I hope you had a healthy and happy summer, despite the circumstances we’re all finding ourselves in currently.
Now that summer has gone and Council has officially started up again, I wanted to send an update on what’s been happening in Edmonton and all the changes that will be affecting us in the coming weeks and months.
Edmonton remains on the provincial health COVID-19 Watch list with an active case rate of 66.9 cases per 100,000.
AHS has advised that COVID-19 cases in Edmonton are primarily linked to clusters in places like households, schools, workplaces, shelters and associated with social gatherings. Additionally, the number of COVID-19 infected people in hospitals in the Edmonton Zone remains relatively low with 21 in hospital and five of those in Intensive Care. Of note, AHS believes that the current wave in the Edmonton region is still emerging and that we’re not near the peak.
The City is looking closely at the Edmonton COVID-19 curve to determine what actions it can take to reduce infection rates. Administration continues to meet with the Government of Alberta Pandemic Response Team to stay on top of all outbreaks for any adjustments to COE programs, services or facility use, and containing the outbreak continues to be our top priority.
Federally, you may already be aware that the Prime Minister declared on Wednesday that a second wave of COVID-19 has officially started. Cases have been experiencing a steady increase, from around 300 cases/day in mid-August to an average of 1,144 during the past week. Dr. Tam, has warned that if the current rate of accelerated growth is not slowed, there will be a significant increase in COVID-19 cases nationally.
In Alberta, however, Dr. Deena Hinshaw has said that she doesn’t believe that we are currently experiencing a second wave, and that while Alberta has seen increased caseloads over the past several months, they have remained relatively stable as opposed to a large spike in cases and uncontrolled spread. So far, the Province has not seen a need to place any additional restrictions.
For more information on how the City is handling the pandemic, please visit the webpage at edmonton.ca/covid-19.
City of Edmonton Updates
There has been a lot of attention on some encampments in central Edmonton over the last few months.
At Camp Pekiwewin in Rossdale, around 170 tents remain on site while the number of occupants have been decreasing slightly and some tents are vacant. There are an estimated 250 campers remaining at the site currently. At this time no date has been set for the closure of camp Pekiwewin. Administration and camp organizers are working towards an understanding of the need for a target closure date.
The encampment at Dr. Wilbert McIntyre Park has approximately 20 tents and up to 30 occupants. The City is asking the organizer and campers for cooperation with a dignified and respectful closure of the camp. Despite previously agreeing to remove the camp within a week, the camp organizer is vowing to remain until all demands are met.
The City cannot single-handedly pay for a long term solution to homelessness with property taxes. We will continue to lobby and work hard with other orders of government to do their jurisdictional duty and support housing. I don’t support encampments as a solution to this problem.
Last week at our Public Hearing, citizens were able to comment on the draft City Plan. The City Plan is the strategy that will determine where the next 1 million Edmontonians will live, how we continue to build our city as we keep growing.
City Council and Administration heard from 33 speakers on their impressions and thoughts regarding the draft Plan. Based on the discussion with Edmontonians, Council asked for clarifications and amendments to the Plan. The City Plan will be reviewed in the coming months by the Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board and then come back to Council to receive its final reading.
The Edmonton Riverhawks
For some very exciting news, on September 15 the Edmonton Riverhawks launched at RE/MAX field. The Riverhawks are the West Coast League’s newest team and they’re set to open play in the 2021 season.
The Riverhawks signal an exciting new chapter in Edmonton’s rich baseball history, and I was lucky enough to be there for the amazing kick-off last week to throw the first pitch.
New Ward Names
Last week, Council made the decision to use Indigenous names for our new ward boundaries coming into effect in October of 2021. This was done to honour the long history of Indigenous peoples in the area now known as Edmonton, and to further advance the City of Edmonton’s commitment towards reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
This came from Council direction in June 2020 – further information on this process, as well as descriptions of the names and pronunciation guides is available here.
The names chosen each tell a story and reflect the linguistic history and diversity of the area. I have absolutely no doubt that these names and their pronunciations will eventually become second nature to Edmontonians.
This is an exciting change for our city as we continue to work with Indigenous peoples on reconciliation, and celebrate and honour those who were here before us.
Thank you for staying up to date with us in these very strange times. I’ll continue to send out updates as they come now that Council is settled back into the swing of things.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, you can contact my office as firstname.lastname@example.org