The Pulse: July 6, 2021

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

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Essentials

  • 22°C: Cloudy with 60% chance of showers in the morning and early in the afternoon then a mix of sun and cloud. High 22. (forecast)
  • 104-87: The Edmonton Stingers are 3-0 after Monday's game against the Ottawa Blackjacks. The game marked the team's first visit to The Hive at the Edmonton Expo Centre this season. (details)
  • 53%: Out of the 618 COVID-19 public health act tickets handed out across Alberta since the start of the pandemic, 329 have either been withdrawn or quashed. (details)

Chart of the week: Future heatwaves in Edmonton

Chart of the week: Future heatwaves in Edmonton


By Jackson Spring Jackson Spring

Last week, Edmonton experienced a record-setting heatwave where temperatures hovered consistently between 30-40 C. In the years to come, similar heatwaves are likely to become much more common.

The consecutive days with highs of over 29 C prompted Environment Canada to issue a heat warning, and the City of Edmonton to activate its extreme weather response, designed to keep the city's vulnerable populations safer by opening up public facilities to anyone needing a break from the outdoors.

This graph projects the number of days Edmonton may see temperatures over 30 C each year, using data compiled by the Climate Atlas of Canada. The red and green lines represent projections of 25 different climate models, while the black lines represent the average.

The high-emissions and low-emissions scenarios are based on predictions outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), called representative concentration pathways (RCPs). The high-emissions scenario, RCP 8.5, is a projection of the trend in greenhouse gas emissions between 1986 and 2005, and is closest to the path the world is currently on. This would result in an average global temperature increase of up to 5.9 C by 2100.

In this scenario, the number of extremely hot days in Edmonton would more than double between now and 2050, from seven to 15, and would rise to about 22 by 2095, the latest year projected in the Climate Atlas's data.

The low-emissions scenario, RCP 4.5, assumes emissions mitigation policies, an expansion of renewable energy, and reducing carbon-intensive land use like certain forms of agriculture. This scenario would result in a global temperature increase of between 1.5 C and 2 C.

Even in the low-emissions scenario, the number of extremely hot days in Edmonton would still increase to 13 by 2050.

Both still represent more greenhouse gases emissions than the City of Edmonton is aiming for. The Community Energy Transition Strategy and Action Plan city council approved this spring outlines how the city can align with a global average temperature increase of 1.5 C, or RCP 1.9.

This scenario requires the city to be carbon-neutral by 2050.

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Headlines


By Michelle Ferguson Michelle Ferguson

  • Four boys involved in the attack against a Black teen outside Rosslyn School in April will not face criminal charges and will instead enter the police service's restorative justice program. Police said that the use of "a highly inappropriate and hurtful racial slur" will be addressed during the program.
  • City councillor and mayoral candidate Mike Nickel avoided sanctions for a third time. Council voted 8-3 on whether to reprimand Nickel for social media posts aimed at another councillor and his staff member. The vote required a two-thirds majority to pass.
  • City council has decided not to go forward with charging parking fees at five city facilities. The proposal was part of the Reimagine Services project, which identified a number of cost-saving and revenue-generating measures. Council will continue discussing the rest of the proposals on Wednesday.
  • A new project launched by the Alberta Human Rights Commission and Student Legal Services will support low-income Edmontonians involved in a human rights complaint. The Human Rights Project will help reduce backlog at the commission.
  • The water restrictions for southeast Edmonton and surrounding areas have been lifted, as temperatures dipped below 30 C and water supply levels returned to normal this week.
  • The Calgary Stampede is coming to Edmonton with fireworks on July 9 at 11 pm at Edmonton's Exhibition Grounds. There will be four simultaneous firework displays — also in Lethbridge and Red Deer — taking place on the event's kick-off day.
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Fox Burger food truck

Black Box Hospitality embraces pandemic-induced changes


By Sharon Yeo Sharon Yeo in the Food Roundup

It's been over ten years since Nate Box opened the modest but mighty Elm Cafe in Oliver, and it's safe to say that in that decade, he's seen it all. Now at the helm of Black Box Hospitality Group, made up of four businesses including restaurants and a liquor store, even that experience couldn't prepare him for the challenges wrought by a global pandemic.

"The hardest part was the initial closures in [March] 2020," said Box, "We laid off nearly 60 staff members overnight."

Box's longevity in the hospitality business is no accident, however. He attributes much of the company's success in navigating the changing restrictions to his strong team and their ability to continuously adapt. He also said some of the changes made in the last year may end up being permanent.

At June's Delicatessen, for instance, the takeaway menu was expanded with more transportable food, and the restaurant added shelves for pantry and home items.

"It's strange [be]cause we're not sure if the plated-style menus we initially came up with will ever return," said Box. "This grab-and-go style has been so much more accessible and simple to execute."

Box shared that Highlands Liquor has, like other liquor stores in the province, been busy. A loyal clientele who return for the curated selection and staff knowledge has helped the business overcome narrow margins.

"It's been encouraging to see people stocking up…on amazing craft Alberta beers, spirits, and small producer natural wines," said Box.

District, on the other hand, was hit hardest, as it has been closed for nearly ten months in total since March 2020. Reliant on traffic from workers occupying the surrounding corporate and government towers, Box said that District won't resume even partial operations until after Labour Day. In the meantime, the space has been transformed into a pizzeria from Wednesdays to Sundays, called Young & Restless.

"Pizza just makes sense for the District space and the current dining and takeout trends," said Box. "Not to mention that that neighbourhood is in a bit of a pizza desert."

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Myrna Bittner

RWI Synthetics named a finalist for sustainable mobility challenge


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

RWI Synthetics has been named a top 10 finalist for the international Why stop at zero? sustainable mobility challenge by Airbus Defence and Space and the World Economic Forum.

The competition has brought together more than 2,000 international companies with innovative ideas to accomplish net-zero and beyond targets.

"We will be modelling it all to accelerate impactful innovation adoption – calculating the impact of choices around technology, energy, infrastructure, policy from a human-centric, economic and activity perspective," wrote CEO and co-founder Myrna Bittner on LinkedIn when she announced the news.

RWI Synthetics is using artificial intelligence to offer a look at the future of cities around the world, according to a recent profile by Global News. That involves creating a geospatially accurate model of a city, plus the activity and people inside of it.

"We're like (the computer game) SimCity, backed with artificial intelligence, but for real," Bittner told the news outlet. "It's about being able to create the data people need today to make the most optimal decision."

The winners of the sustainable mobility challenge will be announced at the IAA MOBILITY conference in Munich, happening Sept. 7-12, 2021.

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