The Pulse: Nov. 17, 2022

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  • -6°C: Sunny. Becoming a mix of sun and cloud in the afternoon. Wind up to 15 km/h. High minus 6. Wind chill minus 21 in the morning and minus 10 in the afternoon. UV index 1 or low. (forecast)
  • 12%: According to a Janet Brown Opinion Research survey commissioned by CBC News in October, only 12% of Albertans list oil and gas as their top concern, down from 40% in 2018. Meanwhile, 59% think transitioning away from the industry would benefit the economy in the long term. (details)
  • Purple: The High Level Bridge will be lit purple for World Pancreatic Cancer Day. (details)
  • 1-3: The Edmonton Oilers were defeated by the Los Angeles Kings on Nov. 16. (details)

A man wearing a safety harness and holding washing equipment is suspended off the side of a roof

Heights Residential employs artists to light the lights and wash the windows

By Brett McKay

A company that was founded to help artists find work in between gigs is ready to hang your Christmas lights as the festive season approaches.

For more than two decades, Heights Residential has made a point of employing performers to wash windows, clean gutters, and install lights in and around Edmonton.

General manager Clinton Carew said the company emerged from his own struggles as a theatre actor and musician trying to find seasonal work that could accommodate the inconsistent schedule of a performer. After joining a bandmate washing windows during the summer, the two decided to formalize the company.

"With that, we were trying to figure out what it was that we were doing that was working. And one of the things was that artists are extremely competent and extremely hardworking," said Carew.

"There's this wealth of people out there who need money, because the arts pays absolutely terribly, but they're often relegated to really terrible or really dangerous jobs in order to find anything that will work around their schedule."

From the beginning, Heights Residential billed itself as a company that would work with artists' schedules. At one point, most of its workforce was drawn from people in creative fields, though as the company has grown, that number has decreased. It is, however, still part of the company's philosophy.

"When we hire people, we tell them that this is an arts-friendly organization," Carew said. "We're going to talk about theatre. We're going to talk about music. This is a big part of why we exist and what we do. And this is our culture."

Heights Residential crews don't show up singing and dancing, but they do bring a positive vibe that customers appreciate, Carew said.

"The thing about putting performers in a job is that they're used to dealing with people as if people are happy to see them. And when people are happy to see you, you behave differently," said Carew. "There's an overall vibe that I think has worked out really well for us."

Photo: Actor, producer, and musician Clinton Carew is the general manager of Heights Residential. (Facebook)


Headlines: Nov. 17, 2022

By Kevin Holowack

  • The Stony Plain Road Bridge over Groat Road is scheduled to be demolished and replaced as part of Valley Line West LRT construction. Stony Plain Road will be closed between 129 Street and 131 Street starting in late December until fall 2024. There will be short-term closures on Groat Road between 102 Avenue and 107 Avenue during demolition in late December and again when the new bridge is built in spring 2023. The city has not yet provided specific dates for the project.
  • The City of Edmonton finalized its facility sponsorship agreement with Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities. The deal grants the organization naming rights over what is now the Clareview Community Recreation Centre, which will receive new signage in 2023 dubbing it the "Jumpstart Community Recreation Centre." According to a release, the partners "look forward to working together to plan and introduce new programming and activities at the Clareview Community Recreation Centre in an effort to increase access for marginalized and vulnerable groups." The city said it is pursuing similar partnerships for recreation centres in Terwillegar, The Meadows, and Lewis Farms.
  • The general public is once again allowed to park at a popular access point to the Patricia Ravine in west Edmonton after the city decided not to renew a year-long pilot project that only allowed some residents of Wolf Willow to park there with a permit. The city's public engagement revealed that the "vast majority" of people, including "a majority of those residing within the program area," wanted the program to end, according to a post on the city's website. The city will collect more feedback next year as it continues efforts to "modernize Edmonton's curbside space" with its Curbside Management Strategy.
  • Dr. Mark Joffe, the interim chief medical officer of health who replaced Dr. Deena Hinshaw on Nov. 14, issued his first statement in response to the rising number of respiratory viruses circulating in Alberta. Joffe said Albertans, and Canadians, should expect to see similar outcomes to Australia because the countries have similar flu seasons. "In Australia, the highest rates of influenza disease were in children and teenagers, and children under 16 years of age accounted for the majority of influenza hospitalizations," he wrote. "Influenza can also have a severe impact on the elderly." The City of Edmonton said in a statement that administration has not recommended council consider a mask bylaw but is "keeping an eye on the situation in Edmonton as cases of respiratory illness, COVID-19, and influenza rise."
  • The Zebra Child & Youth Advocacy Centre, which serves children in Edmonton who are victims of abuse, reported it has been serving increasingly more kids in recent years. The centre saw 3,844 kids in 2021, up from the 2,362 it saw in 2019. CEO Emmy Stuebing said the figures are a result of more people reporting child abuse and an increase in "complex cases" such as those involving internet crimes. Mary Jane James, CEO of the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton, suggested pandemic restrictions also created conditions where "there were a lot of kids and a lot of adults confined in homes where there was abuse happening." Around 60% of youth helped by the Zebra Centre in 2021 were victims of sexual abuse. Alberta has a child abuse hotline (1-800-387-5437) and other resources to help recognize and respond to child abuse.
  • Edmonton is experiencing a string of bus shelter vandalism, with glass shattered at 141 bus shelters as of Nov. 15, including dozens along 118 Avenue. Trevor Dennehy, the city's director of LRT operations and maintenance, estimates the repair costs to be $38,000. "Bus shelter vandalism impacts all of us and is a senseless act, especially at a time when finances are already constrained," said Dennehy. "Every Edmontonian pays for the repair costs."
  • The Edmonton Oilers wore an updated version of their retro "Flying Oil Drop" jersey during their game against the L.A. Kings on Nov. 16. They will also sport the new reverse retro kit on Dec. 15, Dec. 31, Jan. 25, and Jan. 28. The original design by comic book artist Todd McFarlane was introduced in 2001.
  • Alphonso Davies, an Edmonton soccer hero, is in the spotlight as he and the rest of Team Canada await their first match against Belgium for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Cover art for Taproot Edmonton's Bloom, brought to you by Edmonton Unlimited

Edmonton-born programs tap talents of neurodivergent workers

By Karen Unland

Episode 38 of Bloom takes a look at a couple of innovative organizations in Edmonton that help people with autism find work that makes the most of their abilities.

Autism CanTech! provides training and support to connect autistic youth between the ages of 18 and 30 with opportunities in the digital economy.

"We know that there's so much that these young people have to contribute. And we know that there's so many barriers they face in education and in gaining employment," said Jenna Gauthier, manager of the program based at NorQuest College.

Autism CanTech! prepares students for work in data analytics, digital asset management, and audio post-production. It recently received a Higher Ed XR Innovation Grant from Unity Social Impact and Meta Immersive Learning to explore adding skills involved in extended reality to that list.

Hiring neurodivergent learners is good for business, said Gauthier, citing the example of a student who was hired after completing his work experience and within a week created a more efficient process for his employer.

"It's an intelligent decision to be bringing neurodiversity into your workplace," she said. "It is going to bring amazing perspectives into the work you do and really help drive innovation within your organization. And in tech in particular, that's really key."

Taproot's podcast about innovation in Edmonton also catches up on a raft of news about Technology North, which developed a piece of assistive technology called RoboCoach and employs people with autism to provide high-quality services. Learn more about the awards that founder Ling Huang has recently received and the accelerator he has just completed in the Nov. 17 episode.