The Pulse: Nov. 9, 2022

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

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  • -16°C: Mainly sunny. Wind up to 15 km/h. High minus 16. Wind chill minus 27 in the morning and minus 22 in the afternoon. UV index 1 or low. (forecast)
  • Blue: The High Level Bridge will be lit blue for Eczema Awareness Month. (details)
  • 3-2: The Edmonton Oilers (8-6-0) defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning (7-5-1) on Nov. 8. (details)

The outside of the Champion Petfoods facility in Acheson, with a white maple leaf on a large red circle and a sign with the tag line "World's Best Petfood"

Global giant acquires Edmonton's Champion Petfoods

By Brett McKay

The acquisition of Champion Petfoods by Mars Petcare will accelerate the company's international growth, says the director of trade for Edmonton Global.

Manisha Arora said Champion Petfoods has been "a long-time leader in agriculture and expanding to global markets," and the acquisition announced on Nov. 1 is a great sign for the region.

"We are thrilled that the Edmonton Metropolitan Region is being noticed for its capabilities and international companies are leveraging the region's global connectivity," Arora told Taproot.

Champion Petfoods was Canada's largest independent pet food company. Founded in 1985, it has production facilities in Morinville and in Parkland County's Acheson Industrial Park, where it built a $350-million production plant in 2019. It sells "biologically appropriate" pet food under the Arcana and Orijen brands in more than 90 countries.

Champion has been one of the largest employers in Morinville. Ikdeep Singh welcomed "more than 800 talented people to the Mars Petcare family" in a news release, and Champion CEO Blaine McPeak called the announcement "a wonderful way to recognize all the employees over our history who helped build Champion into a pre-eminent global pet food company."

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Headlines: Nov. 9, 2022

By Debbi Serafinchon and Kevin Holowack

A graphic summary of how the Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Health System works

Digital health competition to fund research into better care delivery

By Brett McKay

Five proposals from researchers at the University of Alberta are among the nine selected to move on to the final phase of a competition for funding in the realm of digital health.

As part of the next iteration of the Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Health System (PRIHS), the researchers will be giving "den presentations" during the week of Nov. 14, which is Digital Health Week.

A joint venture from Alberta Innovates and Alberta Health Services, PRIHS is designed to align the work of researchers with the needs of the health system. The two entities are investing up to $7 million in the PRIHS Digital Health competition, and projects are expected to begin in early 2023 if they are approved by the selection committee following their presentations next week.

"It's exciting that the program is exploring the development of these innovative care models and leveraging digital health technologies to potentially achieve these care models," said Antonio Bruni, director of health system transformation at Alberta Innovates.

One of the projects is from Alim Hirji, an associate professor in pulmonary medicine at the University of Alberta. His project explores the use of telemonitoring to reduce adverse events for hospitalized patients.

Hirji's previous research reviewed a cohort of patients with lung disease who were transferred to intensive care or died between Jan. 1, 2020, and April 19, 2021. The study found that more than a quarter of the patients died or ended up in the ICU due to potentially preventable events, such as the inadvertent disconnection of their oxygen. "The implementation of telemonitoring in high-risk patients may reduce adverse outcomes and should be further investigated," Hirji and fellow researcher Jacqueline Tay concluded.

The other University of Alberta researchers participating in the competition are exploring a wide range of projects:

  • Darren Lau is looking into an integrated digital health approach to diabetes in First Nations;
  • Justin Chen seeks to optimize the management of blood infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus, an antibiotic-resistant microbe;
  • Karen Wong is working on a patient dashboard to improve the management of inflammatory bowel disease;
  • Maria Castro-Codesal is exploring improvements to the care pathway for children with medical complexity who may need a tracheostomy.

The rest of the projects are from University of Calgary researchers for projects related to sexual health, digital records, kidney disease, and osteoporosis. There is no maximum budget set for each proposal, but the projects must be completed within three years to qualify for the funding. Projects selected for this round of funding will be announced in the first week of January.

Image: The Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Health System (PRIHS) seeks to align research with the needs of the health system. (Alberta Innovates)

A newspaper clipping of a notice from the City of Edmonton related to snow removal warning motorists to respect No Parking signs put in place for clearing

A moment in history: Nov. 9, 1968

By Scott Lilwall

On this day in 1968, the city was issuing a perennial warning to Edmonton drivers about parking restrictions due to snow removal.

Edmonton's winters are infamous, and the struggle against the annual cold and snow has been ongoing since long before the city's founding. When European settlers first came to the area, they were generally unprepared for the winter weather they would face. Cold-weather clothing was largely a mix of local wool, hide, and fur. Many early settlers owe their survival to lessons learned over the centuries by Indigenous people living in the area.

As Edmonton grew and expanded over the decades, keeping city streets navigable by both cars and pedestrians became a daunting task. The city is in a fairly dry climate and will see an average of about 125 cm of snow each year. But there have been a few big exceptions in the city's history: the largest recorded snowfall in Edmonton's history was 287 cm — a metre-and-a-half more than usual.

A few years after that, in November 1942, the biggest snowstorm in the city's history would hit Edmonton. Over two days, 50 cm of snow dropped on the city, burying vehicles and cutting off whole neighbourhoods. Streetcars halted, food deliveries were cancelled, and some Edmontonians even resorted to skis to travel along Jasper Avenue.

The situation was made all the more difficult because Edmonton, like many prairie cities, had no municipal snowplows at the time. It was the United States Army, which had troops and equipment nearby to construct the Alaska Highway, that eventually got the city's roads clear of snow. (The city has since acquired several plows — you can even name one.)

Snow, and how well the city does at removing it, remains a constant issue in Edmonton. The past 20 years in particular have seen several changes in how much snow the city removes, what substances it applies to the streets, and how it deals with windrows. City council added $4.7 million to this season's snow removal budget, and it's still hard to keep up given the area that needs clearing. And in case you missed it, a winter parking ban is in effect to deal with the current dump of snow.

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.