It’s almost always funny, in a sad kind of way, that when governments announce they are going to tackle a problem or get tough on something, it’s a problem that’s had previous attempts to do just that. Edmonton’s recent worries over violent crime is just one of those issues. So, hopefully this is the time everyone follows through on plans and recommendations.
Meanwhile…Edmonton Police are teaming up with other agencies for a new kind of patrol…an action team!
On the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, an Edmonton firefighter who went to New York with the Red Cross is trying to remember the triumph of the human spirit he saw in the days after the Word Trade Centre towers fell.
The City of Edmonton is trying to entice filmmakers to shoot here. Though, not with a grant or tax break, or deals if they are locals or use local crews. I don’t think it’s a great idea to move $5-million from the financial stabilization fund when you’re running a deficit.
“Are people supposed to park on the next block? It’s insanity.” Really? Parking one block away is the end of the world?
It’s nice to see that taking the LRT is such a good option that you can’t get a parking spot at Century Park station. More transit please!
An Old Strathcona parking lot looks to lose just over half of its parking spots. Tie that into some transit tweaks, including bus lanes on 99 Street, and I think you’d be just fine.
Is Edmonton forgetting its fallen soldiers? Or is this weekend, the anniversary of the 9-11 attacks on the U.S. just taking people to other events?
Guys, I keep telling you, if we’re going to talk about important issues our government department is working on you send the e-mails to JordanFan789@hotmail.com.
In the “Does not bode well for the future of the oilsands” category; Nobel Peace Prize winners are lining up in protest of the Keystone XL pipeline which would take oil from Alberta to the Texas coast.
If you want more, and stable, funding for education in Alberta, the opposition Liberals and NDP have ways for you to voice that opinion.
Meanwhile…in the crowded classrooms…more students enrolled in Edmonton schools, which means both the Public and Catholic boards can hire a few extra teachers…
Alberta is going to offer more surgeries to obese people to combat the many health problems associated with being so overweight. Also, some more food and exercise education in schools.
A judge in Calgary says the war on drugs is one that cannot be won, so our best hope is to keep casualties to a minimum.
While smoking is down across the country, more Albertans are taking up the habit, especially teens.
(And FC Edmonton is headed to the playoffs in their first year.)
Jaywalkers better (not) step right off. The Edmonton Police Service is cracking down on jaywalkers. Glad to see they are targeting drivers who could could hit pedestrians crossing legally, in the same campaign.
Oh, they’re not. Damn, dirty pedestrians! (I recognize that schools are nearby some areas in this campaign, but I’m going somewhere with my anti-car attitude.)
“But a number of councillors say it’s not fair to people who live near bus routes and usually park there.” Can we make a deal? No parking ban on bus routes during winter if bus drivers are allowed to push stopped cars out of bus stops.
Wow. I am really seeing why Edmonton’s got such an image as a car-city. Our municipal government seems to encourage it while discouraging taking the bus or walking around.
Speaking of transit…one person is believed to have cost the ETS $29,000 by selling counterfeit bus passes. I will not make a joke about how this will cause another hike in transit fares.
Good Friday to you, Edmonton. Ready for the long weekend?
The City released a short update on what City Council did this week. The three and four paragraph stories are great for you and me to get a glimpse at what our elected officials are talking about, and it’s bad news for newsrooms that put out the same length, or shorter stories.
That Council Roundup is an example of media and public relations skipping the middleman of newsrooms. There are a few in Edmonton (and every city) that write very little on City Hall. When they write very little they are often doing no more than what we see from the City itself in this Roundup; a few quick notes on what was on the agenda and what happened. Newsrooms are going to have to add some depth and perspective to their stories or risk people skipping them and just checking on the official Roundup.
I like the gusto of outgoing Premier Ed Stelmach. He says his Conservative caucus is willing to give Edmonton money for a downtown arena, but it’s a decision that he won’t have to give final approval to. Well played.
