton Flag Football Association played for a world record and raised more than $10,000 for the Stollery Children’s Hospital. All in all, a pretty good long weekend for that crew.

If you run a small business, the City is looking for the greenest of them all.

The artistic director of Edmonton Opera has resigned after nine years at the helm.

Edmonton composer Malcolm Forsyth has died.

An Edmonton landlord is not allowed to file any more lawsuits, without some permission from a judge.

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The Alberta government is being told to set up an independent oilsands monitoring panel, to watch over the pollution created by the industry. Your move, long-standing, terrible budgeting, energy-dependent Tory government, your move.

Speaking of provincial budgeting…the Sun wants to know where the Royal Alberta Museum debate is

A workplace inspection blitz on places likely to have a lot of younger workers, like food courts, found many safety violations. None were serious enough to shut down the businesses. One thing I find interesting about the many workplace inspection stories this year, they almost always have more violations than inspections, meaning multiple violations and hazards at a bunch of them.

Leadership candidates are being pressured to bring in harsher smoking laws. On the campaign…the head of the Alberta Medical Association is being asked to resign, or get turfed, by former Conservative MLA, Liberal leadership candidate, and doctor Raj Sherman.

The Slave Lake fire is now Canada’s second most expensive disaster, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, behind only the Quebec and eastern Ontario ice storm of 1998. Oh, and while we’re mentioning Slave Lake, the royal couple is headed there. (I guess we couldn’t make it through their trip to Canada without a mention after all.)

The southern Alberta zoo lots of people are hating on is back open while court processes drag out. I guess this means the owner didn’t kill and stuff the animals just yet.

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Canada’s military role in Afghanistan is over. There are still soldiers over there, and they will remain so in mostly training capacities, but the fighting is now up to other countries.

Statistics Canada reports most of Canada’s eligible voters who didn’t vote in the last election were too busy or didn’t feel like voting. That just makes me sad. While political parties all try to figure out how to engage with youth, and more voters in general, I think it’s also time for news and information providers to think about dropping some of their “objectivity” and also find ways to engage voters.


June 27 Edmonton Headlines

Click on the photo for a better look at what people want to see at this old gas station site.

Hello, Edmonton!

Police are meeting with people from the central neighbourhoods which have seen the majority of homicides this year.

The Edmonton Transit System will not be installing safety shields on buses, to ensure drivers have interactions with passengers. Trust me, the customer service of some of those drivers doesn’t need a shield to be hindered. The idea for the shields came after driver Tom Bregg was beaten. I hope ETS will keep looking at safety options.

Edmonton needs more flexibility when it comes to dealing with older buildings, and their owners. The Bank of Montreal building on Jasper, at 101 Street, is slated to be demolished. If the previous owners had been forced to take better care of an aging building, maybe the new owners wouldn’t be readying the wrecking ball. And maybe we can accept a 48-year-old building that has some personality instead of holding fast to the 50-year rule for historical designation.

Speaking of owners who could do a better job…could there really be hope for the abandoned gas station at 105 Street and Whyte Avenue? Really?!

Can you believe there’s still lots to get to? Believe it! (more…)


June 23 Edmonton Headlines

Hey, you, uh, got $50-million the City of Edmonton can have, to keep the 2012 tax hike at 4.5%? There may be a cut or two (or three) if more money isn’t found. I know you have it in coffee cans buried in the yard!

Meanwhile…the City announced $56-million to get the east Jasper redevelopment moving along

And there will be a new statue in, or around, Churchill Square.

If I’m reading this story on the downtown arena correctly, Councillor Ed Gibbons will meet with the City Manager to ask a list of questions but that meeting would happen outside of a public meeting. Weird. (Or I’ve got it wrong.)

The chair of the Edmonton Public School Board wants longer-term funding from the provincial government, to allow a little more stability in school board budgeting.

TELUS is putting in $20-million worth of work into one of its two towers on 100 Street, and also a bit of green space right beside the plaza.

100 years of flight in Edmonton, the City Centre Airport, and aviation are being talked about and celebrated this week.

Speaking of the City Centre Airport…we know who will be designing a neighbourhood planned to take over the land. The Charrette has a further look at the design plans.

As soon as I saw that police had made an arrest in a Whyte Avenue stabbing my brain started to try and guess at the story. There hadn’t been any homicides recently. Could it be the Dylan McGillis killing from four-and-a-half years ago? A homicide I covered when still working the daily news beat? Yes! Edmonton police have made a long-awaited, long sought-after arrest.

The homicide was among the violence that sparked some change on Whyte to try and attract more live music, more street life (and not just drunk people eating pizza street life), and campaigns to enjoy a night out without violence.

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There are more nurses being hired in Alberta, but a lot of them aren’t working full-time. This is, essentially, a good news story though.

The Alberta government is spending some money educating you about carbon capture and storage. Whether we’ll ever end up building the systems to trap carbon emissions underground is another story.

