The Pulse: Nov. 23, 2021

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

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  • -2°C: A mix of sun and cloud. 30% chance of flurries late in the afternoon. Wind becoming northwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 in the morning. High -2 with temperature falling to -10 in the afternoon. Wind chill -7 in the morning and -15 in the afternoon. (forecast)
  • 6:30pm: The Oilers (13-4-0) face the Stars (7-7-2) in Dallas tonight. (details)
  • 1,180: The number of active COVID-19 cases in the Edmonton zone as of Nov. 22, as case counts continue to decline. (details)

Ashlyn Bernier is chief operation officer at Samdesk.

Ashlyn Bernier recognized for 'lasting impact' on Alberta's tech ecosystem

By Emily Rendell-Watson in the Tech Roundup

Ashlyn Bernier, chief operation officer of Samdesk, was named 2021 Woman in Tech of the Year, as part of the Start Alberta Tech Awards.

"Ashlyn earned the recognition for her entrepreneurial success within the tech industry and her lasting impact on Alberta's ecosystem," Start Alberta said in its announcement.

The industry veteran, who weighed in on the tech innovation landscape in Edmonton as part of Taproot's Igniting Innovation podcast, works with Samdesk to develop and provide crisis monitoring using artificial intelligence.

"I feel so incredibly fortunate to be given the opportunity to get to a point, both personally and through Samdesk, to be able to give back to the community that's done so much for us," Bernier told Start Alberta.

This fall, Samdesk raised $13.5 million in Series A financing to expand the company and meet demand.

"We believe that our growth at Samdesk is going to impact Alberta's tech ecosystem significantly," Bernier said.

"We serve a global market and we have a global team, but we are firmly rooted in Alberta," she said. "So (we) look forward to continuing to grow and leveraging the great opportunities that come with being an Alberta company."

Start Alberta announced the winners of its 2021 awards between Nov. 8-22. In addition to last week's winners, Edmonton's Startup TNT was recognized as Ecosystem Supporter of the Year, while the Community Safety and Wellness Accelerator won Most Significant Cross-Community Collaboration.

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By Karen Unland

  • The city launched an online survey asking the public for input on a proposed tax increase of 1.8% as council prepares for budget deliberations. A public hearing is slated for Nov. 29.
  • The Edmonton Elks fired three top brass — team president Chris Presson, general manager Brock Sunderland, and head coach Jaime Elizondo — after a dismal season. A new president and general manager are expected to be in place by mid-January, with help from longtime coach and GM Wally Buono in the interim.
  • Council approved granting about $215,000 to 16 initiatives to illuminate and challenge racism, and it directed more funds toward the anti-racism advisory committee.
  • Housing rights advocates marked National Housing Day by urging the province to rethink its affordable housing strategy. Bill 78, which is making its way through the legislature, would allow the sale of government-owned housing and make way for public-private partnerships on housing projects.
  • Edmonton-based photojournalist Amber Bracken was released from jail Monday, along with filmmaker Michael Toledano, after the two were arrested on Nov. 19 while covering a blockade by members of the Wet'suwet'en Nation against the Coastal GasLink pipeline in British Columbia. About 200 protesters blocked the High Level Bridge on Monday night in support of the pipeline protesters.
Larry Harris, owner of Bonne Vie Bakery

Bonne Vie Bakery celebrates first birthday

By Sharon Yeo in the Food Roundup

Bonne Vie Bakery, which specializes in artisan sourdough bread, commemorated its first anniversary this month. Bonne Vie was a part of a large contingent of home-based businesses that opened during the pandemic after the province relaxed the rules around the preparation and sale of low-risk home-prepared foods in June 2020.

Owner Larry Harris started the microbakery in November 2020 after losing his job at MacEwan that summer, and the subsequent twelve months have been a whirlwind.

"I'm dumbfounded as to how well things have gone," Harris told Taproot. "A year ago, we baked a dozen loaves of bread, and we wanted to see if people would pay money for it, and they did! Yesterday, we baked a record eighty loaves of bread."

He credits the rise of social media platforms as one of the reasons for Bonne Vie's success. "I don't think I could have done this ten years ago," Harris said. "But with Instagram in particular, it helps to spread the word about something and get you noticed."

It was also fortuitous that Harris landed a spot on the fourth season of CBC's The Great Canadian Baking Show, which began airing in February 2021. "Before the show was announced we were selling out in two to three hours," said Harris. "After the show, everything was selling out in 15 minutes."

His appearance on the show also led to a connection with Get Cooking Canada, which booked him soon after to conduct online sourdough classes. It's also fed back into his business in a number of ways, including being able to sell bread baking tools such as proofing baskets and bread bags to students through Bonne Vie directly, and creating new customers for his bread products.

"It's neat that the customers take the classes and learn how to make sourdough but they also keep buying bread every week," Harris said.

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