Speaking of Stelmach…capital region municipalities want to build a better integrated transit system and he doesn’t think that’s a good idea. I take back my kudos. There’s also a consideration for an outer ring road for Calgary?! Geez. I hope Alison Redford or Doug Horner become the next premier and move on some highs-speed rail.
Calgary prosecutors will look at whether a trio of Edmonton police officers went too far during the arrest of an Edmonton shop owner. His own store’s surveillance video will be part of the evidence they can look at.
Surely the irony of attacking the Edmonton salon which produced a domestic violence ad is lost on the vandals. If you want to do something productive to show you don’t think domestic violence is a good way to sell a business, boycott the place or donate to the Bad Ad Fund.
We’ll probably be paying more for water, but it’s not clear if that will be on tax bills or EPCOR bills. Meanwhile…at EPCOR Tower…that utility is already going to try to boost fees for sewer and and drinking water. Of course, they are mulling the decision.
Minimum wage went up with the new month. And it really is a minimum (even more so for those in jobs serving alcohol).
Lloyd Robertson anchored his last national newscast last evening.
Good morning Edmonton. I’ve got to say, I’m totally into this summer weather we’ve been having lately. It feels so good.
You know, you’d think people creating ads would take some time to think about what they were doing. But, I guess, some businesses still have to learn about social media the hard way. And by “hard way” I mean doing something that’s not all that thought out and being lambasted by people far and wide.
Hey, advertising doesn’t always work. Sometimes things get lost in translation or execution; that’s totally fair. And if something falls flat, or offends, you can apologize and explain that it wasn’t your intention. Then everyone can move on.
But then, you get businesses like Fluid Salon, which doesn’t really apologize, blames the rest of us for not “getting” their “art” and not doing enough to end domestic violence (again, you and me, not them) and you can’t help but wonder what is going on…
Also, I don’t think I saw the “media” talking about boycotting your salon so much as regular people.
Sidenote: This is a good example of news and objectivity. Newsrooms are covering the story, but their headlines offer items like “a campaign for a local hair salon is raising eyebrows” and “ad being called ‘disgusting.'” That leaves a lot of room to say glorifying domestic violence might not offend everyone, or shouldn’t. By way of clarifying that point I offer a fake headline of “Certain neighbours don’t like new condo plan” which is a totally acceptable place for objectivity because it’s going to be a subjective decision-making process.
If newsrooms, and the humans working in them, expressed that this was unacceptable (which I think they’re doing by non-objectively choosing to cover the story) they’d be saying to the audience that they are a part of the community and want the best for Edmonton. That’s not to say you can’t get the salon owner’s take on the ads and issue.
A couple of journalists did express actual human emotions about the ads on Twitter (and in opiniony places like blogs), but we need to see that become part of news coverage. Your audience knows you’re humans, knows you have reactions and emotions, and it’s ok to show that. It might even make stories better. Leaving room for people who might welcome domestic violence in ads, or who don’t think the moon landing happened, doesn’t make you fair and balanced, it lets down your audience.
Balancing that journalism criticism, is this story from Fish Griwkowsky in the Journal. He’s writing about local filmmaker Trevor Anderson and it says at the end of the story that the two know each other and work together. That doesn’t make the story about Anderson’s new movie any less interesting. More of this please!
I promise to keep the journalism discussions at a minimum in the rest of today’s Headlines. (more…)
There’s a double-edged effect to revitalizing a business zone. Owners can charge more for rent and smaller, local, business can’t always afford to rent, and you get left with chain stores that sap the area of character. Building and property owners need to take more responsibility if they want to be part of character neighbourhoods, heritage districts, and promote local industries.
When if the downtown arena gets built I wonder what the spin-off costs to the City of Edmonton (and you and me as taxpayers) might be with Rexall Place and Northlands. There are costs there that are not part of the proposed $450-million arena pricetag.
Speaking of the downtown arena…it’s kind of tied into the entire downtown plan now. So, I guess, you either like the downtown arena getting a bunch of government cash or you hate downtown Edmonton.
