The Pulse: Aug. 16, 2022

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  • 26°C: Mainly sunny. Increasing cloudiness late in the morning then 30% chance of showers late in the afternoon. Risk of a thunderstorm late in the afternoon. High 26. Humidex 30. UV index 6 or high. (forecast)
  • $40,000: The historic Hull Block in Chinatown has sustained $40,000 in window damage so far in August. (details)
  • 6-3: Canada beat Finland at the World Junior Hockey Championship, finishing the preliminary round at the top of Group A. (details)

A storefront of a coffee shop with large windows facing the street behind a wood countertop

Fawkes Coffee and Doughnuts pop-up aims for permanence

By Dustin Scott

When Jorel and Mikayla Pepin first toured the Great West Saddlery Building on 104 Street, they saw their future. They hope their pop-up coffee shop, Fawkes Coffee & Doughnuts, is just the beginning.

"You know, when you meet people, and you feel you've been friends with them forever, there was something organic and natural," Jorel said of the 111-year-old space just north of Jasper Avenue, where they've been doing great business selling cold-brew coffees and vegan cake doughnuts since July 22.

They met and fell in love running cafés together. Jorel's family owned and operated Block 1912 on Whyte Avenue until 2020, where Mikayla worked as the general manager for years before moving into the bakery. "Working around coffee makes sense — it's what we know," said Jorel.

Fawkes Coffee was born in the summer of 2020. "It was during the quiet time in the pandemic when the world was quiet," said Mikayla.

"When everyone was picking up new hobbies, instead of learning how to make bread, we began roasting our own coffee," Jorel added.

When a friend approached them about opening up a new coffee shop in the Great West Saddlery Building, it was an opportunity they couldn't turn down. They even got married there four months ago, exchanging vows under a flowered arch in front of the window that looks onto the downtown street. And they're hoping to shift from running a pop-up to permanent location.

"We're committed to building something," Jorel said. "We want it to be special," Mikayla added.

They said they consider coffee secondary to fostering community. "We want to create a safe place for people to hang out and feel safe," Jorel said. "A place people can go to on a blind date. There aren't coffee shops open late downtown. We want to be that."

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Headlines: Aug. 16, 2022

By Karen Unland and Kevin Holowack

  • City council voted 10-3 to spend $15.2 million over two years on the Healthy Streets Operations Centre in Chinatown. The centre is to act as a hub for police, city staff, peace officers, and firefighters, but $10.3 million is going towards policing, which in effect returns to the police budget money that had been diverted to address root causes of disorder. "The underlying causes of decline and deterioration in Chinatown directly relate to health and addictions and mental health, housing, and houselessness, and those are provincial responsibilities," said Mayor Amarjeet Sohi, who nonetheless voted to allocate the funds. "I am under no illusion that we will be able to make our communities safer until we tackle (these) issues."
  • City council voted 12-1 not to sign a land agreement with Prairie Sky Gondola, stymieing the company's plan to build a private gondola over the river. Several councillors cited concerns that the project would disturb Indigenous burial grounds by the Rossdale power plant, a point raised by several attendees of a public hearing last week. Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said he "cannot in good conscience" support a project that could disturb the burial grounds, "particularly when we have made such a strong commitment as a city to reconciliation with Indigenous communities." The company previously said it would stop moving forward with the project if council didn't approve the land agreement. CEO Jeffrey Hansen-Carlson said in a statement on Monday evening that his company was not deterred by the decision. "This city needs more big ideas for people to believe in and more empowered city builders daring to do them," he said. "We're proud of what we did and we're excited to explore what we can do next."
  • Karima Delijam and Taiba Atimadi are part of a group of Afghan refugees in Edmonton who are advocating for humanitarian assistance for women and girls in Afghanistan who are in danger for seeking higher education. "(They) really need our support for preparing even their basic needs like books and stationery," Delijam said. Over the past year, more than 17,300 Afghans have arrived in Canada. In Alberta, 3,030 are government-assisted refugees and 1,110 are privately sponsored.
  • Family movies will be projected onto a three-storey inflatable screen in Churchill Square throughout August and September for Movies on the Square, a free family-friendly event. Upcoming showings are The Princess Bride on Aug. 17 and Josie and the Pussycats on Aug. 24. The city encourages viewers to bring lawn chairs and asks movie-goers to avoid drinking or smoking.
  • The city is hosting special Big Bin "Plus" events outside of Northlands Coliseum on Aug. 20 and 21. As usual, Edmontonians can drop off unwanted items too large for regular collection. The "plus" refers to on-site demonstrations about the city's garbage process, a look at the city's asphalt repair tools and bridge inspection equipment, and an electric bus you can go inside.
  • Commercial real estate investment in Edmonton rose by $930 million to $1.46 billion in the second quarter of this year, says a report from The Network, attributing the increase in part to out-of-province investors attracted to lower prices in Alberta at a time when interest rates were relatively low. The report noted increased interest in industrial property, multifamily properties, and undeveloped land, as well as a big year-over-year increase in the sale of warehouses. Meanwhile, the average home price in Edmonton declined by 5.9% between February and July, dropping from $426,465 to $401,274, a less severe decline than many other metro regions saw.
A screenshot of Zack Storms, wearing a Startup TNT T-shirt, at the Great Alberta Pitch Competition in 2021

Startup pitch marathon expands across the Prairies

By Brett McKay

Since 2020, Alberta's premier pitch marathon has brought startups and entrepreneurs together to market their ideas and meet peers and investors. Now rebranded as the Great Prairies Pitch Marathon, organizers aim to showcase 200 startups from Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.

The event gives participants three minutes each to pitch their company, and serves as a "State of the Union" for the innovation community, service organizations, and community partners, said Zack Storms, founder of Startup TNT, which is the lead organizer of the Great Prairies Pitch Marathon.

"When you read about what makes for a strong, resilient startup ecosystem, one of the key factors is having both strong relationships among the players internally in the ecosystem, but also connections, relationships with other startup communities," Storms said. "(It) just kind of makes for a more robust, resilient community long-term."

The marathon will be hosted on Zoom and live-streamed on YouTube on Aug. 18, with after-parties scheduled in Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, Saskatoon, and Winnipeg. The deadline to apply to pitch is midnight on Aug. 16.

In its first year, the pitch marathon drew around 100 participants. The event has since become a platform for companies ranging from the "ideas on paper" stage of development to well-funded startups with 50-person teams. This year, there are 30 co-hosts lined up, and the organizers hope to have 200 presenters signed up to pitch during the day-long event.

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