Canada’s western premiers are talking disasters and disaster funding. Our premier (still Ed Stelmach until fall, when Progressive Conservatives choose a new one) wants more foreign workers, and to get them here faster.

Speaking of leadership races…Bill Harvey is running to lead the Alberta Liberals. I know…NOW you’re excited about that race.

Alberta author Robert Kroetsch died in a car crash this week, and is being remembered for his literary contributions to Alberta, Edmonton, and Canada.

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Oh, that pesky Senate.

Canada’s approach to asbestos is very “do as I say not as I do” since we won’t be doing a whole with the known cancer-causer but will gladly export it. I guess The Daily Show cares more than our federal government.


Rainy Rain, Rain Headlines

This puddle will be large enough to swim in by the end of the day.

Well, it’s sure not dry around here anymore.

But, after a few days of (seemingly) non-stop rain, it is staring to affect some lower-lying areas of Edmonton, and puddling up on other roads.

There are so many options on how to keep older schools open, even if they aren’t 100% used for schooling, as we try to fill-in our oldest neighbourhoods. One key will be the City of Edmonton, school boards, and Government of Alberta actually getting together to plan things out.

Our city’s 26th homicide of the year has the mayor trying to figure out how to keep people from killing each other.

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Alberta’s political parties are spending lots of money, but we don’t know what it’s going to. I bet it’s really good cheeses.

The Progressive Conservative leadership race, to be Alberta’s next unelected premier (you get a few of those in dynasty governments) is officially on. Edmonton will host one of the leadership debates.

You’re looking at an auto insurance hike this year. The final numbers won’t kick in until November.

U.S. and European organizations want an independent group to oversee the new oilsands land use plan.

Former Alberta premier Ralph Klein made an appearance at the opening of a park named in his honour.

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The federal government’s cabinet ministers have new powers today allowing them them to pull unsafe items off store shelves.

Canada Post isn’t back to delivering regular mail, but people waiting on government cheques should get those.

Canada’s western and northern premiers are meeting this week. Disaster planning and assistance, and selling to Asian markets, look to be on the agenda.

Paula Findlay is unstoppable. (Keep your Denzel jokes to yourself, Gregg and Sally.)

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I’m going to throw my two cents at Quebecor CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau. He thinks the CRTC needs to regulate Netflix and YouTube to keep Canadians watching Canadian programs (and, I presume, American programs the big networks have spent so much money on). I think he, and all the media companies, need to produce Canadian programs to keep Canadians watching. Crazy, I know. Spend billions of dollars on homegrown productions, instead of Hollywood programming I can always watch on an American channel or online, and you basically force me to watch Canadian TV shows.


June 17 Edmonton Headlines

Yeah, this is what I’d call a Friday.

Edmonton’s City Centre Airport redevelopment should take a big step forward with the selection of the design firm which will plan the new neighbourhood. (City councillors couldn’t decide the last time this was before them, so let’s wait and see if they really can make the call next week.)

LRT planning continues, and City staff will be asking for money to buy land to lay down the new tracks. Meanwhile…on the current LRT line…yes, yes, yes! get some businesses into the stations.

Members of Edmonton’s Somali community say the Edmonton Police Service should hire some Somali-Edmontonians to help solve the many murders involving young men in their neighbourhoods. Speaking homicide…half of Edmonton high number of 2011 killings have been solved by police. Speaking of police…they’ll be training officers to better deal with drunk people in the downtown.

Sewer and water fees, your sewer and water fees, are likely to jump way up.

There won’t be a “Big Garbage Pick-Up” day anytime soon. Speaking of garbage…how much “junk” can you have in your yard before neighbours ask the City to ask you to clean it up.

The University of Alberta’s, allegedly, plagiarizing medical dean is stepping down from the position, and will have a four month leave of absence before he likely returns to the school in a teaching position.

Edmonton’s BioWare has been hacked.

Check out this crazy moth found around Edmonton.

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Will Alberta be one of the first places to slap a pricetag on water?

Some doctors are trying to make it easier for immigrants and people who don’t speak English or French to navigate the healthcare system, while others are trying to lower your expectations (they can’t all be Dr. House).

After earlier confirming that missing woman Rene Gunning, last seen at West Edmonton Mall, had been found dead in northwestern Alberta, the medical examiner is now confirming the remains found close by were that of Gunning’s companion, Krystle Knott. Project KARE, a police task force investing the death and disappearance of people in high-risk lifestyles (drugs, prostitution, hitchhiking) is on this case.

How does Alberta private liquor industry stack up against government-owned B.C. and Ontario? Why isn’t anyone else privatizing?

CN’s going to be riding more rails in Alberta.

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The Vancouver riot “kissing couple” have been identified.

And finally, a former Canadian Sentator is off to jail.


Mid-June Headlines

Caught The Absurd Heroes, and others, at Wunderbar last night. Wunderbar is the place to be.

