The Pulse: Dec. 16, 2021

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  • -19°C: Cloudy. Snow beginning in the morning. Amount 2 to 4 cm. Wind becoming northwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 late in the morning. High minus 19. Wind chill near minus 32. Risk of frostbite. (forecast)
  • 10: Alberta announced 10 new cases of the Omicron variant on Tuesday evening, bringing the province's total to 60. In total, the province saw 456 new cases of COVID-19, and three more deaths. (details)
  • 1,650 AHS has placed 1,650 staff on unpaid leave after its vaccine mandate came into effect on Dec. 13. (details)
  • 7pm: The Oilers (16-11-0) will host Columbus Blue Jackets (14-12-1) at Rogers Place. The Oilers head into the match on a six-game losing streak. (details)

City Council on Oct. 26

Edmonton Police Service budget increase for 2022 cut to $1M, capital budget finalized

By Andy Trussler and Mack Male

The Edmonton Police Service will receive a $1-million increase to its budget next year, after city council decided to divert more funds to address houselessness, social services prevention-and-response programs, and other initiatives to be determined.

The EPS budget was slated to increase by $11.9 million in 2022 to nearly $395.8 million, up from $383.8 million in 2021. Council instead approved an ongoing $10.9 million decrease in a tight 8-5 vote, with councillors Tim Cartmell, Sarah Hamilton, Andrew Knack, Karen Principe, and Jennifer Rice opposed.

Coun. Erin Rutherford put forward the motion to cut the proposed increase by $10.9 million, with the remaining $1 million increase intended to cover costs incurred by EPS recognizing the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

The cost of overtime for the new holiday came up during the Edmonton Police Commission's presentation last week. "I know they want to be transparent with us, but everyone else in the country and our organization absorbed that money because it was the right thing to do," Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said.

Administration told councillors there's no way to verify whether the $1 million will be spent as intended.

The decision followed council's finalization of the 2022 capital budget, during which more than $482 million worth of projects were approved.

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By Doug Johnson

  • Boyle Street Community Services, which marked its 50th anniversary this year, will move into a new $28.5-million facility two blocks north in Spring 2023. The Oilers Entertainment group purchased Boyle Street's current property for $5 million, and donated an additional $10 million, leaving the organization to fundraise the remaining $13.5 million.
  • Alberta announced that unvaccinated adults will be able to attend indoor holiday gatherings. The move drew criticism from medical staff in Alberta: "It's a big risk, and I think that it's potentially setting us up for a rapid rise in cases over the holidays like we saw about a year ago," Edmonton emergency physician Dr. Shazma Mithani said.
  • Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw said that the province may face a fifth wave, due to the spread of Omicron. "We face a very real risk of experiencing a significant fifth wave with this new variant that could be worse than previous waves in terms of overall impact on our health system due to sheer volume of cases. We simply don't know yet," she said.
  • An agreement between the University of Alberta and Tribal Chiefs Ventures Inc. will see more Indigenous doctors trained. The goal of this effort is to improve health care in Indigenous communities in northern Alberta.
  • More than half of Albertans are unhappy with the province's direction. The new Leger poll also found that many believe the provincial government's handling of the pandemic has damaged its reputation in Canada.
  • The city is recruiting 50 members to join 16 different civic boards, including tribunal appeal and review boards, socially focused boards and urban planning and design boards. Civic board members provide input to council — as of Jan. 1, some of them may also receive honorariums for attending meetings.
  • Edmonton-born Alphonso Davies was named the Canada soccer player of the year on Wednesday. Davies is a star player with Bayern Munich.
A collage of six of the recipient artists' headshots

Twenty local artists receive $15,000 each from Edmonton Artists' Trust Fund

By Emily Rendell-Watson in the Arts Roundup

The Edmonton Arts Council (EAC) celebrated the achievements of 20 local artists with its announcement of the recipients of the 2021 Edmonton Artists' Trust Fund awards.

The awards, from EAC and the Edmonton Community Foundation, aim in part to encourage artists to stay in the city. Each recipient is awarded $15,000 to support the development of their creative practice, which will come as welcome news amidst continued challenges for artists during the pandemic.

