The Pulse: April 29, 2022

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

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  • 12°C: Sunny. Becoming a mix of sun and cloud near noon. High 12. UV index 4 or moderate. (forecast)
  • 5-4: The Oilers (47-27-6) defeated the San Jose Sharks (32-36-13) in overtime. (details)
  • 6-4: The Oil Kings defeated the Lethbridge Hurricanes, completing a first-round sweep. (details)
  • 7pm: The Oilers (47-27-6) will play the Vancouver Canucks (39-30-11) at Rogers Place in their final game of the regular season. (details)

Michael Wilson in front of a brick wall

DrugBank's culture is helping it build critical infrastructure for healthcare

By Emily Rendell-Watson

DrugBank has been named one of Canada's best workplaces by the Great Place to Work Institute. The Edmonton-based company's debut at 19th in the under 50 employees category closely follows its success in raising $9 million of seed funding, led by Brightspark Ventures, earlier this month.

DrugBank, which offers the world's largest online drug information database, has been intentional about building a supportive workplace with its Thriving Lifestyle Compensation Philosophy, which aims to offer a healthy living wage, rewards for exceptional performance, and equal pay for equal work.

That compensation philosophy and its overall emphasis on culture was a key part of conversations with investors during the raise, co-founder and CEO Michael Wilson told Taproot.

"We're not just looking for a check. We're looking for people to become partners in our business. I think all the investors that have joined us were really impressed with our vision and the potential future possibilities, but culture played a big role in how they perceived the company," explained Wilson.

Those values have been part of DrugBank's foundation from the beginning, when it started in Prof. David Wishart's lab at the University of Alberta in 2006. Wilson said a book by Daniel H. Pink called Drive helped shape his initial thoughts around culture, and Shay Barker, director of people and culture, has played an integral role in developing that side of the business as well.

Wilson told Taproot that culture is increasingly important, as his business competes against other tech companies and the wider marketplace for talent, which is directly tied to the ability to grow. The other important factor is that DrugBank is building a company that is solving challenging problems, and it needs people to be at their best to think about how to tackle each one.

"It's not about grinding out as much output as you can. It's about having people that are engaged with their work, bringing their A-game, and feeling empowered. A lot of the things we've done in culture, also benefit the business ... which means the business has the best chance of success," Wilson said.

The fast-growing company is poised to add more team members in the next few months, with Wilson estimating that it will have more than 80 employees by the end of 2022. Those hires will be across the board, with a particular eye toward growing DrugBank's sales, marketing, and product teams.

As it expands, the plan to focus on culture remains, by developing more tools similar to the compensation policy, and clearly defining DrugBank's leadership principles. Its decision to be a remote-first company has also meant that it's equally committed to ensuring there's a system that encourages robust feedback.

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By Kevin Holowack and Mack Male

  • Edmonton Police Commission chair John McDougall told Postmedia he thinks the commission has been "remarkably transparent" in its work, but said that he expects private committee meetings will likely be made public. "There's nothing that we want to hide. There's no reason that these cannot be public, other than the fact that we just haven't done them in the past," he said. Coun. Anne Stevenson, who serves on the commission, told Speaking Municipally last week that a lot of accountability work currently happens in private and that undermines the public's confidence.
  • With the arrival of spring, Edmonton's pothole repair teams are out in full force. The city has already filled 63,753 potholes this year, according to Caitlin Zerebeski, acting director of infrastructure maintenance. Potholes can be reported on the city website or by calling 311.
  • Mayor Amarjeet Sohi told CTV News he has asked the province for help to make Edmonton's LRT system safer. He expressed sympathy for Sharda Devi, a 78-year-old woman who was pushed from an LRT platform on Monday night and is now in hospital at risk of losing her leg. "You don't want to have that kind of terrifying experience on our public properties, particularly public transit," Sohi said. "It really scares people away from the transit system."
  • Edmonton Transit Service branch manager Carrie Hotton-MacDonald said she was "infuriated" at the disorder on the LRT captured in widely-shared photos this week. The city is responding by bolstering its transit safety program, CBC News reports. "We are listening and know that additional support is needed," Hotton-MacDonald said. "Overall, I absolutely believe our system is safe. I think there's more we can do to make it even safer."
  • Explore Edmonton, which took over the management of K-Days from Northlands last year, is seeking public input to revitalize the event. Edmontonians can share what they like and don't like about K-Days using a 10-question online survey, which Explore Edmonton said it will use to shape programming for the next decade. "K-Days is an institution, and we need to both honour its past and refresh its role in the community," said Traci Bednard, president and CEO of Explore Edmonton. K-Days takes place July 22-31.
  • The Edmonton Oilers will offer tailgating, watch parties, and potentially record-setting 50/50 jackpots when the Oilers start the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs next week. "It's been a long time since we've been able to get together in person and we are honoured to welcome the best fans in hockey down to ICE District to cheer on Edmonton's team and bring the energy, excitement, and love for our city back downtown," said Tim Shipton, executive vice president of the Oilers Entertainment Group.
  • With the price of materials and equipment rising, the city announced it is increasing the rehabilitation grant for designating a residential historic property from $75,000 to $100,000 per home, and from $10,000 every five years to $20,000 for maintenance grants. Owners of historic commercial, multi-unit, and institutional properties can also now receive larger maintenance grants of up to $100,000 every five years instead of $50,000.
  • As of April 29, Rundle Golf Course, Riverside Golf Course, and Victoria Golf Course are open for the 2022 summer season.
Edmonton Region Hydrogen Hub booth at the Canadian Hydrogen Convention

Edmonton seeks leadership role in hydrogen economy

By Mack Male

David Layzell, honourary chair of the Canadian Hydrogen Convention which attracted thousands of people to Edmonton from April 26-28 to discuss the emerging hydrogen economy, is bullish on the role the Edmonton region will play.

"Edmonton of all places in the world is probably the best positioned to be able to take a leadership role in this new energy transition," he said. "We have lots of hydrogen production in this region already — probably 25% of all hydrogen produced in Canada — and we've done it for 40 years. But we also know how to capture it and produce it."

Several hydrogen-related announcements were made during the convention, including:

Malcolm Bruce, CEO of Edmonton Global — which co-hosted the event — said the convention is intended to be an annual event.

"Energy has long been the backbone of the Edmonton economy, and we are excited about the opportunity that hydrogen represents for our region to continue to lead in providing sustainable energy solutions for Canada and beyond," he said.

Photo: The Edmonton Region Hydrogen Hub hosted a series of conversations at its booth during the convention. (Edmonton Global/Twitter)

Edmonton Oilers players celebrate in front of fans at Rogers Place

Weekend agenda: April 29-May 1, 2022

By Mack Male

Though many Edmontonians will be looking ahead to the NHL playoffs, there's plenty of arts and culture to enjoy this weekend if sports aren't your thing.

Photo: The Edmonton Oilers celebrate an overtime victory against San Jose, ahead of their final game of the regular season. (Edmonton Oilers/Twitter)