The Pulse: Jan. 18, 2023

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  • -6°C: Sunny. Fog patches dissipating in the morning. Wind up to 15 km/h. High minus 6. Wind chill minus 19 in the morning and minus 10 in the afternoon. (forecast)
  • 5-2: The Edmonton Oilers (25-18-3) defeated the Seattle Kraken (26-14-4) on Jan. 17 for the team's fourth straight win. The game also marked Evander Kane's return after missing 31 games because of a wrist injury. (details)

Seven men wearing suits in front of a PrairiesCan banner and Canadian flag

Feds inject $9.74M into Edmonton region's hydrogen economy

By Mack Male

Edmonton's growing hydrogen economy has received another boost with the announcement of more than $9.74 million in funding through PrairiesCan to strengthen the region's hydrogen supply chain, increase access to refuelling equipment, and upgrade testing facilities.

"Acceleration of the hydrogen economy is a key pillar of the Edmonton region's low carbon economic development strategy," said Mayor Amarjeet Sohi in a news release. "These investments will further elevate and strengthen the Edmonton region's position to be a global hydrogen hub."

Edmonton Global will receive about $3.74 million to help attract foreign investors to the region and to further develop the hydrogen supply chain and labour market. The funding will support the expansion of the Canadian Hydrogen Convention — which Edmonton Global plans to increase to more than 8,000 attendees this year — and could be used to host other international events. Edmonton Global will also use the funding for a hydrogen labour market assessment in collaboration with businesses and post-secondary institutions (which was already underway), and to pursue new ways to get more businesses involved in the supply chain. In October, the agency's vice-president of global marketing and communications told Taproot that a "5,000 vehicle challenge" to help build both supply and demand for the hydrogen economy could launch in 2023.

C-FER Technologies, a subsidiary of Alberta Innovates, will receive $3 million to upgrade its testing facility for hydrogen fuel infrastructure. The organization said the funding would enable it to help businesses and regulators improve technologies for hydrogen use, and also "provide essential information needed to revise and establish new standards for the safe and reliable transportation and storage of hydrogen." C-FER already has several hydrogen-related projects underway.

The Alberta Motor Transport Association — which launched the Hydrogen Commercial Vehicle Demonstration project last fall — and the University of Alberta will receive $3 million to encourage the adoption of hydrogen fuel by Alberta's heavy vehicle sector and to carry out pilot projects in Calgary and Edmonton.

A series of hydrogen-related announcements were made across the Edmonton region in 2022, including the provincial government's Hydrogen Centre of Excellence and a number of initiatives at the Edmonton International Airport. The Edmonton Region Hydrogen HUB, which itself launched less than two years ago, is looking to build on that momentum at the 2023 Hydrogen Summit on Feb. 7. The event promises to bring together leaders and key stakeholders to set the agenda for the year ahead. Tickets are $120 plus fees, and registration is now open.

Photo: Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi (centre) joined Dan Vandal (right), the minister responsible for PrairiesCan, and associate finance minister Randy Boissonnault (left), among other dignitaries, at a hydrogen funding announcement on Jan. 17. (C-FER Technologies)


Headlines: Jan. 18, 2023

By Kevin Holowack

A newspaper clipping with a photograph of a debonair young man named Sydney Davies, beside a headline reading "Young Onlooker Caught Beneath Toppling Walls: Clothing and Tie Prove that Missing Real Estate Man Met Fate at Thursday's Blaze"

A moment in history: Jan. 18, 1913

By Scott Lilwall

On this day in 1913, people were still searching for survivors after one of the city's worst fires.

Newspaper accounts don't mention the cause of the fire that destroyed the Lechambre Block, but it centred on two brick warehouses on 104 Street and 102 Avenue. One was the Brackman-Ker building, owned by a Vancouver milling company of the same name. The Canadian Consolidated Rubber Company owned the other.

However it started, the fire spread quickly and engulfed both buildings. The situation was dangerous enough, but neither the firefighters nor bystanders knew how much worse it would soon become. As fire crews attempt to fight back the blaze in the frigid weather, an explosion tore through the rubber warehouse.

Seven firefighters were on the ground floor at the time and were nearly trapped by debris. They fled blindly through the smoke, and all were able to escape through the rear of the building. One of the firefighters later told a newspaper that the building was "a big bomb, waiting for only for a tongue of flame to ignite the bottled up gases." It was speculated that chemicals stored in the basement of the building might have contributed to the blast.

One of the walls of the warehouse collapsed and fell onto a neighbouring rooming house. One body was found under the collapsed wall shortly after the fire was extinguished. Two others would eventually be discovered.

The fire came at an unfortunate time. The winter of 1913 was marked by dozens of fires, which stretched rescue workers thin. Moreover, on the night of the warehouse fire, one of the city's main firefighting tools — a Morgan water pump — was out of commission after breaking down during another fire the week before.

The damage was severe enough that both buildings had to be demolished. But the land didn't stay empty for long: the Canadian Consolidated Rubber Company finished construction of a new warehouse on the same site within a couple of months. The new five-storey brick building was designed and built by the same company behind the new Macdonald Hotel, and it was constructed with the site's grim history in mind, boasting what was then the latest in fire safety technology.

The rubber company operated out of the warehouse until 1935. It was home to other industrial companies over the decades until it was converted into residences. Now known as the Cobogo Lofts, it stands as one of the distinctive sights along 104 Street. In 2001, it was designated as a Municipal Historic Resource.

The Cobogo Lofts building is one of the oldest surviving examples of Edmonton's old warehouse district. Now converted into residential and commercial buildings, such buildings provide a link to the industrial history of downtown Edmonton, as will the proposed Warehouse Park, a greenspace planned for 2025.

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.