Edmonton Minute: Looming Strikes, Encampment Cleanups, and Transit Safety Motions
Edmonton Minute - Your weekly one-minute summary of Edmonton politics
This Week In Edmonton:
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Council, having just given Edmontonians a 6.6% tax hike, is now on Christmas vacation. There are no Council or Committee meetings this week. Meetings will resume mid-January, with the exception of a few smaller, Agenda Review Committee meetings taking place in the meantime.
- There could be a strike vote coming for teachers at Edmonton Public Schools. The move comes after 85% of teachers voted against a proposed settlement. The Alberta Teachers’ Association said that they will now apply to the Alberta Labour Relations Board to hold a strike vote in early to mid-January. Concerns with the EPS proposal included calendar development, off-schedule compensation, substitute teachers, and the working conditions of online teachers. In addition, there may also be a second major strike coming. The union representing administrative employees and 911 operators in Edmonton has rejected the City's proposed salary increases of 0%, 1%, and 2% in each of the next three years.
Last Week In Edmonton:
- Council approved two motions addressing transit safety. The first motion, put forward by Mayor Amarjeet Sohi, requested that Administration bring back an adjustment to the operating budget to include four more transit safety teams made of Transit Peace Officers and outreach workers. The second motion, initiated by Councillor Tim Cartmell, sought information on piloting fare gates. It was amended to include a cost-benefit analysis and official recommendations. Despite concerns raised by some Councillors, who questioned the effectiveness of fare gates, the motion passed and Administration will return to council with the turnstile report in the summer of 2024.
- The Province committed $8.3 million in financial support to the Edmonton Police Service for the hiring of 50 additional officers. The funding encompasses officer salaries, one-time costs like vehicles and uniforms, and ongoing technology and support expenses. According to EPS, officers have been diverted to high-crime areas like Downtown and transit centres, so additional staff can backfill the holes. This comes as new police data showed that shootings are up 42% over last year, with 11 shootings in November alone.
- Lawyers from the Coalition for Justice and Human Rights (CJHR) were granted an emergency injunction, after they sought to halt the clean-up of several encampment sites. The Edmonton Police Service advised social agencies that the encampment response team would be removing 134 structures at eight high-risk encampment sites at Herb Jameson Centre, Bissell Centre, Hope Mission, 95th Street and 101A Avenue, 94th Street and 106th Avenue, 95th Street and 105A Avenue, Dawson Ravine, and Kinnard Ravine. The cleanup was originally intended to take place between December 18th and 22nd and would have been the largest dismantling of encampments undertaken by the City to date. The CJHR suggested that mass dislocation of people will cause immense harm to between 300 and 400 vulnerable individuals. A hearing is expected to take place this morning.
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