The Pulse: Jan. 22, 2021

Here's what you need to know about Edmonton today.

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  • -3°C: Light snow ending in the afternoon then a mix of sun and cloud. Wind becoming northwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 in the afternoon. High minus 3. Wind chill minus 13 in the morning and minus 8 in the afternoon. (forecast)
  • 5pm: The Oilers (2-3-0) will play the Maple Leafs (3-2-0) again in Toronto. (details)
  • 100: The Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues (EFCL) is celebrating its 100th birthday with a party on Jan. 23. (@EFCL)

'Innovative germ-killing biotechnology' rolling out at select Edmonton transit stations

'Innovative germ-killing biotechnology' rolling out at select Edmonton transit stations

By Jackson Spring Jackson Spring

The simple act of opening a bus station door can be anxiety-inducing during a pandemic.

As a potential solution, Edmonton Transit Service (ETS) has entered into a partnership with local startup Outbreaker Solutions Inc. to implement new antimicrobial push plates, made of compressed salt, on the doors of eight LRT stations and two transit centres in the city.

The push plates were installed at Bay/Enterprise Square LRT Station as of Jan. 19, said transit spokesperson Rowan Anderson. The others will be in place "over the next month or so."

The six-month pilot program won’t cost taxpayers anything, said Craig McKeown, director of operations and maintenance of ETS.

"We're allowing Outbreaker to utilize our public spaces ... to the benefit of our riders and our public, and to the benefit of Outbreaker, as (it gets) the opportunity to trial and test and continue to use its products, to see how well this works."

McKeown added that there is an option to extend the agreement beyond six months, if the COVID-19 pandemic persists and the push plates are effective.

Matt Hodgson, co-founder of Outbreaker, said the sodium chloride surfaces can kill germs like bacteria, viruses, and fungi far faster than existing antimicrobial surfaces. They could be effective at reducing the spread of COVID-19. The salt is compressed into a "ceramic-like surface” and can be applied to any commonly touched areas.

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By Emily Rendell-Watson Emily Rendell-Watson

  • COVID-19 restrictions are still in place for local businesses, including the hospitality industry. This comes after personal and wellness services were allowed to open on Jan. 18.
  • Two Alberta towns are already feeling the pain of the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline. "It’s really disappointing for us,” said Douglas Irving, mayor of Hardisty. "It’s a big loss in revenue for the town — for our hotels and restaurants."
  • An unconscious bias training course will be mandatory for Edmonton police officers. "The module's objective is to give staff the chance to reflect on how unconscious biases can negatively impact their work, while offering strategies to manage those biases," writes CBC News.
  • The Jan. 21 COVID-19 update from the province marked 1,500 people lost to the pandemic since last March.
Spinoff targets cannabis bargain hunters

Spinoff targets cannabis bargain hunters

By Paul Cashman Paul Cashman in the Business Roundup

Retailer Alcanna is spinning off its cannabis division as it targets consumers looking for cheaper weed. The Edmonton-based operator of more than 270 liquor and cannabis stores will merge its marijuana outlets with YSS Corp. in a new company called Nova Cannabis Inc. with 53 retail locations in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario.

The publicly traded offshoot will rebrand 80% of locations as Value Buds to attract the cost-conscious customers it estimates are 70% of the recreational market. It’s a shift in strategy from what the CEO of the new company calls the focus on the “Apple store of cannabis retailing” when the industry first launched.

"This new offering, new Nova Cannabis, is really laser-focused on a segment of the marketplace that's proven to exist — and that's the value-conscious consumer," Darren Karasiuk, a former Aurora Cannabis chief commercial officer, told BNN Bloomberg.

Karasiuk, an Alcanna board member since 2019, told New Cannabis Ventures the spinoff is following the same strategy used to capture the discount alcohol market with brands Wine and Beyond, Liquor Depot, and Ace Liquor.

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Podcast pick: Hardboiled

Podcast pick: Hardboiled

By Karen Unland Karen Unland

Hardboiled, a queer noir mystery series set in Edmonton in 1936, has released the thrilling conclusion to its first season.

Our hero is Jacqueline “Jack” Cassidy (Ceris Backstrom), a wise-cracking detective who solves crime with the help of her plucky secretary Effy Strembitsky (Lauren Hughes). As writer and director Celia Taylor puts it, it's "an affectionate homage to the detective radio serials of the 1930s and 40s - but with more lesbians, and less racism."

This is one that you're going to want to binge from the beginning, as there's a story arc that concludes in a very satisfying way in the finale. So start with Episode 1: Is Your Washroom Breeding Bolsheviks?

The podcast is produced by Empress of Blandings Productions, which made its debut at the 2016 Fringe. It was made with the support of the Edmonton Pride Centre, the Edmonton Heritage Council, the Edmonton Community Foundation, and the Edmonton Arts Council. And yes — it's very Edmonton.

Listen to audio
Quiz time: City hall

Quiz time: City hall


Test your knowledge of Edmonton with this daily quiz, brought to you (for now) by your friends at Taproot Publishing:

Who was the first woman elected to Edmonton's city council?

  1. Ethel May Browne
  2. Una Evans
  3. Jan Reimer
  4. Izena Ross
  5. Ethel Wilson

See Monday's issue of The Pulse for the answer.

The answer to the Jan. 21 quiz was b — Edmontonia longiceps, named after the Edmonton Formation, now known as the Horseshoe Canyon Formation.

Taproot Publishing helps communities understand themselves better. If you need help to pay attention to your community, consider our Spotlight product for businesses and organizations.

Photo by Mack Male

Learn more

Yesterday's edition of The Pulse incorrectly stated that Amarjeet Sohi is the former national defense minister. He is in fact the former natural resources minister.