The Pulse: Aug. 11, 2021

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

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  • 24°C: Clearing in the morning. Wind northwest 30 km/h gusting to 50. High 24. UV index 8 or very high. (forecast)
  • 67%: About 67% of Albertans aged 12 and up have received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine. (details)

A photo of the North Saskatchewan river.

Parks Canada to consider Edmonton-area river valley for national urban park network

By Jackson Spring in the Regional Roundup

Canada's largest urban park is in the running to gain official status as a national urban park, which proponents say would help protect local ecology and bring tourism to the region.

The federal government announced $130 million in funding to create a network of national urban parks on Aug. 4. The government identified seven initial potential sites, one of which is the section of the North Saskatchewan River Valley in the Edmonton metropolitan region, between Devon and Fort Saskatchewan.

"(The river) has a wide range of significances," said Bill Wells, director of the North Saskatchewan River Valley Conservation Society, which has been working with the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) and the Sierra Club Canada Foundation to promote the river valley as a potential site. "It's important in terms of wildlife. It's important in terms of culture and history, and traditions of both newcomers and the populations that have lived here for thousands of years."

Kecia Kerr, executive director of CPAWS, said that portions of the river valley have been subject to industrial developments over the past few decades, such as a controversial solar farm that was allowed to move forward by Edmonton city council last fall, which can threaten the local ecology, and that national park status would help prevent similar developments.

"Even though there is this enthusiasm and commitment to protect the area, it's still getting chipped away," she said.

Kerr estimates that 30 hectares of the river valley in the Edmonton area are lost each year to industrial development.

Currently, only one national park inside an urban area exists — Rouge National Urban Park in Ontario. While the federal government's legislation regarding urban national parks is still being developed, Kerr hopes it will include more regulatory barriers to develop the land, and for municipalities to sell the land to private individuals or companies. She added that other regulations could be more relaxed — like the requirement of a national park pass, so that local residents would not need a pass to visit the river valley within their own city or town.

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By Mack Male

  • Edmonton Elks offensive lineman SirVincent Rogers confirmed he's tested positive for COVID-19. Rogers was vaccinated in May. "I don't know how severely ill I'd be if I didn't have the vaccination, or if my life would be threatened at this point if I didn't have the vaccination already," he told Global News.
  • The Edmonton Police Service released a TikTok video hoping to better engage with the public, but it was swiftly criticized as being unprofessional and misogynistic. "While the TikTok video was meant to be a lighthearted moment, the EPS acknowledges that it missed the mark," spokeswoman Cheryl Sheppard said in a statement.
  • About 1,000 students at three Edmonton Catholic Schools operating year-round will resume classes today. Specific back-to-school COVID-19 safety guidelines are expected to be ready later this month. Families in both school districts have until Aug. 16 to choose between in-person or online learning.
  • City councillor Ben Henderson, who is running for the Liberal Party in the next federal election, said his campaign "will be focused on fighting for a safer, inclusive, and economically resilient Mill Woods."
  • The provincial government said its overhauled intellectual property strategy will be ready this fall. The goal is to modernize the rules to attract more technology projects and better compete with other provinces.
  • Find Housing, an online tool launched by the provincial government in June, is designed to help low-income people find affordable housing. More than 6,000 Albertans have used the tool, CBC News reports.
The Great Alberta Pitch Marathon in 2020

Great Alberta Pitch Marathon to showcase provincial startup community

By Emily Rendell-Watson in the Health Innovation Roundup

There's only a couple days left to apply to pitch at The Great Alberta Pitch Marathon on Aug. 19 — an opportunity for entrepreneurs to get hands-on pitching experience, exposure, and peer-to-peer support.

Co-organizer Zack Storms said health innovation companies, in particular, should apply to showcase the local health tech startup community.

"The pandemic has brought health innovation to the top of our minds in a way that wouldn't have been possible without it," said Storms.

"If we expect global investors to take us seriously, if we expect top global talent to apply for jobs working in our startup ecosystem, if we want the best and most ambitious entrepreneurs in the world to move to Alberta to launch their health tech startup, we need to give them a reason. There's no better way to do it than to amplify our voices together and give them a taste of the Alberta startup community."

The idea to host the first edition of the event in 2020 originated from an Edmonton Regional Innovation Network (ERIN) sub-committee meeting about access to capital.

"Everyone around the table was lamenting the lack of great local pitch events in Edmonton," recalls Storms. "I said, 'What the heck! Let's make ourselves a province-wide pitch marathon showcasing the great things our local startups are up to and bring our two communities together'."

The pitch marathon is feedback-based, although investors are invited and participating companies can also be referred to accelerators and local programming that may be of interest, like Propel, or Platform Junction.

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