The Pulse: Dec. 16, 2022

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

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  • -1°C: Mainly cloudy. 60% chance of flurries late in the afternoon. Wind up to 15 km/h. High minus 1. Wind chill minus 10 in the morning and minus 5 in the afternoon. (forecast)
  • Green/Red: The High Level Bridge will be lit green and red for Bangladesh Victory Day. (details)
  • 3-4: The Edmonton Oilers (17-13-1) were defeated by the St. Louis Blues (14-15-1) in a shootout on Dec. 15. (details)
  • 2pm, Dec. 17: The Edmonton Oilers play the Anaheim Ducks at Rogers Place. (details)

Justin Weleschuk and Alex Putici seated on a couch in front of a brick wall with two red mugs on a white table in front of them

Work Nicer opens second Edmonton location at Mercer Warehouse

By Mack Male

Work Nicer's second Edmonton location is now open inside the historic Mercer Warehouse on 104 Street downtown.

Located in the former Startup Edmonton space on the third floor, Work Nicer Mercer opened to existing members of the coworking company on Dec. 12. It is now ready to welcome new members, though several changes are planned for the space in the coming months.

"We call it 'Work Nicer Mercer loading' because it is a work in progress," founder Alex Putici told Taproot. "But you know, there's definitely internet, there's coffee, there's beer, there's root beer. All the stuff that you really need to get through."

Putici said Work Nicer plans to better connect the various parts of the roughly 14,000-square-foot space with fewer separated areas and better use of all the nooks and crannies. Aside from individual offices, nothing will be off-limits to members. That work is expected to take place between March and May, "around and alongside" members.

"Members are a part of this journey," Putici said, recalling the furniture building party that took place at the Work Nicer Beaver House location — or outpost as Work Nicer calls them — which opened in 2019 just a few blocks away at 10160 103 St. "The outposts have been literally and figuratively built by members."

Putici said the Mercer Warehouse was one of the first places he looked at when the Calgary-based Work Nicer was considering an expansion into Edmonton.

"Now to be in here and see Work Nicer banners and thinking about what else this place can facilitate in the future, it is a surreal, exciting experience," Putici said. "We knew that Beaver House wasn't going to be the end game for Work Nicer in Edmonton."

While the company had been looking on the south side, the Mercer's owners — in particular Devin Pope of Gather Co. — really made a difference in the decision to move there, which was announced in June.

"Nobody has been as open-minded and willing to work together as the Popes," Putici said. "They have been amazing to work with."

While Putici had no plans to share regarding a future location south of the river, he did say that Work Nicer has been looking at opportunities in Vancouver and Toronto.

