Edmonton

City hall in 2015 was dominated by frustrating, seemingly endless battles

Here are some of the year's biggest stories to come from city hall in 2015.

Uber controversy, LRT delays and stalled bridge projects stole the headlines

Edmonton's city hall (City Market Downtown/Facebook)

Sometimes civic politics is boring. Bylaw amendments, committee meetings and public hearings are not usually particularly interesting.

But this year council chambers saw shirtless protests, tears, a bit of joy, and a rise of power and a fall from power.

Here are some of the year's biggest stories to come from city hall in 2015.

Uber excitement

Edmonton taxi drivers take off their shirts in protest, saying the city is taking the shirts off their backs. 0:21
Uber rolled into town in January, and brought a whole lot of trouble to city council's door. Suddenly the city's ride-for-hire bylaws seemed radically out of date, and there was a wildly popular ride-sharing company operating illegally on the streets.

Ever since council has been trying to figure it out how to balance the desire for the new service with the needs of the traditional taxi industry and the thousands of drivers relying on it.

It all came to a head Sept. 22, when hundreds of taxi drivers inside council chambers began to protest, taking off their shirts and shouting that the city was taking the shirts off their backs.

The Uber issue still hasn't been solved, and hundreds of livelihoods hang in the balance.

CBC followed the debate all year long, and even explored the "silent victims" of the taxi industry.

Council hopes to pass a bylaw to legalize Uber in January 2016.

Delayed, delayed, delayed

Watch as the 102nd Avenue bridge buckles. This video was taken by the City of Edmonton, their video of the bridge was shot in 15 minute increments. 0:24
Mayor Don Iveson and the city's transportation manager Dorian Wandzura have had to be bearers of bad news a lot this year. 

The Metro LRT Line was supposed to open in April 2014, and is now about 20 months behind schedule. The troubled signalling system designed and installed by Thales is still not working, and the line is running at only half speed. 

The line has become a symbol of the public's frustration with the city, Iveson says. 

Another major catastrophe that made headlines all year was the buckled girders on the 102nd Avenue bridge. The entire city was perplexed at how the steel could suddenly bend. It turned out to be an error made by one of the contractors.

The mistake set the project back by a year, leaving nearby businesses to scrape by.

And as if things weren't looking glum enough, it was announced in April that the new Walterdale Bridge would also be delayed by a year because of problems shipping the massive steel arches to Edmonton. 

The rises and falls

Edmonton Mill Woods Liberal Amarjeet Sohi squeaks out a victory over Tory incumbent Tim Uppal Monday 1:35
All those problems led to a major change for the city. In September, council fired city manager Simon Farbrother following a damning report from the city auditor on the Metro Line. 

Farbrother was hired in 2010 to instill a more positive corporate culture into the city, which several councillors said was very successful. 

Council will hire a new city manager in 2016; interim city manager Linda Cochrane is filling in until then. 

This year council also lost longtime councillor Amarjeet Sohi. Sohi ran in the October federal election and was elected a member of parliament and named Canada's new infrastructure and communities minister. 

His departure makes room for a new councillor in 2016. Dozens of candidates have already signed up to compete for Sohi's former seat. 

What do you think were the most important civic stories of 2015? Tell us in the comments below.

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