Edmonton’s got the shortest commute (by a few minutes) in Canada’s largest cities. Startling: 85% of drivers have never stepped on a bus, streetcar, or train to get to work. That seems an almost impossible number to believe. People taking transit to work are riding buses and the like for about 44 minutes, compared to the Edmonton drive time of 23 minutes. BUT! Drivers are far more cranky about their commute.
Speaking of commuting to work…It was not your imagination, the Whitemud was worse than usual Wednesday morning.
Now that you’ve commuted to your office, let’s keep going. (more…)
Welcome back from the weekend, Edmonton. From the absolute craziness of my neighbourhood I trust you were at the Fringe.
Now, I wasn’t a huge fan of the shuttle from Whyte, through the university, to Southgate, but it was going to be a start for overnight transit. With this delay the City of Edmonton and Edmonton Transit System just needs to stop screwing around and offer 6-10 bus routes that run between 1am and 6am.
You run current routes like the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, and LRT – routes that cross large portions of the city – with security along for the ride and you offer drinkers an option to get home safe, students more options at evening or before-class work, sleepy shift workers a chance to ride the bus, and actually become a world-class city. I do not accept the idea this would cost outrageous amounts of money.
Coming up…things I would spend outrageous amounts of money on. (Or just more news.) (more…)
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.
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.
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.
Hey, anybody seen our ammonia silver nitrate?
The odd 9:30pm news conference caught you off guard? The vote behind closed-doors feels a little off? The fact nothing really changed from the last, seemingly tentative, steps forward, leaving construction costs $100-million short doesn’t sound like sound city planning?
I believe that is anti-Oiler, Anti-Edmonton talk.
(I do recognize the deal uses terms like “framework” and “agreement in principle” but come on…)
On the plus-side, one can hope the City sticks to its guns and doesn’t move forward without making up the $100-million in missing money. Right now that is tied into asking the federal and provincial governments. A seat sale won’t be part of it. (We also have a pretty good idea for funding the arena.) The provincial government also has to approve a community revitalization levy (CRL) that can use taxes from a specified zone to help pay for the arena (the City has identified a pretty large swatch of the downtown for this). There has to be a public hearing on the CRL.
One can also hope Edmonton doesn’t become just another example of a city that handed money to a sports franchise to try and invigorate it’s downtown, only to be looking for ways to in invigorate it’s downtown a couple of years later. Design, and the “entertainment district” around the arena are going to be the most important parts of this.
Also, regardless of other reports and math, Daryl Katz is putting in $100-million, which is fantastic, but does account for less than 1/4 of the construction costs. That means the City of Edmonton (and/or other levels of taxpayer-funded government) must pay the majority of costs to build the arena. Katz may eventually pay $125-million of that back through a ticket tax, but you and I are paying to build his team’s arena.
Oh, and Northlands is gonna be pissed, because the Katz Group wants a non-competition clause, so Northlands doesn’t keep booking concerts, sports, the rodeo, etc… at Rexall Place. Which I presume will become some sort of housing location for wigs. (Northlands could end up non-existent, totally reinvented, or rolled into Edmonton Economic Development, as a result of all this.)
Alright, these are Edmonton Headlines, not just Arena headlines. Let’s dig in. (more…)
Hey, Edmonton, I bet you showed that weekend who was boss.
Edmonton, and Capital Region, planning is getting a fresh set of eyes from the sky.
The story of a beaten Edmonton Transit bus driver appears to be becoming one of Workers Compensation benefits.
The University of Alberta is looking at going high-tech with its South Campus.
West Edmonton Mall Bourbon Street statues are being sold-off as the strip undergoes changes.
Newly re-elected MP Linda Duncan wasted no time in going back to work. It’s unfortunate our province’s largest oil spill in a generation is what got the Edmonton-Strathcona New Democrat right back into things. Meanwhile…the province’s Environment Minister is apologizing to residents near the oil spill…apologizing for not being better at communicating, not apologizing for the spill. The company that owns the pipeline is also apologizing, also for its communications strategy.
