The Pulse: Feb. 24, 2021

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

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  • 2°C: Mainly sunny. Wind up to 15 km/h. High plus 2. Wind chill minus 13 in the morning. (forecast)
  • 4-3: The Oilers (13-8-0) beat the Canucks (8-13-2) after coming back from a three-goal, first-period deficit. (details)
  • 344: The number of tickets for not wearing face coverings issued by City of Edmonton enforcement officers since Aug. 1, 2020. (details)

Edmonton city councillor says local water could be at risk for coal mine contamination in the future

Edmonton city councillor says local water could be at risk for coal mine contamination in the future

By Jackson Spring

The City of Edmonton is looking into the possibility of creating a strategy to protect the city's water from being contaminated by future coal mines.

On Feb. 22, council voted unanimously to direct administration to research the potential effects of coal mining projects on the city's water, and to look into how the city can protect itself against contamination from selenium — a toxin present in waste material from coal mining.

The provincial government has approved exploration for seven coal mining projects since 2019, some of which were given the go ahead after the government rescinded the 1976 Coal Policy last spring, which prevented mining on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. When the province temporarily reinstated the policy earlier this month following public pressure, one project was cancelled, but six others were allowed to continue.

According to the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, two of the projects are located in range of waterways that feed into the North Saskatchewan River, meaning there is potential for selenium to leak into Edmonton's source of water.

"If there was a leaking of selenium, there would be huge effects on our ecosystem," Coun. Aaron Paquette, who introduced the motion, told Taproot.

"While our drinking water could be impacted, so could all the life along that route, including the life in our river valley — from the fish to those who depend on the fish to survive."

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By Emily Rendell-Watson

  • The city has launched a $1.5 million-dollar grant program to convert "problem properties" into affordable housing. Under the new program, "organizations will be eligible for up to 40% of construction costs for the redevelopment of up to five residences," wrote the Edmonton Journal.
  • "More than 640 cannabis plants and $790,000 in equipment were seized in west Edmonton in February in what local police are calling the largest illegal operation they've seen since legalization," reported CTV News.
  • A new report from American-based commercial real estate and investment firm CBRE found that "continued growth in Edmonton’s industrial and tech markets is anticipated to bring more optimism to the city amid the COVID-19 pandemic," reported the Edmonton Journal.
  • University of Alberta psychiatry professor Dr. Peter Silverstone said he aims to treat mental illness with psychedelics through his new startup company PsiloTec Health Solutions.
  • In her latest column, Elise Stolte explored the question of when visitors may be able to re-enter care homes, given plummeting rates of infection among vulnerable Albertans who have received the vaccine.
  • Edmonton Fringe Theatre executive director Adam Mitchell will step down in March. Megan Dart will work as interim executive director until the position is permanently filled.
Sturgeon County pushing broadband agenda

Sturgeon County pushing broadband agenda

By Stephen Cook in the Regional Roundup

Sturgeon County gave first reading to a bylaw to allow the county to borrow up to $7.3 million for the first phase of its broadband strategy, which includes a pilot project in the Villeneuve area.

The reasoning given in a news release is twofold: to serve the needs of residents and businesses, as well as encourage economic growth.

"Without the county investment, businesses and residents will remain disadvantaged and this is why council is prepared to advance the strategy and borrow funds to cover the cost for the pilot project," Mayor Alanna Hnatiw said, adding that although the municipality is prepared to move forward alone it would do better with support from upper levels of government.

On Feb. 19, she posted a statement outlining the county's vision — and explained her concerns with the provincial and federal governments.

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Hepion Pharmaceuticals raises US$88.4M to accelerate drug development

Hepion Pharmaceuticals raises US$88.4M to accelerate drug development

By Hiba Kamal-Choufi in the Health Innovation Roundup

Hepion Pharmaceuticals has announced the closing of the company's latest public offering, which raised gross proceeds of US$88.4 million in less than a week.

The company is based in New Jersey, but Edmonton is the primary site for its research and development. 

Hepion's CEO Dr. Robert Foster, who is also an adjunct professor of pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Alberta, told Taproot that the funds will be used to continue Hepion's clinical research and to accelerate the company's drug development. 

The focus of the clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company is to develop treatments for liver disease. Hepion's lead oral drug candidate is CRV431, which targets multiple types and stages of liver disease.

"We are working on something called NASH, which is just an easier way of saying non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. It's basically a severe form of fatty liver disease," said Foster. "Our drug also can be used potentially for treating liver cancer." 

The funds that Hepion raised will help move the company beyond NASH. "Developing more than one more drug is what we're trying to do," said Foster. 

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Quiz time: Cycling

Quiz time: Cycling


Test your knowledge with this daily quiz, brought to you by the People's Agenda project:

What is deemed to be a safe distance for vehicles passing cyclists at speeds under 60 km/h in Calgary, under a bylaw Edmonton may emulate?

  1. 0.5 m
  2. 1 m
  3. 1.5 m
  4. 2 m
  5. 2.5 m

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

The answer to the Feb. 23 quiz was e — The work of six participants in this year's SkirtsAfire skirt design competition will be on display in Old Strathcona.

Taproot wants to know what key issue you want the candidates to talk about as they compete for votes in the 2021 municipal election, and why. Add your voice to the People's Agenda.

Photo by Kurt Bauschardt

Learn more