The Pulse: March 23, 2022

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

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  • 12°C: A mix of sun and cloud. Wind becoming southwest 20 km/h in the afternoon. High 12. UV index 3 or moderate. (forecast)
  • 3-5: The Oilers (35-24-5) lost to the Stars (35-24-3) after giving up two goals in 24 seconds to blow a 3-2 lead. (details)

Alberta's Minister of Service Nate Glubish and Canada's Minister of Rural Economic Development Gudie Hutchings in front of the Leduc Heritage Grain Elevator

Funding raises hopes for broadband access throughout region

By Karen Unland

The announcement of $780 million in federal and provincial funding to improve access to high-speed internet was welcomed by Leduc Mayor Bob Young.

"All too often, students, people working from home, Indigenous communities, home-based businesses, and people trying to connect with family and friends in a virtual environment are at a distinct disadvantage because of rural internet speeds," he said in a Leduc Representative story on the announcement. "Improving rural broadband has become a priority within the Edmonton Metro Region Board, and is essential to modern agriculture and the farmers and ranchers who grow our food."

Alberta has a broadband strategy with a goal to connect every Alberta home and business to high-speed internet by early 2027. The province jointly funds projects that have applied to the federal Universal Broadband Fund, which can be proposed by telecom companies, internet service providers, towns, counties, First Nations, or Métis settlements, reports CBC. The first round of approved applications is expected to be announced soon, with construction starting later this year.

Sturgeon County has embarked on its own strategy, dedicating up to $7.3 million in long-term debt to improve broadband connectivity with Canadian Fiber Optics, starting with a pilot project in the southwest corner of the county. It is expected to start construction in May.

Photo: Alberta's Minister of Service Nate Glubish and Canada's Minister of Rural Economic Development Gudie Hutchings announced a combined $780 million commitment for broadband on March 9 at the Leduc Heritage Grain Elevator. (Gudie Hutchings/Facebook)



By Kevin Holowack and Mack Male

  • City council voted 9-4 to approve a new bylaw requiring masks on transit, with councillors Sarah Hamilton, Karen Principe, Jennifer Rice, and Erin Rutherford voting against. The bylaw, which will end when the provincial order is rescinded, allows peace offers to issue tickets. Another bylaw that would have required masks inside city facilities failed in a 5-8 vote. "I'm still concerned that the province moved too fast, too quick on removing COVID protections," said Mayor Amarjeet Sohi.
  • The Edmonton Police Service is one of several Canadian police services participating in the new Task Force on Hate Crimes, which is co-chaired by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation and the RCMP. The task force will meet over the course of 2022 and 2023 with the intention of "increasing awareness of the scope, nature and impact of hate crimes across Canada" and "(creating) national standards to better support targeted communities across the country."
  • Edmonton Fire Rescue Services is urging residents to avoid walking on the North Saskatchewan River. EFRS has responded to six calls in the past week due to children playing on the ice or people trying to rescue animals. "At this time of year, with the ice shelves shifting and moving currents, the river is not safe," said Bruce McWhinnie, chief of special operations.
  • The strange smell in the tap water is a result of yearly spring runoff introducing sediment and other material into the North Saskatchewan River. "Each spring runoff is its own kind of unique story," EPCOR senior manager Jeff Charrois told Global News, adding that the company has increased its use of activated carbon to remove odour-causing compounds. EPCOR says the water is safe to drink and has tweeted a helpful infographic about spring runoff.
  • Although Edmonton's housing market is getting hot, with average home prices hitting a record $411,464 in February, the affordability of older north-central and north-eastern neighbourhoods is still attracting buyers, Postmedia reports. Likewise, some experts expect that an increase in infill development could attract buyers to mature neighbourhoods like Westmount and McKernan. Meanwhile, downtown is seeing a minor exodus of young professionals, with many of them drawn to newer suburbs like Maple, Keswick, Chappelle, and Glenridding Ravine, which all saw significant residential development last year.
  • Edmonton author Todd Babiak became the world's first person to auction off a book as a non-fungible token (NFT). It was bought by local businessman Chris LaBossiere for two ether, the equivalent of about $8,000, and donated to the Edmonton Public Library. The irreplicable e-book edition of Babiak's The Daughters of Walsingham is now available for loan. EPL also released a YouTube video about how to access its first NFT book.
  • More than a dozen ecological advocates joined city council's community and public services committee meeting on Monday to oppose the use of pesticides to manage the mosquito population. Mike Boyce, a biology professor at the University of Alberta, said the chemicals introduce toxicity that spreads through the ecosystem at a time when insect-eating bird populations are declining, while Raquel Feroe with Pesticide Free Edmonton noted that many jurisdictions have banned aerial mosquito pesticides. Council will discuss the issue again in two weeks before making a decision.
  • Alberta's industrial and commercial real estate market will not see much impact from a rebounding oil and gas industry, according to CBRE. Since the pandemic started, the province has seen an acceleration in the diversity of tenants, with more cleantech and related industries occupying space and fewer oil companies needing space.
A blue and yellow sugar cookie from Confetti Sweets

Food community serves up favourites to raise money for Ukraine

By Debbi Serafinchon and Karen Unland

Edmonton-area restaurants, entrepreneurs, and cooks have been coming up with tasty fundraisers to help raise money for humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

Taste of Ukraine saw a huge turnout for its perogy fundraiser on March 20, with the lineup to purchase a plate of perogies and kubasa running around the restaurant and down the block. Meanwhile, volunteers with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of St. Anthony ran a sold-out fundraising dinner. "It's a hard thing to describe, but it's painful, it's very painful to watch what we're seeing on television," outreach coordinator Donna Reed told CTV News.

Other fundraisers include:

Photo: The blue and yellow sugar cookies from Confetti Sweets have contributed to fundraising efforts for Ukraine. (Confetti Sweets/Instagram)

A newspaper clipping with the headline "Royal Will Become Fourth Curling Club To Instal Artificial Ice Facilities Here

A moment in history: March 23, 1953

By Scott Lilwall

On this day in 1953, the Royal Curling Club announced it was getting artificial ice instead of going with refrigeration.

"We have heard of refrigeration being experimented with for curling clubs, but the reports that have reached us have not been sufficiently satisfactory," said club president Squib Williamson.

Curling's long history in Edmonton is quite well-documented, largely due to the longevity and passion of the city's curling clubs. The sport first came to the area back in 1888, part of a boom that saw clubs opening up all over the province. Interest in curling got heavier around 1910, partially because a shorter work week and more accessible travel made tournaments feasible.

Matthew McCauley, the city's first mayor, helped found the Royal Curling Club. He was an avid curler and apparently had a habit of finding a smooth patch of ice on the river and using kettles filled with sand to play with friends.

The Highland Club got started with two sheets in 1912, but it burned down five years later, removing it from play. It was replaced by the Thistle Curling Club in 1920, the same year the rival Granite Club was founded in Old Strathcona. The Thistle persists as Edmonton's oldest club.

As the city grew, so did the number of clubs. Crestwood Curling Club was founded in 1954, and the Ellerslie Club got its start in 1966. The Royal Curling Club met its end after it was combined with a badminton club and a tennis and skating club in 1961 to form the Royal Glenora Club, which still has ice but not for curling.

Given Edmonton's strong curling tradition, it's no surprise that the region has been home to many champion curlers, including Randy Ferbey, David Nedohin, Joanne Courtney, and — of course — the Old Bear, Kevin Martin. Sherwood Park's Brendan Bottcher won the Brier in 2021, but he and his rink announced earlier this month that they would be splitting up next season following a third-place finish in this year's Canadian men's championship.

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.