As 2019 comes to an end, it’s time to look back on the Edmonton-area stories Global News readers found most interesting over the past year.
Wild weather once again made headlines, with flooding, ice jams and earthquakes topping our list.
Global Edmonton’s most-read articles of the year also included Oilers owner Daryl Katz’s shocking health battle, a WWE star’s (planned) Twitter rant about being pulled over for speeding and a contentious provincial election campaign.
Here’s a look back at the stories that drew the most attention from Global Edmonton’s online audience in 2019.
The Soundwave electronic music festival took place at West Edmonton Mall’s World Waterpark on Jan. 27. Three people attending were transported to hospital early that Sunday morning.
AHS told Global News two people were in stable condition and one was in serious condition.
At the time of this event, Edmonton city council was already researching how to make electronic dance music events safer.
A city-run advisory group, called the Electronic Dance Music Events Administrative Advisory Committee, brought together event and venue operators, police, Alberta Health Services and even the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton, and through their brainstorming, came up with new ways to run events.
“They’ve started to implement some of the best practices that we’re looking at,” said Nicole Poirier, the city’s director of civic events and festivals, in May. “We have seen that there has been a marked improvement in the number of medical transports.”
A man was arrested on a busy Edmonton street April 12 after more than a dozen vehicles were lit on fire in front of witnesses at area bars.
“One of my servers came running in the door saying she wanted to call the police,” said CJ Rowein, manager of the Next Act Pub. “I stuck my head out of the door and saw a guy sprinkling gas on cars down the street and lighting the tires on fire.”
The shocking incident also brought out acts of bravery. Two Good Samaritans became local heroes after stepping in to stop the man. They came to be known as “Hawaiian Shirt Guy” and “2×4 Guy.”
A 22-year-old man was later charged with several offences, including 11 charges of arson to property of others and assault with a weapon.
A busy part of downtown Edmonton was the sight of significant flooding on Friday, Feb. 15.
Edmonton Fire Rescue Services told Global News the flooding by 109 Street between 103 Avenue and 104 Avenue started when a water main line broke. EPCOR clarified Saturday the source was a 12-inch transmission line at the southeast corner of 108 Street and the south side of 104 Avenue.
“We just saw the fire trucks and the traffic was moving slow,” said Steven Rockarts, who was in his car Friday evening. “All of a sudden we were in a bunch of probably knee-deep water and you could actually see it flooding out of one of the parking lots.
“It was kind of scary cause it was already starting to freeze when we were sliding around in the water.”
Crews were able to isolate the break and turn the water off at around 4 a.m. the next morning. They had to keep the roads closed in order to clear away the ice. Several buildings, including an art studio, were damaged.
A little over a year after retail giant Sears closed its doors for good in Canada, another major retailer moved into the space in West Edmonton Mall.
The Brick opened its doors to customers at its new location on Sept. 8.
Many saw the move as the company expressing confidence in the ongoing viability of brick-and-mortar stores despite the rising popularity of online shopping.
The Brick, originally created in Edmonton, uses a combination of in-store experience and online services to adapt.
“It’s not going to be the end of physical retail,” said Kyle Murray, professor of marketing with the University of Alberta School of Business. “It’s still a big part of the market, but it’s going to evolve and probably a little faster than it has in the past.”
An adjournment was called at the Alberta legislature on Dec. 2 after a man died by suicide outside the provincial building.
The office of the speaker of the legislature said there was “a security incident shortly after 3 p.m… involving a firearm” on the front steps.
The incident prompted questions about safety and security at the legislature and surrounding grounds.
“The legislature and the public spaces around it are Crown property meant for the public’s use and enjoyment,” government spokesperson Jason van Rassel said.
“The Alberta Sheriffs are responsible for providing security at government facilities, while at the same time ensuring public safety at the legislature grounds. We will continue to strike a balance that preserves the safe functioning of our democratic institutions, while at the same time ensuring the public has access to its government and civic spaces.”
The incident also prompted emotional statements inside the legislature the following day, with several MLAs sharing emotional statements and stressing the importance of mental health resources and supports.
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.
If you are in need of support, you can call the Health Link at 811 or the Mental Health Help Line at 1-877-303-2642, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The Edmonton Police Service cancelled an Amber Alert March 16 that was initially issued for an eight-year-old boy.
Police said he was abducted by his mother from Waverley Elementary School on the Friday afternoon.
An off-duty Calgary Police Service member spotted the boy and his 31-year-old mother while driving the next morning.
She was arrested by RCMP in Okotoks and was charged with abduction. The child was returned to his father.
A 4.6-magnitude earthquake hit central Alberta near Sylvan Lake and Red Deer just before 6 a.m. on Monday, March 4, according to Natural Resources Canada (NRC).
The quake’s epicentre was just south of Red Deer and had a depth of one kilometre.
A professor of Geophysics at the University of Alberta said this earthquake, with the current data, is one of the largest the region has experienced.
“Magnitude 4s are not very common in Alberta,” Jeff Gu said. “Although, in the last few years, there have been a few events of that similar size.”
Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer said most Red Deerians felt the quake, herself included.
“I certainly did… Many Red Deerians woke up saying their house had shaken at about 5:55 this morning. We were certainly to surprised there had been earthquake activity.”
Daryl Katz made a rare public appearance at a news conference on May 7 and how he looked shocked Oilers fans.
The hockey team explained its owner had been battling a potentially life-threatening sinus infection for the past few years. The team confirmed Katz had three surgeries over 10 months and was scheduled to have one more surgery.
Tim Shipton with the Oilers Entertainment Group said the infection has a 50/50 survival rate. The exact type of infection is unknown but Shipton said it is antibiotic-resistant.
In September, Katz offered an update, saying it has been a battle.
“I’m relieved to tell you the worst is behind me and I’m going to be just fine.”
He added the community outreach and support he received was unexpected.
A video of a routine traffic stop in Edmonton went viral after a WWE wrestler posted it on her Twitter account on Sept. 21.
Wrestler Lacey Evans was in Edmonton for a WWE Live! show at Rogers Place.
The video shows an RCMP officer issuing her a violation ticket for speeding.
Evans can be heard saying: “Do you know who I am?”
“I have no idea,” said the officer, who is identified by a name tag as G.M. Brettell.
“WWE superstar,” she can be heard saying. “You should know exactly who I am.”
Evans later says: “You have a terrible day sir. Canada is terrible.”
The video garnered millions of views. Evans later issued a statement admitting the whole thing was planned.
The election of Alberta’s 18th premier was something Edmontonians did not want to miss, or be uninformed on.
From the dozens of riding profiles outlining every candidate running, to the promise tracker highlighting political campaign commitments, to live results, Global News was the go-to website for Alberta and Edmonton voters.
Global News also offered voters in-depth coverage through its one-of-a-kind fact check investigations, and a quick-and-dirty breakdown of where the major parties stood on some of the biggest policy issues in a robust election cheat sheet.
Then on election night, thousands of eager readers and viewers turned their eyes to the live election coverage that brought thoughtful analysis and reaction from across the province.
Feel free to vote for the story you thought dominated Edmonton in 2019 and if we missed something, please let us know in the comments section.