The Pulse: June 10, 2021

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

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  • 14°C: Becoming cloudy in the morning with a few showers. Fog patches dissipating in the morning. High 14. (forecast)
  • June 10: Stage 2 of the provincial reopening plan begins today. (details)
  • 168: According to AHS, 168 people showed up for the first day of a three-day, walk-in vaccine blitz at the Edmonton EXPO Centre. (details)
  • Aug. 7: The Elks could host the Ottawa Redblacks on Aug. 7, if the CFL approves the Aug. 5 start to the season on Monday. (details)

Hydrogen facility worth $1.3B planned for Edmonton region

Hydrogen facility worth $1.3B planned for Edmonton region

By Jackson Spring Jackson Spring

The provincial and federal governments announced a deal with Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. on June 9 to build the newest addition to the Edmonton Region Hydrogen Hub: a $1.3 billion hydrogen production facility in northeast Edmonton.

Air Products is aiming to have the facility up and running by 2024, which will produce both gas and liquid blue hydrogen with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions to be used as transportation fuel and in other industrial processes, the company said in a press release.

"We are paving the way for hydrogen from Edmonton to meet industrial and transportation needs throughout western Canada," said Seifi Ghasemi, Air Products' CEO.

Most of Alberta's hydrogen capacity is for blue hydrogen, which is produced by converting natural gas through a process called steam methane reforming, which emits carbon dioxide — coupled with carbon capture or sequestration. This is in contrast to green hydrogen, which is produced by converting water and has zero emissions.

Mayor Don Iveson praised the project, explaining that expanding hydrogen production will help the region's economy, and get the City of Edmonton closer to meeting its emissions reduction targets, since hydrogen can replace more carbon-intensive fuels like natural gas.

"We need many, many pathways to get to net-zero by 2050, but hydrogen is a big one," he said.

Iveson is a member of the leadership team for the Hydrogen Hub, which was set up in April to be a launching point for projects that can help develop a regional hydrogen economy. He said this will become increasingly critical for the region as the world transitions from carbon-intensive energy sources.

"I've unwaveringly been a strong advocate for investments like these, because I believe they are the key to ensuring our economic prosperity," he said, adding that the project would create an estimated 2,500 construction and engineering jobs, and contribute to local tax revenues.

Alberta already produces about 5.4 kilotonnes of hydrogen gas per day, according to a November 2020 report written by Alberta's Industrial Heartland Hydrogen Task Force — a group set up by The Transition Accelerator in conjunction with four Edmonton-area mayors, including Iveson.

The liquid hydrogen that will be produced can be burned as fuel or converted into electricity, in processes that only emit water and small amounts of heat — so no greenhouse gases.

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By Michelle Ferguson Michelle Ferguson

  • Nearly a year after voting to remove references to Frank Oliver, the Oliver Community League has launched a neighbourhood renaming project. An MP and federal minister, Oliver drafted many discriminatory policies against Indigenous peoples and other minority groups. The renaming process will be inclusive and Indigenous-led, said OCL in a press release.
  • Edmonton Public Schools has formally asked the provincial government to rewrite its draft K-6 curriculum and halt a pilot planned for the fall. A letter to the education minister states the curriculum contains mistakes, and is "not age-appropriate or reflective of Alberta's diversity."
  • The province is launching a pilot project on June 15 that will provide at-risk Edmontonians with publicly funded nasal naloxone kits. Critics say that the program won't solve the city's current overdose crisis.
  • Hundreds of Edmontonians gathered outside the Alberta legislature to pray for the Muslim family that was killed in a violent, racially motivated attack in London, Ont. over the weekend.
  • A new support line for 2SLGBTQIA+ launched in Edmonton on Tuesday. The line is operated by trained staff and volunteers from the Canadian Mental Health Association – Edmonton Region.
  • There is growing public support for Edmonton's bid to host the FIFA World Cup 2026, according to a series of surveys conducted by the City of Edmonton.
  • Premier Jason Kenney and several of his key ministers have repeatedly violated public health measures by hosting covert dinners throughout the pandemic, reports the Western Standard. Many of these alleged meetings occurred at Bottega 104, located downtown.
  • Premier Jason Kenney says he hopes that Edmonton will lift masking restrictions at the same time as the province. Earlier this week, Mayor Don Iveson said Edmonton could continue to impose a mask bylaw when the province enters Stage 3 of the reopening plan.
  • The Keystone XL project was officially canceled on Wednesday by owner TC Energy, after U.S. President Joe Biden revoked a key permit earlier this year.
Organizers cautiously anticipate a summer return to live performances

Organizers cautiously anticipate a summer return to live performances

By Fawnda Mithrush Fawnda Mithrush in the Arts Roundup

As vaccination rates tick ever closer to the requirements needed for Stage 3 of the provincial government's "open for summer" plan, concert organizers are leading the charge to get people back in seats. Foldable ones, at least.

