The Pulse: Nov. 24, 2022

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

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  • 9°C: A mix of sun and cloud. 30% chance of showers early in the morning. Wind becoming southwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 near noon. High 9. UV index 1 or low. (forecast)
  • Light blue: The High Level Bridge will be lit light blue for World Antimicrobial Awareness Week. (details)
  • 49%: A survey commissioned by the Canadian Women's Foundation (CWF) found that only 49% of Alberta respondents understood the legal definition of sexual consent as set out in the Criminal Code, which is higher than the national average of 45%. (details)
  • 5,177: Alberta recorded 40 additional deaths due to COVID-19 on Nov. 23, bringing the official numbers of recorded deaths due to the illness in Alberta to 5,177. There are 1,107 people hospitalized with COVID-19, including 40 in ICU. (details)
  • 0-3: The Edmonton Oilers (10-10-0) were defeated by the New York Islanders (13-8-0) on Nov. 23. (details)

A stubble field in colourful pastels, surrounded by a painting of a church in snow, a drawing of a kitten showing its paws, green and white beaded earrings, and bottles of juice

AGA elevates healing role of art with wellness market

By Karen Unland

The Art Gallery of Alberta is holding its first-ever wellness-oriented market to promote local vendors and artists whose work promotes self-care.

The Art of Wellness Market will see exhibitors set up shop in the downtown gallery's entrance from 11am to 5pm on Nov. 27. The idea grew out of a brainstorming session to connect what goes on at the gallery with day-to-day experiences. The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly made health and wellness top of mind, suggested public programs and outreach coordinator Michael Magnussen.

"Art is really healing," he said. "We thought, 'Wouldn't it be great to have a market that celebrated that?'"

Artists at the market include painter Robin Light, pastel artist David Shkolny, Robin Good of Robin Good Art & Design, Stefani Alzati of Stefani Alzati Somatic Poetry & Artistry, Olivia Albert of Weeping Willow Beads, photographer Nozomi Kamei of NJK New Dimensions, and the mother-daughter duo behind Origami Cranes Club.

They'll be selling their work alongside vendors such as skin-care company Buff Experts, The Bee & Bar Soap Company, Little Plant Shop, and Neo Juicery.

Markets have turned out to be a great way for the AGA to attract new people to the building and shine a light on more artists than it can include in its collections and exhibitions. "A strong local arts community is beneficial to everyone," Magnussen said.

The first such event was a collaboration with Black Owned Market YEG in February. Two more are in the works: an Indigenous arts market in March, and a comics and zine market in April, he said.