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Headlines: Dec. 16, 2022

By Kevin Holowack and Mariam Ibrahim

  • The city's extreme weather response has been extended to Dec. 26. Temperatures are expected to fall to slightly above -20°C over the next couple of days but plummet to dangerously low levels as Christmas approaches. The city said it has seen high usage of its extreme weather buses and that shelter occupancy rates are currently at 90%. The extreme weather response began Nov. 29.
  • City council voted 8-5 against Coun. Andrew Knack's motion to provide $13 million annually for the Edmonton Metropolitan Transit Services Commission (EMTSC), meaning the commission cannot proceed with the first phase of the service connecting Edmonton with seven municipal neighbours, which was scheduled to launch in April. Coun. Aaron Paquette called the plan "aspirational and wonderful" but questioned its value, while Coun. Jo-Anne Wright called the EMTSC an "extra layer of red tape." Steve Bradshaw, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 569, said the union supports council's decision because the plan "cost more and more and more money" as it went along. EMTSC chair Wes Brodhead said he was "somewhat taken aback" by council's decision. Plans for a regional transit service have been in the works for over a decade, although the number of participating municipalities has dwindled from an initial 13. Withdrawing from the commission is estimated to cost the city $15 million.
  • Edmonton Fire Rescue Services responded to more than 72,000 fires in 2022, chief Joe Zatylny said during his year-end news conference. Between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30, crews responded to 65 fires involving tents and encampments, which resulted in five deaths. This year also saw the leading cause of fires shift from cooking and cigarettes to deliberately set fires, which increased to 1,500 as of Nov. 30, compared to 971 in all of 2021. Zatylny said fires related to so-called problem properties decreased, which he attributed to the property safety team pilot program currently underway.
  • The Edmonton Arts Council (EAC) announced 20 local artists as the recipients of this year's Edmonton Artists' Trust Fund Award. The winners are selected after a community nomination and peer review process and each receive $15,000 to pursue their arts. "There is recognition for the individual and the impact they have had," said Sanjay Shahani, EAC executive director. "These people are at the top of their game." Among this year's recipients are street artists and muralists, painters, installation artists, and musicians.
  • The city revealed that 1,316 bus shelter windows have been broken as of Nov. 30 of this year, which is up from 1,273 in 2021 and 1,075 in 2020. "Every Edmontonian pays for these repair costs," said Trevor Dennehy, the director of LRT operations and maintenance, who explained the majority of cases were vandalism. Repairs have already cost the city around $400,000 in 2022, up from $394,000 in 2021 and $320,000 in 2020. Coun. Andrew Knack said the city continues to discuss ways of saving money on bus shelter repairs.
  • Lawyers for the City of Edmonton appeared before the Alberta Labour Relations Board to appeal a ruling last July on a case involving Amalgamated Transit Union Local 569 which resulted in the city paying photo radar ticket fines incurred by people driving city vehicles. The board had decided that making drivers pay fines as well as face reprimand from their employer amounted to double discipline. Since the ruling, the city has spent $31,874 to cover tickets accumulated by municipal staff, including police, firefighters, bus drivers, and even photo radar vehicles caught speeding or running red lights. "The effect of the decision," said city lawyer Hugh McPhail, is that the drivers get a "free pass on photo radar and red light camera offences." A decision on the appeal is expected in the coming weeks.
  • An Edmonton man built a life-sized, custom Christmas tree using 20,000 Lego pieces. James Hinchliffe used a variety of sets and pieces sourced online to complete the project, which he started in January. Everything on the tree, from the garland to its ornaments, were built using the iconic building block. "You can't just walk into the Lego store and get 10,000 green bricks," Hinchliffe said. "It doesn't work that way."
Members of the task force standing against a wall while a man speaks at a podium in front of them

Homeward Trust CEO hopeful about new community response task force

By Mack Male

When the province announced the new Edmonton Public Safety and Community Response Task Force on Dec. 13, some criticized the creation of yet another committee to address the city's ongoing crisis of addictions and homelessness.

"Edmontonians don't need yet another task force, they need urgent action to save lives," said Chris Gallaway, executive director of Friends of Medicare.

But one member of the task force, Susan McGee, said she's optimistic it will have an impact. "I'm seeing the opportunity to have our current strategies elevated and supported," the CEO of Homeward Trust told Taproot.

Acknowledging that the formation of another task force can leave people feeling "exasperated," McGee said she can't imagine passing up the opportunity to provide input and share the challenges she sees.

"Throughout my entire career there has always been and will continue to be reconvening," she said. "You could line a block with the reports I've seen over the 30 years of my career."

But that's not necessarily a bad thing, she said. Rather, it's simply part of the work. "Part of planning and informing and ensuring we try to do our best is inevitably going to include revisiting stuff," she said. "That happens with every change in government and at every order of government."

The makeup of the task force has also been criticized, especially for a lack of members with lived experience.

Hearing from folks with lived experience is important, McGee said, noting that Homeward Trust has a lived experience committee that is providing input into the local plan to end homelessness, which will soon be updated. As for the lack of those voices on the new task force, McGee isn't concerned.

"The composition is very intentional around those ministries having a highly coordinated approach," she said.

McGee said there's increasing acknowledgment of the barriers people face, and a lot of the failures that result in homelessness are in complicated systems. "Any time there's a meaningful opportunity to elevate that again I think it's important to do," she said.

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A smiling snowman with lights in the background

Holiday agenda: December 2022 to January 2023

By Debbi Serafinchon

As Taproot heads into a holiday break, we leave you with a collection of fun things to do over the next few weeks, whether you're looking for winter recreation, local shopping, light displays, festive dining, Christmas-y entertainment, or a chance to ring in the New Year.

Winter activities


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