The Pulse: Aug. 3, 2022

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  • 21°C: Mainly cloudy with 30% chance of showers. Risk of a thunderstorm in the afternoon. High 21. UV index 6 or high. (forecast)

Joshua Kirsch and Dustin Bajer stand in front of trees in the Edmonton Urban Farm

Project looks to map saplings given to Alberta first-graders

By Brett McKay

Do you remember where the tree you took home from school in first grade is planted?

For more than 60 years, the government of Alberta has distributed nearly 70,000 tree saplings to Grade 1 students during Alberta Forest Week. Now two local tree enthusiasts want your help to map those generations of lodgepole pine and white spruce.

"A lot of people can say where they planted the Grade 1 tree or know somebody who's planted a Grade 1 tree. We thought it would be interesting to map them see if we can get a list of as many of them as possible (and) any kind of stories or photographs that go along with it," said Dustin Bajer, co-creator of the Grade 1 Tree Registry.

The registry uses Google Maps and Google Forms to collect submissions, opting for tools that many people are already familiar with to make it as easy as possible to put their own tree on the map. The map launched in July, and already includes trees from Edmonton, St. Albert, Parkland County, and as far away as Victoria, B.C. Some are only one year old; the oldest so far is 66 years old.

The tree registry grew out of a shared love of documenting, mapping, and protecting local trees. Grade 8 student Joshua Kirsch, who started a project to map heritage trees in the Edmonton region, contacted the city to see how he could ensure an old tree on the west end wouldn't be disturbed by nearby LRT line construction.

"It's a huge tree, one of the largest that I know of in the city. And I was interested in trying to learn how to protect it," Kirsch said. The city forwarded Kirsch's e-mail to Bajer.

"I don't work for the city," Bajer clarified. "I just also have an interesting heritage tree. So, they were like, 'Hey, here's a kid who also likes trees as much as you do.'"

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By Kevin Holowack and Mack Male

  • The new River Valley Outdoor Activity Centre, which will be led by the Edmonton Ski Club and will provide "inclusive cultural and sport experiences," has received $6.6 million in federal funding through the Green and Inclusive Community Buildings program. Construction is scheduled to begin in May 2023 and wrap up by November 2024. "Investing in this net-zero building will not only enhance the quality of life for residents and visitors here in Edmonton, but it advances our shared priorities related to climate action, economic development, and community building," said Coun. Ashley Salvador.
  • According to new data published by Statistics Canada, Edmonton's crime severity index (which measures both the volume and severity of crime reported to the police) declined 8% from 2020 to 2021, while the crime rate (which measures the volume of crime reported to the police per 100,000 population) dropped 5% over the same time period. While the national homicide rate increased 3%, Alberta reported fewer homicides in 2021 than in 2020.
  • A petition from Coun. Michael Janz that calls for increased fines for noisy drivers has collected more than 500 signatures. Janz would like to see fines for noise in excess of 74 decibels, compared to 85 as per existing provincial and municipal laws. "These are illegally modified vehicles," Janz said. "They should already be taken off the roads, yet they're ripping out around the city." Janz said the provincial pause on automated enforcement like photo radar prevents the city from using noise radar technology.
  • K-Days attracted 760,889 people over ten days, which is 8% more than the previous event in 2019. "We are really happy with the turnout for our first year," said Arlindo Gomes of Explore Edmonton, which took ownership of the festival after Northlands was dissolved. "It's clear the community was excited to be back at K-Days."
  • A crane collapsed at an Abbey Homes construction site in Oliver near 102 Avenue and 119 Street on Aug. 2, damaging power lines and causing a power outage in the area. No one was injured.
  • The Edmonton Oilers announced that Kevin Lowe is retiring after more than 40 years with the organization. Lowe was the team's first-ever draft pick in 1979, played in all five Stanley Cup wins, and later served as head coach, general manager, and vice chair. "He exemplifies leadership and has done so much to help connect the organization with our fans, while supporting so many worthwhile causes in our community," Oilers chairman Bob Nicholson said in a press release.
  • "Canada welcomed me and my family and gave us the opportunity for a better life," soccer star Alphonso Davies said in a tweet. "It enabled me to live my dreams. It's a great honour to play for Canada and I want to give back, so I've decided that I will donate this year's World Cup earnings to charity." The World Cup kicks off Nov. 21 in Qatar.
  • Many Albertans feel relief now that the province has expanded COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to children under five. "(Those) families with the little kids haven't had the opportunity to protect their kids, so this is a really memorable day for a lot of parents," said Sara Borchiellini with Vaccine Hunters Alberta, a grassroots group that helps Albertans book appointments. A study out of the University of Alberta published this month found that 41.9% of Canadian parents with children aged 6-23 months intended to have them vaccinated, compared to 45.4% of parents with children aged 2-4 years. Around 50.2% of kids in Alberta aged 5-11 currently have at least one dose.
A cluster of mushrooms growing in the dark