"We are proud to recognize these 20 outstanding artists whose diverse perspectives and practices help make the Edmonton region a vibrant and exciting place to live," said Sanjay Shahani, executive director of the EAC, in a news release.

"Supporting the careers of artists like our 2021 recipients is foundational to the growth of our arts community, fostering an exciting ecology of creation and expression."

The recipients are:

  • Cayley Thomas, an award-winning musician, actor, and video producer. Her work aims to honour "all aspects of the human experience through curiosity, compassion and collaboration."
  • Dwayne Martineau, a visual artist, musician, composer and writer. A member of the Frog Lake First Nation, Martineau explores "forests, non-linear time, and the physicality of light through installation and lens-based media."
  • Ellen Chorley is a playwright, producer and arts educator. She also works as the festival director for the Nextfest Arts Company and teaches at the Citadel Theatre's Foote Theatre School.
  • Emily Chu is a Chinese illustrator who produces commercial illustrations, community-centered arts engagement projects, and public art/murals.
  • Emily Riddle is nehiyaw and a member of the Alexander First Nation. She is a writer, editor, public library worker, and researcher, and is currently working on a non-fiction manuscript about treaty feminism.
  • Erin Pankratz works on contemporary mosaics, public art, murals, commissions, and collaborative projects.
  • Frederick Kroetsch runs Catapult Pictures with his wife Rebecca Campbell, and works on projects from comedy web-series to feature-length documentaries.
  • Gabriel Molina is a visual artist who produces digital prints, video and GIF works, and multimedia installations. Molina will have a solo exhibition at Latitude 53 in 2022.
  • Layla Folkmann is a renowned mural artist and painter focused on socially and culturally engaged public art.
  • Madhan Selvaraj has worked as an arts administrator for more than 10 years. Currently, he is directing a documentary that will work to address racism and systematic bias.
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A clipping from Dec. 16, 1957 depicting the Christmas tree in front of the Hotel Macdonald.

A moment in history: Dec. 16, 1957

By Scott Lilwall

On this day in 1957, the Christmas tree in front of the Hotel Macdonald was put up for the holidays.

The massive 40-foot spruce was installed by city crews in the small green space in front of the hotel and strung with more than 800-feet of coloured lights to celebrate the season.

The Fairmont has a tradition of big Christmas displays - whether it be lavishly decorated trees both inside and outside the hotel or the sprawling gingerbread structures that have greeted guests in recent years. Edmonton identifies as a winter city and the days in deep December are short and cold. Luckily, a few other Edmonton holiday traditions warm up those freezing winter days.

Candy Cane Lane is one of the most enduring. It came from humble beginnings when a handful of houses along 148th Street put up Christmas displays outside their homes; primarily hand-painted wooden decorations. Each year, the decorations became more elaborate and more homes began to take part, drawing visitors from other neighbourhoods and eventually from across the city. In 2018, the stretch of 148th Street was officially named Candy Cane Lane to celebrate 50 years of beautiful displays. Half a century later, it has become a tradition for many Edmonton families and a significant fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank, second only to the Heritage Festival.

That spirit of helping those in need has long been a part of the holidays in Edmonton. The Christmas Bureau of Edmonton began in the winter of 1940, a difficult time for many in Edmonton. A significant number of the city's men were fighting in Europe. And while jobs traditionally not offered to women were opening up, many families still struggled financially. The Christmas Bureau of Edmonton provided food and other support to those in need, a tradition that has continued for more than 80 years. It also works alongside another Edmonton institution, Santa's Anonymous, which sees a small army of volunteers give their time every year to sort, package and deliver donated toys to less fortunate families around the city.

Edmonton has also played a part in many people's holidays outside its city walls, serving as the setting for a surprising number of Christmas movies. The best known is likely Christmas in Wonderland, with Patrick Swayze and Tim Curry, where a father on a shopping trip with his kids in West Edmonton Mall get caught up in criminal shenanigans. Others like Christmas Town, The Christmas Blessing, and Santa's Slay, were also filmed here.

The city's annual Christmas tree arrived in Churchill Square in November, one of the rare times it showed up in Edmonton before snow did. Meanwhile, home-sized trees have been selling out across the city.

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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