The Pulse: May 24, 2023

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  • 19°C: Sunny. Becoming a mix of sun and cloud near noon. Wind becoming northwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 late in the afternoon. High 19. UV index 7 or high. (forecast)
  • Purple: The High Level Bridge will be lit purple for World Schizophrenia Awareness Day. (details)

A portrait of Zofia Trebaczkiewicz in front of the equipment in The Kitchen

The Kitchen meets big appetite for cooking classes

By Paula Kirman

If you've tried to enrol in a cooking class at The Kitchen and found it was already full, you're not alone.

Since the Edmonton Public Library opened the community kitchen at the Stanley A. Milner branch in March 2022, cooking classes on everything from pastry to bread to salads to main courses have filled up quickly.

"We've learned that food can be a powerful community connector," said Kitchen coordinator Zofia Trebaczkiewicz, a chef with more than 20 years experience in restaurants and catering who also worked for years as a library assistant.

Up to 36 participants can be accommodated in The Kitchen's 2,100 square feet of space at workstations that are equipped with commercial ovens and induction cooktops. There is a quality ventilation system and a scullery for cleaning and storing materials. The Kitchen also offers online classes, such as a June 14 session on making cinnamon coffee cake.

"During the last few years there has been a trend to rediscover and learn basic life skills," Trebaczkiewicz told Taproot, noting that the EPL's 2019-2023 Strategic Plan includes the imperative to address the growing needs and interests of its clientele.

When renovations to the downtown library were planned, public consultations "indicated a strong interest in culinary literacy and food security issues, with many voicing a need to create a space for hands-on cooking," Trebaczkiewicz added.

"The success of The Kitchen is a result of the needs of the community being answered."

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Headlines: May 24, 2023

By Kevin Holowack

  • The city announced that the new Northeast River Valley Park is set to open in late summer 2023. Located at 17 Street NE and 153 Avenue NE, the park has 190 acres of developed parkland, which is more than Hawrelak Park's 168 acres, and connects with existing river valley trails. Amenities include a lake, a children's playground, picnic sites, and a 25,000-square-foot event centre. The park was formerly known as Our Lady Queen of Peace Ranch North and is adjacent to the area covered by the Horse Hill Area Structure Plan, which includes five future neighbourhoods and an expected population of 70,000 residents. The new park's name will be chosen after Edmontonians have the chance to provide input as part of a concept-planning process, which the city expects to begin later this year.
  • Environment Canada's special air quality statement for Edmonton, which was issued on May 16, was lifted on May 23 as air quality reached low risk according to the Air Quality Health Index. However, it was still in effect for regions east and west of Edmonton, along with parts of northern Alberta. Poor air quality due to wildfires has prompted several statements for Edmonton and surrounding areas since the end of April.
  • Rain and cooler temperatures across the province have dampened wildfire behaviour, according to Alberta Wildfire information officer Christie Tucker. "Many of the major wildfires burning received some rain, which means these are good days for firefighters to make real progress on containing these fires," Tucker said, while reiterating that the wildfire season is "far from over." Firefighters from the United States arrived to assist efforts on May 23, and teams from New Zealand and Australia are expected soon. Around 10,000 people remain under evacuation orders, including residents of Fox Creek and Little Smoky west of Edmonton, and the East Prairie Métis Settlement in northern Alberta. Wildfires are estimated to have burned over one million hectares across the province this year.
  • Last week, city council accepted administration's cost-saving recommendations for the south extension of the Capital Line LRT to keep the project within budget. Administration made the recommendations in April. The changes include building the Heritage Valley Station at ground level instead of above grade and eliminating the addition of 800 more stalls at the station's park and ride. The construction of the Twin Brooks station will go forward, although some Twin Brooks-area residents expressed opposition to a station in their neighbourhood during an executive committee meeting earlier this month. Council voted against a request by Coun. Jennifer Rice to have city planners explore how much would be saved by deferring the station's construction and replacing the station's wood fence with a concrete or brick sound barrier.
  • Explore Edmonton has announced the performer lineup for this year's K-Days, which is scheduled to run July 21-30. The lineup consists of mostly Canadian artists, including Three Days Grace, Tegan and Sara, and Elijah Woods from the pop duo Elijah Woods x Jamie Fine. In addition to main-stage performances, Explore Edmonton has arranged for local entertainment at the new Cristal Palace Spiegeltent. All performances are included with admission. Advance tickets to K-Days are available online.
  • The Edmonton Social Planning Council and Public Interest Alberta published their Alberta Child Poverty Report for 2022. The report is released annually to help policy-makers, advocates, and decision-makers reduce child poverty. The 2022 report addresses how to measure child poverty, poverty in Indigenous and racialized communities, child care, housing, food insecurity, and taxation and income redistribution. The authors note that Alberta does not have a poverty reduction strategy and missed an opportunity to coordinate with the federal government, which released its first-ever poverty reduction strategy in 2018. "The provincial government has a long way to go to become a province where all citizens — especially children — can live in dignity," they wrote.
  • O2 Planning + Design received an award of excellence from the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects for the Ribbon of Green project, which "provides a far-reaching vision for the sustainable use and preservation of the North Saskatchewan River Valley and Ravine System." Ribbon of Green is one of two streams of work happening as part of the city's River Valley Planning Modernization Project.
  • The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) is launching a new Verified Traveller program that will replace the Trusted Traveller program. Verified Traveller screening lines will be available by June 21 at select domestic and international checkpoints at airports across Canada, including the Edmonton International Airport. In a release, the federal government said the new program will ease congestion and provide travellers with benefits at security checkpoints such as keeping laptops in their carry-on and not having to remove their shoes, belt, and jacket.
A newspaper clipping showing a portrait of Premier William Aberhart beside a headline reading "Services Here At Early Date"

