The Pulse: Jan. 27, 2022

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

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  • 1°C: Increasing cloudiness early in the morning. Wind up to 15 km/h. High plus 1. Wind chill minus 10 in the morning. . (forecast)
  • 1,418: There are 1,418 people in hospital with COVID-19 in Alberta, including 109 in intensive care. The province reported 23 new deaths on Jan. 26, bringing the pandemic total to 3,505. (details)
  • 7pm: The Oilers (20-16-2) will face off against the Nashville Predators (27-14-3) at 7pm. (details)

Zack Storms speaks on streaming video with "AB Cleantech Investment Summit" in the background

'Changing the narrative': Cleantech Investment Summit returns

By Emily Rendell-Watson

Companies offering products, services, or technology that reduce greenhouse gases have less than two weeks to apply for a spot at the second Cleantech Investment Summit, presented by Startup TNT and Foresight Canada.

"There's a lot of different sub-themes within cleantech," Zack Storms, co-founder of Startup TNT, told Taproot. It can include startups working in the traditional oil and gas sector or agriculture, as well as those working on alternative energy solutions or industrial processes to improve efficiency in mining, for example.

"We have (some of) Canada's largest oil and energy companies in Alberta — many of them are progressive and want to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and they make perfect pilot partners for a lot of cleantech companies," he said.

Storms hopes that the summit will contribute to changing the narrative in Alberta, especially for those who want to build a career in energy or technology with a more sustainable mindset.

The event already has 25 verbal commitments from investors who want to put in funds. Many of them have oil and gas expertise, which is valuable for companies in this space because they can make introductions within the industry, explained Storms. He added that the sector-specific summits tend to draw a different type of business, one that might find it more challenging to compete against companies that can scale quicker.

"These types of companies (in cleantech) generally have longer commercialization timelines, more capital-intensive technologies and business models, and added complexities of doing things like hardware or going through regulatory processes," he said.

The goal is to draw in between 30 and 40 applications, with a larger geographic footprint than the previous year. It is now open to companies in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.

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By Mack Male and Doug Johnson

  • An audit of the Edmonton Police Commission and Edmonton Police Service recommended by new city auditor Hoa Quach was quietly shelved by city council on Monday, reports Postmedia. Council went into private to receive legal advice and then never held a vote on the audit. Coun. Aaron Paquette, who brought the audit motion forward in December, told Postmedia that a revised audit may still be possible.
  • City council has decided to spend $14 million to build a new above-ground, three-level parking garage at the Orange Hub. A motion from Coun. Anne Stevenson to instead set the money aside and explore alternatives was defeated 9-4. Construction is expected to be complete next spring.
  • Coun. Michael Janz is calling on the city to clamp down on excessive vehicle noise. He plans to introduce a motion asking for a report with fine and penalty options. "We need to exercise every single tool and throw everything we can at these guys. It's gone on far too long," he said.
  • The Edmonton International Airport is now part of the Aira Airport Network which is an online service that provides live, real-time assistance to people with visual impairments using a smartphone app. "With Aira, from curb to gate, our travelers who have visual impairments can now have a memorable airport experience, confidently and independently," said Steve Maybee, EIA's vice president of operations and infrastructure.
  • A group of Afghan refugee children exited quarantine and were bused out to the soccer centre in east Edmonton for a chance to run around and play soccer, basketball, football, and hockey for the first time since landing in Canada. "They've been living under a lot of anxiety, a lot of tension, a lot of danger," said Sharon Yeo, director of immigration and settlement services with Catholic Social Services. "And so once they've arrived in Canada and they have that sense of relief that they're able to start anew, the kids are able to have that freedom to play." CSS partnered with Free Play For Kids to offer the activities.
  • Edmonton police arrested a 34-year-old man after he allegedly uttered Islamophobic threats and attacked a vehicle occupied by a Muslim woman and her kids near a mosque — he has been charged with mischief under $5,000 and uttering threats. The incident occurred on New Year's Day, and is, Islamic groups say, part of a larger trend of violence toward Islamic people.
  • Three people have died in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak at Villa Caritas, an acute-care geriatric psychiatric hospital in west Edmonton. The outbreak began in early January, and, since then, 120 patients and 35 staffers have tested positive for the disease.
  • Some parts of Edmonton are seeing snowballs pop up, seemingly out of nowhere. Called snowrollers, they are formed by a combination of sticky, wet snow; the wind blows a small bit of snow that then continues to roll, or — as its name suggests — snowball, picking up more mass.
Taproot Edmonton's Bloom podcast, brought to you by Innovate Edmonton

