The Pulse: May 18, 2021

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

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  • 13°C: Periods of rain. Risk of a thunderstorm in the afternoon. Amount 5 mm. Wind becoming west 30 km/h gusting to 50 in the afternoon. High 13. (forecast)
  • 7pm: The Oilers take on the Jets in Game 1 of the playoffs on Wednesday, May 19. (details)
  • 100%: The number of people with COVID needing ICU care has increased by 100% in the past month. (details)

YEG Startup Community Awards

Local startup awards to highlight success of tech industry

By Emily Rendell-Watson Emily Rendell-Watson in the Tech Roundup

A recent report from Alberta Enterprise Corporation indicated that the number of tech companies in Edmonton more than doubled from 394 in 2018 to 918 in 2021. The region also saw more than $168 million invested in 35 tech companies in 2020.

The inaugural YEG Startup Community Awards will celebrate that growth and success on Thursday, May 20 — recognizing volunteers, students, mentors, service providers and companies through 12 award categories.

"Our city has undergone so much growth in the last decade, and to finally have a place where everyone from this diverse and growing community can come together to celebrate our shared successes is a big deal," said Bradley Poulette, one of the event's organizers.

The finalists include companies who have already experienced a slew of success this year, like Jobber and DrugBank, which are both up for Best Startup Workplace. Newer names in the startup scene like Copysmith, Areto Labs, and Agriolabs, are up for New Startup of the Year, while cheerleaders Zack Storms, Ashlyn Bernier, and Colin Christensen will battle it out for Community Champion of the Year.

Emily Rendell-Watson, managing editor of Taproot Edmonton, is hosting (that's me!). The list of presenters includes Mayor Don Iveson, who will present the Most Edmonton Startup Award to the company that best embodies the spirit of the city's startup community.

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By Michelle Ferguson Michelle Ferguson

  • Edmonton police are investigating two reports of anti-Semitism that occurred over the weekend. Chief Dale McFee said there is currently "no indication" that the altercations were connected to the pro-Palestininan rally that took place on Saturday.
  • A special weather alert was issued for much of northern and central Alberta. Rain is expected to turn into wet snow on Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning. On Monday, a severe thunderstorm knocked out power in north Edmonton and Mill Woods.
  • Amarjeet Sohi has officially entered the race. The former councillor and federal cabinet minister announced his decision to run for mayor on May 17. If elected, Sohi said he would focus on building "an economy that works for everyone and does not leave people behind."
  • The Edmonton real estate market is expected to stabilize, according to a new report from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. The Housing Market Outlook forecasts that housing sales and prices will rise significantly this year, and moderate in 2022 and 2023.
  • The province is developing a summer reopening plan, announced Premier Jason Kenney on May 17. The plan will be "tied to the percentage of population to get vaccinated as well as hospitalizations," reports CTV News.
The Backyard patio

The Backyard brings a plethora of local food options to new outdoor gathering place

By Sharon Yeo Sharon Yeo in the Food Roundup

The Backyard, a new outdoor venue located in a vacant lot at 10004 103A Avenue in downtown Edmonton, aims to use the new gathering place to support local businesses.

"The Backyard believes that supporting local is more than a statement," Peter Stetsko, owner and operations manager of The Backyard, said in a news release. "It's a lifestyle."

Using art, lighting, and seating to create a sense of place, the centrepiece of The Backyard is its repurposed sea cans that can operate as a bar, pop-up kiosk, and washrooms. During the pandemic, the patio will be able to accommodate up to 150 people.

"There will be up to two food trucks on-site when The Backyard is open," Stetsko told Taproot. "To name a few, local favourites such as Coast Lunchbox, Sosyal Scoops, Drift, Casa 12 Doce, Smokehouse BBQ, and Laker Coffee will be on-site this summer."

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Chart of the week: The new battle of Alberta

Chart of the week: The new battle of Alberta

By Jackson Spring Jackson Spring

The Edmonton zone has maintained its narrow lead over the Calgary zone since the mayors of Alberta's largest cities entered a friendly competition for COVID-19 vaccine uptake last month.

On April 26, Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson remarked that the provincial government had started publishing more detailed data about its vaccine program, including a breakdown of doses administered by zone. He challenged Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi over Twitter to see which city could get its residents immunized the fastest.

"I say, challenge accepted!" Nenshi tweeted in response the following day.

This chart shows how the competition has been progressing, indicating the percentage of each zone's population that has received at least one dose of the vaccine, and the percentage that has received both doses. The City of Edmonton began compiling the data on April 25, using numbers from Alberta Health Services.

The zones also include surrounding municipalities.

When Iveson issued the challenge, 28.8% of the Edmonton zone had received one dose, compared to 25.9% of the Calgary zone. While Calgary has narrowed the gap slightly since then, as of May 15, Edmonton is still ahead by 2.5%, at 44.6% compared to 42.1%.

Calgary is catching up a little quicker when it comes to administering both doses. On April 26, 6.8% of the Edmonton zone was fully vaccinated compared to 5.8% of the Calgary zone. As of May 15, Calgary has cut this lead in half — 7.5% of the Edmonton zone is fully vaccinated compared to 7% of the Calgary zone.

Regardless of which city is winning, Alberta has the third highest number of doses administered per capita of any province in Canada, behind Saskatchewan and Quebec. As of May 15, 41.6% of the province has received at least one dose, and 7.3% is fully vaccinated.

Stephen Mandel in 2011

Speaking Municipally: Episode 129

By Mack Male Mack Male

"I think it's abhorrent, I think it's sickening, I think it's irresponsible. I can't give you enough adjectives."

That's former mayor Stephen Mandel sharing his thoughts on partisanship and provincial politics potentially drifting into the upcoming municipal election.

Mandel has experience in both orders of government. In addition to serving as Edmonton's mayor for three terms from 2004 to 2013, Mandel served as an Alberta MLA and cabinet minister from 2014 to 2015 and as leader of the Alberta Party from 2018 to 2019.

"What makes municipal government great is that we work together. There's no alignment on party lines, there's only alignment on getting things done," Mandel said.

The upcoming municipal election was just one of the topics Mandel spoke about in Episode 129 of Speaking Municipally. He also discussed his involvement in finding a new use for the Edmonton Coliseum, his take on the progress of the Blatchford development, and lessons learned from his run as leader of the Alberta Party.

Photo: Stephen Mandel in 2011 at the grand opening of the EPCOR Tower. (Mack Male/Flickr)

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Alt text: A graphic reading "Help send a kid with special needs to camp this summer!" with the logo for AdaptAbilities: Creating Success for Life"

Quiz time: Camp


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

What does it take to send a child to one week of Hearts in Action camp through AdaptAbilities?

  1. $250
  2. $500
  3. $750
  4. $1,000
  5. $1,500

See answer below.

Help send a kid with special needs to camp this summer. Donate today.

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Quiz answer: b — you can send a child to camp for one week with a donation of $500.