The Pulse: June 8, 2021

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  • 16°C: Cloudy. Wind becoming southeast 20 km/h in the afternoon. High 16. (forecast)
  • 20: With the most wins (20), the most points (41) and an irregular WHL season, the Oil Kings could take home this year's Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy. (details)
  • Nov. 12-13: Rogers Place will host the 2021 Professional Bull Riders National Finals this fall. (details)

Virtual investment summit last fall

Startup TNT names finalists for Investment Summit III

By Emily Rendell-Watson in the Tech Roundup

Startup TNT has announced the ten finalists for its Investment Summit III on June 17. The five finalists from Edmonton include AlignVR, Birdie Break, Goal Zero, HonestDoor, and QuoteToMe.

"With perennial favourite Startup TNT Jeopardy kicking things off, the pitches start at 5pm. We'll be hosting a VC pitch night as part of the summit this spring as well as inviting some musical guests. We want it to be an awesome experience for the investors, the entrepreneurs, and the audience," said Zack Storms, founder and chief organizer of Startup TNT.

"But most importantly, we'll be helping local investors invest in local startups."

There will be $150,000 or more up for grabs for one Edmonton and one Calgary company at the summit. Here's a look at who is pitching from Edmonton, courtesy of Startup TNT:

  • AlignVR enables HR departments to make hiring decisions by generating genuine behaviours among job applicants.
  • Birdie Break provides access to agency-quality childcare professionals through an app.
  • Goal Zero helps small and mid-size enterprises outsource their health, safety, and environment management system.
  • HonestDoor is creating a comprehensive source of commercial and residential real estate information in Canada.
  • QuoteToMe has digitized the purchasing workflow for the construction industry and uses a B2B marketplace to connect buyers and sellers efficiently.
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By Michelle Ferguson

  • On Monday, Edmonton city council voted unanimously to change the name of Grandin LRT station and cover up the mural depicting a residential school. All references to Bishop Vital Grandin, a proponent of the residential school system, will be removed from city property as soon as possible.
  • The city will begin a phased reopening of its recreation facilities and attractions when the province moves into Stage 2 of its summer reopening plan on June 10.
  • The University of Alberta recently published a study highlighting the benefits of supervised consumption sites in Alberta. The study found a correlation between increased visits to provincial sites and a decline in overdose deaths between 2017 and 2020. Edmonton is currently experiencing a spike in overdoses.
  • The city is investing $9.88 million into the Edmonton International Airport in an effort to attract new routes and establish new ones post pandemic. Council voted in favour of the funding on Monday.
  • Vaccination rates have started to slow in the province. "We're getting to that critical point right now where every additional person who decides to get their first dose is going to be able to accelerate the full openness of Alberta," said Kenney.
  • Updated quarantine rules for those who are partially or fully vaccinated do not apply to primary- or secondary-school students, reports Global News.
  • Premier Jason Kenney apologized for hosting an outdoor dinner atop the Sky Palace that violated COVID-19 public health orders.
Alexis Hillyard featured by Google

Stump Kitchen's Alexis Hillyard featured by Google

By Sharon Yeo in the Food Roundup

This week, local YouTube star Alexis Hillyard was featured by Google in a new YouTube video showcasing her efforts to create "a safe space to celebrate the amazing, unique ways we move through the world."

Hillyard, an LGBTQ+ and disabled chef known for her popular Stump Kitchen video series, has been producing videos on her YouTube channel for five years. In that time she has amassed more than 5,000 subscribers and nearly 600,000 views.

Hillyard credits a lot of her success to the city she is proud to call home.

"The community here is so vibrant," said Hillyard. "It's so small but it's so big; we have incredible local businesses and creators that I can learn from, and it's the kind of city where you can have an impact and be known and not get lost in the rumble of a big city."

The video feature came together quickly over the last few months. "Google googled me and said they were looking for creators to feature and they were looking for disabled or queer creators that were having a good impact," said Hillyard. "They found my page and loved it and knew they wanted to feature me right away."

Her videos highlight vegan and gluten-free recipes, often assembled using her stump as a kitchen tool. She uses her platform to celebrate limb differences, and more recently, after having a baby, focus on parenting with one hand.

Filming occurred over two days in April with strict COVID-19 protocols in place with Google staff in town from Toronto and Vancouver. Hillyard had a strong say in what content was filmed, including scenes with her partner and child.

"I was called a creative consultant on the ground because I got to shape what they caught on camera," said Hillyard. "It was not artificial."

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Chart of the week: Fighting the bite

Chart of the week: Fighting the bite

By Jackson Spring

Edmonton experienced lower mosquito activity than it has in the past five years this spring.

This chart shows the average number of mosquitoes that have been found in the city's light traps in May since 2016, using City of Edmonton data that records the traps each week from May to October. Although Edmonton is home to more than 30 species of mosquitoes, this data only records "nuisance mosquitoes" - ones that typically bite humans.

A description of the data set said that the traps do not give a perfect idea of the number of mosquitoes in the city, since the trap counts can be confounded by factors like wind, and the city sometimes experiences trap failures or changes their locations from year to year. However, the trap counts provide a good overall picture of the variations in mosquito activity.

Just 41 mosquitoes were found across 25 traps in May 2021. This is slightly less than last year, when 46 mosquitoes were found across 26 traps.

The City of Edmonton anticipated the low counts, because of conditions earlier in the year.

"We are coming out of a very dry winter," Mike Jenkins, the city's pest management coordinator, told Global News in April. "Our spring so far has been very dry and at times cool."

Weather data measured at the Edmonton Blatchford station showed that, in March and April, Edmonton received less than one quarter of the average precipitation for those months.

Last fall, city council voted to terminate an aerial program that used helicopters to spray areas on the outskirts of the city. However, reports that this could result in mosquito populations increasing by 40% prompted council to reinstate the program on May 3 for the 2021 season.

In contrast to the low activity over the past two years, May 2018 had the second highest on record, due to high levels of moisture. The city recorded more than 10 times the number of mosquitoes per trap than this year. To make matters worse, the high activity included an outbreak of a particularly aggressive species.

Luckily, Edmonton is not likely to see swarms of these active mosquitoes this year, even if overall mosquito activity picks up later in the summer, since the species tends to only show up in spring.