The Pulse: June 29, 2022

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  • 17°C: Rain ending in the afternoon then a mix of sun and cloud with 60% chance of showers. Risk of a thunderstorm late in the afternoon. Amount 10 to 15 mm. High 17. UV index 2 or low. (forecast)
  • Red/White: The High Level Bridge will be lit red and white for 10th anniversary of the SouthWest Edmonton Seniors Association (SWESA). (details)
  • $1 million: Local man Michael Sadiq won $1 million from a scratch ticket he bought at a 7-Eleven in Beaumont. (details)

Two smiling men walk in front of brick building after dismounting from scooters

Work Nicer to take over Startup Edmonton space in Mercer Warehouse

By Dustin Scott

The soon-to-be-vacated third floor of the Mercer Warehouse will become the second Edmonton outpost of Work Nicer, the Calgary-based coworking company.

Startup Edmonton is moving out of its home on 104 Street into Innovate Edmonton's new home at 10107 Jasper Ave. in the fall.

"We are excited to carry the torch, so to speak, from Startup Edmonton," said Alex Putici, founder and CEO of Work Nicer, at a news conference outside the Mercer with Devin Pope of Gather Co., which owns the old brick building.

The 14,000-square-foot space will be Work Nicer's second location in Edmonton, joining the company's Beaver House outpost at 10160 103 St.

Startup Edmonton began as an entrepreneur-led startup in 2009, and the 100-year-old Mercer Warehouse became its home in 2012. Startup was acquired by Edmonton Economic Development Corporation in 2014, and became part of Innovate Edmonton's portfolio in 2021.

"Innovation is a team game, and today's announcements are a bit of a baton pass of our storied Mercer's space to Work Nicer," said Innovate Edmonton CEO Catherine Warren.

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By Kevin Holowack and Mack Male

  • Mayor Amarjeet Sohi is once again calling on the provincial government to fund 453 units of permanent supportive housing that are slated to open within the next year. "Unfortunately to this date, we haven't heard any confirmed support from the province but I'm optimistic that our last meeting with the ministers and the premier was very positive," Sohi said. He also suggested the city isn't receiving its fair share of funding from the province. "We are getting far less money to end houselessness in Edmonton compared to other cities in Alberta, particularly compared to Calgary," he said.
  • Coun. Michael Janz posted a series of tweets apologizing for retweeting a now-deleted tweet that used the term "pig" to refer to a police officer. "I don't use the word pig. I didn't see the word. It was a careless tweet and a tiny little oversight," Janz told Postmedia. "It was just a careless mistake."
  • City council will vote next week on a recommendation from the community and public services committee to use $4.7 million from the financial stabilization reserve to improve the snow and ice control program for the rest of 2022. Coun. Tim Cartmell said council will need to do more at budget time later this year. "Essentially this budget has been frozen for many years while our city has grown around us," he said.
  • City council's community and public services committee voted to refer proposed amendments to the vehicle for hire bylaw back to administration to "set out the exact fares to be charged by taxis and accessible taxis, including the proposed surcharge." Administration had proposed an optional 13.29% fuel surcharge to base taxi fares, which have not been reviewed since 2007.
  • This year's seven inductees to the Alberta Order of Excellence include two Edmontonians: Edmonton Sun columnist Cam Tait, who is also a comedian and author; and Maureen Bianchini Purvis, founder of the veterans non-profit No Stone Left Alone. An investiture ceremony is set for October.
  • The Edmonton International Street Performers Festival and the Works Art and Design Festival will be taking place simultaneously in Churchill Square from July 8 to July 13, featuring 17 exhibits and 35 performance groups, organizers announced.
  • The Edmonton Arts Council is partnering with the City of Edmonton to present "Green Shack Shows" throughout July and August. Performances run five days a week with one at 11:30am and another at 2:30pm.
  • Edmonton triathlete Paula Findlay is coming to town in July to participate in the Professional Triathletes Organisation's world ranking for the Canadian Open, which will see 17 of the world's top female triathletes competing in Hawrelak Park for a $1-million first-place prize.
  • CBC Edmonton's Slumtown podcast is returning this summer to continue investigating problem properties in the city. The show's original run in 2019 focused on notorious landlord Abdullah Shah who was murdered last March, but it was criticized by Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood MLA Janis Irwin for failing to address issues of affordable housing, addiction, and mental health.
  • Alberta ended the 2021-2022 fiscal year with a $3.9 billion surplus largely thanks to high oil prices, which brought in a record-breaking $16.17 billion in revenue from non-renewable energy sources. Finance Minister Jason Nixon said the first surplus in seven years will fund "affordability measures" in addition to already announced moves like suspending the provincial fuel tax and giving Albertans a $50 utility bill rebate starting July, CTV reports. The fiscal year ended March 31.
Aerial photo of the Villeneuve Airport area

Villeneuve Airport area imagined as investment and innovation hub

By Mack Male

Sturgeon County council has given first reading to the area structure plan for the Villeneuve Airport Area, advancing the plan to a public hearing later this year.