A moment in history: May 24, 1943

By Scott Lilwall

On this day in 1943, funeral services were planned for William Aberhart, one of Alberta's most infamous public figures.

Even before he entered politics, William "Bible Bill" Aberhart had a following. While his day job was that of a Calgary school principal with a reputation for strict discipline, most knew Aberhart for his Sunday sermons broadcast on CFCN.

In the 1930s, the Great Depression hit Alberta hard. Aberhart had become fascinated by social credit theory, an obscure economic idea arguing the lack of purchasing power among the public was the cause of the depression. While social credit adherents worldwide began seeking power, Aberhart was able to mix the theories with his own version of fire-and-brimstone social conservatism to create the first political party to follow the idea. The Social Credit Party of Alberta was born.

During the election of 1935, Aberhart and the SoCreds pledged to provide every Albertan adult with a payment of $25 per month, as well as other debt-relief measures to ease the province's economic suffering. This struck a chord with voters, and that year, the SoCreds nearly swept the election — 56 of 63 seats went for Aberhart.

Pitching social credit plans proved easier than actually implementing them. Aberhart found that provincial coffers didn't have enough for his monthly payments. Eventually, his government issued "prosperity certificates" to people working on provincial public works projects. The Alberta scrip wasn't cash, but the promise was that it could be exchanged for money after a specific time. The project proved very unpopular, with only a few merchants in Edmonton willing to take it. (Tellingly, the Alberta government wouldn't accept the certificates as tax payment.) The two-year experiment was axed after only one year.

Aberhart's governments also took aim at both banks and journalists. He proposed laws that would heavily tax and regulate banks in Alberta, as well as take control of the credit system. Never a fan of his critics, Aberhart also tried to push through measures that would levy draconian fines against media that were not sufficiently deferential to his government.

Alberta's lieutenant-governor blocked the bills, reserving royal assent until the Supreme Court of Canada could weigh in on them. The court deemed that Aberhart's plans overstepped the province's powers and would not be allowed. Afterward, Aberhart used his position to cut the lieutenant-governor's budget and staff, and he got rid of the position's official residence (which remains the case to this day.)

While Aberhart's immense popularity waned by the next election, it was still enough for the Social Credit Party to easily win again. Aberhart's second term was cut short when he died unexpectedly in 1943. Alberta's economic outlook improved drastically in the post-war years due to oil development. The Social Credit Party moved away from many of Aberhart's economic experiments and remained in power until 1971.

Though he served less than two full terms, Aberhart had a considerable impact on Alberta, both culturally and politically. The Aberhart Centre, a medical facility at the University of Alberta Hospital, bears his name today. Nearly 90 years after Aberhart's first election, Albertans are again heading to the voting booth — although a repeat of the 1935 landslide is unlikely, with polls predicting a close race between the UCP and the NDP.

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.

A UCP sign to the left of a sidewalk and an NDP sign to the right on a tree-lined street with a magpie walking by

Provincial election roundup: May 24, 2023

By Karen Unland

Advance voting has begun in the 2023 provincial election and will continue until May 27. Here are some other things to know heading into Election Day on May 29.

Election news in the Edmonton region

Agenda-setting and temperature-taking

Photo: A magpie walks between two signs on a property in Edmonton-Glenora. (Karen Unland)

Correction: This file has been updated to reflect the NDP is promising $1.8 billion to Edmonton over three years, not $1.8 million.