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Alberta

Transit safety and violent crime: Enough is enough

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Alberta’s government is taking action to restore order and improve public safety in response to increasing crime and disorder in the province’s big cities.

In both Edmonton and Calgary, criminal activity is on the rise. Between July 2022 and January 2023, Edmonton’s LRT and transit centres experienced an increase in violent criminal incidents of 75 per cent. In Calgary, overall criminal occurrences at LRT stations increased 46 per cent between 2021 and 2022.

Premier Danielle Smith has directed Public Safety and Emergency Services Minister Mike Ellis to work with his cabinet colleagues to develop a plan to hire 100 more street-level police officers over the next 18 months to increase the visible law enforcement presence and tackle criminal activity in high-crime locations in Calgary and Edmonton.

“Safety on public streets is never negotiable. We can address root causes like mental health and addiction at the same time, but we will not compromise on security for all Calgarians and Edmontonians. This starts with the federal government reforming its broken catch-and-release bail system and includes us working with cities and police services to fight back against criminals.”

Danielle Smith, Premier

In addition to increasing the number of street-level police officers on city streets, Alberta’s government is encouraging the City of Calgary and the City of Edmonton to transfer command and control of transit peace officers to the Calgary and Edmonton police services. This transfer would enable the police to better lead a coordinated and strategic response to the increase in violent crime on public transit.

“Enough is enough – the rising crime levels in Edmonton and Calgary are unacceptable. Albertans have a right to use public transit and walk the streets without fear. We are working with our partners to develop a clear plan to take our cities back from those who seek to cause harm.”

Mike Ellis, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Services

Improving public safety on the cities’ transit networks also involves stations and vehicles that are clean of drug paraphernalia and debris. Through a new $5-million grant to each city, municipal governments will be able to provide the services needed to keep station platforms and vehicles clean, safe and welcoming for law-abiding Calgarians and Edmontonians.

“The safety and security of our transit systems and downtowns will remain a top priority. No single order of government can solve this issue alone. We will continue to work together by deploying our safety resources in an integrated and collaborative way.”

Jyoti Gondek, mayor, City of Calgary, and Amarjeet Sohi, mayor, City of Edmonton

“We are seeing a significant portion of those who are improperly using transit and other public spaces becoming entrenched, with many displaying resistance to offers for services, as well as reduced cooperation and compliance with authority figures. For those people, consequences will follow.”

Mark Neufeld, chief of police, Calgary Police Service

Police and crisis teams

As part of building strong recovery-oriented systems of mental health and addiction care, Alberta’s government is investing almost $8 million over three years to increase the number of police and crisis teams (PACT) in Calgary and Edmonton. PACT pairs police constables with mental health therapists from Alberta Health Services to respond to 911 calls where there is a mental health concern. Police and mental health therapists work together to assess a client’s mental health challenge and determine what support is required to keep the individual and the community safe.

“We are taking a fair, firm and compassionate approach to keeping our communities safe while treating mental health and addiction as health-care issues. By working with our partners in the Calgary and Edmonton police services, we can connect people in need with critical mental health services and better address the social issues affecting our two largest cities.”

Nicholas Milliken, Minister of Mental Health and Addiction

With this funding, Alberta’s government is adding 12 new PACT partnerships in each city. This will double the number of PACT teams in Calgary, increasing from 12 to 24, and triple them in Edmonton, increasing from six to 18. These partnerships will better support Albertans struggling with mental health challenges while improving public safety for everyone.

“These additional resources will help us to gather what we need to get ahead of the concerning spike in crime and particularly violent crime that we are witnessing in areas like our downtown core and transit stations across Edmonton. The support, not just for police but for PACT, means prioritizing those who need support while ensuring appropriate focus on safety. Centring police as leaders within this work shows a key understanding that we cannot have well-being if we don’t have safety.”

Dale McFee, chief of police, Edmonton Police Service

Quick facts

Edmonton crime:

  • The average crime severity index in downtown Edmonton has increased 29 per cent, to 116 in December 2022 from 90 in July 2022, driven primary by an increase in serious criminal offences, in particular second-degree murder, assault causing bodily harm with a weapon, robbery and aggravated assault.
  • In Edmonton, a person is about twice as likely to be victimized by a stranger at a transit centre than for the city as a whole (70 per cent at LRT transit versus 36 per cent citywide).

Calgary crime:

  • Property crime occurrences in Calgary nearly doubled – increasing 95 per cent to 463 in 2022, up from 238 in 2021.
  • Total calls for service to Calgary LRT stations increased to 9,317 in 2022, up 39 per cent from 6,706 in 2021.
    • Public-generated calls for service to LRT stations increased to 5,012 in 2022, up 20 per cent from 4,160 in 2021.
    • Officer-generated calls for service to LRT stations increased to 4,305, up 69 per cent from 2,546 in 2021.