Bloom opens with a look at what's popping in innovation

By Karen Unland

It's been a busy start to the year for Edmonton's innovation ecosystem, and now there's a podcast to tell you all about it.

In Episode 1 of Bloom, Taproot's new show about the sector, co-hosts Faaiza Ramji and Emily Rendell-Watson take a look at Innovate Edmonton's plans for a new home; Wyvern's big raise and big opportunity to build its space company; and Sprout Fund's latest effort to amass $10 million to invest in seed-stage tech companies.

You'll also hear about the launch of a couple of those accelerators that were announced in 2021, two upcoming investment summits, and the YEG Startup Community Awards.

But before all of that, you'll hear how Rendell-Watson and Ramji plan to cover innovation in this weekly podcast, how they ended up where they are, and why they care about what's happening in this community.

Bloom is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and everywhere else you get your podcasts.

More information
A newspaper clipping headlined "Lack of interest kills Chinatown hopes"

A moment in history: Jan. 27, 1977

By Scott Lilwall

On this day in 1977, supporters of a plan to revitalize Edmonton's Chinatown district were on the verge of giving up.

For years, business and community leaders had pushed for the city to establish an official Chinatown in the core. Chinese business leaders at the time were calling for a four-block area to act as a cultural centre for Chinese residents as well as a possible tourist draw, but they found little support from those in power.

Edmonton's first Chinese resident, Chung Kee, arrived in 1890 to found a laundry business in the growing town — an event considered noteworthy enough to warrant a mention in the Edmonton Bulletin. At the time, the federal government had instituted a head tax to restrict Chinese immigration to Canada. So while Edmonton's population began to skyrocket in the early 1900s, the Chinese community grew at a trickle. By 1910, there were around 150 Chinese residents in a city of 25,000. And nearly all of them were single men working as labourers.

The community was centred around a few small blocks along Jasper and 97th Street and provided the city's small Chinese population with housing, social centres, and community resources. It continued to grow until 1923. No longer content with just limiting Chinese immigration, the Canadian government banned it altogether. The Great Depression followed, hitting the labourers who made up much of Chinatown's population particularly hard. (For a fictional imagining of that time, listen to Episode 4 of the Hardboiled podcast.) The area stagnated, and those with the means to move elsewhere did so. By the time Chinese immigration was allowed again in 1947, the few residents of the area were generally elderly and in poverty.

Even with immigrants arriving once more, few settled in Chinatown, opting for other areas of the city instead. The 1970s saw another shift, with the arrival of more Vietnamese and Vietnamese-Chinese residents, many of whom opened businesses closer to 107th Avenue. This area, which primarily contained businesses, became known as Chinatown North.

While the 1977 plan to create a space for the older Chinatown faltered, it wasn't completely dead. In 1979, city planners and members of the Chinese community agreed to demolish parts of the original Chinatown (making way for the construction of Canada Place) and re-establish the community in an area bounded by 95th Street and 97th Street, from Jasper Avenue to 102A Avenue. The new location included more residential and cultural development. In 1987, the city installed the Harbin Gate at the entrance to Chinatown South to honour Edmonton's relationship with its sister city. While the plan did lead to some benefits, it didn't lead to the economic and population growth supporters had hoped for.

Chinatown North and South are now closely connected, and efforts such as Chinatown Dining Week have emerged to try to draw more customers. Meanwhile, business owners have expressed frustration with crime related to addiction, homelessness, and a lack of social support for vulnerable people. Chinatowns throughout Canada have been hard hit by the pandemic and a rise in anti-Asian hatred, and appeals have risen for a national revitalization strategy.

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.