The Pulse: May 27, 2022

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  • 21°C: Cloudy. Becoming a mix of sun and cloud in the afternoon with 30% chance of showers late in the afternoon. Risk of a thunderstorm late in the afternoon. High 21. UV index 4 or moderate. (forecast)
  • 5-4: The Oilers defeated the Flames in Calgary in overtime to win the series 4-1. (details)
  • 7pm: The Oil Kings will play the Winnipeg ICE at Rogers Place in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Championship Series. (details)

A smiling Eugene Chen standing outside with Edmonton's skyline behind him

Developer turns data into 'useful and magical things'

By Nathan Fung

After a decade of creating data visualizations for Darkhorse Analytics, Eugene Chen is on to the next chapter of his career, having delivered one more wow-inducing piece of work: This is Edmonton.

The 3D interactive map uses demographic data from the 2016 City of Edmonton census, allowing users to compare 200 of the city's neighbourhoods by age range, household income, languages spoken, methods of transportation to work, employment status, length of residence, marital status, and structure type.

You can see, for example, that 30% of households in Mill Woods Town Centre use public transit to get to work, compared to 13% in Edmonton as a whole. It's also a neighbourhood where 12% of residents reported being widowed, compared with 3% of all Edmontonians. Donsdale and Henderson Estates have the highest proportion of households with income over $250,000, while Virginia Park has the highest proportion of households making less than $30,000.

That's just a tiny sample of what the interactive reveals.

"I expect this to be used by a variety of Edmontonians, especially those looking to move to a different part of the city," Chen said. "I'm also hoping that non-profits can use this to target their services in a more focused fashion to reach more people, and for businesses to be able to use the demographic information to make decisions on where they might want to open a new branch, for example."

This is Edmonton is the capstone of 10 years of projects that Chen has helped bring into the world at Darkhorse. Others include a look at property assessments in Edmonton, Vancouver, and San Francisco; an animated growth map of new buildings since 1917; and the Opportunity Atlas, which used anonymous data following 20 million Americans from childhood to their mid-30s to show which neighbourhoods in the U.S. offer children the best chance to rise out of poverty.

"What motivates me is creating useful and magical things," said Chen, who also serves as president of the Canadian Open Data Society. "It excites me to see when there's a twinkle in people's eyes, and they say, 'Oh wow, this is really cool.'"

Chen is very passionate about his projects and has helped make interesting data accessible to a broader audience, said Daniel Haight, president and co-founder of Darkhorse Analytics.

"He comes at problems, visualization problems, with a very different approach, a very creative approach," he said. "He's able to stand out from the crowd because no one's ever thought of it that way, and that's probably the hallmark of what he's done and what he's meant to the data-viz community."

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By Kevin Holowack and Mack Male

  • Connor McDavid scored the game-winning goal at 5:03 of overtime to secure a 5-4 victory for the Edmonton Oilers and a 4-1 series win over the Calgary Flames. The Oilers advance to the Western Conference Final for the first time since 2006.
  • The federal government will spend $3 million for the purchase and development of land at the former Griesbach Barracks. HomeEd and the Métis Capital Housing Corporation plan to build more housing on the Village at Griesbach site, including 85 three-bedroom townhouses and 127 units for Métis and other Indigenous individuals and families.
  • Edmonton Catholic Schools said it will keep its school resource officer (SRO) program after a report by three external criminologists found the majority of students, staff, and parents want it to remain. Less than 5% of survey and focus group participants wanted to get rid of SROs, but researchers say a lack of race-based data prevents them from examining the program in detail, Postmedia reports.
  • The city and Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities have opened a Jumpstart Inclusive Playground at the Clareview Recreation Centre. "Access is one of the key pillars of Edmonton's City Plan, and this project helps to ensure that children of all abilities have access to a space where they can all play together," said Mayor Amarjeet Sohi.
  • When it comes to winning an Edmonton mayoral campaign, big money "is a necessity," suggests Postmedia opinion columnist Keith Gerein. The municipal electoral reforms implemented by the UCP government in 2020, intended to level candidates' financial playing field, did not prevent the recent mayoral race from being "the most expensive Edmonton has ever seen," with five candidates including Amarjeet Sohi each spending over $430,000.
  • Edmonton's outdoor pool season has been shortened to July 1 to Aug. 31. The city said the reduction is a result of budget decisions made in 2020 in response to pandemic pressures, but Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said he'll look into the matter. Swimmers can make 1.75-hour reservations online starting June 24. Mill Creek Outdoor Pool will be closed all summer for rehabilitation.
  • The provincial government passed the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Recognition Act which permanently adds the word "honourable" to the titles of all provincial cabinet ministers, even after they leave the job. NDP MLA Christina Gray referred to the bill as a "vanity title project that Albertans didn't ask for."
  • May 27 marks one year since the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc announced they had located 215 potential unmarked graves of children at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. "There are likely thousands of graves at former Indian Residential Schools across the country," wrote Kisha Supernant, director of the Institute of Prairie and Indigenous Archaeology at the University of Alberta, "but we don't yet have enough information to know where most of them are located — some are likely lost forever."
A streetview of Edmonton's Chinatown on a June day

Chinatown deaths weigh on discussions of community safety and police funding

By Karen Unland

Chinatown business owners, residents, and their supporters packed council chambers at City Hall this week to press for action on safety after two men — Hung Trang, 64, and Ban Phuc Hoang, 61 — were fatally assaulted at their workplaces.

"I am here today to honour the memory of my dad, and if there was one thing that he would hope for now (it would be) that his death can open up everyone's eyes to see how out of control things are there now," Christina Trang, Hung's eldest daughter, told city council.

Hon Leong spoke on behalf of Hoang's family. "Edmonton is not a safe city for everyone," he said. "We do have a problem right now, and it happens in Chinatown."

Council approved the Community Safety and Well-Being Strategy and funding for recommended actions, as well as $300,000 in one-time funding "for the purpose of addressing the immediate needs of Chinatown." And the Edmonton Police Service launched Project Connection, which it said will focus on "addressing the increased violence, property, and disorder-related incidents" in the areas of downtown, Alberta Avenue, Chinatown, and some LRT stations.

Council will continue its discussion Friday on whether to reinstate a police funding formula or accept Coun. Erin Rutherford's motion to provide base operating funding of $385 million per year, plus funding from traffic safety and photo radar revenues, with additional funding made possible through the same budget process that other departments follow.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Tyler Shandro invoked the Police Act in response to the Chinatown deaths and the proposed changes to police funding, giving Edmonton two weeks to come up with a public safety plan. Mayor Amarjeet Sohi responded that the city has already taken action, but much of the crime and disorder is attributable to the province's lack of investment in social infrastructure. He also outlined why he opposes a police funding formula that guarantees increases every year.

The groups aiya哎呀 collective and Chinatown Greetings, which both engage in community-building, urged decision-makers to consider carefully whether increased police presence would result in more safety for all. "A blank cheque to the police will not ensure protection and well-being for our communities," they wrote.

Photo: Edmonton's Chinatown as it looked in 2018. (IQRemix/Flickr)

A kitten bats at a toy skeleton while another kitten looks on in a dollhouse setting

Weekend agenda: May 27-29, 2022

By Debbi Serafinchon

This weekend offers a cat festival and a rodeo, celebrations of Ukraine and various African cultures, and showcases for fashion and fibre arts.

Find even more fun things to do in the Arts Roundup.

Photo: This year's Edmonton International Cat Festival is mostly online, apart from some "in-purrr-son" cat yoga at Yogalife Studio. (Nanc Price Photography/Edmonton Cat Fest).