The Pulse: Sept. 16, 2021

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

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Essentials

  • 14°C: Clearing late in the morning. Wind northwest 30 km/h gusting to 50. High 14. (forecast)
  • 18,421: There were 18,421 active cases across Alberta, the highest count in the country. (details)
  • 40: The West Edmonton Mall celebrated its 40th anniversary on Wednesday. (details)

A map of Edmonton's 15 districts, as laid out in the City Plan

City aims for Edmontonians to 'live more locally' with 15-minute districts


By Emily Rendell-Watson Emily Rendell-Watson

As Edmonton inches towards two million residents, it's looking to a concept that would see the city create 15-minute districts as a way to improve quality of life, help achieve its plan to become carbon neutral by 2050, and control urban sprawl.

The 15-minute city is an urban design strategy that the current city council adopted as part of the City Plan at the end of 2020. The next city council, and its successors, will make the decisions that either help bring this plan to life or leave it to languish. As the municipal election approaches, this is a good time to examine what this concept means for Edmonton.

So what is a 15-minute district?

The City Plan defines it as "small towns in our big city, where people can meet many of their daily needs locally."

The goal is to create "a place where you can get all of the immediate needs and amenities within a 15-minute … distance of your home," architect Shafraaz Kaba told Green Energy Futures. That could potentially include groceries, recreation, green space, housing, health care, small businesses and more — the district plans expected in early 2022 will define what will be included.

The city says it wants to make it possible — not mandatory, but possible — to get to those places without a car, by walking, biking, or taking transit.

If all goes as planned, Edmontonians will be able to access their daily needs (without having to drive) from where they live in their respective districts — the City Plan identifies 15 of them across the city — by the time the city grows to two million people. It's a target that attendees of Taproot's People's Agenda listening sessions said they are keen for the city to implement, expressing that they want to see an overall increase in density and walkability.

But no city is built exactly the same, and Edmonton is particularly sprawled out, meaning how it approaches shifting towards this concept will look different from other cities around the world.

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Headlines


By Michelle Ferguson Michelle Ferguson

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Katherine Semchuk performs in Salvage.

Salvaging the season: Moving forward amidst new COVID-19 restrictions


By Emily Rendell-Watson Emily Rendell-Watson and Fawnda Mithrush Fawnda Mithrush in the Arts Roundup

The provincial government declared a state of public health emergency on Sept. 15 and announced new COVID-19 restrictions, including measures that apply to indoor gatherings, entertainment venues, and performance activities.

While the new measures set capacity and operating restrictions, under a new Restrictions Exemption Program businesses can require proof of vaccination or a negative rapid test result to continue operating as usual.

Some event organizers, like Mile Zero Dance (MZD), have no indoor operating space and plan to move forward with previously scheduled outdoor events. Fully outdoor events and venues are not subject to any restrictions, though physical distancing must be maintained.

From Sept. 17-19, MZD's Salvage will play out in-person at the Lowlands Project Space, as well as online.

"We were looking for a space to have open-air dance because we thought that COVID might still be a thing in September," said Gerry Morita, MZD's artistic director.

Salvage invites dancers to collaborate with upcycled sculptures installed at the Lowlands space, which is two backyards without the property fence in between, managed by local artists Jill Stanton and Steven Teeuwsen.

"The show concept of 'salvage' was to recycle, to work with what you've got," explained Morita. "The artists have used different materials in the construction of their sculptures, so the dancers will be interacting with the actual objects in the space."

Morita said she is happy to offer a space for dancers to perform, weather abiding.

"So many dancers have been waiting to perform in person," she said, adding that the dancers in Salvage have been working with musicians as well to enhance the show's production. "I think that's something that will be exciting to watch about this show, the collaboration between dance, music, and visual art. It's nice to see people being able to collaborate again."

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A map of Edmonton's papastew ward

papastew: Where the candidates stand on the People's Agenda


By Karen Unland Karen Unland

Taproot asked candidates to complete a 30-question survey based on what we heard when we asked what key issues people wanted the candidates to be talking about as they compete for votes in the 2021 municipal election.

Here are the answers we've received from the candidates in papastew:

Want to see which candidates line up best with your own stances? Take the survey and find out.

For more coverage of the 2021 municipal election in Edmonton, visit edmonton.taproot.vote. And for more on the origins of this project, visit our People's Agenda page.

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A clipping from 1940, depicting how the city's lone power plant was working hard to kick into high gear after being cut off from Calgary.

A moment in history: Sept. 16, 1940


By Scott Lilwall Scott Lilwall

On this day in 1940, the city's lone power plant was working hard to kick into high gear after being cut off from Calgary.

The Edmonton power plant was forced to take the full load of the city's electrical needs due to a fire that damaged the lines connecting Alberta's two largest cities. While the story doesn't provide a name, the Rossdale Power Plant was the only facility in the city at the time.

The history of Edmonton is connected to the Rossdale Power Plant, but the history of the land the plant sits on extends far further. The area served as a gathering place for Indigenous groups for thousands of years, providing a spot for trade, ceremonies and other activities. When settlers first came to the area, that is where initial meetings between Indigenous people and the new arrivals happened.

The original Fort Edmonton was moved on to the river flats in 1802 and then moved again eight years later, possibly due to flooding. Fort Edmonton was moved back there a couple of years later, before moving again in 1830 (this time, definitely due to flooding).

Around the turn of the 20th century, Rossdale became a hub for the utilities that a growing city demanded. The Edmonton Electric Lighting and Power Company started generating power from coal on the site in 1891. When the municipal government took over the power plant in 1902, it became the first municipally-owned electrical company in Canada. Within 10 years, a water treatment facility and an incinerator were also built on the flats.

In the 1930s, Edmonton needed more electricity. The first building of what is now called the Rossdale Power Plant was designed and constructed by Maxwell Dewar in 1931, who would later go on to become the city's chief architect. The brick-and-steel building , with its high windows and massive smokestacks, was built in a style characteristic of American factories during the period. It was joined by the Pumphouse No. 1 in 1937, which at the time housed what was the most advanced power generation equipment in the country.

Over the years, the Rossdale Power Plant was expanded dozens of times to meet the energy-hungry city that surrounded it. Pumphouse No.1 was built in 1937 and Pumphouse No.2 in 1955. Other modifications over the decades added new machines and upgraded technology. At its peak, the Rossdale Power Plant generated a quarter of the electricity in the province.

In 2001, the province recognized its important place in Edmonton's past by designating it a provincial historical resource. While that protected the existing building, it also meant that further expansion was unlikely. Decommissioning of the plant began in 2008 and finished four years later.

Since then, the future of the Rossdale Power Plant has been in question. Earlier this summer, the City of Edmonton released its preliminary designs for development along the north side of the river, including the Rossdale Power Plant. The plan includes new walking spaces, a riverside platform and the potential for some commercial spaces. The city is currently seeking public input for the plan and the future of the site.

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.

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Soprano Cara Lianne McLeod.

Weekend agenda: Sept. 16-19, 2021


By Andy Trussler Andy Trussler

Photo: Soprano Cara Lianne McLeod is performing on Sept. 19. (Music in the Air/Jen Olson)

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