The Pulse: Dec. 7, 2021

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

Want this in your inbox? Sign up to get The Pulse by email. It's free!


  • -6°C: A mix of sun and cloud. Becoming cloudy in the afternoon. Wind up to 15 km/h. High minus 6. Wind chill minus 25 in the morning and minus 13 in the afternoon. (forecast)
  • 11: Alberta has now confirmed 11 cases of the Omicron variant. (details)
  • 7pm: The Oilers (16-7-0) will host the Wild (17-6-1) at Rogers Place. (details)

Kevin Petterson

Zipstall app aims to make parking easier in downtown Edmonton

By Emily Rendell-Watson in the Tech Roundup

Zipstall, a free app developed during the pandemic, is tackling the downtown parking experience in Edmonton by suggesting the best available parking stall at any given time.

The concept was developed by Kevin Petterson, who spent 15 years in the commercial real estate industry.

"What I learned as a broker is that parking is like the grease for the wheel — the piece that keeps everything moving," explained Petterson.

"Everybody's been so focused on taking the parking meter and putting it in your pocket, but they haven't focused on the customer's real pain points."

That's what Zipstall has set out to do, by offering users the choice between cheaper or closer parking options so that they don't have to dig through the plethora of possible lot locations and rates.

The startup does this by using data from the City of Edmonton containing the length and location of parking sessions over the past five years. Zipstall partnered with the University of Alberta to work through a 10-million-row spreadsheet and develop baseline predictions, aiming to eventually obtain real-time information that will make the app even more precise.

In the meantime, users can contribute to the data by confirming where they parked and roughly how many stalls are still available. Looking forward, the company is in discussions with the City of Edmonton, Impark, Diamond Parking, and Precise ParkLink to integrate payment into the app as well.

Continue reading


By Mack Male and Madeleine Stout

  • City council has approved $2.7 million for a temporary washroom strategy as part of a one-time 2022 COVID-19 impacts and funding strategy. However, some councillors and business leaders are calling for more permanent public washrooms. "Frankly, I do not understand why we're still putting porta-potties in public places as a public washroom solution," Puneeta McBryan, executive director of the Edmonton Downtown Business Association, said during a public hearing Dec. 6. Efforts to develop more permanent public washrooms in the city have been progressing slowly for years.
  • Transit fares are currently set to increase from $3.50 to $4 for single bus and LRT tickets in February 2022, but some councillors and advocates are concerned the increase will negatively impact ridership and accessibility. Edmonton Transit said the Arc Card smart fare system, which was supposed to enter service this fall, won't launch until later in 2022 due to issues found in testing.
  • Business Improvement Areas have asked city council to consider offsetting half of the 2022 taxes paid by businesses to help them recover from the pandemic. If approved, it would cost $1.9 million. Council chose to cover all $3.4 million of the BIA tax levy in 2021.
  • The Edmonton Police Service has become the first Canadian police agency to utilize 911eye, which allows 911 callers to enable EPS members to view live video of a situation and receive GPS coordinates. EPS began testing the tool in non-emergency situations in March 2020.
  • The City has received more than 5,000 sidewalk-specific 311 complaints and issued 1,048 tickets to residents for not removing snow on sidewalks this winter. "It's not fair to people who might have different mobility needs to not be able to experience our city in the winter," Coun. Andrew Knack told CBC.
  • Edmonton has ranked 60th out of 73 cities in this year's Global Destination Sustainability Index, which provides scores for cities based on the environmental friendliness of their tourism industries. Melissa Radu, director of environmental sustainability with Explore Edmonton, said that Edmonton should look to European cities to improve in the future, but also that the city has made big gains in its transit system.
Caitlin Fulton and Blair Lebsack

RGE RD first in Edmonton to require deposits for reservations

By Sharon Yeo in the Food Roundup

In October, RGE RD became the first restaurant in Edmonton to require deposits for some reservations.

No-shows and last-minute cancellations have been increasingly problematic for local restaurants. But restaurants around the world were grappling with the issue long before the pandemic began, leading fine dining establishments in particular to begin taking deposits or upfront payments for reservations.

Caitlin Fulton, co-owner of RGE RD, said the restaurant had been mulling the decision to implement a deposit system for months.

"We found that once dine-in service resumed, we had full bookings on Fridays and Saturdays, with waitlists of thirty people," Fulton told Taproot. "Then we would have people not showing up or cancelling last minute. It was making me cry, because we confirm every reservation the day before. On some nights, we had up to 10 no-shows or cancellations. We only have 16 tables so it was a big impact."

Fulton shared that it was a trip to the west coast that was the tipping point. "(Co-owner and partner) Blair and I went to Vancouver at the end of summer and it cemented our decision," said Fulton. "In Vancouver, we found that at restaurants of a certain category you couldn't make a reservation without a deposit."

On Oct. 8, RGE RD began requiring a deposit of $10 per person for reservations on Fridays or Saturdays (weekdays are exempt because of a smaller demand for tables). The deposit is refunded as soon as guests dine in, or if cancellations are made 24 hours in advance.

"I expected pushback and that's why we hesitated," said Fulton. "And then we implemented it and nothing happened. The odd person has asked questions about it, but honestly, there has been such little feedback that I was astonished."

Continue reading