Edmonton mayor and council took a last photo with retiring city manager Linda Cochrane. // Chelsea Novak

City council votes to ban conversion therapy in Edmonton

Edmonton city council adopted a bylaw that will ban conversion therapy in the city on Tuesday.

Bylaw 19061 prohibits businesses from providing or offering conversion therapy with a fine of no less than $10,000 for anyone in contravention of the bylaw.

It further stipulates that “[i]n the case of an offence that is of a continuing nature, a contravention constitutes a separate offence in respect of each day, or part of a day, on which it continues and a person guilty of such an offence is liable to a fine for each such day.”

The bylaw was not passed without some discussion.

Coun. Jon Dziadyk said that while he fully supported banning the practice of conversion therapy for minors and “vulnerable people, but there is a bit of a debate happening in society about the role of government and consenting adults.”

Dziadyk made a motion for the bylaw to be re-drafted to prohibit the practice for minors only, but the motion did not receive a seconder.

Coun. Andrew Knack clarified with city staff that the bylaw does not prohibit anyone from seeking out spiritual guidance and that it is prohibiting only conversion therapy to change someone’s sexual orientation.

The bylaw was ultimately passed unanimously.

Council honours city manager upon her retirement

Mayor Don Iveson and the rest of city council took time to recognize city manager Linda Cochrane, as she recently announced her retirement, which will take effect at the end of 2019.

Her career with the City of Edmonton spanned 38 years, according to Iveson, and to commemorate her departure from the city, council commissioned former poet laureate Mary Pinkoski to writer her a poem—”Linda’s Edmonton.”

“I, along with city council, feel extremely privileged and honoured to have had the opportunity to work with Linda to make our city a more desirable place to live and work,” said Iveson. “And Linda, your passion for city-building has been a driving force for the progress that we’ve seen over the past several years, and you’re leaving an indelible mark here our city.”

Cochrane was visibly moved by the tribute and the poem and thanked the mayor and council in her farewell speech, as well as the 14,000 city employees she worked with.

She was especially touched by the poem.

“I can’t believe I got a poem from Mary Pinkoski,” she said. “I just think she’s brilliant.”

Cochrane said that she would miss the people she worked with, but also the work itself.

“I’ll miss the work because the work mattered,” she said. “I always believed that the work made a difference in the lives of people we serve.”

Council looking for options to regulate inappropriate feeding of wildlife

Councillor Sarah Hamilton introduced a motion that asked city staff to report back on “complaints received regarding inappropriate feeding of wildlife and [to] provide options to regulate nuisance conditions that may arise from inappropriate feeding or other behaviours involving wildlife.”

Hamilton explained that the intention of the motion was to help preserve and protect Edmonton’s diverse wildlife and to address reports of people throwing “chunks of meat into the River Valley at all hours” and dumping food items.

“So I would like to bring forward this motion so that we can better steward the environment and the wildlife that are a huge and important part of our city,” she said.

Henderson supported the motion, as he said he was aware of at one on-going situation where a person has been feeding coyotes.

“We just haven’t had the tools to stop it from happening, and it’s creating a real safety issue for the people along there,” he said.

Coun. Scott McKeen asked if pigeons would be included in the motion and Coun. Mike Nickel gave an example where someone scattered birdseed across a crescent, attracting a large flock of pigeons to the annoyance of the neighbours.

Staff agreed pigeons would be included in the report, and the motion carried unanimously.

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