The Edmonton Folk Music Festival has announced plans for Taking it to the Streets, a series of neighbourhood concerts that will scatter throughout the city during mid-summer weekends. Funded by EPCOR's Heart+Soul Fund and the festival, performers will get paid and audiences around town can enjoy the shows for free on lawns, roadsides, and alleys.

Folk fest producer Terry Wickham says there will be around 40 concerts in all, starting July 16, which will feature local roots and folk acts of the "usual suspects" variety. Houses that are interested in hosting a concert can check out the host package to find out more.

In the same vein, earlier this week event management firm Trixstar announced a series of safely distanced outdoor concerts to be held at the Racetrack Infield of the Edmonton Exhibition Lands (formerly Northlands Park). The Together Again concert series will run on weekends throughout August with popular lineups reminiscent of those found on the K-Days main stage.

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Municipal election rundown: June 10, 2021

Municipal election rundown: June 10, 2021

By Andy Trussler Andy Trussler

Every week in the lead up to Edmonton's municipal election on Oct. 18 we're rounding up the news and announcements you need to know to stay informed.

A list of all of the candidates who have announced they are running in the Edmonton municipal election is available here.

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

Photo: Mack Male/Flickr

A newspaper clipping about Big Island.

A moment in history: June 10, 1967

By Scott Lilwall Scott Lilwall

On this day in 1967, the City of Edmonton was mulling over the purchase of Big Island.

The proposal would have seen the city pay $245,000 for the 70-acre park, across the river from the current day neighbourhood of Windermere. The price tag would have also included the rusting remains of the Klondike Queen, a paddleboat that was beached on the island's banks.

At the time, Big Island wasn't the most impressive location (it also isn't always an island, depending on the height of the North Saskatchewan). The southern banks "looks like deserted war zones," Brian Kieran wrote in the Edmonton Journal. He noted that "stagnant ponds appear at intervals as if they were craters made by bombs."

Reading that, it's hard to believe that Big Island was once both a sought-after holiday destination and a vital resource for the growing city. When Fort Edmonton was first established, Big Island was seen as a bounty of natural resources, including coal and gold. But for a growing settlement, its timber was seen as the most important. Entrepreneur John Walter purchased the timber limit on Big Island in 1895. The trees would be felled and floated down the river to Walter's sawmill, located in the area that would eventually bear his name - Walterdale. That wood would fuel Edmonton's growth, providing material for many of the city's buildings over the coming decades.

Big Island's beauty attracted the occasional visitor in those times. But it wasn't until Walter bought two steamboats, the Scona and the City of Edmonton, that tourism took off. The boats pulled double-duty. On weekdays, they hauled cargo for Walter's business. On the weekends and holidays, they shuttled Edmontontians on excursions to Big Island. The three-hour trip from a dock under the Low Level Bridge to the island would include live entertainment and refreshments. Once on Big Island, visitors would enjoy picnics, outdoor games and nature walks.

Ever ambitious, Walter had plans to turn the island into a full-fledged summer resort. However, his plans were sunk by two unbeatable opponents - war and nature. The impact of the First World War and a devastating flood in 1915 destroyed Walter's businesses. The steamboats stopped running and were left to rot on the beach and Big Island park became mostly forgotten. It continued to see some visitors, often by canoe from the river, but nothing like its former popularity.

The city passed on the offer to buy the park in 1967, with park superintendent John Janzen calling it a liability. Since then, the park has mostly been abandoned. Twice it narrowly escaped being turned into a gravel pit. Recent years have brought renewed interest in Big Island, with talk of protecting it. Earlier this year, the province granted $300,000 to the city and the Enoch Cree Nation to study land use for the area, part of a plan to turn it into an urban provincial park by 2023.

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.

Weekend agenda: June 10-13, 2021

Weekend agenda: June 10-13, 2021

By Emily Rendell-Watson Emily Rendell-Watson and Fawnda Mithrush Fawnda Mithrush

Photo: Whyte Avenue Art Walk/Facebook from the 2017 event.