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Edmonton Braces For Impact of City Worker Strike

Some 6,000 employees working for the City of Edmonton and Edmonton Public Library represented by Civic Service Union 52 are poised to go on strike on Thursday at 11 a.m., meaning dozens of municipal services and facilities will be shuttered.

In a news release published Tuesday, the city said all recreation, sport and leisure centres will be closed to the public, with some exceptions. Those exceptions include pre-arranged bookings and rentals, such as arenas, pools, gyms, and room bookings. Classes, like Learn to Swim and Aquatic and Safety Certification programs, including JUA Learn to Swim and Water Safety services will operate. Third parties with leased and licenced spaces in city facilities can operate as per their desired levels of operation, such as health and wellness operators like physical therapists, massage therapists, and food vendors.

The city says all attractions will be closed to the public, including Edmonton Valley Zoo, Muttart Conservatory, John Janzen Nature Centre, John Walter Museum and City Arts Centre. All drop-in and registered programs, including school field trips, are cancelled during the disruption, the city said. The Prince of Wales Armouries Heritage Centre is closed to the public and available for tenant access only. The city makes exceptions to all the above-listed attractions in the case of pre-arranged bookings and rentals; and said Cafe Bloom at Muttart Conservatory will remain open.

Edmonton Public Library notes on its website that it will close all its 21 branches.

Meanwhile, Edmonton Police Service said striking 911 dispatchers will be replaced by “non-frontline officers,” in a Tuesday afternoon news release.

“All efforts are being made to ensure that impacts from strike actions have a minimal impact to frontline policing and EPS’ overall public safety responsibilities. Decisions on redeployments are being made to minimize the potential for public safety impacts,” the EPS news release said, while listing a number of other temporary service contractions. That includes limited hours at the police seized vehicle storage lot, and property and exhibition section. It also means suspended police information checks, and public postings for civilian job recruitment. Officer recruitment activities will continue, but EPS says it may be delayed.

Matt Jones, Alberta’s Minister of Jobs, Economy and Trade, said during the question and answer period of a Tuesday newsconference he hopes that the city and union, “come to a collaborative, mutually beneficial agreement,

“We are watching it very closely,” the minister continued, “there are some emergency communications officers that would be involved in the dispatch of emergency services, so that's of concern to me.”

Jones ruled out back-to-work legislation, unless, “the situation escalated to the point that Edmontonians or Albertans were at risk of harm or something catastrophic.”

“The province will of course monitor the situation and step in, if necessary, but I want to be clear: I respect the process,” said Jones.