Parkland County landowners are again challenging new gravel permits, that could see gravel extraction done as close as 3 metres from their property. The old rules would keep work about 300 metres away. Yeah, kind of a difference.
The President of the Alberta Medical Association is going to tour Alberta and talk to doctors about all this alleged intimidation we hear so much about. But let’s not forget about the problems in our emergency rooms.
“Take a break, don’t shake” may seem like a really simple way to put it, but Alberta Health Services clearly deals with enough shaken babies and young children that a campaign needed to be launched (not that this is just an Alberta issue).
Alberta Liberal leader David Swann is sticking around as leader for just a few more months than planned.
An RCMP officer is facing assault charges after sending his police dog after a man at a home where officers were executing a search warrant.
RCMP officers who Tasered Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver airport will not face charges for their role in the man’s death. They will face charges of perjury for their testimony at a fatality inquiry though.
How the heck do we get people out of their cars? A youth summit was trying to tackle that question this weekend.
A New Zealand news investigation may have linked mysterious deaths at a Thailand hotel (including one Edmontonian) to insecticide poisoning.
And remember, all you southside commuters (whether you drive, take ETS, or bike), Scona Road and 99 Street are now closed for the rest of the spring, summer, and fall. It is officially construction season! …which reminds me…we’ve got a lot of sewer work to be done.
You know where we start today. The federal election!
Good day, Edmonton. How’s this spring weather treating you?
The U of A’s Campus Saint-Jean is getting nowhere with a new parking lot over in Bonnie Doon.
Speaking of parking…which makes me think of driving…we’ve got to get transit-oriented here in Edmonton. And then we have to stick with that.
Now that reminds me of my favourite comment on a transit story we were talking about yesterday. Somebody replied to this Journal column by saying drivers subsidized transit. Ha…ha…oh man, people believe that?!
Put up toll booths and then we’ll talk about which form of transportation is subsidized. I mean, come on…
Alright, I’m done talking about transit now. (more…)
Good morning and good budget, Edmonton.
Yes, the federal budget came down Tuesday, with much fanfare. The budget itself isn’t all that much to write home about (Do people still write home about such things?) but it’s the reaction of the opposition parties – that they likely won’t support this budget – that means something. That means we could see an election.
I guess it also means the opposition parties could take another shot at a coalition government, if they brought down the Stephen Harper Conservative minority. I kind of wish our parliamentary system could use all of its tools before sending people back to the polls for another minority government. Who knows, maybe the new Governor General would understand it’s a totally legitimate and legal way for our system of government to run.
But enough about coalitions…check out the budget!
While generally supportive (what else are you going to do when you’re both big C Conservatives) the Premier would have liked to have seen more healthcare money from Ottawa. Alberta’s one, lonely non-Conservative, Edmonton-Strathcona’s New Democrat MP Linda Duncan, isn’t a fan of the budget.
Meanwhile…back in Edmonton… (more…)
The City of Edmonton is spending more to improve snow removal. Which, with our return to winter today, is a perfect way to start today’s news.
Edmonton firefighters talk fire safety with newcomers to our city. Which is a great idea.
While I’m fairly confident the widened Gateway Boulevard mentioned in this column is not an option (but now I’m nervously going back through old e-mails) I like the idea of sprucing up Gateway and Calgary Trail to make them real signature streets.
Could Edmonton’s smoking ban extend a little further? Councillor Amarjeet Sohi is asking that question.
Edmonton councillors have asked the federal government for more transit funding. And now we wait.
A teen is charged after an attack on a caregiver at an Edmonton group home. Perhaps there will be at least a small look at safety and screening of caregivers in the wake of this and the death of a Camrose woman.
A high-profile murder case, which will garner us international headlines, is underway in our city.
According to an open letter to all doctors in the province, Alberta Health Services rules do not keep them from speaking out on behalf of their patients. Well, that clears up the whole intimidated into silence thing MLA Raj Sherman has alleged.