PACT facts:

  • Police and crisis teams (PACT) offer mental health assessment, support and/or consultation in crisis situations. Mental health therapists work with police constables to assess mental health needs and determine appropriate action in accordance with the Mental Health Act and the criminal justice system.

This is a news release from the Government of Alberta.

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Alberta

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith promises bill protecting rights to refuse vaccines is coming

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From LifeSiteNews

By Anthony Murdoch

The plan is to introduce an amended Bill of Rights this fall that includes protections for individuals’ personal medical decisions.

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has promised that the province’s Bill of Rights will be amended this fall so that there are protections added for people’s personal medical decisions that most likely will include one having the right to refuse a vaccine.

Smith’s promise to add protections for personal choice on vaccinations comes because of the COVID jab mandates put in place for a time in Alberta under former Premier Jason Kenney.

Speaking to Albertans at a recent town hall in Bonnyville, Smith said that the COVID crisis resulted in many people being discriminated against for their own medical decisions and that “it shouldn’t have happened.”

Smith, who leads the United Conservative Party (UCP), said that she believes “every person has to be able to do their own assessment, their own health assessment, to be able to make those decisions.”

The original plan by Smith was to add protections for one’s vaccine status directly Alberta Human Rights Act (AHRA). However, this plan was nixed after she was advised by Public Health Emergencies Governance Review Panel chair Preston Manning that this was not the right legislation for an additional protection.

Instead, Smith promised that a better “law” dealing directly with vaccine status will be forthcoming.

On Monday, Smith confirmed on X that an updated version of the Bill of Rights is coming.

“It’s time. Let’s get this done,” she wrote.

Last year, Smith, as reported by LifeSiteNews, promised to enshrine into “law” protections for people in her province who choose not to be vaccinated as well as strengthen gun rights and safeguard free speech by beefing up the provincial Bill of Rights.

On Smith’s first day on the job and only minutes after being sworn in, she said that during the COVID years the “unvaccinated” were the “most discriminated against” group of people in her lifetime.

She took over from Kenney as leader of the UCP on October 11, 2022, after winning the party leadership. The UCP then won a general election in May 2023. Kenney was ousted due to low approval ratings and for reneging on promises not to lock Alberta down during COVID.

Smith promptly fired the province’s top doctor, Deena Hinshaw, and the entire Alberta Health Services board of directors, all of whom oversaw the implementation of COVID mandates.

Under Kenney, thousands of nurses, doctors, and other healthcare and government workers lost their jobs for choosing to not get the jabs.

While Smith has not said much regarding the COVID shots since taking office, she has allowed her caucus members to have broad views when it comes to known safety issues related to the jabs.

UCP MLA Eric Bouchard hosted a sold-out event titled “An Injection of Truth” that featured prominent doctors and experts speaking out against COVID vaccines and mandates.

“Injection of Truth” included well-known speakers critical of COVID mandates and the shots, including Dr. Byram BridleDr. William Makis, canceled doctor Mark Trozzi and pediatric neurologist Eric Payne.

The COVID shots were heavily promoted by the federal government and all provincial governments in Canada, with the Alberta government under Kenney being no exception.

The mRNA shots have been linked to a multitude of negative and often severe side effects in children.

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Scotia Place – Calgary unveils design for new arena / events centre

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News release from the City of Calgary

Scotia Place, Calgary’s new event centre, designed as a place for community where there is room for everyone

The City of Calgary and Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC) are excited to reveal the design for Calgary’s new event centre – formally named Scotia Place.

The design is influenced by the ancestral and historical land of Indigenous Peoples and the culturally significant site that embodies our shared purpose – to gather. It brings together Indigenous cultural perspectives with Calgary’s and the region’s natural beauty, reflecting the four elements of nature – fire, ice, land and air.

A striking feature of the building is the central structure with a textured flame motif that emulates a home fire, which is further amplified when it is lit at night. The home fire, a place of warmth and energy that brings people together to share stories of the past and create stories for the future, rises from the white, glacial-like forms that define the lower parts of the building.

“When you consider that Calgary is already the envy of other cities with a new world-class convention centre in the heart of the Culture + Entertainment District, the addition of Scotia Place is another signal to investors that our city understands how to build a future that leverages hospitality and hosting as its core strengths,” says Mayor Jyoti Gondek. “We are also acknowledging and honouring the foundational role that Indigenous communities have played for generations in making Calgary, and now Scotia Place, a space where we all belong.”

Scotia Place, which is scheduled to open in fall 2027, celebrates the area’s importance as a place for all and will be a landmark attraction in Calgary’s emerging Culture + Entertainment District. More than a building, however, the 10-acre city block is designed for community and connection and includes a community rink, outdoor and indoor plazas spaces, four restaurants, the Calgary Flames Team Store, and future development opportunity in the northeast corner. It will provide gathering places and amenities for the 8,000 people who will live in this new downtown neighbourhood.

