The Pulse: Oct. 17, 2022

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  • 20°C: Mainly sunny. High 20. UV index 2 or low. (forecast)
  • Red: The High Level Bridge will be lit red for Mark it Read for Dyslexia. (details)
  • 3-4: The Edmonton Oilers lost the first Battle of Alberta of the season on Oct. 15. (details)
  • 23-28: The Edmonton Elks lost to the Toronto Argonauts on Oct. 15 in the penultimate game of their season. (details)

Forrest Zeisler and Sam Pillar speak at an event

Tech leaders seek easing of rules around 'software engineer' designation

By Brett McKay

A who's who of Edmonton's tech community is part of a push from the Canadian Council of Innovators (CCI) urging Premier Danielle Smith to "remove the regulatory red tape" that the group says threatens to stunt innovation in Alberta's tech sector.

But those responsible for regulating engineers say the rules are in place for a reason, and it's not right to benefit from the prestige of the term "engineer" without living up to the responsibilities attached to it.

The title "engineer" is restricted across Canada by various regulatory bodies. In Alberta, the Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act sets out who can call themselves an engineer, and it establishes the legal power of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) to license, permit, and otherwise regulate the profession.

The CCI released an open letter to Smith on Oct. 14 charging that APEGA has "taken the aggressive position that software engineers must be regulated, and subject to onerous, restrictive, and unnecessary certification requirements."

Among the 60+ signatories to the letter is Sam Pillar, CEO of Jobber, whose company is facing legal action by APEGA for use of the term "software engineer" without belonging to the association.

"This regulatory red tape threatens to have a profound impact on the future of our company and ability to compete in a hyper-competitive talent market," Pillar told Taproot. "High-skilled workers are used to seeing the title 'software engineer,' because it is the long-established global standard title used by some of the largest and most desirable employers in the tech industry to describe the work of building software. If we are prevented from using these kinds of job titles, we cannot compete on a level playing field for talent."

Pillar's fellow signatories include founders such as Cory and Nicole Janssen of AltaML, Jeff Lawrence of Granify, and Michael Wilson of DrugBank; investors such as Kristina Milke of Sprout Fund, Zack Storms of Startup TNT, and Ray Muzyka of ThreshholdImpact; and leaders such as Cam Linke of the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii), Catherine Warren of Edmonton Unlimited, and Malcolm Bruce of Edmonton Global, among many others.

Gerard McDonald, the CEO of Engineers Canada, disagrees that the rules are needlessly restrictive. "It's not red tape. The title engineer is a protected title, that's protected in law, and it's been protected for over 100 years," he said.

Software companies "can hire whoever they want, they can pay them whatever they want, they can make their jobs as appealing as they want," he said. "But if they want to call these people engineers, they must be licensed and must be accountable for the work that they do."

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Headlines: Oct. 17, 2022

By Karen Unland

Several construction workers pave a road using a paving machine on a summer day

Coming up at council: Oct. 17-21, 2022

By Mack Male

City council will meet on Monday, with a continuation scheduled for Wednesday. A public hearing will be held on Tuesday, a non-regular meeting to deal with Edmonton Police Commission interviews is on Wednesday, audit committee will meet Friday morning, and a special city council meeting to prepare for the upcoming budget discussions will be held on Friday afternoon.

Key agenda items include:

  • The city's Neighbourhood Renewal Program is currently "on track" to achieve the goal of having no neighbourhoods rated in either poor or very poor condition by 2038, administration says in a new report. Reducing funding for the program by 25% to 35% would delay the goal by six to 10 years, but would free up $151 million to $212 million to support the renewal of other infrastructure. Administration says $10.3 billion in renewal funding is required city-wide over the next 10 years, but only $6.7 billion is available for capital investment. Council will also consider establishing dedicated renewal funds for facilities, bridges, and transit, which would be funded through dedicated tax levy increases.
  • Proposed changes to the city's policies regarding debt would increase total debt servicing limits from 22% of city revenues to 26% of city revenues (but borrowing above 21% would be restricted to "emergency purposes" only). That's still below the 35% limit established by the Municipal Government Act. Administration also proposes increasing the tax-supported debt servicing limit from 15% of tax-supported revenues to 18% of tax-supported expenditures. Based on current interest rates, administration projects that up to $3.5 billion in debt room is available for capital projects, with another $2.7 billion available for emergency purposes.
  • Homelessness in Edmonton has "increased dramatically" over the past two years, administration says in a new report. Homeward Trust's By Name List indicates that more than 2,650 Edmontonians are experiencing homelessness, with more than 1,300 self-identifying as sleeping in emergency shelters or outdoors. There are currently 622 permanently funded emergency shelter spaces in the city, and another 450 temporary spaces will be established for winter 2022-2023 and winter 2023-2024, as a result of the province's recently announced Homelessness Action Plan. All provincially funded shelters will also expand to 24/7 access.
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Mr. Chi Pig performing on stage with fellow SNFU members at Zaragoza Sala Lopez in Spain in 2014

Coming up this week: Oct. 17-21, 2022

By Debbi Serafinchon

Both Edmonton Startup Week and Small Business Week offer a plethora of activities to choose from, but this week also includes a talk about some fine feathered friends and a chance to contribute to a scholarship in an Edmonton legend's name.

Find even more listings in Taproot's weekly roundups.

Photo: The Starlite Room is hosting a fundraiser for the Mr. Chi Pig (Ken. S Chinn) Scholarship at Victoria School of the Arts, created in honour of the frontman for SNFU. (Gaudencio Garcinuño/Flickr