The new area structure plan (ASP) is the implementation tool that the county will use to facilitate growth and development within about 1,200 hectares of land surrounding the Villeneuve Airport. Intended to build on the Villeneuve Airport Area Master Plan (VAAMP), which council approved in November 2021, the ASP provides the policies and servicing details that form the foundation of the area's transformation into "a world-leading investment and innovation hub."

"I do think this is a monumental day," said Mayor Alanna Hnatiw during the meeting on June 14. "As we look at this area ... I think it could potentially have the same impact to Sturgeon County as what the Heartland has had in the coming 20 or 30 years," she said, referring to Alberta's Industrial Heartland.

"It all starts with a plan."

The ASP contains seven goals, including to "set a precedent for innovation and green technology in the region" and to "enable agri-business to locate in the region, building on the strong agriculture foundations found in Sturgeon County." It outlines four development concepts, elements of which were first identified in the VAAMP:

  • Aviation and aerospace: Envisions an aerospace research centre, a training centre of excellence, and facilities for both defence-related initiatives and the space industry.
  • ecoPark: A state-of-the-art industrial park featuring a hydrogen innovation village and proving grounds, an Alberta carbon centre of excellence, and research and testing facilities for cleantech and renewable energy.
  • Agri-innovation: Envisions a future farming innovation centre, an indoor agriculture testing and production facility, and an industrial kitchen for entrepreneurs and farmers.
  • Logistics park: Warehousing, docking, and other facilities to support storage, staging, and transportation of goods in the region.

Altogether, the four concepts would consist of about 50 buildings and facilities over the first 20 years of development and are estimated to generate 1,766 direct full-time-equivalent jobs. The required infrastructure investment — stormwater management, sanitation, transportation network upgrades, etc. — is estimated to range from $285 million to $370 million.

While the ASP does not include the Villeneuve Airport itself, which has its own strategic plan, it does seek to "support and protect" the continued use and growth of the airport. Sturgeon County and Edmonton Airports signed an agreement in August 2021 to pursue collaborative economic development of the airport and surrounding area.

Following consideration at public hearing and second reading of the ASP, it will be brought forward to the Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board for approval.

Photo: An aerial view of the Villeneuve Airport area, which a proposed area structure plan envisions as an innovation hub. (Villeneuve Airport Area Master Plan presentation)

A newspaper clipping of an ad reading "50th Anniversary Celebration: Edmonton Exhibition, July 15-20, 1929"

A moment in history: June 29, 1929

By Scott Lilwall

On this day in 1929, the city was preparing for the 50th anniversary of the Edmonton Exhibition.

The Golden Jubilee promised a busy couple of days in July: horse races, a dog show, a street parade, and a hydrogen blimp over the city. The celebrations also featured a demonstration of high jumping from Saskatoon's Ethel Catherwood, who had become the first Canadian woman to win an Olympic gold medal just a year before.

The exhibition got its start in 1879. The 19th century saw the birth of modern farming, and there was a general fascination with the new methods and technologies used in agriculture. The original event displayed livestock, harvests, and agricultural equipment at Fort Edmonton, drawing a crowd of about 500 people.

By 1910, when the event moved to Northlands Park, there were 80,000 attendees. As the years went on, the exhibition changed to appeal to an increasingly urbanizing city, with additions such as rides and auto races. However, agriculture remained a big part of the festivities.

By the middle of the century, the exhibition drew hundreds of thousands of people each year. But enthusiasm was waning, and fewer people felt a connection with agriculture. In 1962, the exhibition rebranded as Klondike Days. The new theme focused more on Edmonton's heritage and its role as a stopping point for the gold rush.

Klondike Days wasn't just confined to the fairgrounds: during the '60s and '70s, a stretch of Jasper Avenue was shut to traffic so as to return to that 1880s feel. Costumes were a big part of the celebrations, with people dressing up in gold-rush era costumes (with the threat of ending up in Klondike jail for those who didn't take part.)

By 2005, attendance had climbed to more than 800,000 people. Still, organizers felt the gold rush theme had grown stale. A year later, the name was changed to the generic Capital EX, which didn't inspire much enthusiasm from the rest of Edmonton. It was a short-lived change, with festival-goers voting on the current "K-Days" moniker in 2012.

Edmonton and its exhibition have changed a lot since 1879, and more change is in the offing — Explore Edmonton engaged in a reimagining exercise earlier this year that is expected to be reflected in the 2023 fair. But the event is still going, 143 years later. This year's K-Days kicks off on July 22, offering nine days of concerts, exhibits, and attractions.

This is based on a clipping found on Vintage Edmonton, a daily look at Edmonton's history from armchair archivist @revRecluse — follow @VintageEdmonton for daily ephemera via Twitter.