The Pulse: June 5, 2023

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  • 20°C: Mainly cloudy with 30% chance of showers and risk of a thunderstorm. Wind becoming northwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 late in the afternoon. High 20. UV index 7 or high. (forecast)
  • Green: The High Level Bridge will be lit green for Boys and Girls Canada Club Day. (details)

Alberta Innovates CEO Laura Kilcrease and Kello Inclusive's Katie MacMillan hold a giant cheque for $10,000 at the Inventures conference in Calgary.

Three Edmonton companies win big at Inventures

By Colin Gallant

Three Edmonton companies — Kello Inclusive, UpRow, and Nyah Health — won pitch competitions held during the Inventures conference in Calgary.

"To be recognized in a startup pitch competition that is so often driven by profits and profitability, that feels really, really good — that people are seeing the value in the social impact of what we're doing and how much we need to move that needle of social change," said Katie MacMillan, co-founder of Kello Inclusive, a modelling agency for people with disabilities.

She won $10,000 in the "future of work" category of the startup pitch event organized by Alberta Innovates on June 1.

Kello, founded just a year before the event, entered the pitch competition to make useful connections more than to earn cash. As a non-profit, getting the word out about the organization is key to its success, MacMillan said.

"We made some connections with people who are running their own startups, and businesses that — for particular reasons and just more generally speaking — care about accessibility and inclusion," she told Taproot. "We did a little scouting because there were several folks who self-identified as disabled, who of course I gave my business card to, and said 'Have you ever considered modelling?'"

Also at Inventures, The51 held its annual HerStory competition, which gave 30 women and other members of underrepresented genders a chance to pitch for investment on the strength of their stories.

Kelise Williams of UpRow, a virtual marketplace connecting immigrants to services, and Hoda Soboh of Nyah Health, a virtual health platform for women experiencing menopause, were among the five winners chosen after the June 2 event.

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Headlines: June 5, 2023

By Mariam Ibrahim

  • May 2023 was the hottest May on record for several parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan, the Prairies Climate Change Project, an initiative of CBC Edmonton and CBC Saskatchewan, explained. Edmonton was among nine Alberta communities that broke records, with average temperatures nearly six degrees hotter than normal. Natalie Hasell, a meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, said the warm weather was caused by blocking ridges in the upper atmosphere, which can cause dry, warm conditions. Recent cooler temperatures and precipitation have brought relief, but Hasell cautioned that hot conditions are likely to continue through the summer, and most of Alberta "looks like it will be drier than normal."
  • Three officers with the Edmonton Police Service were sanctioned with community service in a police disciplinary hearing decision after kicking a suspect during an arrest in July 2017 that resulted in facial fractures. Const. Scott Henning, Det. William Thomas, and Sgt. Vincent Boe each pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority. The officers' community service has already been completed, with Henning volunteering at the Edmonton Humane Society and Boe splitting his service between Habitat for Humanity and a hospital association. The community service location for Thomas was not disclosed.
  • The Faculty Association at Concordia University of Edmonton has passed a vote of non-confidence in the school's president, Tim Loreman, for the second year in a row. The union also voted no-confidence in board chair John Acheson. Faculty association president Glynis Price said the relationship between the union, board of governors, and administration has deteriorated in the last year. The union is concerned about inconsistent and excessive disciplinary measures, with about 15% of faculty currently facing some type of disciplinary action, Price added. Acheson said the board of governors has full confidence in Loreman's leadership, and that the union's concerns "are to be addressed by the administration, and not by the board."
  • The popular four-day passes for the Edmonton Folk Music Festival are completely sold out, with 90% of the passes sold by early afternoon on June 3, which was the day they were released. The festival, which is scheduled for Aug. 10-13 at Gallagher Park, will feature Feist, Ben Harper, and Fleet Foxes. As of June 4, single-day tickets were still available for the Thursday, Friday, and Sunday shows.
  • Explore Edmonton launched Festival City Mini Parades on June 4 in Kenilworth, the first of five parades around the city that will each feature about a dozen acts. The events are part of an effort to reimagine K-Days after organizers received feedback that the public missed the parade that previously opened the 10-day festival, which is set to begin this year on July 21. The next mini parade is scheduled for June 17 at Sakaw Gardens in Millhurst.
  • Edmonton Fire Rescue Services is aiming to recruit more Indigenous people to its ranks through its inaugural Camp Inspire for Indigenous Peoples, which took place from June 2-4. "Even though you don't see yourself regularly in our fire service, doesn't mean you don't have a place," said Fire Chief Joe Zatylny. The city's website notes the camp is designed to promote firefighting as a viable career for Indigenous peoples of all backgrounds.
  • Kyle Marshall, a branch manager with Edmonton Public Libraries, came in second place during his Jeopardy! debut on May 31. He performed well, heading into Final Jeopardy only $400 behind the leading competitor, even though he had only one stressful month to prepare after being accepted for the show. "All told, I'm really happy with how it turned out, and I'm proud to have had this incredible experience," he said.
  • The Alberta government ended the provincial state of emergency on June 3, but said all wildfire resources and support will remain in place. While the fire situation remains serious in northern Alberta, the province said in a release the measures allowed by the Emergency Management Act are no longer required.
  • With challenging wildfire seasons becoming more common in Alberta, the province will need to recruit and train more firefighters to effectively battle the blazes, according to Andrew Buchanan, a firefighter and training officer with the Emergency Services Academy, which provides professional firefighting training. Buchanan said the province needs "trained first responders ready to go," and while the international support has been "incredible," it is not sustainable long-term. So far this year, more than 2,000 firefighters have arrived in Alberta from across Canada and internationally to help with wildfire efforts. That includes 200 South African firefighters who performed a traditional song and dance after landing at Edmonton International Airport on June 4.
  • Some Edmonton conservatives say Premier Danielle Smith needs to be more collaborative and less ideological with the city if she wants to make in-roads in the next provincial election. "Even in winning, even in success, it's still the leader's job to show the humility to build that bridge from the party out to the communities," said Edmonton entrepreneur Chris LaBossiere, who has run as a Progressive Conservative candidate in the past. The NDP swept Edmonton, winning all 20 seats in the recent election, including one held by former deputy premier Kaycee Madu. With no representation from the capital city, Smith could also face challenges as she selects a cabinet from her 49 MLA-elects who largely come from rural areas and smaller cities.
City Hall's pyramid against a blue sky