Or…just because you can speak up, doesn’t mean those in charge necessarily want to hear what you have to say. And it certainly doesn’t mean managers and administration of Edmonton, and Alberta, healthcare and hospitals didn’t try to keep vocal doctors silent. There’s probably a reason we’re hearing about lawsuits and other actions settled out of court (and repeated allegations doctors were intimated to have unstable mental health draws a strange link between cases).
Heck, even Liberal leader Dr. David Swann was fired by this provincial government for speaking out about climate change (different from patient care, but a similar theme). Yeah, I’d say there should probably still be investigation.
But the letter is nice. You can read it here.
Our politicians are still learning all about the Internet.
Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives have another hopeful in the race to be the next premier. Gary Mar is back (from Washington)!
A Fort McMurray RCMP officer is in hospital after being shot by a man who was killed in an exchange of gunfire.
The Gateway continues its run of articles looking at mental illness.
If you didn’t make all that much money in 2010, you could get your taxes done for free.
And the first swipe is the cleanest…
Good morning. I trust you are defrosted and all cozy in your home or office by now, Edmonton.
Edmonton Transit needs to get its act together. First, Leduc beats us to the airport, from within our own city. Now, St. freakin’ Albert is outfitting its bus fleet with GPS for real-time updates to riders. Time to start making jokes about how ETS is secretly run by a cabal of car dealerships again.
Audible crossing signals may be using a different sound soon.
All the newsrooms seem to have a story on six teens who have been suspended for writing threats on Facebook, in the wake of a weekend murder.
There have been some apologies at an inquiry into the shooting deaths of four RCMP officers. There are also questions about how well-equipped, and prepared, Mounties at smaller detachments are.
Energy Minister Ron Lipert isn’t going to let a little thing like grossness bubbling up from underground ruin a $2-billion plan like Alberta’s carbon capture and storage.
Lindsay Blackett, the Culture and Community Spirit Minister, has put on his coolest sunglasses and headed south to try and drum up some Hollywood Business. That’s one among the provincial cabinet trips this month.
Vue reports controversial parks legislation, which was pulled back by the governing Tories in the fall, may be headed right back to the Legislature. Whenever the spring session does start.
The Alberta Party is getting its leadership race underway. If they’ve got candidates in the next provincial election they are likely to snag a few votes that would have gone to the other parties, but their big goal is the 60% who didn’t vote last time. They are off to a good start, bringing in members from all other political parties. Left and right.
Hey…what’s that smell? Can anybody else smell that? It smells like…ewww…
Also, all the freaking out about the song Money for Nothing being “banned” from Canadian radio has me scratching my head. There are multiple versions of the song. One includes the term faggot and others, the more commonly heard versions – that will still be played on our radio stations – do not. Bouncing around YouTube a little this morning it seems Dire Straits replaces the word on their own in live versions and other recordings.
I’m sure some of the “outrage” is because this comes so close to a decision to replace the N-word in Huckleberry Finn. While we are talking about public airwaves, nobody is discussing removal of the term from the song on CDs or in digital versions of the song for sale. I’m sure I also had a much better point to make in all this.
Oh, and one day we’ll be able to tell our grandkids about shopping in the glorious aisles of Zellers.
A historical satire by actors who did little research, from the EdmontonPolitics.com team.
We’ve got a mayor and council ready to create new LRT lines in Edmonton. We’re looking at some of the largest transit expansions in our history, and there are calls for more bicycle lanes. Clearly, we need to hear from a mayor that helped get us our LRT line and one that loves private automobiles.
In this forum:
Mayor Ivor Dent – The Commonwealth Games and our LRT system can be linked back to Dent
Mayor Matthew (Mat) “Warden” McCauley – Edmonton’s first mayor
Mayor William Short – One of the City of Edmonton’s first-ever car owners
After the jump you’ll find out what they think about all this hippy-dippy light rail transit… (more…)
Just before the election, I was invited to a social media editorial board of sorts with Mayor Stephen Mandel.
