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Central Edmonton residents call for ban on knife sales at corner stores: ‘They’re designed to kill’ – Edmonton

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Central Edmonton residents call for ban on knife sales at corner stores: ‘They’re designed to kill’ - Edmonton

A group of residents in central Edmonton say some weapons are too easily accessible and want the city to bring in restrictions.

Former city councillor Allan Bolstad lives in the Alberta Avenue area where he said switchblade knives and other edged weapons can be bought in convenience stores.

“I stood there for five minutes looking at these, thinking, this is bad,” Bolstad said.

“This is awful because when you look at the knives, they’re designed to kill people.”

Bolstad has been involved in community leagues for many years and is on the board of the Alberta Avenue league. He approached Arts on the Ave executive director Christy Morin with his concerns. Morin decided to walk into one corner store and purchase two knives.

“I wanted to see how easy it was for someone to go buying these weapons at our corner store and it was pretty quick,” Morin said.

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“I got some candy and I got two weapons.”

Morin’s organization and several central Edmonton community leagues are united in their concerns over the accessibility of knives, given how the city’s core also is home to many vulnerable people struggling with homelessness and addictions.

“It’s really scary because when you’re working in critical care communities like the Alberta Ave district and areas, McCauley, Queen Mary Park, all over the city, we are dealing with people who are using heavy drugs and you’re sort of wondering: how are they going to manage a knife like this?” she said.

She also said carrying weapons is becoming normalized amongst kids in central Edmonton.

“We talked to the different youth centres and they said kids are carrying these every day.”


The two switchblade knives Arts on the Ave executive director Christy Morin was able to purchase at a central Edmonton convenience store on Wednesday, April 3, 2024.


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“There’s nothing to stop someone from buying five or six and giving them to their friends and all acting as tough guys at school or whatever else,” Bolstad said.

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“It’s just really dangerous.”


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The issue isn’t isolated to one street or neighbourhood.

Nunu Desalgne owns a speciality foods and grocery store along 107th Avenue and said knife violence is a growing problem. A fatal stabbing happened not far from her business back in December.

“That was unacceptable and we should not have to go through that. We should not have to witness that,” Desalgne said of the attack near 107 Avenue and 104 Street on Friday, Dec. 22, 2023. Harley Herman, 34, was stabbed to death outside a convenience store and died on scene.


Police tape surrounds the parking lot outside a convenience store near 104 Street and 107 Avenue.


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Desalgne wants to see change for commercial and personal reasons.

“One of the biggest reasons I am a mom. I have three kids and I do want my kids to grow up in a safe community. I want my kids to feel safe. Secondly, I am also a business owner in the 107 area and we have these issues,” Desalgne said.

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“I don’t feel safe and comfortable bringing my kids to work and I shouldn’t have to feel this way.”

“Most business owners are female and we actually don’t feel safe in our own businesses. So this needs to be addressed.”

Desalgne said she sees police working hard to do what it can, but said citizens also needs to come together and put their food down on the prevalence of knives in the wider community.

“It may not happen where your area is today, but it’s coming. So I think we need a stronger bylaw to protect every Edmontonian’s future.”

Central Edmonton community leagues say one way to curb violence in their area is to restrict the sale of knives in corner stores. The groups hope to change the bylaw surrounding what type of stores these knives can be sold at.

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Bolstad was a city councillor from 1992 to 2004, and knows what kinds of things the city can and can’t do.

“They have the legislative tools with their business license rules,” Bolstad said, explaining while an outright ban is federal jurisdiction, a good first step at the local level would be restricting what can be sold where.

“They already prohibit all sorts of other things in retail stores — you can’t sell firearms, for example, or you can’t sell alcohol in retail stores and a number of other things — and so they just need to add one more to the list.”

The group, led by Arts on the Ave and the Alberta Avenue Community League, is holding a meeting Wednesday night to discuss next steps and will be bringing their concern to a city council meeting next week.

The issue is set to be discussed at an urban planning committee on April 9. Ward Metis councillor Ashley Salvador said she’s heard from residents and hopes to learn more about what tools they can use.

“There are limitations on the city side as to what we can regulate before it gets into federal legislation and regulation. But I do hear there’s a desire to speak about this at the business licensing bylaw conversation happening this coming week,” Salvador said.

That said, Salvador said she’s heard more and more in recent months from constituents and community members about the sale of knives at convenience stores and is eager to see what is within the city’s control.

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“I have questions about what tools and opportunities are available within the city’s control. I’m very open to looking at those so that we can be responsive to those community concerns, she said.

“Everything is starting to bubble up in a bigger way than it has in the past.”

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