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Headlines: Nov. 24, 2022

By Kevin Holowack and Mariam Ibrahim

  • Councillors on the city's executive committee voted unanimously in support of spending $7.5 million to allow Jasper Place Wellness Centre to operate 209 new shelter spaces for six months in a former hotel located at 155 Street and Stony Plain Road. Coun. Andrew Knack said he was frustrated the city has to fill the funding gap since housing and shelters are the jurisdiction of the province, which he said could use some of its budget surplus to address affordable housing needs. "We're hearing about the folks who are dying on our streets right now," Knack said. "And it's getting frustrating to see this year after year." If approved by council on Nov. 30, the new shelter spaces would open in about four weeks and would bring the total number of shelter spaces in Edmonton up to 1,281.
  • The city is partnering with Radius Community Health & Healing to address the ongoing shigella outbreak as part of its existing encampment response. The organization, formerly known as the Boyle McCauley Health Centre, will work with the Encampment Response Team and the Edmonton Police Service to connect people exhibiting shigella symptoms with testing and treatment. The city's two-week pause on tearing down encampments, which started at the beginning of the outbreak, ended on Nov. 23. CTV News spoke to a man living nearby the Bissell Centre in a camp, which was dismantled, who said shigella is less concerning than accessing a place to live. "We feel like cattle," he said. "We worry about having somewhere to live. Having somewhere to rest our heads."
  • City council's urban planning committee reviewed the first draft of a new Zoning Bylaw that would reduce the number of zone categories from 46 to 23 with the intention of simplifying land use regulations, an idea mentioned in The City Plan and a step toward reaching the goal of "15-minute districts." The change would effectively "upzone" many properties that currently contain single-family homes and allow developers to pursue higher-density options throughout the city. Livia Balone, the director behind Edmonton's Zoning Bylaw Renewal Initiative, said the new bylaw is looking to have more "gentle density" by "proposing to add a diversity of housing forms," adding that the existing Zoning Bylaw hasn't been seriously looked at in over 60 years. Jan Hardstaff from the Parkallen Community League suggested many Edmontonians would be shocked by the changes under consideration and said people "really need to understand what the regulations are being proposed." The city is collecting public feedback on the proposed Zoning Bylaw until Dec. 18.
  • The province announced it will provide $10 million over two years to support Alberta food banks, with the first $5 million coming in the weeks ahead and the rest in the 2023-24 fiscal year. In its press release, the province also said it is "working to raise community awareness and involvement for food banks" by putting another $10 million over two years toward food banks, charities, not-for-profits, and civil society organizations. The Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations (CCVO), which called on the province to provide immediate emergency support to the non-profit sector, said the move was a step in the right direction but not enough. "We recognize food banks are just a handful of 30,000 non-profits in Alberta and just one important way our sector provides food to those who are in need," CCVO said in a statement. "Alberta's non-profit sector is in crisis."
  • Mikelie Johnston and Matt Sherman are two of the Edmontonians who bought giant body parts that were once displayed in The Body Fantastic, a permanent installation at the TELUS World of Science that closed in 2019 before the items were auctioned off in October. "I and so many people I know have such fond memories at the science centre, running around and jumping on this tongue specifically," said Johnston, who bought the giant tongue with their roommates as an "Edmonton flex." Sherman, who owns the giant nose, is the artistic director of Rapid Fire Theatre and said it matches the company's existing Groucho Marx iconography. "There's only so many places a four-foot nose can go," said Sherman, who decided to set it up for visitors in the lobby of the theatre's new Old Strathcona location, which opens in the spring.
  • Janet Sadowski, CEO of TimeSquared Personal Concierge Service, helps clients tackle their holiday stress with an array of services, including gift wrapping, groceries, and party preparation, along with catering, photography, event coordinating, and more. Recently, the company expanded its services to preparing rental properties for extended family members. Sadowski told Edify she has also written letters from Santa to tell children why they didn't get the gift they wanted, such as the wrong coloured item. "Santa has to explain why the elf put the wrong dye in the lot or whatever," she said.
Cover art for Taproot Edmonton's Bloom, brought to you by Edmonton Unlimited

Business case for ethical AI starts with talent, says industry leader

By Karen Unland

Episode 39 of Bloom takes a look at ethical AI: why it makes business sense, what it's going to take to make it happen, and what stands in the way of proceeding responsibly in this emerging industry.

For Nicole Janssen, co-founder and co-CEO of AltaML, building AI with ethics in mind is crucial for establishing the necessary trust to get customers to use artificial intelligence. And it's key to attracting the people you need to carry out the work.

"There is a business reason to ensure that you are using AI ethically, because you'll have a hard time finding the right talent," said Janssen, whose Edmonton-based company has seen tremendous growth since it started in 2018. "You might find some talent — it might not be the talent that you want, though."

That rang true for guest host Katrina Ingram of Ethically Aligned AI, a social enterprise that aims to help companies build better AI. Today's students and recent graduates are "a group of people who really want to live their values," she said.

Sometimes ethics requires saying "stop" when everyone else wants to keep going. As massive layoffs hit parts of the tech industry, Ingram worries that those values-driven workers won't have the leverage they once had.

"I do have to wonder: Will that temper people's propensity to stand up and do the right thing? When it comes down to paying the bills, putting food on the table, keeping your job, will employees still feel that they can stand up?"

Learn much more about Janssen's efforts to build a talent pool for AI that is not only ethical but also business-savvy, as well as her thoughts on Canada's opportunity to become a world leader in responsible AI, on the Nov. 24 episode of Taproot's podcast about innovation in Edmonton.