The Pulse: June 15, 2023

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  • 19°C: Showers ending in the morning then cloudy with 60% chance of showers. Becoming a mix of sun and cloud near noon. Local smoke. Amount 5 mm. Wind northwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 becoming light in the afternoon. High 19. UV index 5 or moderate. (forecast)
  • Green: The High Level Bridge will be lit green for World Kidney Cancer Day. (details)
  • 79-74: The Edmonton Stingers defeated the Saskatchewan Rattlers on June 14. (details)

A collage of three photos depicts three iced coffees overlooking the patio furniture in front of PACT Coffee; a muted-coloured bar inside Marlo; and an Asahi beer can next to a full pint glass on a patio table outside Dorinku Tokyo.]

Indie restaurants fill vacancies in Old Strathcona

By Colin Gallant

Old Strathcona is seeing an influx of new independent restaurants, in part because of a higher-than-normal vacancy rate coming out of the pandemic.

"In 2023, we're seeing some real positive, consistent increase in more businesses opening and filling vacant places," said Cherie Klassen, executive director for Old Strathcona Business Association. "Seeing some new, independent businesses move in — we're seeing way more of that happening now than big franchises."

In the first quarter of this year, 39 new business licences were granted in Old Strathcona, for a total net opening of 16 new businesses, Klassen told Taproot. "Typically, that's when we see more businesses close. So the fact that we're seeing a net positive in the first quarter is really encouraging," she said.

Not all of those new businesses are restaurants, but many are. Klassen highlighted numerous examples that have set up shop recently in the area.

"Definitely Marlo, seeing The Next Act family expand and grow on that corner of 104 Street is really exciting and an indication that independent businesses can still thrive," she said.

Marlo, which opened in late May, is a new taco concept from the team behind The Next Act, MEAT, Pip, and Pals Sandwiches. It fills the space formerly occupied by Pip and offers tacos made with house-made corn tortillas that take around 24 hours to prepare.

"Mexican has been in our hearts for a long time," restaurant partner Saylish Haas told Taproot, recalling she first dreamed of entering the restaurant business on a trip to Mexico. "The biggest thing for us was (that) we enjoy being in Mexico and just grabbing a quick taco on the street or in a taco shop where it's a very limited menu. Knowing that the space was so small, we couldn't have a large menu and I mean… we just wanted tacos that taste great."

An opening Klassen is excited for is bibo Wine Bar in the Strathcona Hotel. From Brad Lazarenko and his team at Culina Family of Restaurants and Catering, it will be a new iteration of the bibo concept that once operated across from Route 99 Diner. The new bibo will offer wine, sake, beer, cocktails, dishes inspired by Japanese and Spanish cuisine, and offerings from Culina to Go. Lazarenko told Taproot that he aims to open bibo by late July.

"I normally wouldn't go to Whyte Ave., but I think Whyte Ave. is coming to fruition. Especially with the food scene these days," he said. "It's not just a bunch of kiddie bars, there's some really good restaurants there now."

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Headlines: June 15, 2023

By Kevin Holowack

  • TSN 1260, an Edmonton sports radio station, went off the air on June 14 after BCE Inc., the parent holding company of Bell Canada, announced it is cutting about 1,300 positions and closing or selling nine radio stations across the country. In an internal memo, a vice-president at Bell Media, the mass media branch of BCE Inc., said the plan involves moving to a "single newsroom approach across brands" because the branch can't afford to continue separately operating its various brands, which include CTV National News and local CTV stations like CTV Edmonton.
  • A motion from Coun. Andrew Knack to ask administration to come up with options for protecting trees on privately owned properties was closely defeated by a council vote. The intention was to target infill developers who often cut down mature trees on lots destined to have skinny homes. Coun. Anne Stevenson, who opposed the motion, noted councillors have previously requested information about a private tree bylaw, which administration did not recommend, and that the city is already on pace to meet its urban tree canopy goals. In March, Taproot covered the city's plan to plant two million trees by 2030 and achieve 20% total canopy coverage by 2071.
  • The Edmonton Public School Board received a 183-page report it commissioned after voting to suspend the School Resource Officer (SRO) program in 2020 over concerns about the program's impact on racialized and marginalized students. Board chair Trisha Estabrooks told reporters she "didn't read anything too surprising" in the report and pointed to its recommendation to include "additional voices" in the discussion. The Edmonton Police Service said in a statement the report is a "positive response for our SROs" and called on the board to "ensure that voices are not again left out in future plans." The board said it will hold engagement sessions about SROs in the fall but released no further details.
  • The city announced the installation of a new decorative crosswalk and several street blades for Okîsikow (Angel) Way, which is the honorary name of 101A Avenue between 96 Street and 97 Street in the Boyle Street area. The crosswalk art is by local artist Nikk Goodswimmer, and the street blades are by the late artist and activist Gloria Neapetung of the Yellow Quill First Nation. Mayor Amarjeet Sohi also declared June 14 as Okîsikow Way Day in Edmonton. Okîsikow Way is a multipartner initiative to honour women and gender diverse people who have experienced violence and to remind survivors that there are safe places in Edmonton to seek support.
  • Environment Canada meteorologist Sara Hoffman said heavy rain forecast for parts of Alberta in coming days will not reduce wildfire risk for long. She also said incoming storms could bring wind that fans the fires and lightning that starts new fires. Edson remains under evacuation order but received some rain, which Alberta Wildfire said will "buy firefighters a few days of quiet fire behaviour" but won't affect dry conditions in the forests. On June 14, the province lifted its evacuation order for parts of Yellowhead County and began partial re-entry. Other Alberta communities still under evacuation orders as of June 14 included Fort Chipewyan, Mikisew Cree First Nation, Fort Chipewyan Métis Nation, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, and parts of Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation.
  • The hearing considering three accusations of misconduct against former UCP cabinet minister Tyler Shandro was adjourned on June 14 and will resume in September with closing arguments if deemed necessary. The misconduct accusations relate to three separate incidents that occurred when Shandro was health minister. As a lawyer and member of the Law Society of Alberta, Shandro faces sanctions including fines, suspension, or disbarment if he is found to have committed misconduct.
Water flows by conifers and a young willow tree in a river valley ravine

Calls for public engagement: River Valley, retrofits, and a Street Lab

By Kevin Holowack

Here are some opportunities to offer your input on various civic issues, including River Valley planning, energy retrofits, aquatics programming, and Vision Zero in McKernan.

  • June 2023 Mixed Topic Survey — The monthly mixed topic survey from the City of Edmonton seeks feedback on a potential coaching service for those pursuing energy-efficient home renovations and asks for input on preferences for swimming lessons. The deadline to share your thoughts is June 20.
  • River Valley Planning Modernization: Phase 3 Survey — The City of Edmonton is inviting input as part of Phase 3 of the River Valley Planning Modernization Project. A What We Heard Report released in April 2022 summarizes Phase 2 of public engagement, which sought to confirm preliminary visions and direction. Input from Phase 3 will help the project team finalize its overall vision, clarify appropriate uses for different parts of the River Valley, identify opportunities for ecological protection, and more. Residents can complete a survey until July 4.
  • McKernan Street Lab — The City of Edmonton is exploring a Vision Zero Street Lab in the McKernan neighbourhood, which would install traffic-calming measures. Residents are invited to play an advisory role in the project by taking an online survey or using an interactive mapping tool until July 6.

Upcoming events

More input opportunities

Photo: Whitemud Ravine Park on a spring day. (Mack Male/Flickr)