Edmonton will start charging for transit again in mid-June

The city will start charging for transit again starting June 15 and will close two skateparks and two basketball courts this weekend as part of its response to the provincial relaunch.

City to close 2 skateparks and 2 basketball courts after busy rule-breaking weekend

Municipalities are in dire need of financial aid from Ottawa and provinces to get through pandemic, Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson says.
The city made transit free on March 20 when council agreed to a state of local emergency. (Cort Sloan/CBC)

Transit riders in Edmonton will have to start paying fares again starting June 15, interim city manager Adam Laughlin announced on Thursday. 

Bus drivers will accept cash, tickets and passes, including passes from March and April during the last two weeks of June. 

In July, the city will accept April and July transit passes. 

At council's weekly emergency advisory committee meeting, Laughlin told council that ridership has increased in the past week during Stage 1 of the province's relaunch.

Transit will stay on a Saturday schedule for now. 

Hot spots of activity

Since the city reopened playgrounds and sports courts on May 22, peace officers have given out 250 warnings to people at playgrounds and sports courts. 

They issued 142 warnings to people at skate parks.

This coming weekend, Laughlin said, the city will close Blue Quill and Florence Hallock basketball courts and Castle Downs and McKernan skateparks. 

"The weekends seem to be the hot spots for activity," he told council. 

The city will launch a "hot spot" ticketing campaign, he said.

"If public health infractions continue, the city is prepared to close all skateparks and basketball courts," Laughlin said. 

Coun. Jon Dziadyk doesn't agree the city should do a targeted ticketing campaign at skateparks. 

"I don't have a good understanding of how we're communicating that other than having disappointed teenagers to show up to the skatepark and see yellow tape over it," he said.

"I think this is a recipe for noncompliance and problematic." 

David Aitken, chair of the city's COVID-19 task team, said peace officers will do regular patrols and the city will put up signs to explain social distancing requirements.

Summer camps will not be held this summer. Laughlin said the city would lose too much money offering them with physical distancing measures. 

Patio blitz

The city has received 37 new applications for patio extensions, most for downtown, 124th Street, Old Strathcona and Stony Plain Road.  

One lane of Whyte Avenue is closed to traffic between Gateway Boulevard and 105th Street. 

As of Thursday, the city blocked off a westbound lane on Whyte Avenue between Gateway Boulevard and 105th Street to make more room for patios and sidewalk space. (Natasha Riebe/CBC)

The city is allowing more businesses to use the sidewalks in front of their shops as patios, so the westbound lane will become the new sidewalk. 

E-scooters come back

Electric scooters, a popular way to get around Edmonton streets last summer, will be allowed back this year. 

The city is working with vendors on bringing them back in phases, beginning with a small number of e-scooters starting June 1.

The companies — last year Lime and Bird offered e-scooters in Edmonton — are coming up with enhanced cleaning protocols as well as health messages on the app and on the scooters themselves. 

The e-scooters will also now be corralled in designated areas to facilitate daily cleaning, the city says. 

If essential criteria are met, the companies can expand, the city says.

The number of e-scooters could be as many as 2,400 e-scooters at peak times. 

On Thursday, council also renewed the city's state of local emergency for the 11th week.