Newspapers usually have an editorial board, which is a bunch of honchos and the opinion writers. Big names, and most big candidates in an election, will come through and sit with the editorial board for interviews. Kudos to the Mandel crew for reaching out to what can be a scattered blogosphere to talk with a few of us online journalists. Let’s hope this trend continues and we can do a larger “social media” editorial board next election.
LRT, downtown arena, neighbourhoods, community connections, local food, plebiscites, the tech community, third-party election campaigns, and the next police chief were among the topics. Notice I didn’t mention the airport. The Mayor said it was a dead topic, and none of the three of us interviewers could disagree, and didn’t feel like wasting our time talking about the same issue again. And again. I think the election results prove we chose our questions wisely, as most Edmontonians are ready to move on as a one airport city. (more…)
Today is World Car-Free Day.
Now, being in such a car-loving city, I don’t expect you all knew that. Heck, I don’t own a car and didn’t know that (until prompted by e-mails from the City of Edmonton).
The event has begun and runs until 7pm. 151 Street will be shut down to traffic between 100 and 102 Avenues. Take that, rush-hour!
If you head over to the Park(ed) event it’s going to be similar to the one that took place one Saturday this summer. There will be yoga, and dancing, and cycling, and general non-vehicle good times. It really is neat to stand in the middle of a street, that should be open to traffic, and walk around like you own the place.
I’d like to think, even in our car-city, we do better than Toronto today.
Maybe next year it can be a day of free transit in Edmonton?
Don’t forget about Edmonton election candidate forums. Tonight there are two forums, in the wide-open races.
Ward 11’s forum is at J. Percy Page High School (2707 Millwoods Road) from 7-9pm. This is a ward with no incumbent candidate so it should be a good one. Shane Bergdahl, Kerry Diotte (former Sun columnist), Vishal Luthra, and Chinwe Okelu (who’s run a number of times, coming close last time) are ones to watch. See, it’s going to be a good race.
Ward 3’s forum is at the same time at Londonderry Junior High School (7104 144 Avenue). 3 also doesn’t have an incumbent because Ron Hayter decided to hang it up after 87 years on council (I may be rounding up). Dave Loken and Terry Demers (Hayter’s former assistant) are likely the ones to watch.
With no incumbents these really are forums everyone can be interested in. Don’t forget, you can watch, and even ask questions, online.
That means you can be a part of the process and not even have to wear pants. (If you’re at home! Please be at home when not wearing pants.)
Good day to you, Edmonton.
It’s tax day (sort of). Edmonton City Council got its first look at next year’s budget. It appears we’re on track for 5% tax hike for 2011. But it doesn’t sound like the first look at the 2011 budget went over well with all the councillors.
And, of course, administration is talking about raising transit fares, again. Why would they ever start putting up tolls to make drivers pay the cost of transportation? I secretly think the goal of Edmonton Transit Service is to get us to buy cars.
On related, transit, notes, there’s supposed to be hundreds of millions of dollars coming our way. And city council doesn’t think you’d take a bus ride from the Centruy Park LRT station to the Edmonton International for a few bucks. Methinks they underestimate my cheapness.
from the Edmonton Journal:
Think Travel Alberta knows Edmonton? Guess again (I don’t think I know everything there is to know about Alberta. But I do know that if a journalist is calling for an interview I’m going to find out. Or put someone on the phone that knows.)
The Journal has some new details on that house explosion, which continues to be suspicious (Side note: Will it hurt when Global TV can’t just use Journal stories, after the company is split?)
And from the Calgary Herald (and the front page of today’s Journal) this in-depth look at workplace deaths.
from the Edmonton Sun:
Huge send-off for Gary McPherson (He was a great Edmontonian.)