“Calgary has a long history of hosting world-class events, drawing millions of visitors to the city each year, generating revenue for local businesses, and boosting the economy,” says Danielle Smith, Premier of the Province of Alberta. “With construction on the Calgary Rivers District and Event Centre now underway, Calgary is one step closer to a revitalized downtown that will bring new energy into the city, attract more exciting events, and create jobs to improve the quality of life for Calgarians.”

A development permit application for the facility was submitted on July 19, 2024. This was a significant milestone for the project team, consisting of CAA ICON, HOK-DIALOG, and CANA/Mortenson. People interested in following or commenting on the permit can find the application at Calgary.ca/dmap. The application is expected to be heard by the Calgary Planning Commission by end of 2024.

“This is an important day for Calgary,” says Councillor Sonya Sharp, Event Centre Committee Chair. “Today is about so much more than the designs of a building. Today is the unveiling of a place where Calgarians and visitors from around the world will make memories at concerts, and sport and community events. I hope that everyone is as excited as we are, knowing that Scotia Place will become the complete experience in our new Culture & Entertainment District.”

“At CSEC, a key component of our mission is to be the heartbeat of our community, create connections and bring people together,” said Robert Hayes, CSEC President and CEO. “Scotia Place will become the perfect home to achieve and share this mission with all Calgarians. Seeing the design brings the vision of so many contributors to life. We are especially thankful to the City of Calgary and the Province of Alberta for their leadership and support to help bring us to this point. In stride with our partner Scotiabank, we are very proud to play our role in presenting Scotia Place as the culmination of diligence and passion, that is now visual in this breathtakingly beautiful and meaningful facility.”

“For years we have seen firsthand the value these partnerships bring to the communities in which we operate and for our clients,” said Aris Bogdaneris, Group Head, Canadian Banking of Scotiabank. “Scotia Place introduces a bold new vision for what will be Alberta’s premier sports and entertainment venue. For nearly 20 years, Scotiabank has been a proud partner of Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation and together, we are committed to bring fans and our clients an unforgettable experience when they walk through the doors of Scotia Place.”

“We are excited to start the construction of the critical infrastructure needed to build thousands of new homes and to make the Calgary’s new Culture + Entertainment district a reality,” says Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Transportation and Economic Corridors. “Albertans expect basic infrastructure to be maintained and improved and this commitment from the province goes a long way in helping Calgary build these projects.”

Acknowledging the significance of the building’s location at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow Rivers on the ancestral land of the Treaty 7 Peoples and the Metis Nation, The City, CSEC, HOK-DIALOG and CAA ICON worked with an Indigenous Advisory Group that included representatives from the Treaty 7 Nations, the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3, and the Urban Indigenous community throughout the design process.

“It was great to be part of a truly representative voice that included all indigenous peoples of southern Alberta regarding the design of this center acknowledging the historic significance of the land it sits on to the Metis people,” said Carmen Lasante Captain of the Calgary Elbow Metis District. “Inclusivity is a core part of who the Metis are. The City has worked hard to include many diverse histories together in creating this space.”

“Engaging in the right way is fundamental to the success of relationship development with the Indigenous communities, as we have played a critical role in the identity of the land now known as the city of Calgary as the Indigenous nations are inextricable linked to the landscape and environment,” says Ira Provost, Piikani Nation Consultation

A key theme heard often during the Indigenous engagement sessions was “Come in, there is room”, making it clear that Scotia Place needs to be a place that is designed for all.

The public plazas are designed to honour the deep-rooted connection that Indigenous Peoples have with the land, incorporating representations of the tipi, Métis Trapper’s Tent, and elements of Alberta’s world-renown natural landscape.

An important design decision was to lower the event and ice surface so that the primary concourse will be at street-level. Calgarians and visitors will be able to move seamlessly between the curb, the primary concourse and the outdoor public plazas.

“We at DIALOG are thrilled to join forces with HOK and combine our unique expertise to transform Calgary’s Event Centre into the catalyst for a dynamic new urban community,” says Doug Cinnamon, Partner Architect at DIALOG.

“Other design principles including public realm activation, the integration of indigenous influences, public art & storytelling, sustainability, and a balance between past, present, and future is central to our vision. The ultimate goal is to ensure seamless accessibility, promote mixed uses, and create vibrant public areas for everyone to enjoy. This joint redesign represents an opportunity to spur investment into the area and enhance its cultural vitality, anchoring Calgary’s position as a thriving, bustling community hub.”

Scotia Place is a generational investment in Calgary’s emerging vibrant Culture + Entertainment District. A modern event centre with universal accessible design throughout and with energy and water conservation built in to maximize efficiencies and the ability to be net-zero by 2050, Scotia place is designed to serve Calgary’s growing community for decades to come.

Construction begins this week. Additional information about Scotia Place including design renderings, a video, and frequently asked questions is available on Calgary.ca/ScotiaPlace.

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