The Pulse: Aug. 10, 2021

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

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Essentials

  • 22°C: Clearing in the morning. Wind northwest 30 km/h gusting to 50. High 22. (forecast)
  • 1,017: Alberta reported 1,017 new cases of COVID-19 from Friday to Sunday. (details)

A photo of Still Life (2014) by Studio F Minus.

Revised Percent for Art program would separate public art funding from capital projects


By Andy Trussler Andy Trussler

A proposed revision of the city's Percent for Art program could detach funding for future public art installations from infrastructure projects if approved by city council, in addition to establishing a public art reserve and changing the program's name to the Public Art to Enhance Edmonton's Public Realm policy. Council's executive committee reviewed the changes on Aug. 9 and recommended they be approved at council on Aug. 16.

"We can look at the city as if it is a giant art gallery and every section of the city is a room within the gallery that can be programmed," said David Turnbull, the director of public art and conservation for the Edmonton Arts Council (EAC).

The Percent for Art policy was established in 1991 to allocate 1% of eligible construction projects' budgets towards new public art installations, like Trio (2015), Vaulted Willow (2014), and Essential Tree (2015). The policy was revised in 2007, in addition to undergoing a council review every five years.

Turnbull was directly involved in developing the proposed changes to the policy and is hoping that they will "maximize city-wide impact, ensuring art is installed where it has better exposure to residents" while engaging citizens and artistic leaders with civic planning.

The policy has been criticized for a lack of clarity around project selection in the past, and despite the program being in place, projects like the Groat Road Bridge rehabilitation, which was completed in 2020, do not have art installations.

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Headlines


By Mack Male Mack Male

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Fleisch

Fleisch reopening indoor dining to vaccinated guests


By Sharon Yeo Sharon Yeo in the Food Roundup

Fleisch announced on Aug. 6 that it will be expanding into the former Cartago space to offer "elevated pub food, craft beer and cocktails" at The Bar at Fleisch and that indoor dining will return after closing for nearly ten months – but only to those who can prove that they've received both COVID-19 vaccine doses.

"We will be requiring proof of FULL vaccination (both shots) to dine indoors. This is non-negotiable and is part of our commitment to keep both our staff and the greater community safe. We understand that this may be controversial for some, but making this choice was easy for us. Community > everything, and we will continue to do our part in prioritizing your health," Fleisch shared on Instagram.

Fleisch will not require proof of vaccination to dine on the patio and will continue to offer take-out and delivery.

Earlier this summer, Fleisch had posted that the timeline for re-opening indoor dining would be tied to the date at which staff acquired full immunity. Co-owner Katy Ingraham has also been a strong advocate for better ventilation and safety measures for hospitality staff throughout the pandemic. Ingraham declined to be interviewed for this story.

An opening date for The Bar at Fleisch has not yet been announced.

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Mélanie Joly

Federal government launches new regional economic development agency for Prairies


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

The federal government announced two new regional development agencies for the Prairie provinces and British Columbia on Aug. 5, replacing the Western Economic Diversification Canada agency. Prairies Economic Development Canada, or PrairiesCan, will serve Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan, while B.C. has Pacific Economic Development Canada, or PacifiCan.

Innovate Edmonton CEO Catherine Warren welcomed the news, saying that PrairiesCan will help bolster the city's tech ecosystem.

"It will also support Edmonton's efforts to create downtown vibrancy and municipal revitalization," she said, in addition to bringing funding closer to the city's innovators and innovations.

"While the lead office remains in Edmonton and will continue to deliver on existing initiatives, the new funding is in addition to Budget 2021 funded programs and will support Edmonton businesses to scale and grow. Scaling and growing businesses leads to new jobs and will support our city as we recover from the COVID pandemic and create long-term economic resiliency."

Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages Mélanie Joly told BetaKit that "the existing core program fund of $146 million, per year, from the Western Economic Diversification Canada agency will go to PrairiesCan."

The program shift was announced only a day after the Government of Canada committed to investing $5 million into Alberta Innovates' Scale Up and Growth Accelerator program through WD, in an effort to attract more technology and business accelerators to the province. Three or more accelerators can access up to $30 million in funding through the program.

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A chart depicting Alberta businesses that laid off staff during the pandemic, by industry.

Chart of the week: Pandemic layoffs


By Scott Lilwall Scott Lilwall

As businesses reopen or work back up to their pre-pandemic capacity and schedule, it is apparent that closures hit some industries and workers harder than others, according to data from Statistics Canada.

While many sectors cut hours and jobs during the pandemic, the accommodations and food service industries saw widespread layoffs, with 72% of Alberta companies in those sectors laying off at least one person. The majority of arts and entertainment businesses, as well as cultural and information services, also saw layoffs.

Many of those who lost their jobs were already struggling before the pandemic hit. On Aug. 11, the city's community and public services committee will receive an annual report from End Poverty Edmonton. The report found that most of the job losses in Alberta, and across the country, affected people already working low-wage jobs.

Before the pandemic, one in eight Edmontonians were living in poverty. While it will be a while before the full impact of the pandemic is apparent, End Poverty Edmonton says early signs are worrying. Applications for eviction support programs are way up and food insecurity is also on the rise in the city — both are considered important signs of increasing poverty.

"More than ever, we need an economy that works for everyone," the report says. "One that provides access to good jobs, higher pay, business opportunities and other benefits that will eliminate poverty in the community."

The report follows investments into affordable housing earlier this year. As well, economic recovery in the wake of the pandemic is an issue that many of Edmonton's mayoral candidates pegged as a top priority early in their campaigns.

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