Good morning, and welcome to the halfway point of the halfway month.

Teacher and staff cuts are looming at both of Edmonton’s school boards. The Edmonton Catholic School District has 180 jobs on the block for the 2011-2012 school year, while the Edmonton Public School Board’s proposed cuts include more than 300 positions.

Edmonton’s new police chief is adding officers to the homicide unit – a move no chief would want to make. He also seems to understand that police-public relationships and prevention are keys to improving the crime rate. It’s just, right now, Edmonton has the highest homicide rate in Canada. :(

The Yellowhead is going to become a freeway. In 30 years. So, to speed that up, one councillor thinks the Alberta government should take over the road.

Victims of domestic violence are being remembered and honoured with an Edmonton street named for them and their plight.

If you’re walking down 108 Street and feel like there are fewer trees, you’re not crazy.

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The interesting thing, to me, in this story about Alberta’s lowest wage earners, is that a lot of them aren’t teenagers working at fast food places.

The Alberta government wants you to get some exercise. They could start setting the example by using their own pedway route to get in shape.

Our province is also trying to deal with higher rates of sexually transmitted infections.

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Canada Post’s rotating strike has become a full-out shutdown as the crown corporation has locked-out workers. As soon as one of the courier companies starts offering letter mail at a cheap price Canada Post is toast. The strike was already affecting charities that depend on mailed-in donations.

Meanwhile…Air Canada’s service staff strike may be over soon, if the federal government steps in.

Poverty as urgent as SARS. While SARS may already be a dated term, that headline calls a lot of attention to what needs to be done about our poorest.

The case of the missing front lawn has been solved.

Transit rodeo, eh?

Hey, anybody seen our ammonia silver nitrate?


June 13 Edmonton Headlines

Good Monday morning to you, Edmonton.

Calgary’s mayor wants to team up with Edmonton’s Stephen Mandel to push for more power for Alberta’s largest cities, perhaps even landing a “charter” which would give Edmonton and Calgary more taxing powers. Naheed Nenshi thinks the perfect time to do this is this summer, during the Progressive Conservative leadership race.

Edmonton is being told to not close older schools but make them multi-use facilities, in an effort to maintain life in mature neighbourhoods.

I don’t agree that trying to keep older schools open is a bad fiscal move by the Edmonton Public School Board. Building more schools in the suburbs simply because people are going there now doesn’t make sense as the City tries to reign in sprawl. The Provincial government, City of Edmonton, and EPSB need to sit down and figure out where things are going in the next few decades, because otherwise they’ll all keep making plans that contradict each other.

Staff and parents of a Christian education program that operates within a half-dozen Edmonton Public School Board schools are concerned about a new policy which aims to include gay and sexual minority students, and crack down on bullies.

The “Highway of Tears,” a stretch of road in northwestern Alberta and into British Columbia, is again the focus of calls for more police investigation. A woman last seen at West Edmonton Mall has been identified after remains were found, and her friend may yet be identified as dead as well. The area has been the site of many disappearances and missing persons.

Today’s a Monday, and that usually means more than a few stories to catch up on after the weekend. More after the jump. (more…)


Edmonton Headlines for June 10

We made it through the first full week of June Edmonton. That deserves a weekend.

The Yellowhead may yet become a free-flowing highway across north Edmonton.

Speaking of city roads…the City of Edmonton’s auditor says road projects need better planning, defined goals, realistic timelines, and better cost estimates. So, basically everything needs to be done better.

Edmonton doesn’t want to end up like Detroit. Or something.

Edmonton Police are saying what appeared to be an organized hit didn’t target the right person, and now an innocent man is dead.

After 40 years of crimes, an Edmonton man has been declared a “long-term offender” and will spend the next 18 years in prison and under police supervision.

A six-year-old missing person case is half-solved, after the discovery of skulls in northern Alberta.

Students in Edmonton’s public schools will not be able to blame Wi-Fi for sick days.

Next Thursday there’s a bedbug information night. Here are a few tips to fight them off right now.

University of Alberta doctors are trying to keep asthma patients out of emergency rooms.

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Looks like all the denying of healthcare queue jumping from the provincial PC government may be due to not reading reports. A 2010 file says people jump ahead of others for medical treatment. Now, all that would remain, would probably be a big healthcare inquiry that can put a little detail to this claim, and figure out how to improve emergency rooms and other troubled areas of medicine.

We’re not paying enough in provincial taxes in Alberta.

Students graduating from the U of A’s education faculty this week might not have a great summer, waiting to see how many jobs will be cut around the province, and how many new positions there may be available.

Testing of ash in burned-out Slave Lake isn’t showing any risks to human health. Also in Slave Lake, the mayor is looking at finding places to live for those who no longer have homes.

Former game show host Bob Barker is back in the Alberta news. But he’s leaving Lucy alone this time.

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Canada is at the lowest unemployment rate in two years. So that’s got to be good news.

We love the Apple store here in Edmonton.