Edmonton Minute: Plastics Petition, Artificial Intelligence, and Troubled Trash Digester
Edmonton Minute - Your weekly one-minute summary of Edmonton politics
This Week In Edmonton:
Today is a federal holiday to commemorate the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. However, all City of Edmonton services will be operating as normal. There will be one Committee meeting this week. The Agenda Review Committee meets at 9:00 am on Tuesday.
Rodeo action returns to Edmonton this weekend. The Edmonton Pro Rodeo is organized by C5 Rodeo Company out of Montana. Contestants will compete for a $65,000 dollar purse at the Edmonton Expo Centre on Friday and Saturday. Edmonton used to played host to the Canadian Finals Rodeo from 1975-2017 but organizers and the City were unable to reach an agreement to keep the event in town and it was subsequently moved to Red Deer.
- Edmonton’s Federal Building will be renamed after Queen Elizabeth II. Premier Jason Kenney made the announcement during a one-day sitting of the Alberta Legislature convened for MLAs to pay their respects to the monarch. A short ceremony is planned for September 27th to mark the name change, which was originally proposed and approved last month to honour the Platinum Jubilee.
Last Week In Edmonton:
A public hearing regarding a single-use items bylaw was postponed until October 4th. It was originally on the agenda for last week’s public hearing, but other items dominated the discussion. The proposed bylaw will force restaurant and food service establishments to allow customers to bring their own cups, requires paper bags be made from 40% recyclable material, and restricts cutlery, straws, and other food service items from being offered unless the customer asks for them. The most bizarre part? Biodegradable bags are not allowed either - they are considered single-use items. We have started a petition to oppose this bylaw. If you agree that Council should not ban single-use items, please sign it and share it with your friends.
- Edmonton’s troubled anaerobic digester made the headlines again, after it was revealed that the unit has not only failed to deliver profit, but it also processes less waste than promised. The unit was supposed to cost $30 million to build and generate revenue to offset the operating cost. In 2018, the cost rose to $42 million, and Council has now agreed to put in another $6.7 million to ensure the unit produces usable compost. Gas is created through the organics digestion process, captured, and turned into electricity which, at the moment, cannot be sold due to regulatory issues the City has not yet solved. The digester opened five years behind schedule and is diverting far less waste from landfills than originally expected, though not a single Councillor raised questions about the issue at the most recent Council meeting.
- The University of Alberta and the Edmonton Police Service teamed up to help detect distracted driving through the use of artificial intelligence. A new device, which functions similar to photo radar, was installed to track drivers on Argyll Road in south Edmonton and two other locations over the course of the next three weeks. The AI is “trained to detect phone use from large datasets, allowing the system to pick up on multiple cues that may indicate distracted driving.” For now, no tickets will be issued - the program is in the research and testing phase only. What could possibly go wrong?
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