Six weeks until city council's summer break

By Mack Male

Not much of the business before city council this week will be discussed in public, but a number of interesting items are coming up before the summer break, including an adjustment to the capital budget and a delayed discussion of the police funding formula.

This week, community and public services committee will review youth council membership and reappointment recommendations on June 5; the code of conduct subcommittee will meet on June 6; the city manager and city auditor performance evaluation committee will meet on June 6; and a non-regular city council meeting with a private intergovernmental update is scheduled for June 7.

Looking ahead to its June 13 meeting, city council will review the spring 2023 supplemental capital budget adjustment, which recommends a net increase in tax-supported operations of $25.7 million. Council will also receive the next monthly update on the transit safety plan and the downtown core at that meeting.

A discussion about the funding formula for the Edmonton Police Service is being postponed again, this time until July 4. It was originally requested on Oct. 7, 2022, when city council decided to approve the funding formula for 2023 only, and was scheduled for March 14 before being postponed to June 13.

City council's summer break is scheduled to begin on July 17, with meetings resuming on Aug. 21. Before the break, council is expected to discuss the community sandbox program review, transit service in newer developing or developed communities, an update on the implementation of the community safety and well-being strategy, another update on the zoning bylaw renewal, and an update on the national urban park initiative.

First up after the summer break is a final update on the city's bid to host the 2030 Commonwealth Games. Council will also receive an update on the effort to designate the North Saskatchewan River as a heritage river, lessons learned from Edmonton's plan to prevent and end homelessness, and a report on the goals of the Blatchford business case.

The full list of items due — agenda items driven by previous council motions and/or inquiries, or brought forward by administration — is available online. Meetings are streamed live on YouTube on the Chamber channel and River Valley Room channel.

Photo: City Hall (Mack Male/Flickr)

A carnival ride behind a Sustainival flag with a bright blue sky in the background

Coming up this week: June 5-9, 2023

By Debbi Serafinchon

This week's events include a green carnival, a memorial service for people whose lives were shortened by homelessness, a forward-thinking speaker, encouragement for entrepreneurs, and a roasting for a good cause.

Find even more things to do in Taproot's weekly roundups.

Photo: Sustainival offers everything you'd find at a traditional fair, but this one is powered by renewable energy. (Facebook)