The Pulse: Dec. 15, 2022

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  • -3°C: Sunny. Wind up to 15 km/h. High minus 3. Wind chill minus 12 in the morning and minus 6 in the afternoon. (forecast)
  • 120,000: A local man, Donald Dombrowsky, spent more than 300 hours setting up 120,000 Christmas lights on his house to honour his brother-in-law Larry Kuchera, who died from ALS earlier this year. The holiday display will be up at 4220 124 Avenue until early January. (details)
  • 7pm: The Edmonton Oilers (17-13-0) play the St. Louis Blues (13-15-1) at Rogers Place. (details)

Alexis Marie Chute stands amid art depicting summer flowers and other colourful scenes

Alexis Marie Chute creates artistic oasis in Stony Plain

By Paula Kirman

As the darkest days of the year approach, Eternal Summer has come to the Multicultural Heritage Centre Public Art Gallery in Stony Plain, thanks to the imagination of curator Alexis Marie Chute.

"The whole idea is during the coldest month of the year, you can come and get some creative vitamin D from the gallery," Chute told Taproot. "It's going to be like a Midsummer Night's Dream feeling. We've got a little fountain with floating lily pads and little nests with birds and things."

The show, which opened on Dec. 12, features the work of 17 artists alongside herbarium specimens from a group of organic master gardener students. An opening reception is set for Dec. 20.

"For me as a curator, I feel like I'm transitioning into this beautiful new experimental stage where I'm really trying to create an immersive environment for people," Chute said. "So they come in, and it's not just the art, but it's the whole atmosphere that they can soak in and feel like every little detail was thought through and brings the art to life. It's all about the art at the end of the day, but creating an environment for the artwork so that (they're) more than just paintings on a wall."

Eternal Summer is the latest in a long line of immersive and unique exhibits the Edmonton-based writer, photographer, filmmaker, and artist has brought to the rural gallery since she became curator in January 2020.

"It was just a natural fit from the beginning and I felt at home and I feel like the mandate of the gallery here is something that inspires me," she said. "We have a huge passion here for showing local artists, but also to show that Stony Plain is such an interesting place."

Chute's vision helped her keep art happening at the gallery in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, which began shortly after she took the job. By hanging art in the gallery and taking photos and video, she created virtual exhibitions such as Powerful Profiles: Black Women Painters, co-curated with Serena Saunders; Nitssaakita'paispinnaan: We Are Still In Control, featuring three contemporary Blackfoot artists; and Body Beautiful, which celebrated "wrinkles and hair loss, and the roly-poly beautiful folds of real skin — not the sort of thing we see in typical media."

Some of Chute's videos for the Multicultural Heritage Centre have amassed thousands of views and put Stony Plain on the international stage. "So many of the initiatives that I tried during the pandemic were wonderfully inspiring and brought people together, and it helped keep the arts alive, not only just in Stony Plain," Chute said.

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Headlines: Dec. 15, 2022

By Kevin Holowack

  • City council approved all 36 changes to the 2023-2026 operating budget tabled by Mayor Amarjeet Sohi on Dec. 13. The increases included $74.8 million for affordable housing and homelessness prevention along with $25.6 million in affordable housing grants, $42.9 for on-demand transit, $11 million for snow removal services, $14.8 million for public washrooms, and $13.6 million for transit safety. Council also approved investments to reopen outdoor pools, fund urban farms, create a tax subclass to penalize derelict properties, and advance climate adaptation plans. The most significant reductions are to city administration, which needs to create a plan to cut $60 million over four years and find an additional $240 million in their budget for core services. City manager Andre Corbould told Postmedia he feels "pretty confident" about achieving the goal and praised council's clarified priorities. "We are focusing on transitioning to what this council wants to do based on what they were elected to do," he said.
  • On Dec. 12, city council voted 8-5 in favour of demolishing the out-of-use Northlands Coliseum at a cost of $35 million. It currently costs up to $1.5 million annually to maintain the building, according to the city. "It's been put off for far too long, and we need to take responsibility for this," said Coun. Ashley Salvador of Ward Métis, where the building is located, adding that the demolition will allow the city to proceed with the Edmonton Exhibition Lands redevelopment project. Salvador also said administration will look into options to partner with industry to assist in the demolition. Mayor Amarjeet Sohi voted against the demolition, citing concerns over the cost.
  • Emergency department wait times in all five Edmonton hospitals are at the longest they've been since 2015. Data obtained by CTV News through a freedom of information request shows median wait times broken down by month, which provides a more accurate picture than what is publicly shared by Alberta Health Services through its website or its Annual Monitoring Measures Report. CTV reported that four of the hospitals matched or surpassed their longest-ever wait time in September 2022, with the University of Alberta Hospital recording the longest median wait time at 3.6 hours and the others recording median wait times of 2.6-3.3 hours. Dr. James Talbot, a professor at the U of A School of Public Health and former chief medial officer of health (CMOH), suggested the government and public health officials are failing to take action to address emergency department capacity. "The plan is apparently to say nothing and hope things get better," said Talbot, who added the public is "without leadership" because Alberta's current CMOH, Dr. Mark Joffe, has not appeared before the public since accepting the job in November. Health Minister Jason Copping attributed the wait times to COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses currently in circulation.
  • The Salvation Army, Edmonton's Food Bank, and the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton all say they have seen a drastic increase in the number of people seeking services over the past few years but indicate that community support is helping them deliver their programs this holiday season. "Edmonton has come through," said Lt.-Col Brian Venables of the Salvation Army. "We live in a very generous, blessed city." Meanwhile, the province has released new details about how it will distribute millions of dollars in funding for food banks, which it first announced on Nov. 23.
  • According to Clever Canadian, a website that reviews products and services, Edmonton is the fifth most family-friendly city in Canada based on factors such as employment, safety, average household income, housing and daycare prices, and the number of parks. Edmonton was behind Quebec City, Ottawa, Calgary, and Vancouver, but ranked above Toronto and Montreal. "Compared to other markets, Edmonton offers affordable rentals for families and a safe, scenic environment for children to flourish," wrote blogTO in a summary of the list.
Cover art for Taproot Edmonton's Bloom, brought to you by Edmonton Unlimited

Strategist muses about making a bolder Edmonton

By Karen Unland

Episode 42 of Bloom features an interview with Shawn Kanungo, a speaker, a strategist, and the newly minted author of The Bold Ones: Innovate and Disrupt to Become Truly Indispensable.

In addition to describing the trippiness of publishing a book, Kanungo shares his thoughts on what Edmonton should do to embrace boldness.

"You need a juggernaut to create an ecosystem," he told co-host Faaiza Ramji. "And the problem with Edmonton is that ... we want to spread everything. Don't spread anything. Build a magnet. Build something so inspiring that somebody can be like, 'Hey, she did it here. And I can do it here too.'"

Edmonton hasn't done a great job of "creating our own narrative," Kanungo said, advising the city to "pick winners" and use them to inspire others.

"Once somebody does something that's awe-inspiring, other people want to do that, too," he said. "So the best way of creating more innovation is showing the innovators."

The book is aimed at anyone who wants to make a difference, but is particularly geared towards the "intrapreneur," that is, the entrepreneurially minded employee who wants to innovate from within. "You aren't just a small cog in the wheel of your company's future – you may be the solution to their survival," Kanungo writes.

Learn more about his thesis, what it took to get a book deal, and Ramji's advice on how to market it on the Dec. 15 episode of Taproot's podcast about innovation in Edmonton.