The Pulse: April 22, 2022

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

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  • 9°C: A mix of sun and cloud. Fog patches dissipating in the morning. Wind up to 15 km/h. High 9. Wind chill minus 5 in the morning. UV index 4 or moderate. (forecast)
  • 7pm: The Oilers (45-26-6) will play the Colorado Avalanche (55-16-6) at Rogers Place. (details)

The outside of the Advanced Technology Centre

Decision to sell Edmonton Research Park assets upsets some tenants

By Emily Rendell-Watson and Karen Unland

The city's decision to sell two buildings at the Edmonton Research Park (ERP) shows a lack of vision around innovation, says a consortium of business owners who operate there. But the city says it doesn't need to own the buildings to ensure the park serves as an innovation hub.

On March 23, city council's executive committee gave administration the green light to proceed with negotiations with prospective buyers to complete the sale of the Advanced Technology Centre (ATC) and Research Centre 1 (RC1), two buildings among 18 on a parcel of land south of 23 Avenue between Parsons Road and 94 Street.

This followed a decision made by the previous council in 2021 directing administration to sell the buildings, allowing it to reallocate $1 million set aside to rehabilitate ATC and avoid future capital costs on both buildings, estimated at $32 million.

The Edmonton Research Park Business Consortium, a community of tech and life sciences companies operating at the park, had hoped to persuade executive committee not to sell the buildings, or at least to wait until after it consults with tenants and articulates a true vision for the park.

"What are we doing as a city to ... build on that as an asset so that we can diversify the economy, so that we can do something that other jurisdictions around the world have done with research parks?" Bio-Stream Diagnostics CEO John Murphy said in an interview with Taproot. "We haven't quite done that yet, but we're set up well to do it."

Mayor Amarjeet Sohi and the councillors on the committee were not persuaded that keeping the buildings was in the city's best interests, but they did pass a motion from Ward Nakota Isga Coun. Andrew Knack (following an inquiry from Karhiio's Coun. Keren Tang) directing administration to engage with ERP businesses to provide options and actions to advance economic development opportunities in line with the principles of the Economic Action Plan.

That was not a satisfactory result for consortium member Mehadi Sayed, CEO of Clinisys EMR. "We feel that we were let down by the city," he said.

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By Kevin Holowack and Mack Male

  • The Edmonton River Valley Conservation Coalition (ERVCC), which has fought for years to overturn city council's 2020 decision to approve rezoning for the E.L. Smith Solar Farm, must pay $32,689.51 to cover some of EPCOR's legal fees, a provincial judge has ruled. ERVCC's judicial review was dismissed in January, but chair Kristine Kowalchuk said the group has filed a notice of appeal. EPCOR said it spent nearly $240,000 to defend the project and was hoping to recover about 45%.
  • City council has approved a rezoning application for a 40 to 45-storey tower proposed by Stantec and Limak Investments at the site of the Horne & Pitfield warehouse on 103 Avenue at 104 Street. The developers have pledged to preserve the brick facades of the 111-year-old building and take responsibility for their maintenance as a municipal historic resource. "We've landed on a decent compromise to retain the two key facades of the building that have the most prominence and profile to the surrounding streets," said David Johnston, the city's principal heritage planner, noting that high demand is pressuring the city to approve development projects in the area.
  • Police Chief Dale McFee said he remains opposed to decriminalizing drug possession despite city council's decision earlier this week to pursue an exemption to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. "There's nothing I've seen in evidence to show that this will actually make anything better," he said.
  • Seven youths have been charged with attempted murder in the case of sixteen-year-old Karanveer Sahota, who passed away last week following an attack outside McNally High School. Edmonton Police Service deputy chief Kevin Brezinski said the charges may be updated as they were laid before Sahota's death.
  • Last week, city council's executive committee unanimously accepted a report on the progress of the Edmonton Economic Action Plan, a 10-year road map approved by council in 2021. Stephanie McCabe, the city's deputy manager of urban planning and economy, said action the plan is "on track" with 2,222 building permits issued for industrial, commercial, and institutional projects in 2021.
  • Five educational plaques explaining the history of the South Alberta Light Horse Regiment, which has squadrons in Edmonton and Medicine Hat, were unveiled in Light Horse park on Wednesday. The plaques, detailing the regiment's participation in both world wars, were developed with help from the Dutch Canadian Club, which helped put up an Anne Frank statue in the same park last summer.
  • Parks Canada announced that 40 wood bison from Elk Island National Park have been safely relocated to Alaska as part of an ongoing restoration project that has successfully established a population of 100 wood bison in the region since 2015. Elk Island has relocated almost 3,000 plains and wood bison to conservation groups and Indigenous groups over the past 100 years.
  • The Edmonton Oil Kings defeated the Lethbridge Hurricanes 4-1 at Rogers Place on April 21 to kick off their Western Hockey League playoff series. The Oil Kings finished second in the regular season.
The cast of The Invisible on stage, with Evelyn, the chief spy, in the spotlight

Weekend agenda: April 22-24, 2022

By Karen Unland

Making plans? This weekend offers musical spies, contemporary dance, performance art with a message, and a chance to sift through vinyl.

Photo: Catalyst Theatre is putting on a concert version of The Invisible: Agents of Ungentlemanly Warfare before taking the show on tour. (dbphotographics)