The Pulse: Aug. 2, 2022

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

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  • 22°C: Showers ending late in the morning then a mix of sun and cloud with 30% chance of showers. Risk of a thunderstorm in the morning and afternoon. Wind northwest 20 km/h gusting to 40. High 22. Humidex 25. UV index 6 or high. (forecast)
  • 3-10: The Edmonton Riverhawks lost their final home game of the season to the Bellingham Bells on July 31. (details)

Santiago Lopez and Kristin Panylyk stand beside a shelf of packaged coffee beans, near a counter full of pastries]

The Colombian opens third café, eyes further expansion

By Brett McKay

The Colombian has opened a third café in Edmonton during highly uncertain times for the food service industry, but this expansion is only a hint of what founder and co-owner Santiago Lopez envisions.

"We have been gearing to do this for a couple of years now. I think we have some clear goals for the next five years, and that is to try and expand in the market," said Lopez. "Since last year, since we opened our second coffee shop, we set up our management structure in a way that we could do multiple locations and manage it in a more intentional way to set us up for growth."

The roastery launched at farmers' markets in 2017 and established its first coffee shop in Glenora in 2018. It expanded to the French Quarter in 2021 and opened in Parkallen in July.

The Parkallen café is nestled in a small strip of businesses in a quiet community, removed from the reliable foot traffic of shopping districts. Lopez's choice of location is one aspect of the company's ambition to be "a disruptor in the service industry," he said.

"We want to use coffee as a catalyst to create community, and what we have found that our success is based on finding communities that are underserved so that we can actually open up a gathering spot for the community."

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By Kevin Holowack and Mack Male

  • Edmonton's downtown office vacancy rate has risen more than 2% over the past year, reaching 19.2% by the end of June, according to the latest office market report from Colliers. That's up from 18.5% at the end of the first quarter and is the highest rate since 1986. Edmonton Downtown Business Association executive director Puneeta McBryan told Postmedia that things could change in September as people head back to the office, but she remains concerned about retail vacancies. "We have to be creating an experience downtown that is so worth visiting," she said. Retail Insider spoke with several experts about the shifting dynamics that have affected downtown retail.
  • The RiverWatch Institute of Alberta is once again offering its interpretive rafting tours, called Eco Floats. This year, the guided experience begins at the Laurier Park Boat Launch and ends at Dawson Park, passing under nine bridges and past well-known sites like Accidental Beach. "It's a little bit of a historical view of the city," said guide River Hoffos, "but it's also just an enlightening view of the city because you start to realize how much green we have and how beautiful our river valley is."
  • Const. Thomas Woitt with the Edmonton Police Service has been demoted for three years after lying about where he got a piece of firearms equipment, namely a "fast" magazine pouch that gave him an unfair advantage during the competitive application process for entering the tactical sector. "This misconduct goes to the core values of what is expected of a police officer," wrote retired RCMP officer Fred Kamins, who presided over the hearing where Woitt pleaded guilty to deceit under the Police Act.
  • Pieces of the historic Tegler Building are for sale at Home Reusables after owner Sherry Galan acquired them from the municipal archives. The eight-story structure, built in 1912, was once the tallest commercial building in western Canada and a hub of downtown until it was demolished by the Bank of Montreal in 1982. Over 100 artifacts from the building are available to purchase.
  • The mass by Pope Francis, Monster Jam, and Edmonton Elks games all contributed to an "unparalleled week" at Commonwealth Stadium, according to Jason Fesyk, stadium major events supervisor at the City of Edmonton. "The amount of time, effort, and work that went into that was absolutely amazing," he said.
  • Team Canada won its first FIBA 3x3 Women's Series Stop at ICE District in Edmonton over the long weekend. Edmontonian Michelle Plouffe led the team with 13 points in the title game — including the game-winner — and was named MVP of the event, leading all scorers with 43 points overall.
  • Aher Uguak and Jordan Baker, two Harry Ainlay High School alumni who are now forwards with the Edmonton Stingers, are central to the team's success, which includes recently earning another playoff spot after winning two back-to-back Canadian Elite Basketball League championships. "I've grown close to these guys, and I feel like I'm part of something special here," said Uguak.
  • As of Aug. 2, children between six months and five years of age are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine by Moderna, which is the first to be authorized in Canada for this age group. First-dose appointments for children under five must be booked through the Alberta Vaccine Booking System or by calling Health Link.
  • Dr. Deena Hinshaw was given $227,911 in "cash benefits" over the course of 2021 on top of her $363,634 salary, according to the province's salary and severance disclosure database. It is the highest recorded cash benefit payout to a civil servant since the database launched in 2016. A spokesperson for the province said the benefits reflect the "extraordinary amount of additional work" required of Hinshaw and other officials during the pandemic, although Hinshaw's overtime hours are not publicly available.
A crowd of happy people stand in front of a bus, one holding a rainbow umbrella aloft

Edmonton Queer History Project looks to grow

By Dustin Scott

After selling out all of its downtown tours this summer, the Edmonton Queer History Project (EQHP) is looking to expand to different areas in the city, starting with Old Strathcona.

"The success of the tours shows a thirst and a hunger for this information," said project co-founder Kristopher Wells. "The queer community has been here and visible for a long time in the city and has made some important contributions. It's time we recognize that."

The downtown map includes 27 sites, starting from Michael Phair Park, named after Edmonton's first openly gay city councillor, and winding its way through various bookstores, night spots, institutions, and meeting places to the story of Wallbridge & Imrie Architects. Tours have been led by Phair himself, as well as playwright, composer, drag artiste, and queer historian Darrin Hagen.

But there are more stories to tell, some of them on the south side of the river. The Old Strathcona Business Association approached the EQHP about expanding southward, Wells said.

"Part of our mission is fostering an inclusive and welcoming community, and part of that includes celebrating LGBTQ and that whole community," said Cherie Klassen, executive director of the association. "So it just made sense when we saw the queer history project for us to connect with them and see what we can do."

Among the sites to be included are Orlando Books, an activist bookstore on Whyte Avenue from 1993 to 2002. There's also a long history of queer participation in the Edmonton Fringe and the relatively new history being made at Pride Corner, where community members have gathered to drown out a homophobic street preacher.

"Pride Corner is an excellent story of community activism," said Wells. "When the laws fail you, right? What do you do? It's a beautiful story about people in the community wanting to do something to ensure safety and inclusion. Also, it's about saying, 'We belong here too."

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A screenshot of Adam Danyleyko speaking at an online pitch competition, with the Amii logo in the background

Coming up this week: Aug. 2-5, 2022

By Debbi Serafinchon

This week offers an evening of coffee and connection, a neighbourly movie screening, music on at least two hills, a delicious date night, and a chance to learn how best to pitch a startup at an upcoming marathon.

Find even more listings in Taproot's weekly roundups.

Photo: Adam Danyleyko of Amii introduced a block of pitches at last year's Great Alberta Pitch Marathon, which has now grown to encompass the Prairies. Learn how to pitch on Aug. 4. (Startup TNT/YouTube)