High Street Lawsuit, Glen Sather Arena, Adult Colouring Book Nights

Here’s the latest entry in my Edmonton Etcetera series, in which I share some thoughts on a few topical items in one post. Less than I’d write in a full post on each, but more than I’d include in Edmonton Notes. Have feedback? Let me know!

High Street going to court over the 102 Avenue Bridge

Springwood Developments, the company that owns High Street, is planning to file suit against the City of Edmonton and Graham Construction over the 102 Avenue Bridge project. They’re seeking damages for all tenants for sales lost between October 1, which is roughly when the bridge was supposed to open, and the date the bridge eventually opens, currently expected to be Fall 2016.

I’m no lawyer, but after looking at the Municipal Government Act (specifically sections 23, 25, 534) and looking through past Council decisions on similar matters, I can’t really see how such a lawsuit could be successful. Municipalities generally cannot be held liable for this sort of thing unless they were extremely negligent, and there’s no evidence to suggest the City of Edmonton was. Furthermore, the “injurious affection” they’re probably going to cite must result in a “permanent reduction” in the value of appraised land in order for a claim to be available.

102 ave bridge girders
Photo by SphinxTerrific

Apparently the City of Edmonton has been receiving $11,500 a day in penalties from the contractor to compensate for not opening on time, and many feel that at least some of those funds should go to the businesses affected. But I agree with Councillor McKeen, who called that “a pandora’s box”. It’s not a precedent the City should be setting.

This isn’t the first time that Council has had to deal with the suggestion either. Back in April 2013, Council denied a request for partial tax cancellation for a convenience store and tailor shop affected by the Central LRT Station renovations. In that case the owner was seeking a 70% tax reduction, which would have only amounted to $742.77, but Council agreed with Administration that granting the request “would create a precedent for future requests.”

I personally think the City is already walking a fine line in supporting the Cash Mob that will take place in the 124 Street area tomorrow. In addition to Mayor Iveson and Councillor McKeen’s attendance, the City is running Park & Ride service from Hawrelak Park and Stadium. It’s great to show support, but at what point does it become perceived as an admission of guilt?

Not to mention that I find the hyperbole around the Cash Mob a bit off-putting. News releases about the event have consistently said that “businesses may not survive the winter” and one even said “this may literally be the last chance to help these businesses stay afloat”. I don’t think that’s helping the situation, and may in fact be feeding growing skepticism about the impact of the bridge on the businesses.

I’m reminded a bit of You’ve Got Mail with Meg Ryan and her character’s independent book store, The Shop Around the Corner. Facing the prospect of closing, a media campaign is launched to “save the shop around the corner!” But it doesn’t work. “Don’t tell me. Not the slightest difference?” exclaims Kathleen Kelly. “How can that be? All this publicity and not one bit of difference?”

To be clear, I think what organizer Tommy Kalita has done with Cash Mobs in Edmonton is fantastic and I have no doubt he’ll continue to have a positive impact on our community in the future. And both Sharon and I are fans of many of the businesses in the area and have and will continue to spend money there. It would indeed be sad to see the independent shops go. But if they do, should all the blame fall to the bridge? No, I don’t think it should.

Glen Sather Day in Edmonton

The architect of the Oilers dynasty, Glen Sather, is being recognized in Edmonton tonight with a banner raising ceremony at Rexall Place before the Oilers take on the New York Rangers. Mayor Don Iveson proclaimed today Glen Sather Day, and Daryl Katz announced a million dollar donation to the community arena which will now be named in Sather’s honor.

“To do this in Glen’s name is fitting and it’ll serve as a lasting tribute to his tremendous legacy in Oil Country,” said Bob Nicholson, the head of the Oilers Entertainment Group.

The money donated by the Oilers Community Foundation and Katz Family will be used to create a fund “to have programs for all the underprivileged kids so that hockey continues to grow in this city,” said Nicholson. “We’ll make sure that kids from all parts of this city get to use this community rink.”

The name “Downtown Community Arena” was given to the rink back at the January meeting of the Edmonton Naming Committee. If that sounds like a placeholder name, that’s because it likely was. With a high profile building like this, it’s not surprising that naming rights would be up for grabs.

The City will own and operate the community arena, and all revenues and costs will go to the City. The originally estimated cost to build the community arena was $23 million, with $14 million to come from the Federal and Provincial governments, $7 million to come from the Downtown CRL, and $2 million to come from MacEwan University. But now the bulk of the cost is going to be covered by the CRL, with $7 million coming from the Federal government.

Adult Colouring Book Nights at EPL

Colouring books for adults are all the rage right now. Walk into nearly any book store or gift shop and you’ll see them. They’re regularly in Amazon’s list of best selling books. I haven’t gotten into the trend myself, maybe because every time I flip through one I get overwhelmed just thinking about colouring the large, complex scenes! But plenty of people enjoy the activity and have even been bringing their own colouring books into the library, which is why EPL decided to host an event for adults to colour together:

“One of our goals is just to create fun program and connect people in our space,” said Stanley Milner associate manager Kate Gibson. “It’s a chance to take a break from the stress of life and relax, and come in and just calm down for a bit.”

For now it’s only happening at Stanley Milner downtown, but it could expand to other branches if it proves popular enough. The next event is slated to take place on December 21 at 7pm in the program room on the main floor.

Sharon pointed out to me that this isn’t the first event for colouring books in Edmonton. Audrey’s has hosted some very popular all-ages colouring parties this year. Who knew?!

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