Court rules laser misuse hazardous (Those eyes in the sky need their eyes.)
from the Edmonton Examiner:
West Edmonton Mall whale goes missing (The whale is gone!)
from CBC Edmonton:
from SEE Magazine:
It appears SEE was updating its website, or forget to post news stories, when I checked in today.
(Actually we will need roads.)
I had a fantastic Saturday in Edmonton. Here’s where I’ll tell you why it was such a good day.
Of course, the weather was beautiful. Sunny, hot, blue sky with puffy white clouds, just a few minutes of rain early evening…perfect summer day stuff. That always puts a bounce in the step.
But it was more than that. I got a haircut. That’s always nice too, but not really what this is all about.
I saw an Edmonton that was for the urbanite. It was walkable, transit-connected, bike-orientated, local, for just about everyone, and fun.
I tweeted that it was a glimpse into what Edmonton could be in the future, at least on a regular basis, and I stand by that. Let me walk you through what I did, to explain.
The main part of this story begins on the High Level Bridge Streetcar. I finally got to ride one of the streetcars that wasn’t the Australian one. That one is nice, but they have three of them and I’ve never been on the other two.
I finally got a different ride, on the German streetcar. It’s red and sleek and feels a little more modern than it’s Aussie counterpart. Riding an old, yet new, form of transit from the southside, across the picturesque river valley, is always fun. And it doesn’t take more than 10 minutes to get to the Grandin area (109 Street south of Jasper Avenue).
The streetcar is a good time, but it’s also a great example of re-purposing old tracks for something that can continue to be used. It also makes me sad that we had streetcars a long time ago and they’re all gone now. Especially when you hear about the new, low-floor LRT that will likely be running down the centre of main streets, mimicking that streetcar of old.
Off the streetcar, I walked about six blocks to the Bikeology Festival happening in Beaver Hills House Park, at Jasper and 105 Street. This is one of Edmonton’s many, many, summer festivals. This one is all about the bicycle though.(June is bike month in Edmonton.)
I chatted with the Edmonton Bicycle and Touring Club about day-trips and evening rides they do in and around Edmonton. They’re seeing a surge in popularity. They also do a handful of rides between Jasper and Banff, some very rugged and others with stops and proper rest places on the way.
The Edmonton Bicycle Commuters’ Society was on hand, talking about the best way to get to work, dressing for the weather, and tune-ups. I really get the sense that Edmonton’s bike scene is growing. If it’s not expanding, people are certainly more open about loving their bicycles, and using them for more than just some summer exercise.
(Don’t forget to track down a map of all the city’s bike trails and routes!)
This year, if you headed just a bit northeast of Bikeology, you found more bikes and more options to driving your car on the road.
The City held its first Park(ed) event on 102 Avenue, between 104 and 100 Streets. In conjunction with Mountain Equipment Co-op’s Bikefest, you saw a lot of two-wheeled options to the automobile. You also saw that roads don’t always have to be for cars and trucks.
Besides bikes and walking, the point of Park(ed) was to take over parking spaces. People got to throw down some AstroTurf (if they wanted) and set up camp (as you can see to the right, sometimes literally) in a plot of pavement usually reserved exclusively for a car, truck, van or motorcycle. It was a great street party, and fun for the whole family, but it was also about re-thinking the city.
We have a few street parties through the summer, including the Art Walk on Whyte Avenue, but here we were, in the downtown core, walking down the middle of the street on a busy Saturday. I loved it. I hope people thought about that fact that we don’t have to build everything to suit the automobile.
We don’t have to turn every street into a giant sidewalk, but we can think about pedestrians, think about neighbourhood use, transit, bike lanes, all kinds of things that both move us around and get us outside to meet the community.
Now, 104 Street, in my opinion, IS a street that could be pedestrian-only, between Jasper and 102 Avenue. If not all the way up to 104 Avenue.
The Downtown Farmers’ Market takes the street over every Saturday through the spring, summer and some of fall, it’s already narrow, it’s becoming one of the greatest examples of a busy core with high population density, and its got plenty of street-level interaction and retail.
