The Pulse: June 23, 2022

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

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  • 17°C: Periods of rain with risk of a thunderstorm. Wind becoming north 20 km/h in the afternoon. High 17. UV index 2 or low. (forecast)
  • 13: The province identified 13 COVID-19 deaths in the past week, Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced at what she said is her last regularly scheduled COVID-19 update. (details)
  • 4-3: The Edmonton Oil Kings defeated the Saint John Sea Dogs in overtime during round-robin play at the 2022 Memorial Cup. (details)
  • Blue/Yellow: The High Level Bridge will be lit blue and yellow for Victims of Terrorism Memorial Day. (details)

A rainbow of flags held aloft on a street during a Pride parade

Retirement home for LGBTQ2S+ seniors is in the works

By Dustin Scott

The Edmonton Pride Seniors Group (EPSG) is getting closer to its dream of building a queer-friendly retirement home.

The group is working with the city to acquire a piece of land on which to build an affordable housing development where queer seniors can feel comfortable and safe being themselves, without worrying about whether the residents or staff will accept them. It has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Garneau United Assisted Living Place (GUALP) to manage the home in a way that aligns with the EPSG's values.

GUALP currently owns and operates The Ashbourne, a 110-unit seniors' facility in the Garneau area that specifies that it welcomes members of the LGBTQ2S+ community. But the need is much greater than that one facility can fulfill.

"We surveyed a number of people from the community, and one of the biggest concerns they had was feeling like they would have to go back into the closet," said Blair MacKinnon, one of the leads of the project. "Could you imagine? Or if I am a trans person, is the staff going to understand my needs. An older transgender person will have different needs than an older straight white man."

The EPSG has its eye on a piece of land in The Quarters, which would be close to downtown, bike paths, buses, and the new LRT line. But it has not yet been designated for affordable housing, and both executive committee and city council would have to approve any purchase or transfer of publicly owned land to the EPSG.

The plan is to make it a 50-unit, mixed-income building, meaning that about 40% of the units would be available at 80% of market rental rates.

The project was conceived in 2013, but the serious work didn't begin until around 2015. The project was taken to the next level when MacKinnon came aboard in 2017. He joined the EPSG in 2017 after retiring from over 30 years of working in various positions in the Alberta provincial civil service, including several projects with Alberta Health.

"The project was something I knew I wanted to be part of instantly," he said.

Continue reading


By Kevin Holowack and Mack Male

  • The City of Edmonton signed 20-year green energy contracts with Ontario-based Capstone Infrastructure Corporation — which owns the under-development Wild Rose 2 Wind Farm in Alberta's Cypress County — and Calgary-based BluEarth Renewables. The power generated under the two contracts is expected to prevent more than 95,000 tonnes of carbon per year from entering the atmosphere. Both are expected to start providing power to the city in 2024. Capstone said the agreement "is the largest long-term procurement of renewable energy attributes by a Canadian city to date."
  • With an 11-2 vote, city council has requested a report on how to implement a more progressive property tax system compared the present model where taxes are paid in proportion to home value. The motion from Coun. Michael Janz originally requested more information about how the top 1% of homes could be taxed at higher rates, which he called a mansions tax. "I believe taxation should be progressive, and that those of us who can pay just a little bit more, should," he wrote.
  • A pilot project aimed at making Victoria Promenade more accessible would add separate bike lanes to the north and south sides of the road, which would mean the loss of about 20 parking spaces, and that has some residents upset. Coun. Anne Stevenson said she understands the concerns and is talking with city staff about options, though she described a bi-directional bike lane on the south side — allowing the parking spots to remain — as not a "workable solution."
  • The Edmonton Public School Board held its last meeting of the school year and approved its 2022-2026 education plan, which prioritizes anti-racism, reconciliation, and promoting student and staff wellbeing and mental health. Superintendent Darrel Robertson said the division will also focus on collecting demographic data to help improve success rates for students of different backgrounds.
  • The executive summary of a review of the Edmonton Catholic School District's school resource officer program (SRO) released last May minimizes the review's findings about racism, according researcher Alexandre Da Costa, who is part of the team behind the Edmonton SRO Research Project. The review found that around 80% of students and parents support keeping SROs but that 20% of Black and Indigenous students report feeling targeted compared to 11.5% of other students. "Are you centring the experiences of those most harmed like in an equity-based framework...or are you going for 'the majority think it's popular, so we keep the program,'" Da Costa said of the school board's decision to retain its SRO program.
  • The Edmonton Chamber of Commerce has brought on Irene Morin of Enoch Cree Nation as its first Elder in Residence. "With the second-highest Indigenous population in Canada, the Edmonton metro region has yet to unlock the vast potential Indigenous people can play in our economic prosperity," it said in a release. "The Edmonton Chamber celebrates the opportunity to use its platform and connectivity to the business community to accelerate that potential."
  • YMCA of Northern Alberta currently employs 123 lifeguards and swim instructors in Edmonton, down from roughly 240 aquatics staff pre-pandemic. The organization is looking for support from the municipal and provincial governments to train more people in the field of lifesaving and aquatics to address the labour shortage.
  • Students at the University of Alberta joined others across Canada to take part in a video call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on June 22. Zelenskyy emphasized the use of the internet to spread the truth about Russia's war against Ukraine, the importance of maintaining a sense of humour, and the need for Canada to continue supporting his country. "Please do not allow anyone in the hierarchy and bureaucratic quarters to forget about what's going on in Ukraine," he told the students.
  • The province is implementing a pair of financial relief measures following news from Statistics Canada that inflation in Alberta reached 7.1% in May. Albertans will have monthly $50 electricity rebates automatically applied to eligible utility bills starting in July — which the province first announced more than three months ago — and the freeze on the 13¢ per litre provincial fuel tax will be extended until September.
Taproot Edmonton's Bloom podcast, brought to you by Innovate Edmonton

Bloom: Flying Fish throws a line into Edmonton's waters

By Karen Unland

In Episode 19 of Bloom, Tiffany Linke-Boyko explains what kind of investment opportunities she's looking for as the recently hired principal for Canada with Flying Fish Partners.

The venture capital firm based in Seattle makes seed-stage investments in AI, machine learning, Internet of Things, cloud computing, and the like. You can expect to see her at pitch competitions and demo days, looking for the next big idea with traction that could really take off with $500,000 to $2 million from Flying Fish.

If you don't think you're ready for a seed round yet, she'd still like to meet you if you're working on a business that has artificial intelligence or machine learning at its core.

"My goal is to hopefully see companies earlier on in their journey, get to know founders — the stage we invest in, team is so important," she said. "So (I'd like to) get to know them and their process long before they need to come and ask for money."

Listen to the episode to learn more about why Flying Fish landed in Edmonton, what lessons Linke-Boyko is applying from previous stints at Startup Edmonton and We Know Training, and why she considers herself a "proud startup parent" of Taproot. Plus, co-hosts Faaiza Ramji and Karen Unland take a look at some other investment-related news from and Areto Labs.

Bloom is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and everywhere else you get your podcasts.