The Pulse: Feb. 16, 2021

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

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  • -11°C: Mainly cloudy. 60 percent chance of flurries in the morning and afternoon. Wind up to 15 km/h. High minus 11. Wind chill minus 24 in the morning and minus 16 in the afternoon. (forecast)
  • 6-5: The Oilers (9-8-0) lost to the Jets (9-5-1). (details)

New initiatives highlight Downtown and Old Strathcona businesses

New initiatives highlight Downtown and Old Strathcona businesses

By Sharon Yeo in the Food Roundup

A couple of new initiatives launched recently to encourage diners to support local businesses in the Downtown and Old Strathcona areas.

Explore Edmonton has created the Downtown Dining Pass, a free mobile passport that currently provides discounts at 11 participating businesses. The pass launched on Feb. 8, the same day in-person dining restrictions were relaxed, but both dine-in and take-out deals are available. The pass does not currently have an expiry date, but because of its digital nature, deals can be updated by the restaurant at any time. Additional businesses may also be added.

Explore Edmonton media relations manager Nancy Gordy shared that they wanted to curate a pass that wouldn’t overwhelm the consumer, hence the focus on Downtown businesses only at this time. “Many downtown restaurants have been hit hard by the pandemic, so we want to do all we can to help,” said Gordy. “We have been chatting about creating passes for other areas, businesses, and neighbourhoods as well.”

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By Emily Rendell-Watson

  • The city is mailing out more than 400,000 property assessment notices, and said overall there has been an average decrease of 2.4% since last summer.
  • Twelve Edmonton agencies are teaming up to help those hardest hit by COVID-19, and are asking the city for $1.5 million in grant funds to run programs through the end of the year. Executive committee is expected to review the proposal this week.
  • "The City of Edmonton had about 15.03 per cent of its residents receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) last year," reports Global News following an analysis of federal data by The Canadian Press.
  • A report from the city showed that a recent vehicle noise reduction pilot has had challenges including issues dealing with loud sirens, and that "recordings often aren’t strong enough evidence in court."
  • The World’s Longest Hockey Game has finished after 252 hours of playing in Edmonton. As of Feb. 15, the group had raised $1.84 million and counting for cancer research through the event.
Chart of the week: Restaurants return

Chart of the week: Restaurants return

By Karen Unland

The first week of data on restaurant reservations since restrictions were eased in Alberta on Feb. 8 shows that while some Edmontonians were happy to return to eating out, the number of seated diners remains far below what it was at this time last year, before COVID-19 reached pandemic proportions in Canada.

Based on data from Open Table on the year-over-year difference in the number of seated diners among restaurants using its software, Edmonton restaurants saw about 17% fewer diners on Feb. 8 compared to the same Monday last year. That's the smallest year-over-year gap they've seen since it dipped below 16% on Oct. 29.

But Tuesday through Saturday remained 40% to 68% lower than the year before. Valentine's Day did close the gap a bit, with just a 19% difference in reservations compared to the same Sunday last year, but that Sunday wouldn't have had the romantic connotations of V-Day itself, so the number of seated diners may have been on the low side to begin with.

Even if every available table is booked, restaurants won't exceed pre-pandemic numbers under the current restrictions, as tables must be two metres apart and can't have more than six people from the same household.

Experts have questioned the wisdom of resuming indoor dining, noting that because diners are not wearing masks while eating, the risk of aerosol transmission of the virus is high, particularly if the new, more transmissible variants take hold. The Edmonton Independent Hospitality Community expressed its concerns as well, with some reopening reluctantly and others staying closed to in-person dining.

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Startup Edmonton ushers in third Propel cohort

Startup Edmonton ushers in third Propel cohort

By Emily Rendell-Watson in the Tech Roundup

Startup Edmonton has announced the third cohort of its Propel program, a 12-week accelerator that aims to support tech entrepreneurs "as they solidify their business foundations and prepare to apply for accelerators, secure investment, and increase revenue."

According to the announcement, Startup chose companies that currently have a scalable tech-enabled product being used in market, that has been launched in the past year and a half. It also considered each applicant's understanding of why their product is a solution, and ability to show proof of customers or users.

“Building on the success of our foundational programs Business Model 101 and Preflight, Propel is a fantastic opportunity to support early-stage tech startups as they continue to push towards revenue growth and investment opportunities. Experts in product management, investment, team culture, artificial intelligence, and sales from trusted partners are on-hand to provide insight and advice when founders need it the most,” lead program manager Jessica Doody said in a release.

The cohort includes 11 companies:, Proshyft Inc., Local Beauty, Luuze, Robolution, Liquid Software, Laundrywell, ez enRoute, Financiio, Estimator Guys, and

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Coming up at council: Feb. 15-19, 2021

Coming up at council: Feb. 15-19, 2021

By Mack Male

Here are some of the notable agenda items coming before city council for the week of Feb. 15-19:

  • Administration recommends approving an agreement framework between the City of Edmonton and Prairie Sky Gondola, saying the proposed gondola "aligns with the goals and objectives outlined in key...strategic planning documents...and is supportive of the city's objectives." The project would be funded, constructed, operated, and maintained by Prairie Sky. The cost of construction is estimated at between $132 million and $155 million, with annual operating costs of at least $12 million.
  • The Indigenous Framework, co-created with members of Indigenous communities in Treaty Six Territory, is "a guide for how to strengthen the City's relationship between non-Indigenous and Indigenous Peoples." Administration says the framework will be implemented through "department-specific action plans and change management plans."
  • A funding proposal developed by Edmonton's Community Outreach Table would create "a multilingual, culturally sensitive intake and referral program (resource hub) to connect residents diagnosed with COVID-19 to resources in order to assist with isolation and prevention of further transmission." The budget is $1.5 million.
  • A progress update on Connections & Exchanges: A 10-Year Plan to Transform Arts and Heritage says that COVID-19 has had "a major impact" on the arts community, with local reports reflecting national statistics that show employment in the arts, entertainment, and recreation sector was down 32% in December 2020 compared to the year prior.
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Speaking Municipally: I'm ordering you to seed and desist

Speaking Municipally: I'm ordering you to seed and desist

By Mack Male

In Episode 116 of our weekly podcast on municipal politics, hosts Troy Pavlek and Mack Male are joined by Councillor Sarah Hamilton to discuss council's unanimous rejection of a policy on social media blocking.

"The kind of rudeness that I get is obscene, it's often crass, and it's meant to be intimidating," she said, explaining what she regularly deals with on social media and through email.

"The GBA+ lens applied to this makes it a pretty hard policy at this point to implement."

Troy and Mack also discussed the letter Troy received in the mail from Councillor Mike Nickel's lawyer.

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Quiz time: Time

Quiz time: Time


Test your knowledge with this daily quiz, brought to you by SkirtsAfire:

How many days long was the first SkirtsAfire?

  1. 2
  2. 4
  3. 6
  4. 8
  5. 10

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

The answer to the Feb. 12 quiz was a — Dana Wylie, the writer and performer of Makings of a Voice at SkirtsAfire, is releasing an album called How Much Muscle this year.

SkirtsAfire is Edmonton’s only theatre and multidisciplinary arts organization featuring women-identifying and non-binary artists. It’s happening online and outdoors March 4 to 14 — see what's on.

Learn more