The Pulse: April 22, 2021

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

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  • 11°C: Mainly cloudy with 30% chance of flurries in the morning. Clearing in the afternoon. Wind north 30 km/h gusting to 50. High plus 3. Wind chill minus 9 in the morning. (forecast)
  • 4-3: The Oilers (27-16-2) lost to the Canadiens (20-15-9). (details)
  • Aug. 5: The CFL has pushed its 2021 season back to Aug. 5, which Edmonton Football Team CEO Chris Presson called "realistic". (details)
  • 0: No tickets or formal warnings have been issued to e-scooter riders so far this year. (details)

Sarah Chan and Jhenifer Pabillano look at the camera laughing, in a black and white portrait.

On a Midlife well-lived

By Fawnda Mithrush in the Arts Roundup

In the same week that many ironically wished they could just turn 40 already, longtime friends Sarah Chan and Jhenifer Pabillano dropped a sparkly new anthology that uniquely celebrates the milestone.

Authored by a cohort of alumni who shared their undergrad days at The Gateway, the University of Alberta's weekly newspaper, Midlife is a collection of essays from Edmonton's Gen X/millenial cusp. With notable contributors like illustrator extraordinaire Raymond Biesinger, New York Times bestselling cookbook author Leanne Brown, and Mayor Don Iveson (Chan's husband), the tome is a treasure of local lore and friendly reminiscing.

"It was always meant to be a gift for our friends," says Chan. "It was a labour of love."

It came together remarkably quickly, too — the contributors were pitched on January 2, and save for a month-long delay in printing, the publication was ready to launch in under 90 days.

"We wanted to mark that it's been a year since we've all been locked away," Chan adds, noting that the list of contributors are generally extremely busy folk. "There was no way that any of these people would have been able to do all of this, but because of the pandemic, everyone had the time."

Pabillano also notes that they consciously chose to keep the list of writers gender-balanced — a detail that was oft-ignored in newsrooms of yore.

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By Emily Rendell-Watson and Mack Male

  • City council has decided to keep the current transit cash fare of $3.50 in place until at least next February. It was considering a 25% increase but decided against the move until the new smart fare options are available to Edmontonians.
  • The city has agreed to spend $12 million in 2021 on COVID-19 initiatives to help Edmonton deal with the pandemic. "The funding includes tax relief for businesses in 13 areas of the city and $1.3 million to support vaccination operations at the EXPO Centre," reported CBC News. The city will also make it easier for Edmontonians to pay property taxes during the pandemic.
  • Edmonton International Airport is the first airport in the world to sign The Climate Pledge, it announced on April 21. Signatories agree to be carbon neutral by 2040. EIA said approximately 70% of its carbon emissions are related to electricity usage.
  • Earlier this week, city council approved the revised Community Energy Transition Strategy which features targets aligned with the Paris Agreement. The strategy “is a jobs, public health and quality of life plan, as much as it is a climate response,” said Mayor Don Iveson.
  • Albertans will now get three hours of paid leave to get a COVID-19 vaccine. MLAs sped through three readings in the legislature in the evening on April 21.
  • Close to 40 members of the University of Alberta's science faculty are calling on UCP MLAs "to support the private members' bill that would ban coal strip mining on Alberta's eastern slopes." Read their letter to the government here.
Indigenous entrepreneurs on the rise in Alberta

Indigenous entrepreneurs on the rise in Alberta

By Tom Murray

Mallory Yawnghwe is determined to help people share stories and reconnect through her brand-new business venture: Indigenous Box.

The quarterly subscription box service includes products by Indigenous artisans from across Canada. It launched quietly in March and sold out within three days. When it was restocked for a second run in April, the boxes were snapped up in 24 hours.

“It’s been incredible,” says Yawnghwe, who notes that Indigenous Box is meant for everyone who wants to support First Nations artisans. “We hear from people about how these items are helping them reconnect with their family, or how they sit with their daughter picking things from the box, talking about what the kokum scarf means to them. They’re sharing stories with their kids, and that’s powerful.”

