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Monday News Roundup: April 20, 2015

Put the city on your shoulders, boy.
Put the city on your shoulders, boy.

Connor McDavid

You may have noticed all the grown men hyperventilating over a teenage boy. Connor McDavid, barring some sort of unthinkable catastrophe and/or management blunder, is going to be an Edmonton Oiler. The 18-year-old is hailed as a saviour, the next lad from Ontario to come to our city and restore us to (hockey) greatness—maybe, the cup??? As good as Crosby, maybe even better, people say breathlessly. Hell, players might even want to come to Edmonton now!

Every other team in the NHL hates Edmonton right now. And there has been much hilarity at his stone-faced reaction to being drafted to one of the worst teams  in all of North-American pro sports.

This kid was born in 1997.

Federal government blames provinces for GHGs

Classic federal government. Federal Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq chided the provinces for falling short on climate goals.

Where to start on this one? Nearly all progress in greenhouse-gas reductions in Canada have been from the provinces, most notably Ontario’s heavy investment in renewable energy—especially wind. Canada is not even close to being on track to meet international GHG targets, with almost no discernible effort or initiative to get there from the federal government. Stephen Harper has repeatedly and forcefully denied any interest in carbon pricing or meaningful regulation of Canada’s oil and gas industry, the fastest-growing source of carbon emissions in the country. The provinces have longed called on the federal government to take a leadership role on climate change—like having a strong, national climate change framework for provinces and municipalities to operate with.

So how did the province’s respond to the federal government’s finger-pointing? Ontario and Quebec beefed up their cap-and-trade agreement, an aggressive and meaningful effort to reduce carbon emissions. What now, feds?

Alberta’s orange wave?

Our little snap election rolls on here in Alberta and it appears that Jim Prentice may have blundered in his timing. Oil prices are low, so the province is lacking the easy money that has kept our silly-low tax regime afloat for decades. The PC’s decided not to raise corporate taxes, while raising taxes on pretty much everything else for. That’s left people pretty chapped.

As a result—and maybe from four-plus decades of one-party rule, the Bill 10 debacle, and general distrust for Prentice and his party—the NDP is polling high. Like really high. The Wildrose are polling high too, meaning Alberta voters have the memory of a goldfish. Most polls have the three parties in a dead heat (sorry Liberals!), with the NDP and Wildrose heading up and the Tories slipping down.

Either way, it’s going to be one of the most interesting votes in Alberta in decades. Hopefully we’ll have a strong opposition, or possibly a new government.

Bike lane love

Edmonton cyclists have long lamented the lack of quality bike infrastructure in the city. They’ll be peddling happy soon, thanks to the recent announcement of two serious protected bike lanes coming to city streets.

For cyclist safety, a protected bike lane is much better than unprotected. Studies show a lane that is raised, or buffered by a curb, parked cars or some other divider cut the risk of injury by half. As a bonus, studies in American cities show that protected bike lanes led to increases of 21 to 171 percent more cyclists.

The two new routes are just north of Whyte Avenue on 83 Avenue from the Mill Creek Ravine to 111 Street and downtown on 102 Avenue from 96 Street to 113 Street. Some may balk at the $13.2-million price tag for the two lanes, but considering that’s just a tiny fraction of the city’s road, design and construction budget—it’s a worthy investment.

The city predicts construction on the lanes will start in 2016 and could be done by 2017 or 2018.

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