The Pulse: May 3, 2021

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

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  • 14°C: Mainly sunny. Wind becoming southeast 20 km/h near noon. High 14. (forecast)
  • 8pm: The Oilers (30-17-2) will play the Canucks (19-23-3). (details)
  • 2,433: Alberta reported 2,433 cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, the highest single-day total since the start of the pandemic. (details)

Startup Edmonton

Innovate Edmonton awarded $5M to help attract business accelerators

By Mack Male Mack Male

City council has approved $5 million in new funding for Innovate Edmonton to help make Edmonton more attractive to business and technology accelerators.

"Our city is demonstrating to the local startup and scale-up community that their businesses remain paramount to our economic future – and to Edmonton's future accelerators that they merit significant local investment," said Innovate Edmonton CEO Catherine Warren, who recently spoke to Taproot about her first four months on the job.

Alberta Innovates issued a request for proposals in March aimed at attracting and developing new business and technology accelerators in Alberta and said it will invest up to $25 million over three years in three or more accelerators. Applications closed on April 30 with the winners expected to be selected in mid-June.

The new funding, which is in addition to Innovate Edmonton's $5 million in core funding, will be allocated to accelerators based in Edmonton that are selected for the Alberta Innovates opportunity.

The push for accelerators is expected to result in 900 new tech companies, 2,000 new jobs, and $5 billion in revenue by 2030 across the province.

"We assessed the (Alberta Innovates) opportunity, undertook discussions with partners and ultimately came to the determination that council needed a chance to assess the opportunity for support as well," Warren told Taproot. "We went to council and the decision was made to support the accelerator ecosystem in this manner to help make Edmonton more competitive for attracting global accelerators."

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By Michelle Ferguson Michelle Ferguson

  • Around 200 people rallied outside Edmonton Police Services headquarters on May 1 to demand justice for an eighth-grade boy, identified as Pazo, who was attacked outside Rosslyn School on April 16. Last week, police chief Dale McFee said the attack was not a hate crime, despite the use of a racial slur by one of the attackers. Speakers at the rally said the police chief downplayed the incident by calling it a "consensual schoolyard fight."
  • Tipinawâw, the temporary shelter set up at the Edmonton Convention Centre, closed its doors on April 30. The shelter provided services to 5,000 separate individuals since it opened on Oct. 30, 2020, reports CBC News. A new 24/7 shelter will open in early May in the Spectrum building on the former Northlands racetrack site with 150 beds.
  • Mayor Don Iveson expressed disappointment that the new COVID-19 restrictions did not apply to all municipalities in the Edmonton metro region. "I've pushed, and will continue to push, for an Edmonton metro region approach to restrictions," he said, "because COVID-19 doesn't respect municipal borders." On Saturday, the City of Edmonton closed its recreation centres to comply with the new measures.
  • Sherwood Park native Chuba Hubbard was picked up by the Carolina Panthers in the fourth round of the NFL draft on May 1. Hubbard, who played three seasons for Oklahoma State, is the first Canadian running back taken in the NFL draft since 1996.
  • The City of Edmonton's 2021 Big Bin Events, which allow residents to dispose of large household items like couches, fridges, and yard waste, will run from May 7 until Sept. 19 at ten locations across the city.
  • Two Edmonton women are behind Vax Hunters Alberta, an initiative that aims to help as many Albertans as possible to book their vaccine appointments.
  • The spring sitting of the Alberta Legislature has been suspended for two weeks "in response to public safety concerns" and "to prevent further spread of COVID-19."
  • Premier Jason Kenney condemned the weekend rodeo held near Bowden. "Not only are gatherings like this a threat to public health, (but they are also) a slap in the face to everybody who is observing the rules to keep themselves and their fellow Albertans safe," he tweeted. Alberta Health Services is exploring its legal options in response to the event amidst rising criticism about a lack of on-the-ground pushback from authorities, reports CBC News.
A pile of masks from Unbelts. (Unbelts)

Public purchasing power leaves small businesses on the outside looking in

Governments laud social and sustainable procurement, but are they putting their money where their mouth is?

By Ryan Stephens Ryan Stephens

When COVID-19 arrived in North America and businesses everywhere braced for an unknown future, Claire Theaker-Brown’s thoughts turned to China and the relationships she had spent the last decade nurturing there.

Like many of Alberta’s entrepreneurs, the Unbelts founder was faced with sudden and crippling uncertainty: trade shows were cancelled, retailers shut their doors, borders closed, and supply chains fell apart. For Theaker-Brown, the survival plan wasn’t about turning inwards. Rather, she cast an eye outward, acknowledging her position as one of many actors in a complex entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Relationships are key for flourishing startups like Unbelts. Customers, suppliers, manufacturers, financiers, and even governments work with businesses to collectively fulfill needs. When one party doesn’t pull its weight, the rest suffer. For Unbelts, the Edmonton-based but Shanghai-bred accessories retailer, COVID-19 was an opportunity to show its commitment to the ecosystem it had helped build.

“It was about more than just Unbelts’ survival,” Theaker-Brown said. “It was also about the people that we buy from and the people that we sell to. It was taking a holistic view of our supply chain, seeing ourselves as part of that supply chain and figuring out what we needed to do to stay alive as a customer and also as a supplier.”

Within a month of COVID-19 reaching Canada, the enterprising Theaker-Brown had rerouted her energy and resources from selling the company's popular belts to making what would soon take the reins as the globe’s most ubiquitous accessory: face masks.

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Coming up at council: May 3-7, 2021

Coming up at council: May 3-7, 2021

By Mack Male Mack Male

Last week, community and public services committee recommended that a pilot project to allow public alcohol consumption in select parks run from May 28 to Oct. 11 and executive committee referred the second phase of the Edmonton Economic Recovery Grant to council without a recommendation. Both items will be considered by city council on Monday, May 3.

Here are some of the other notable agenda items coming before city council this week:

Meetings are streamed live on city council's YouTube channel.

Coming up this week

Coming up this week

By Emily Rendell-Watson Emily Rendell-Watson

  • The Edmonton Chamber of Commerce is hosting an event on May 3 with Erin O'Toole, the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. He will "outline his vision for Canada's economic future, his plan to help Canada recover from COVID-19, and his focus on rebuilding our economy and safely getting Canadians back to work in every sector and in every region of our country."
  • On May 4, social media strategist and blogger Linda Hoang will share how she turned her passion into her full-time business and advice for investing in yourself, building your own brand, and how valuable that can be for your business. The event is hosted by The Mawji Centre.
  • Mayor Don Iveson's final State of the City is on May 5 at noon.
  • The University of Alberta Botanic Garden brunch boxes are back, beginning May 6 (every Thursday to Sunday in May).
  • The Free Wheelin’ Food Truck Fest is on May 7 from 3-8pm.

Thanks to Shawna Lemay for sharing her photo with us!

A portrait of actor John Ullyatt

Quiz time: Performance


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

What show was John Ullyatt in rehearsal for when the pandemic shut down performances?

  1. Bread and Circus
  2. Candide
  3. Every Brilliant Thing
  4. Matilda
  5. Richard III

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

The answer to the April 30 quiz was c — TYP TOP Bakery's name comes from the Trinity Youth Project.

What do you want the candidates to be talking about as they compete for your vote? Add your voice to the People's Agenda.

Photo courtesy of John Ullyatt

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