Yawnghwe is one of a rapidly growing number of Indigenous entrepreneurs who are finding innovative ways to thrive in an uncertain economy. Substantially so, with the Royal Bank of Canada predicting that the Indigenous economy will more than triple in size over the next three years from $30 billion in 2020.

According to Marcela Mandeville, chief executive officer of Alberta Women Entrepreneurs (AWE), there’s always a mix of opportunity and challenge when it comes to starting your own business, especially for Indigenous business owners.

“One of the problems for Indigenous women entrepreneurs that we work with is location,” she says. “By the nature of where they sometimes are in rural areas there’s also a disconnect from opportunities and networks to help them build revenues and perhaps bring money into their business. That’s long been an issue for many people.”

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A newspaper clipping from 1929, headlined "Cost will be near $75,000, report shows"

A moment in history: April 22, 1929

By Scott Lilwall

On this day in 1929, city officials were discussing the costs of building the 97th Street Subway downtown.

The estimate came after a "parley" between Edmonton's mayor at the time, Ambrose Bury, and a representive from Canadian National Railway. The railroad's tracks crossed 97th Street, and an agreement stated that the city would have to pick up half the cost of between $75,000 and $100,000, which is about $1.1 million to $1.5 million in 2021 dollars.

When we think of the word "subway" now, it probably conjures up images of trains speeding through tunnels. But in 1929, citu officials used it to describe what we'd probably call an underpass today. The 97th Street Subway dipped underneath the railroad tracks before popping back up just north of downtown. At the time, the street was one of the main routes for the city's streetcar system and a busy roadway. When the subway was finished, it provided a safe route for the vehicles and pedestrians crossing the tracks in and out of downtown.

While the the tracks are no longer in use, the 97th Street Subway and its bridge are still an Edmonton landmark. It serves as a threshold between downtown and the northern section of Chinatown. In 2016, the unused bridge over the subway was turned into LIVINGbridge, an urban garden and gathering place, before being dismantled two-and-a-half years later.

The 97th Street Subway serves as a reminder of the challenges faced by many western Canadian cities built around the railroad. While serving as a vital link for trade, tourism and industry, they can also be a hurdle when it comes to traffic and pedestrians. It's still an issue in 2021; just last week, the City of Edmonton unveiled the design for a new overpass to cross the railroad tracks on 50th Street. The project is expected to begin next year.

This is based on a clipping found on Vintage Edmonton, a daily look at Edmonton's history from armchair archivist @revRecluse — follow @VintageEdmonton for daily ephemera via Twitter.

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Weekend agenda

By Emily Rendell-Watson and Fawnda Mithrush

  • Mitchell Art Gallery (MAG) is displaying the 2021 Fine Art Grad Show from April 16-May 15. The exhibit can be viewed online or drop by outside to watch video art projected onto the east windows of Allard Hall.
  • Gallery@501 presents Walking Gently: Spirit Stories and the 13 Moons by Métis artists Leah Dorion and Gary Sutton, showing online until April 24.
  • Brian Webb Dance Company is running its 41st annual art auction, viewable online until April 25.
  • Theatre Network is running an online monthly book club (for plays!), where audiences can discuss Canadian plays with Edmonton playwrights. The company is also showing works-in-progress with playwrights in live-streamed development sessions of works slated for future premieres at the new Roxy Theatre. This month's session on April 25 will discuss câpân by Jacquelyn and Hunter Cardinal.
Edmonton's skyline under a rainbow

Quiz time: Industry


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

Which Edmonton-based company announced a goal in February to be carbon neutral by 2022 and net zero by 2030?

  1. ATB Financial
  2. EPCOR
  3. Katz Group
  4. PCL
  5. Stantec

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

The answer to the April 21 quiz was c — on April 12, city council's executive committee endorsed investing $100 million annually in the revised climate plan to reach Edmonton's emissions targets.

The next People's Agenda listening session will be on the topic of climate change. Join us online at noon on April 22.

Photo by Mack Male

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