Zylorion files U.S. provisional patent for novel psilocybin-based compound

By Brett McKay

Mental health care and psychedelic therapy innovator PsiloTec Health Solutions, operating as Zylorion Health, has filed a provisional patent for a novel psilocybin-based compound. The compound, ZYL-314, is to be used in the treatment of mental health disorders as well as other conditions and disorders related to the central nervous system, the company said.

PsiloTec Health Solutions is an Edmonton biopharmaceutical company founded by Dr. Peter Silverstone, interim chair of the department of psychiatry at the University of Alberta. The company rebranded as Zylorion Health in October 2021, saying the name change was an important inflection point in its development and business strategy.

"Our clinical team has been working tirelessly with our research partners on the development of novel second generation and industry leading compounds," Silverstone said in a release about the latest patent filing. "And we are extremely excited about this discovery."

The company is continuing to gather data and evidence for the compound and expects to file an application with the Patent Cooperation Treaty within a year.

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A newspaper clipping headlined "Rationing of Tea and Coffee Goes Into Effect: Ounce of Tea or 4 of Coffee Allowed Each Person Weekly

A moment in history: Aug. 3, 1942

By Scott Lilwall

On this day in 1942, Edmontonians were waking up to rations of coffee and tea.

"The ever-tightening pinch of war" led to the additional restrictions, which took effect Aug. 3 across the country. Adults would be allowed up to either one ounce of tea or four ounces of coffee (but not both) per week — about enough for 12-and-a-half cups. As the article announcing the rationing notes, the tea restrictions were tighter than those in Britain, although Canadians were allowed the same amount of sugar.

Tea, coffee, and sugar were far from the only items rationed in Canada throughout the Second World War: meat, butter, dairy, and flour were also restricted. While the rationing was done partly to keep calories flowing to Canadian troops overseas, many supplies were also sent to feed Britain, which was starved by German attacks on its food imports.

The rations put a strain on a population already struggling to feed itself after the economic collapse during the 1930s. In 1941, before rationing began, a dietary survey suggested that most families in Edmonton were not getting the amount of food they needed. Mothers and teenage children often were the ones to go without.

Edmontonians dealt with the rationing orders in a variety of ways. Victory gardens were common in the city's backyards and vacant lots during the First World War, and became known as relief gardens during the Great Depression. The practice saw a resurgence during the 1940s, with more families relying on growing their own vegetables to supplement their rations. Hunting and canning also became vital. In addition, some companies, such as the Woodland Dairy in Edmonton, created cookbooks with recipes designed around a family's weekly rations.

Others turned to less-than-legal means. Black markets flourished in cities across Canada due to rationing, but they were especially prevalent in Alberta. Food was traded illegally, but the black market also gave people access to other rationed goods such as gasoline, car tires, and ammunition. In particular, Edmonton became a hotbed for illegal cigarette sales, many of them supplied by the flood of Americans coming to the city to support supply routes to Alaska and the Soviet Union. Penalties for breaking the restrictions could be harsh — an Edmonton couple was caught hoarding tea and coffee in 1942 and fined $60 (the equivalent of about $1,050 today).

With the end of the war, trade restrictions eased. Many of the victory gardens that had been an essential part of wartime life fell out of favour.

While we haven't seen rationing, supply chain disruptions have led to modern-day shortages, both in Edmonton and worldwide. This time, the leading cause is not war (although it likely plays a part) but rather the global pandemic that has affected everything from food to computer parts to medical supplies.

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.