The Pulse: Jan. 19, 2023

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

Want this in your inbox? Sign up to get The Pulse by email. It's free!


  • -2°C: Clearing in the morning. Fog patches dissipating in the morning. Wind up to 15 km/h. High minus 2. Wind chill minus 12 in the morning and minus 6 in the afternoon. (forecast)
  • 46cm: Edmonton has gotten 46 centimetres of snow so far this winter as of Jan. 16, which is less than Calgary (69cm). It is also less than Vancouver and Victoria (54cm each). Edmonton's annual snowfall average is 125cm. (details)
  • 7pm: The Edmonton Oilers (25-18-3) play the Tampa Bay Lightning (28-13-1) at Rogers Place (details)

An abstract image evoking the brass, mirrors, and water features of West Edmonton Mall

Gallery invites artists and visitors to explore the meaning of WEM

By Karen Unland

Hannah Quimper-Swiderski fondly remembers her 13th birthday party at West Edmonton Mall, a "first taste of real independence" where she could wander with friends without parents in tow in "this magical place that I could only get to go to sometimes."

Such are the memories that fuel THE MALL, an exhibit co-curated by Quimper-Swiderski and Carolyn Jervis that "explores what continues to inspire artists to make work about the former largest mall in the world."

The exhibit, which opens this week at Mitchell Art Gallery at MacEwan University, features works made between 1986 and 2022 by artists from here and elsewhere who have something to say about a phenomenon that has loomed large in Edmonton's psyche since Phase 1 opened in 1981.

"It goes without saying that it is an important place here," Jervis told Taproot. "But in that significance, I haven't really seen a project within the arts that has thought about its cultural significance."

Among the works in the exhibition is Perch Menagerie, a piece of performance art that Cindy Baker will present at the opening reception on Jan. 19. In it, she "aims to recreate the original opulence of the mall by becoming one of the exotic objects of excess on display." The reception also includes Dress Like Cheyenne ᑭᒥᐘᐣ, an interactive experience created by Cheyenne Rain LeGrande, featuring two favourite mall activities: shopping and visiting the photo booth.

The curators were deliberate about reflecting what's both fun and fraught about the mall. While some works riff on the cheesiness, the excess, and the mall's strange history with captive animals, others pull on nostalgia, wonder, and delight.

"This is not a scathing indictment of the mall," Jervis said. "More like a love letter than a takedown," added Quimper-Swiderski.

Mall-goers are invited to participate in WEMories, a memory map project to be compiled by graphic designer Vikki Wiercinski based on stories collected at the gallery and online by Feb. 19.