The farmers’ market (and the many others in and around Edmonton) is a another example of something we can keep moving toward; local food. It doesn’t have to be local at the exclusion of all other foods, but when something can be grown right here it’s often better to buy it right here. It at least supports the local food economy.
It was great to see Bikeology connected to Park(ed) and the Bikefest, and all of it right by the always busy farmers’ market.
But that’s not all that happened Saturday.
Park(ed)’s reign on the street ended as you moved east down 102 Avenue, but I soon found myself at an energetic Churchill Square. The basketball nets were busy, people were making their way to the fountain at City Hall to cool off, ‘boarders were at the temproary skate park, street food was flowing (summer foods like ice cream and hot dogs), and there was even a rock show this weekend.
That all really melted together nicely, within a few, walkable, blocks. And it was another block to the bus, to ride back to the southside.
We talk a lot about making the city more sustainable, building more LRT tracks and getting more people out of their cars, revitalizing the downtown and older, core, neighbourhoods. There are certainly things that get in the way, like the Edmonton Public School Board shutting down central schools, and our endlessly growing roadways and sprawling suburbs.
But, I think this weekend proved we can become a different kind of city, without even changing all that much.
(Editor’s note: This post was sparked by debate about smart growth, infrastructure investment and whether a World’s Fair is needed to convince the population to spend the money.)
We’ve seen our economic growth in the West spawn climate change, resource depletion, social unrest, terrorism and global poverty via our consumption over the last century. It’s now clear that if we are to survive the next 100 years, we need major course correction by 2020, as the East is following our fossil fuel footsteps.
With over half the world’s population now booming in urban areas, the solutions to our global problems will be found and forged locally through smarter land-use and mass transit. The free market cannot address our problems alone, as the answers lay beyond the bottom lines of businesses who profit from the plights they’ve provided us. Broader, bolder leadership from governments is needed worldwide to reduce footprints and conserve energy, which is to say, doing more with less.
It’s in this context that Edmonton’s proposed EXPO 2017 theme, Harmony of Energy and Our Future Planet, while well intentioned, seems vague and slightly off the mark.
By sharpening the focus on sharing solutions, we could issue a five-year challenge in 2012 to nearly five hundred cities with populations of more than one-million, inviting them to bring delegations of engineers, bureaucrats and politicians to showcase their greenest projects and proposals.
Edmonton would then become an energetic nexus of cutting edge urban planning in the summer of 2017, when we would again be a logical host for the ICLEI World Congress, as well as other events like the World Social Forum. It’s against this backdrop that broader discussions of renewable energy, scientific research, technological innovation, as well as progressive provincial and national policy-making should take place. (more…)
No, the powers that be at City Hall didn’t really want to throw all kinds of plans into a stop north of Clareview, just yet, but when the federal and provincial governments dangle the cheque you’ve got to get on board.
Now, here’s where you come in.
The City of Edmonton’s LRT Expansion Branch is working on the Gorman extension (north of 153 Avenue and west of Victoria Trail) and you can throw your two-cents into the mix tonight.
You know you love open houses, so here are the details:
Date: Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Time: 4 – 8pm
Location: Clareview Arena Hall, 3804 – 139 Avenue
Also, in my experience, there are usually cookies.
How do you prove to your citizens that you’re cool, that you’re with it, that you’re hip?
You put out news releases, and citizen information, all about the summer’s biggest rock concert.
City of Edmonton, we salute you! (Fire!)
This is the first in a series of community profiles looking at Edmonton’s “walkable neighbourhoods.” Searching online, it appears the condition of sidewalks, street lighting and other infrastructure stuff makes up the “walkable neighbourhood” criteria. I think instead we’ll look at what makes you want to live in the neighbourhood ,and how close the important stuff is; a grocery store(s), shops, businesses, restaurants, workplaces, transit and other amenities. Let’s say within a 10-15 minute walk. Agree or disagree, let us know what you think. Tell us about your experiences in these neighbourhoods and others we might not have walked yet.