The Pulse: March 10, 2022

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

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  • -8°C: A mix of sun and cloud with 30% chance of flurries. Wind northwest 30 km/h gusting to 50. High minus 8. Wind chill minus 21 in the morning and minus 15 in the afternoon. UV index 2 or low. (forecast)
  • 1,087: There are 1,087 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 78 in intensive care. Alberta reported 7 new deaths on March 9. (details)
  • 4-3: The Oilers (31-23-4) defeated the Capitals (30-18-10) in overtime. (details)

A red crosswalk blocked by snow and ice

City accessibility policy needs awareness and enforcement, advocates say

By Emily Rendell-Watson

The city has not taken sufficient action to enforce the accessibility policy council passed in 2019, nor has it educated Edmontonians about it enough, say two members of Edmonton's accessibility advisory committee.

"There's a sense of not being able to enjoy your city as much as the next person," said Zachary Weeks, a disability advocate and accessibility consultant who was involved in the creation of Policy C602.

Fellow committee member Crystal Jones agrees. "A lot of work went into this policy. A lot of people, especially disabled people, were consulted on this. But this policy is not being enforced," she tweeted after a committee meeting in February.

Weeks and Jones said snow removal, parking, and events in city-owned buildings are just a few examples of where they'd like to see improvements. They suggest an awareness campaign as a good start. Weeks would also be open to fines for violations of the policy in the future, including having the city place levies on businesses that do not have accessible entrances, for example.

"It's going to cost more money to fix later on because they're not doing anything about it right now," Jones told Taproot.

It's not just about improving the city for those with disabilities, Weeks added. People with mobility challenges, whether it be seniors, pregnant people, or anyone else, would benefit from a more accessible city. "What does this mean for moving the needle for full inclusion of all citizens?" he said.

Coun. Keren Tang said she's heard committee members' frustration about "seemingly little progress made in the implementation of this policy and nothing to report back to the community they represent." She said the infrastructure team has committed to reporting back on how the policy is implemented with new builds, as well as investigating what happened to the committee's past advice (including on the Stanley A. Milner Library downtown). But that's just the start.

"We still have a long way to go in terms of socializing and raising awareness about this policy across the corporation," Tang said. "It took many years of training and awareness raising within the corporation and with the public ... for Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) to really take hold. We need to learn from this experience, so we can cut down on the amount of time and raise the profile and importance of C602 to the same level."

Continue reading


By Mack Male

  • City council is considering changes to property taxes that could result in new categories based on density. Such a move would be unprecedented in Canada — for now council has asked that a report with options be brought back later this year.
  • Edmonton Police Association president Michael Elliott has denied the organization maintains a list of critics. "You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know who the regular critics are of the EPS and/or the EPA on social media, you just need a Twitter account," he told Postmedia.
  • Ukrainian flags are selling out across the city as Edmontonians look to show support for the country. "Unfortunately, strife in the world is good for business. You know, whenever there's a political event, we get lots of phone calls," Phyllis Bright, owner of The Flag Shop, told CBC News. Pins, neckties, and other blue and yellow items are also in short supply.
  • The Edmonton Chamber of Commerce has announced its staff will return to the office full-time starting April 11. "Our business communities are most successful when we create opportunities for collaboration, collisions and networking," said president and CEO Jeffrey Sundquist. The Edmonton Chamber said it "encourages all businesses to begin a return-to-work plan and we are optimistic this is the right time."
  • The Association of Academic Staff University of Alberta has ratified a new agreement with the university after 92.5% of members voted in favour. The new agreement covers the period from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2024, CTV News reports.
  • Starting this fall, a dozen programs at the University of Alberta will see tuition hikes of between 16% and 104%. Minister of Advanced Education Demetrios Nicolaides signed off on the "exceptional" tuition increases, Postmedia reports.
  • After indicating on Tuesday that the provincial government would consider whether to proceed with Bill 4 in light of Edmonton city council's decision to repeal the mask bylaw, Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver said Wednesday the bill "will proceed as planned." Alberta Municipalities president and St. Albert Mayor Cathy Heron said the move "sets a precedent for future legislative changes when all of a sudden a municipality and the government of Alberta disagree." She also denounced UCP MLA Shane Getson, who called municipalities the "children of the province" who need "to get spanked."
  • Premier Jason Kenney will debut a radio call-in show called Your Province, Your Premier this weekend on 630 CHED in Edmonton and 770 CHQR in Calgary.
Taproot Edmonton's Bloom podcast, brought to you by Innovate Edmonton

Bloom: Monitoring Ukraine, a new community kitchen, and innovative COVID tests

By Emily Rendell-Watson

In Episode 7 of Bloom, hosts Emily Rendell-Watson and Faaiza Ramji talk about how samdesk is offering its AI-powered monitoring and alerts for free to those who need to stay informed about what's happening in Ukraine.

Plus, MACH32, which creates innovative medical devices, is representing Edmonton in the top five for Startup TNT's Life Sciences Investment on March 17. The other finalists are: ll Skin Inc., Difinity Solutions, NanoTess, and The Natural Nipple.

And a community kitchen is opening at the Stanley A. Milner Library this month.

"A library is the perfect place for curious minds," said Ramji. "That's kind of the goal of the library — you go there and discover new ideas, and you learn new things. So why should that be limited to just books?"

The podcast also covers an Edmonton-based company that says it is working on the next generation of COVID-19 tests. Bio-Stream Diagnostics is using machine learning and artificial intelligence to refine its voltage-based testing system in the hopes that its idea could also be used to detect other infectious diseases, or even certain types of cancer.

Plus, there is no shortage of innovation at the University of Alberta: researchers are developing monitoring technology to assess the effectiveness of carbon capture, and Taleana Huff was recognized for her work that "lays the foundation for computers and mobile phones that use 100 times less energy."

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