The Pulse: Jan. 4, 2022

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

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  • -25°C: A mix of sun and cloud with 30% chance of flurries. Wind up to 15 km/h. Temperature steady near minus 25. Wind chill near minus 35. Risk of frostbite. (forecast
  • 16.5 million: The province said it would purchase and hand out for free 16.5 million medical-grade masks for students — experts argue these are designed for adults, and may not be effective for youth, however. details
  • 4-1: The Oilers (18-13-2) lost to the Rangers (22-8-4) at Madison Square Garden. (details)

Zack Storms speaks into a microphone

Edmonton's startup ecosystem looks forward to more gatherings and investment growth in 2022

By Emily Rendell-Watson in the Tech Roundup

Edmonton's startup community is expecting 2022 to offer more clarity for the ecosystem, a surge of grassroots gatherings and initiatives, and opportunities to build upon successes from 2021.

Last year brought a variety of changes, including the establishment of Innovate Edmonton, the end of TEC Edmonton, leadership changes at Startup Edmonton, a new mayor, and a more diverse and progressive city council. As the full effects of those changes come to fruition, the startup community will continue to build while navigating pandemic conditions.

"In many ways, the past two years have made the world smaller," Ashlyn Bernier, COO at samdesk, told Taproot. The company raised a Series A funding round without one in-person meeting to facilitate the process.

"Prior to 2020, that would be unheard of," Bernier said. "Now, the market for investment and talent for Edmonton companies has expanded drastically — our geographic isolation has held us back in the past, but I believe 2022 will further demonstrate that it's less about where you are and more about what you're building."

She's also looking forward to a return to in-person events as the local innovation community grows.

"One of the things I love most about this community, and miss, is that we truly enjoy spending time together and learning from each other," Bernier said, adding that in-person interactions would "facilitate deeper and more meaningful community engagement and consultation."

Zack Storms, co-founder of Startup TNT, agrees that gathering once again will be a highlight, despite the fact that the Omicron variant may put a damper on local events in early 2022.

The YEG Startup Community Awards will be back in May, and Edmonton Global is organizing an economic showcase event in March. The Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute will also be hosting its first AI Week in the spring. Plus, a large contingent of local startups plans to travel to the Uniting the Prairies conference in Saskatchewan and Inventures in Calgary.

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By Mack Male and Doug Johnson

  • Wastewater analysis suggests that the province is entering yet another COVID-19 wave, spurred on by the rapid spread of the Omicron variant. Casey Hubert, Campus Alberta Innovates Program chair in geomicrobiology, said the analysis shows that Edmonton, Calgary, Lethbridge, and other municipalities are in the fifth wave.
  • Trisha Estabrooks, chair of the Edmonton Public School Board, told Postmedia in a year-end interview that the board is optimistic the provincial government will invest in its capital project wish list. "Even though we've just opened up a brand new high school, a number of our high schools remain at or above capacity," she said.
  • Kath Oltsher, executive director of Zoe's Animal Rescue Society, said that rescues around town are struggling since Edmonton's Animal Care and Control Centre announced it will temporarily cease taking in new healthy animals due to a shortage of staff. "Dogs are a little bit tough too right now, especially because with the pandemic, puppies are being sent to rescue now because so many people got so many puppies a year ago," Oltsher said.
  • Local author Marty Chan will be hosting two online workshops for students, after the news that they won't be returning to class until Jan. 10. The first session is for youth in Grades 3-6 and will be held on Jan. 5; the second is for students in grades 5-9, and will be held Jan. 6. "I have a personal agenda, a personal passion, for inspiring kids to read and write," Chan told CTV News.
  • A local man has turned his front yard into a long snow slide, complete with twists and makeshift guardrails. Jesse Boulet said that, since the first deluge of snow this winter, he has spent around 60 hours working on the project.
  • Now that the holidays are over, the city will collect real Christmas trees from residents early next week. A tree should be placed un-bagged and on its side in a home's pick-up area, by Jan. 10 at 7am.
  • PCL Construction and its staff have donated $26,000 to Edmonton's Food Bank. "It's been another difficult year for society in general, but it's been fantastic to see business technology and marketing and communications come together to show how our PCL culture rises to the occasion for those in need," said PCL CIO Mark Bryant.
A look down 97th Street, the heart of Edmonton's Chinatown

Chinatown Dining Week set to return with more restaurants than ever

By Nathan Fung in the Food Roundup

Chinatown Dining Week is back Jan. 13 to 23 to introduce Edmontonians to a diverse array of family-owned restaurants and give the area a much-needed boost during the slower winter months.

There are 18 restaurants participating, the largest number of participants in the event's five-year history and almost double last year's contingent of 10. Each one has put together specials for $10, $18, or both.

Sandra Karabani, one of the event's volunteer organizers, said she hopes the event will address some of the negative perceptions attached to Edmonton's Chinatown.

"I feel that (Chinatown) has a lot to offer," she told Taproot. "As an international student, it was definitely a place for me to get different grocery items at an affordable cost. There is always really cool food… and I just feel that a lot of people are missing out on that."

The new participants this year are 97 Hot Pot, China Marble Restaurant, Co Chin Saigon, Emperor's Palace, Lee House Korean Restaurant, Spirit Bistro, and The Moth Cafe.

The event "does an amazing job to bring attention to the diverse local restaurants around the area that people may otherwise not know about," said Khu Wales, a director with The Moth Cafe, which is offering purple yam risotto with jackfruit crab cake and chocolate mousse for $18.

"Most if not all of the restaurants in this area are owned by local families, so the community support goes a long way."

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