The Pulse: June 21, 2022

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

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  • 22°C: Sunny early in the morning then a mix of sun and cloud with 60% chance of showers late in the afternoon. Risk of a thunderstorm late in the afternoon. High 22. UV index 7 or high. (forecast)
  • 64-60: The Edmonton Stingers defeated the Montreal Alliance. (details)
  • Green/Yellow/Red/White: The High Level Bridge will be lit green, yellow, red, and white for National Indigenous People's Day. (details)

Nicole Matos speaking in front of a white brick wall

Oonnie aims to connect consumers with local producers

By Sharon Yeo

Oonnie, a website that aims to assist consumers who are looking for more convenient ways to shop locally, is set to officially launch on June 25, bringing to life the vision of a Métis entrepreneur who has spent the past 13 years in the commercial construction business.

Oonnie is the brainchild of Nicole Matos, who founded Rivet Construction in Sherwood Park in 2009 and served as its CEO until March of this year.

Matos grew up in rural Alberta on a small cattle farm but eventually ended up relocating to the Edmonton area. During the pandemic, faced with empty shelves at grocery stores, she was reminded of her roots of sourcing food more directly, but she realized she had been away from farms for 20 years, and no longer had those connections with producers. Farmers' markets also weren't ideal for Matos based on their limited operation times. She saw this gap as an opportunity to create a portal to bridge consumers with local producers.

The name Oonnie was the result of bingeing Korean dramas during the pandemic. "Unnie" is Korean for "older sister," which describes the role she believes she will play for many of the entrepreneurs she is onboarding onto her platform.

"I have so many skills, having founded and run a successful business," said Matos. "So it will be like having an older sister to help guide you."

Matos has been working with Courtney Hanak, Oonnie's business manager and owner of William Rae Designs, on building up the number of vendors on the site. So far, they've signed on over 20 merchants, including beef and honey producers, as well as established brands such as Confetti Sweets and Roasti Coffee. But Matos intends to broaden the directory even further.

"We're hoping to have everything," said Matos. "Our goal is to cover every food department that you would find in a traditional grocery store. I want to have a lot of different cultural foods."

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By Kevin Holowack and Mack Male

  • Mayor Amarjeet Sohi met with Premier Jason Kenney, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Tyler Shandro, and Labour and Immigration Minister Kaycee Madu on June 20 to discuss the public safety plan that Edmonton submitted on June 9. A response to the plan from Alberta's director of law enforcement was provided at the meeting but "will not be released at this time, as both parties have committed to working together to refine and improve the plan in the near term."
  • A motion from Coun. Tim Cartmell directing administration to work with the Edmonton Police Commission to develop a business plan for the proposed Health Streets Operations Centre in Chinatown passed unanimously.
  • City council is looking for two people to join the Edmonton Police Commission, which was expanded to a maximum of 12 members in March. Interested Edmontonians can apply online with a cover letter, resume, and three references. Sitting chair John McDougall and commissioner Jodi Calahoo-Stonehouse published a seven-minute audio file explaining some "key competencies" that will "position future members for success."
  • City council voted 11-2 to direct administration to explore the possibility of city-sanctioned encampments that would serve as a bridge shelter until more permanent housing is available. "Our current encampment response really just leads to a cycle of encampments being moved, and then coming back — within hours, often," said Coun. Anne Stevenson, who proposed the motion. Administration already recommended against sanctioned encampments in April, but city manager Andre Corbould suggested thoughts on the issue may have shifted in light of events in Chinatown. A report with options is due back July 4.
  • With the approval of Bylaw 20091, the city has launched a new incentive program in hopes of encouraging the renovation of more historical buildings. Non-residential building owners seeking heritage designation can now apply for an exemption from tax increases of up to $50,000 per year for ten years.
  • A group of 30 Afghan refugees volunteered to help welcome an additional 296 Afghan newcomers who landed on June 4, the day of the first charter flight carrying refugees from Afghanistan to Edmonton since the Taliban invaded Kabul. About 160 of the passengers plan to settle in Edmonton with the assistance of Catholic Social Services with the rest moving on to Calgary, Red Deer, and elsewhere.
  • Some students and alumni of the University of Alberta are criticizing the institution for unfairly restricting international students' access to funding. Jashan Mahal, vice president of the International Students' Association, said these individuals are ineligible for federally and provincially funded awards and some non-publicly funded awards on top of paying more than three times for tuition compared to domestic students. "Whenever we ask for anything, they just tell us that, according to this legislation, you are responsible for covering your own tuition, and I think that is very demotivating," said Mahal. The association is also resisting a proposed 6% tuition increase for international students for Fall 2023.
  • The Edmonton International Airport (EIA) is warning travellers to expect delays due to increased passenger traffic following the government's removal of COVID-19 vaccination travel requirements on June 20. The airport is still recovering from having laid off 30% of its staff during the pandemic. "We are bringing people back as we can," said Steve Maybee, vice president of operations, infrastructure, and communications at EIA.
  • Swoop last week launched non-stop flights from Edmonton to Charlottetown, PEI and Moncton, NB. The flights bring the Edmonton International Airport's number of non-stop destinations to 55, which it said is more than before the pandemic.
Cover art for The Rad Dads Show, featuring the title flanked by hearts and thunderbolts, above the words "Radio Free Edmonton"

Podcast pick: The Rad Dads Show

By Karen Unland

Sure, Father's Day is over, but dads are worth listening to more than once a year, no? To help you out on that front, consider The Rad Dads Show, a parenting podcast with a punk rock edge that has been talking to inspiring fathers since 2018.

The show is a production of Rad Dads Edmonton, which aims to promote and model positive parenting and the empowerment of dads. "We encourage dads to be involved in the lives of their children and our community at large," they say. Events were a big part of the Rad Dads playbook before the pandemic, but the podcast became a key point of expression when everything else was shut down.

Many of the episodes feature conversations with musicians who are fathers, such as John-Angus MacDonald of The Trews, Jaret Reddick of Bowling for Soup, or Sam Roberts. But there are nonmusical dads in the mix, too, such as writer Waubgeshig Rice or professor Tim Caulfield. And, for something a little bit different, there was a Rad Moms Takeover in February with rock-and-roll photographer Stacie Stevenson.

You can find the show in all the usual podcast places, but it's also on YouTube if you like visual stimulation along with the audio radness.

You can find this and the rest of Taproot's podcast picks in our Listen Notes list.