The Pulse: March 12, 2021

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

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  • 10°C: A mix of sun and cloud. Wind up to 15 km/h. High 10. Wind chill minus 9 in the morning. (forecast)
  • 7pm: The Oilers (17-11-0) will play the Senators (9-19-1). (details)

Edmonton marks one year since the COVID-19 pandemic began

Edmonton marks one year since the COVID-19 pandemic began

By Mack Male

For many Edmontonians, this weekend marks the anniversary of when everything changed.

"This past year will likely be the toughest many of us have experienced: Edmontonians have missed key life events, been separated from our friends and family, lost livelihoods, and suffered deaths," said Mayor Don Iveson in a statement on March 11, 2021.

The first presumptive case of COVID-19 in Alberta was announced on March 5, 2020, with the first case in the Edmonton zone following the next day. But it was a series of events the following week that demarcated the "before times" and the "after times".

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. The next day, with four confirmed cases in Alberta, the province announced its first public health restrictions.

Reacting to the news, Iveson announced that an emergency city council meeting had been scheduled for March 13, 2020. “We need to act with caution but there is no need to panic. This is a serious health issue, and each of us can do our part to help limit the spread,” he said. At the meeting, city council suspended all meetings until the end of March, and announced enhanced cleaning protocols for transit and recreation centres. Closures followed shortly thereafter.

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By Emily Rendell-Watson

  • The province is deploying close to one million rapid COVID-19 tests across the province to long-term care homes, rural and remote hospitals, various industries, and more.
  • "A batch of AstraZeneca vaccine under investigation by international health authorities for possible links to blood clots is not part of Alberta's supply," reports CBC News. Dr. Deena Hinshaw assured Albertans on Thursday that the current doses being used here are safe.
  • Global News has written a piece that takes a look at the changes made to municipal election financing in Alberta, like how the UCP removed the cap on how much one person could donate to a candidate.
  • A new memorandum of understanding between Explore Edmonton and Indigenous Tourism Alberta aims to "support the development and marketing of Indigenous tourism businesses in the region."
  • The Edmonton Food Bank has launched a Mobile Food Depot, which is "equipped with shelving and supplies so we can transport hampers closer to clients in their local communities," it tweeted.
  • An old office building in downtown Edmonton has been converted into residential apartments. “When we talk about sustainability, the most sustainable building is the one you don’t have to demolish,” senior vice president Laurel Edwards told CTV News. “We saved 18,000 tons of waste from going into the City of Edmonton landfill.”
City finances: What Edmonton voters want municipal election candidates to consider

City finances: What Edmonton voters want municipal election candidates to consider

By Jackson Spring

Edmontonians want to know how candidates running in this fall’s municipal election would fund the city's long-term plans if elected.

That's what Taproot heard in the first of eight listening sessions prompted by the People's Agenda, a document that’s being compiled based on the responses to this question: What key issue do you want the candidates to talk about as they compete for votes in the 2021 municipal election, and why? Taproot's first listening session asked attendees to participate in a discussion about the city’s finances.

Resoundingly, participants said they want the city to look into raising money — finding new streams of revenue or expanding existing ones — to fund projects and not rely exclusively on cuts to balance its budget.

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Local businesses still at risk a year into pandemic

Local businesses still at risk a year into pandemic

By Paul Cashman in the Business Roundup

The first anniversary of sweeping province-wide restrictions on businesses to contain COVID-19 is coming up on March 17 and after a devastating year financially, campaigns are still needed to support Edmonton’s struggling firms.

Premier Jason Kenney’s government declared a public health emergency when the number of cases jumped to 97 and the City of Edmonton responded March 20 with its own health order and a decision to defer property tax payments and city utility fees – one of the first in a cascade of government pandemic financial relief programs.

The first round of restrictions in 2020 closed a wide range of businesses, from non-essential retail outlets to hair salons and bars, and it was only March 8, 2021 that Alberta completed Step 2 of its reopening plan by raising the capacity limit for retailers and malls to 25%. Step 3 will be considered on March 22 at the earliest for casinos and theatres.

Despite pressure on Kenney from sectors like the fitness industry to move faster on its four-step path forward, Edmonton Journal columnist David Staples writes: “I can’t see Kenney risking lives, not to mention his political career, on rapid re-opening.”

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Podcast pick: Trash, Art, and the Movies

Podcast pick: Trash, Art, and the Movies

By Karen Unland

Trash, Art, and the Movies, which draws its name from film critic Pauline Kael's famous manifesto, "pits arthouse cinema against brainless entertainment — and then declares a victor."

Edmonton-based film buffs Paul Matwychuk and Erin Fraser examine a highbrow film and a lowbrow movie that have something in common, then decide which they like best. Art usually wins, but trash prevails more often than you might expect. They also review new releases off the top.

Matwychuk started reviewing movies at The Gateway in the 1990s and continued on at Vue and SEE back when Edmonton had alt-weeklies. He started podcasting about film in 2010 with a show called DVD Afternoon. It morphed into Trash, Art, and the Movies in February of 2012, and has been going strong since.

Fraser is younger than Matwychuk but loves movies just as much and knows cinematic history just as well. She enjoys podcasting about movies so much that she has a whole other show called Bollywood is For Lovers, an appreciation of Hindi cinema that she does with her partner, Matt Bowes.

TAATM usually comes out a couple of times a month, and you'll want to budget some time — episodes tend to be more than 90 minutes long. You could start with their recent episode pitting the arty Swept Away against the trashy Overboard. But your best bet is to browse the catalogue for a show featuring two movies you've seen, to see if you agree with their assessment.

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Quiz time: Broadband

Quiz time: Broadband


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

Which city announced it is partnering with TELUS to bring PureFibre internet service to its downtown by 2022?

  1. Beaumont
  2. Fort Saskatchewan
  3. Leduc
  4. Spruce Grove
  5. St. Albert

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

The answer to the March 11 quiz was e — Chris Chang-Yen Phillips is the host of Taproot's listening sessions on the People's Agenda — the next one is on March 18.

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.

Image courtesy of TELUS PureFibre

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