Continue reading

Headlines: Jan. 19, 2023

By Kevin Holowack and Mariam Ibrahim

  • City councillors questioned a recommendation from administration to award a $26.4 million sole-source contract to Ledcor during an executive committee meeting Jan. 18. City staff say directly hiring Ledcor to build a pedway connecting Churchill LRT Station with Qualico's Station Lands would reduce potential project risks and minimize costs because the construction company is already the site contractor for the development. Council would have to approve the sole-source agreement because the city typically uses a competitive procurement process for any contracts worth $1 million or more. In response to the recommendation, Coun. Michael Janz renewed his call for a municipal lobby registry. "Right now, the city has no lobbyist registry, so we have no idea who is meeting with council and administration and what their meetings are regarding," he said.
  • Many residential roads in Edmonton are filled with soft snow because, according to the city, blading them at current temperatures would create ruts and windrows. Mark Beare, the city's director of infrastructure operations, said crews will be "grooming residential neighbourhoods" next week once temperatures drop. He added workers have already been clearing residential alleys and are currently focused on windrows, which the city drew negative feedback for not clearing last year.
  • The city announced the winners of its first-ever Name a Plow Contest. Edmontonians submitted more than 2,100 entries, which prompted the city to increase the number of winners from 10 to 15. The winning names, including "Amarsleet Snowhi," "Connor McBlade-It," and "Snow-Be-Gone Kenobi," are showcased on the side of the plows.
  • Kingsway Mall is getting a Zellers. The Hudson's Bay Company, which owns the discount store chain, announced it would open Zellers pop-up locations in 25 of its The Bay department stores across Canada early this year. Zellers largely disappeared from Canada after its lease agreements were bought in 2011 by Target Canada, which has also since vanished.
  • Edmonton hobby shops have been hit by at least a dozen break-ins targeting popular collectible cards. Jason Wynn, owner of Hobz in southeast Edmonton, decided to stop stocking Pokémon cards after his store's former location was broken into twice. "If we get robbed again, we won't survive," he said. Brendan Capel, who owns Star Lotus Games, attributes the rise in burglaries to the growing popularity of the cards during the pandemic. "The last year-and-a-half has definitely been worse than probably anytime in the last decade," Capel said.
  • An analysis of Elections Canada's political donations data from 2015-2020, conducted by the Local News Data Hub and the Investigative Journalism Foundation, ranked Edmonton Centre 17th on a list of 338 ridings based on donations made to federal parties. The riding gave $2.1 million to federal parties, which is much higher than the national average of about $853,000. The Conservative Party drew $955,712, or 45% of all donations.
  • The average detached house in Edmonton is expected to depreciate in value by roughly 3% in 2023, according to the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton, which presented its forecast at the Edmonton Convention Centre on Jan. 18. The number hit an all-time high of $510,000 in April 2022, but the market has since slowed and is expected to normalize in 2023 to pre-pandemic levels. The high prices drew more realtors to Edmonton, said association chair Melanie Boles, so consumers "definitely have options to look for in professional realtors."
  • Several Albertans have reported scams targeting people who access the province's affordability payment program, including text messages asking them to follow a link and register for bank deposits. The province confirmed it is not contacting people by text. The only way eligible Albertans can access the payments is through or a registry.
  • The province announced that it will allocate one-quarter of its nominations for the express entry stream of the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program to individuals who have an immediate family member in Alberta and possess high-demand skills as determined by the province's occupational outlook. The move is intended to fast-track permanent residency for people who meet these criteria. Alberta is forecasting a shortage of more than 33,000 workers by 2025.
Cover art for Taproot Edmonton's Bloom, brought to you by Edmonton Unlimited

Synthetic futures and adventures in mentorship

By Karen Unland

What if you could experience the future before it happens? That's the premise of RUNWITHIT Synthetics, an augmented intelligence company that is finding opportunities around the world to equip leaders with the ability to visualize the implications of their decisions.

As co-founder and CEO Myrna Bittner tells Episode 45 of Bloom, RUNWITHIT started as a way to help people who are running digital systems deal with growing complexity.

"We thought, 'This isn't a problem that's going away. It's one that's getting more and more complicated, and even some of the most sophisticated engineers and engineering teams and software developers are experiencing it,'" she said. "So surely, there's got to be a way that we can use the best of RPA (robotic process automation) and automation AI and develop a way that their systems can experience all of the intricacies of realistic activity before they get there."

RUNWITHIT started creating what it calls "synthetic futures," building a sandbox in which various scenarios could be run to see what unintended consequences and unexpected outcomes might occur. That turned out to be something that people who make decisions in real-world environments wanted, too, which led RUNWITHIT to build synthetic cities.

That pivot has brought the company lots of opportunities and awards. In 2023, Bittner is looking forward to an appearance at South by Southwest (SXSW), participation in the SoCal Cleantech Express, and a chance to imagine the future of space colonization.

Learn more in the Jan. 19 episode of Taproot's podcast about innovation in Edmonton, which is co-hosted by Lazina Mckenzie, the manager of ThresholdImpact Venture Mentoring Service, a program based at the University of Alberta that recently opened its doors to entrepreneurs who don't have a connection to the school but would benefit from group mentorship.