The Pulse: March 3, 2022

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

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  • -9°C: Snow ending in the morning then cloudy with 60% chance of flurries. Wind up to 15 km/h. Temperature steady near minus 9. Wind chill near minus 14. UV index 1 or low. (forecast)
  • 1,231: There are 1,231 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 84 in intensive care. Alberta reported 27 new deaths on March 2. (details)
  • 6:30pm: The Oilers (30-21-3) will play the Blackhawks (19-27-8) in Chicago. (details)

Cars parked in a surface lot in downtown Edmonton

Downtown workers would like cheaper parking, but consider the costs, says planner

By Emily Rendell-Watson

A survey for the Edmonton Downtown Business Association found that 60% of workers view the availability of discounted parking as a factor that would increase the likelihood of them choosing to return to work downtown.

But while discounting parking or making it free may seem like an attractive solution to reinvigorate the heart of the city, it's not that simple, explained urban planner Neal LaMontagne.

"There's no such thing as free parking. To discount that parking, somebody is paying for it," he said. If it's not the city, distributing the cost through taxes, then it's the building manager or developer, or the employer, a factor that would likely be considered in setting wages.

Discounted downtown parking, which is expensive to build and maintain, would also provide a "tremendous incentive" to choose driving over other modes of transportation. This is problematic because the core has limited capacity to take an influx of cars. There are also environmental concerns that go beyond having more cars on the roads if the demand for parking increases.

"An underground parkade or a structured parkade is a carbon bomb," LaMontagne told Taproot. "Concrete is carbon-intensive, and it uses a surprising amount of energy within a building.

Instead of providing incentives specifically for parking, LaMontagne said the solution is building up the alternatives to driving, like transit and active transportation, so that they are just as easy and convenient to use to get downtown.

"Discount parking benefits some workers and not others. The best options are where everyone gets $100 a month, you can use it for parking, transit ... an awesome bike. That would be fair," the University of Alberta lecturer explained.

LaMontagne cited Vancouver as an example of a city that has managed to strike a balance on this issue, doubling its downtown population but decreasing the number of cars going in and out of its core.

"There's a lot of options (there) so you don't have to drive into downtown or even own a car. And they're taking down parkades ... because the land is worth too much," he added. "A lot of parking lots doesn't make for a good downtown."

Continue reading


By Mack Male

  • St. Albert Mayor Cathy Heron asked Premier Jason Kenney to "show some respect" to local decision-makers. Heron, who is president of Alberta Municipalities, doesn't want to see changes made to the Municipal Government Act. "You hear the premier asking the federal government to show respect to the provincial government and that's all that our level of government asks for in return," she told CTV News.
  • The Edmonton Police Service issued a statement denying that it maintains a list of critics of the police service. "The EPS does not participate in such activities and does not maintain a list of alleged police critics," spokeswoman Cheryl Sheppard told Postmedia in an email.
  • The Downtown Edmonton Community League has shared preliminary concepts for an upgraded Michael Phair Park on 104 Street. "By making strategic upgrades with lighting, colour, and programming, we can create a safe and inviting space that draws the community in," wrote president Chris Buyze. The league worked with HCMA Architects and Michael Phair himself on the ideas.
  • Edmonton has been selected as the host site for the Football Canada Cup, a national championship for provincial teams at the U18 men's level, in 2023. "Edmonton will once again show its strength in hosting sporting events," said Cindy Medynski, director of Edmonton Events at Explore Edmonton.
  • The South East Edmonton Seniors Association is projecting a $30,000 deficit this year due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. "We've essentially been closed to two years, so that has a huge impact on your ability to generate revenue," president JudyLynn Archer told Global News. SEESA is looking for volunteers and is hoping more seniors will purchase memberships and register for classes. Donations can also be made online.
  • The discovery of 169 potential graves at the site of the former Grouard Mission site, located about 370 kilometres northwest of Edmonton, is incomprehensible, said Chief Sydney Halcrow of the Kapawe'no First Nation. Mayor Amarjeet Sohi noted many people of Kapawe'no First Nation currently call amiskwaciwâskahikan (aka Edmonton) home. "I feel your loss and the weight of grief you bear for every child that did not return home," he tweeted.
  • The province said it is waiting for a proposal from Boyle Street Community Services to open a new drug overdose prevention site. "What I can say is we have identified the south side as an area of need in the city and we feel heard loud and clear from the provincial government on that," said Elliot Tanti, a spokesperson for Boyle Street.
Taproot Edmonton's Bloom podcast, brought to you by Innovate Edmonton

Bloom: Airport strawberries and celebrating female entrepreneurs

By Emily Rendell-Watson

In Episode 6 of Bloom, hosts Emily Rendell-Watson and Faaiza Ramji talk about the first commercial strawberry facility at the Edmonton International Airport.

Calgary-based vertical farming company groHERE is opening the facility as part of the airport's Ag-celerator program, which aims to develop local food and beverage companies. GroHere hopes to be planting by the end of 2022, and at peak production, it expects to produce four million pounds of strawberries per year out of the airport.

You'll also hear about Ramji's plans to mark International Women's Day by highlighting the women involved in the supply chain for her business, Field Notes, which make spirits from distilled Alberta field peas.

"When you talk to the women involved, they're really quick to put themselves in a very support role in the business. But they're not, they're very much at the forefront and very much responsible for a lot of the progress that their businesses have made," Ramji said.

Plus, Rendell-Watson interviews Marcela Mandeville, CEO of Alberta Women Entrepreneurs, about how female entrepreneurs can help bolster the post-pandemic economy; Women in AI Canada has a new Edmonton lead; and Startup Edmonton head Christian Tokarski has left the organization to become an entrepreneur.

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