The Pulse: March 14, 2023

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  • -1°C: Periods of snow ending early in the morning then clearing. Wind up to 15 km/h. High minus 1. Wind chill minus 19 in the morning and minus 5 in the afternoon. UV index 3 or moderate. (forecast)
  • Yellow: The High Level Bridge will be lit yellow for Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM). (details)
  • 7pm: The Edmonton Oilers (36-23-8) play the Ottawa Senators (33-29-4) at Rogers Place. (details)

Screen grab of the EDGI map showing a menu, bubbles indicating listings, and a map of Edmonton

EDGI maps Edmonton's innovation ecosystem

By Colin Gallant

Edmonton Unlimited has created a visual database of the Edmonton region's innovation ecosystem to help expand the understanding of what innovation is and inform future decisions.

Edmonton's Greatest Innovations (EDGI) visualizes the geographic presence of more than 2,000 innovative entities across 14 filterable categories. It first launched in 2021 and relaunched in an expanded format in January of this year.

Edmonton Unlimited compiled the listings from sources such as the Learn How database from Alberta Innovates and the Alberta-wide ecosystem portal from Start Alberta, as well as records submitted directly by users. Organizations that are already in the database are encouraged to claim and update their profiles, so they can learn about opportunities such as the soon-to-launch Capital City Pilots.

What's in EDGI now is just a start, said Erin Gobolos, vice-president of marketing and community relations for Edmonton Unlimited.

"Our vision for this platform is kind of further and well beyond where it is right now," she told Taproot. "When we think about an ecosystem, the innovators and innovations are one really important layer. But there's also service providers. There's media, there's investment, there's government, there's funding, there's programs … our next intent is to truly map out that visual ecosystem that includes all of that."

The EDGI map could help steer future decision-making once it is further populated, Gobolos said. "It could be on things like new programming. It could be about new markets that we maybe haven't tapped into but we see global opportunities (for)."

EDGI, which was created in partnership with Toronto-based Urban Living Futures (UPPlift), cost between $75,000 and $77,000, which covered licensing and data entry. It was funded in part by a grant from the Edmonton Regional Innovation Network.

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Headlines: March 14, 2023

By Kevin Holowack

  • Edmonton Journal reporter Anna Junker profiled the work of community safety teams working with the Healthy Streets Operations Centre (HSOC), which was launched by the Edmonton Police Service with partners in October 2022 in response to "chronically high levels of victimization and crime" in downtown, Chinatown, the Alberta Avenue area, and some LRT stations. The teams, which originally included police, peace officers, and paramedics, were joined by provincial sheriffs on Feb. 23 and will also include Edmonton Fire Rescue Services representatives beginning in late March. Insp. Angela Kemp, who oversees the HSOC teams, said their interactions can lead to an arrest but also resources to provide an "off-ramp" and divert people from the criminal justice system. University of Alberta professor Marta-Marika Urbanik suggested the HSOC teams are "fairly wraparound" on paper, but they are also "cop heavy" in way that "can tell us a lot about what the intention is."
  • City staff are working with the province on a strategy to protect Edmonton from wild pigs, an invasive species that has been spreading across the prairie provinces and can cause major ecological damage. Efforts have increased since Postmedia reported in 2022 that Edmonton could become the first Canadian city with permanent urban wild pigs. In recent years, wild pigs have been reported in nearby areas like Strathcona County, Elk Island National Park, and around the Edmonton International Airport. Postmedia archives show that Edmonton experienced a wild pig problem in the summer of 1997, with one article reporting seven sightings in a single week.
  • Police say their investigation into the murder of infamous inner-city landlord Abdullah Shah, who was shot in southwest Edmonton on March 13, 2022, has been repeatedly stalled by obstruction including the destruction of evidence, deceit, and evasion. Homicide Det. Jared Buhler called for increased cooperation and said anyone with information can share it with police anonymously. Police have also released new surveillance footage of a Toyota Highlander from the night of the killing and said the crime was a "well-organized and targeted hit." No charges have been laid in the case.
  • Stephen Jones, CEO of Edmonton-based budget airline Flair, accused one of Canada's two major airlines of trying to stymie his company's operations by attempting to lease four Boeing 737 Maxes recently seized from Flair because of overdue payments. Jones claims the unnamed company — either Air Canada or WestJet — engaged in behind-the-scenes negotiations for the planes with lessor Airborne Capital Inc. after Flair was in arrears for only a few days. The sudden seizure of the planes, more than one-fifth of Flair's operating fleet, caused cancellations for about 1,900 passengers.
  • Health Minister Jason Copping and Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides discussed the 2023 provincial budget at a news conference at the University of Alberta. Copping acknowledged the province should have addressed shortages in Alberta's healthcare system earlier. The budget aims to add 3,400 spaces to healthcare post-secondary programs and puts an additional $113 million toward the Academic Medicine and Health Services Program, the province's residency program for medical students.
  • The provincial government is launching a second Alberta is Calling campaign to attract more workers to the province. The first campaign, which began in summer 2022, targeted Toronto and Vancouver, while the new campaign will focus on workers living in Atlantic Canada and parts of Ontario, including London, Hamilton, Windsor, and Sudbury.
Signs encouraging drivers to slow down and communicating the 40 km/h speed limit

Podcast provides parking context

By Mack Male

Episode 212 of Speaking Municipally looks at the context surrounding neighbourhood renewal work in Ottewell and its impact on parking.

Construction of new roads, sidewalks, curbs, gutters, and other street infrastructure will take place in Ottewell this spring, following preparation work that began last month. The project will result in the loss of some on-street parking, which has frustrated some residents.

But there may be a silent majority in the neighbourhood who welcome the changes, co-host Troy Pavlek suggested, noting that Ottewell was one of the six communities that piloted the 40 km/h speed limit before it was implemented city-wide.

"And the primary reason that Ottewell had greater than 66% of residents on board was because the design of the neighbourhood, with its wide expansive roads and large corners, led to speeding," Pavlek said. "The residents banded together and agreed that they needed to combat speeding in the neighbourhood."

Coun. Ashley Salvador, who represents the area, confirmed that some streets are being narrowed to encourage drivers to slow down, and said there's still ample on-street parking in the neighbourhood.

"Going forward, if parking pressures are experienced in the neighbourhood, the city has a multitude of tools that we can put in place as part of our curbside management strategy to abate any negative outcomes," Salvador told Global News.

Hear more about this, as well as the end of Edmonton's NextGen with new Taproot reporter Colin Gallant, the mayor's first meeting with Premier Danielle Smith, and the city's 2022 surplus, on the March 10 episode of Taproot's civic affairs podcast.

Photo: Vision Zero lawn signs are available through the city's Safe Speeds toolkit. (City of Edmonton)