The Pulse: Aug. 25, 2021

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

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  • 22°C: Sunny. Fog patches dissipating in the morning. High 22. (forecast)
  • 2,468: The Edmonton Zone is now leading the province with 2,468 active COVID-19 cases, as of Tuesday. (details)
  • Aug. 31: Entry for the second Open for Summer lottery closed Tuesday. Winners will be announced on Aug. 31. (details)

Flair announcement at EIA

Flair Airlines expanding operations out of Edmonton airport

By Jackson Spring in the Regional Roundup

Edmonton-based budget airline Flair Airlines is establishing four direct routes to the United States from Edmonton International Airport (EIA) this holiday season.

The airline is also expanding its domestic network out of the region's largest airport, by extending its current summer service to Kelowna and Victoria through the winter, Flair announced on Aug. 20.

"Flair Airlines continues to be a strong partner for our airport," said Tom Ruth, EIA's president and CEO, in an Aug. 20 news release. "These new US destinations will be popular non-stop routes as we rebuild our network."

Flair brands itself as an ultra-low-cost carrier, and currently offers one-way flights to Kelowna for $189, compared to as low as $320 with Air Canada. Fares for the new flights, to Las Vegas and Hollywood-Burbank starting Dec. 16, and to Phoenix and Palm Springs starting later that week, will be as low as $99 one way, the company said.

"Albertans have been paying way too much for air travel and Flair is here to change that," said Stephen Jones, Flair's president and CEO.

Air Canada currently offers one-way, non-direct flights from Edmonton to Las Vegas for as low as $247, and does not offer non-stop flights.

The expansion was welcomed by the airport and the region's economic development organization, Edmonton Global, for contributing to the airport's ongoing recovery efforts after a tough year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. EIA reported $128 million less in revenues in 2020 compared to 2019, and lost 29 of its 52 direct flights.

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By Michelle Ferguson

A man in blue wearing glasses looks at equipment in a lab

PulseMedica gets closer to 'revolutionary solution' to eye disease

By Hiba Kamal-Choufi in the Health Innovation Roundup

PulseMedica is making progress in its quest to provide a "revolutionary solution" for patients suffering from major eye diseases.

The Edmonton company is developing technology that will treat afflictions such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) with lasers instead of injections, to put it simply, though it goes much further than that.

"We're commercializing a fully automated diagnostic and treatment platform," founder and CEO Nir Katchinskiy told the Great Alberta Pitch Marathon on Aug. 19. "We also developed a machine learning platform that has a stand-alone value, which simplifies clinical workflow while providing more accurate diagnosis in a much quicker and simpler manner."

PulseMedica has been growing fast since it spun out of the University of Alberta. Katchinskiy said the company's key commercial milestone this year is to raise a seed round that will allow it to start manufacturing by 2023.

In the meantime, it is finishing preclinical studies with the help of the University of Alberta and University of Calgary. "These studies will help support our application to Health Canada to obtain regulatory approval to perform our first in-human studies, which is planned for the beginning of 2022," Katchinskiy told Taproot.

PulseMedica and Edmonton's True Angle Medical are among the finalists in the Science Startups/Venture category at Falling Walls 2021, an annual science event in Berlin in November.

"This puts PulseMedica, Edmonton, and the University of Alberta on the map as a place that is recognized for technological innovation," Katchinskiy said.

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The Edmonton skyline from Griesbach

Municipal election rundown: Aug. 25, 2021

By 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.

Policies and platforms

  • In a blog post, mayoral candidate Michael Oshry expressed his support for the city's clean energy improvement pilot program. He commended the program's "bold yet practical thinking" and confirmed he would release his climate action plan in September.
  • Oshry also called on the city to host a mayoral debate and asked his fellow candidates to support his letter and write their own.
  • Mayoral candidate Amarjeet Sohi announced his plans to support arts and culture in the city. Promises include establishing the mayor's arts advisory committee, recommitting to the current arts and heritage plan, and incorporating artists into Edmonton's economic recovery.
  • Mayoral candidate Diana Steele met with Service Rotties to discuss accessibility barriers for disabled Edmontonians.
  • Ward pihêsiwin candidate Tim Cartmell wrote on his blog that he believes the province "has still not disclosed the data and modeling that has informed their decisions regarding COVID restrictions." Referring to an upcoming discussion about the mask bylaw on Aug. 30, Cartmell said city council is "aware of the evolving situation and understands the importance of having these discussions."
  • Climate Justice Edmonton shared its climate platform conversation toolkit for friends and candidates. The platform asks for commitments to stop sprawl, champion affordable housing, avoid the use of public-private partnerships for transit infrastructure, and follow through on the Community Safety and Well-Being Task Force's recommendations on policing.
  • There will be no on-reserve voting for the upcoming senate election and related referendum questions, including decisions on Daylight Savings. Adam North Peigan, a member of the Piikani First Nation and president of the Sixties Scoop Indigenous Society of Alberta, was appalled by what he called "brazen disenfranchisement."

Forums and rallies

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

Learn more about Taproot's effort to ground our election coverage in what is important to Edmontonians on our People's Agenda page.

Photo: The Edmonton skyline from Griesbach. (Swapnil Kayastha/Instagram)