The Pulse: June 22, 2023

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

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  • 23°C: Sunny. Becoming a mix of sun and cloud in the afternoon. Fog patches dissipating in the morning. High 23. UV index 6 or high.(forecast)
  • Purple: The High Level Bridge will be lit purple for Migraine Solidarity Day. (details)
  • 5:30pm: The Edmonton Stingers play the Scarborough Shooting Stars at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. (details)

A drummer, guitarist, and bassist perform on stage under green lights. In the centre, the guitarist is mid-leap with her legs kicked out in opposite directions.

Purple City renews focus on downtown Edmonton

By Colin Gallant

Purple City Music Festival will move its outdoor programming to Edmonton's core this year as part of a renewed focus on downtown vibrancy.

For the past two years, Purple City took place at venues in and around downtown and the south side, with a main stage at Hawrelak Park. Given the park's closure for renovations, feedback from festival-goers, and internal discussions, the festival will instead concentrate on a two-block radius in downtown Edmonton that includes a free outdoor stage.

"We decided rather than have it really spread out this year, we wanted to try to make it really accessible, and not require really any travel whatsoever," Ryan Rathjen, executive director of Purple City, told Taproot.

This marks something of a return to form for Purple City, which grew out of a similar event called the Up + Downtown Music Festival. That festival was held downtown each fall from 2013 to 2019 before Rathjen took over for past lead Jason Flammia. The event rebranded as Purple City — a name stemming from a bit of Edmonton lore — and changed its dates and format.

"It was more of a city-wide festival, so it made more sense to not be just a downtown branding," Rathjen said. "It's funny, because (this year is) a bit of a full circle. We decided to take a more focused approach, putting everything in the most compressed area that we've ever done."

The 2023 edition of the festival takes place at The Starlite Room, its adjoining venues River City Revival House and Temple Bar, Freemasons' Hall Edmonton, McDougall United Church, the Downtown Edmonton Community League, and the aforementioned outdoor stage right outside The Starlite Room.

"We felt that the vibe of being able to see all your friends and be in one centralized area would feel more fun, because then you're not all spread out around the city, and everyone gets to see everyone, including the bands," said Rathjen. "With everything so close now, if you have a wristband, you really can catch a bit of everything."

Considerations for this year's Purple City, a volunteer-run festival that relies on grants and ticket revenue, included affordability and accessibility. Shows at River City and the outdoor stage on Aug. 26 and 27 are free to attend. Nearly the entire festival is open to all ages, and kids 12 and under can attend ticketed shows for free.

"We are trying to be a youth-focused festival, and create space for kids to experience their first music festival, and be inspired by that," Rathjen said. "We hope that it can keep growing, and these kids that come to the festival, hopefully one day can have bands that play Purple City."

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Headlines: June 22, 2023

By Kevin Holowack

  • The city continues to advise Edmontonians to exercise extreme caution around the North Saskatchewan River and its tributaries due to rain, which will cause high water levels and faster currents in the coming days. Edmontonians are asked to stay out of the water, avoid low-lying areas near waterways, obey trail closures, keep pets away from the river and creeks, and not use watercrafts. Part of the Mill Creek Ravine trail system north of 76 Avenue to Connors Road is closed. Other low-lying trails that may close include the Highlands-Dawson trail, the Capilano-Gold Bar trail, the Emily Murphy-Kinsmen trail, and River Loop Trail near Fort Edmonton Park. The city lists trail closures online.
  • The city's single-use item reduction bylaw will take effect on July 1. Under the new bylaw, single-use plastic shopping bags and foam plates, cups, and containers will be banned, and restaurants will be required to accept customers' reusable cups. Straws, utensils, napkins, and pre-packaged condiments will only be available by request or self-serve. The bylaw will apply to most organizations required to have a city-issued business license or civic event permit. There are exemptions for charities, some businesses, and organizations that operate without a business license, such as hospitals. More information about the bylaw is available online.
  • The provincial government appointed Chinatown safety advocate Michael Lee to serve on the Edmonton Police Commission effective May 1. Lee, who is also the vice-chair of the Chinese Benevolent Association of Edmonton, is the first of the province's appointees since the UCP government gave itself the power to appoint police commissioners by updating the Police Act in December 2022. The identity of the second province-appointed commissioner will remain private until a security clearance is completed. In an interview with Postmedia, Lee said he is concerned about Chinatown's safety but does not have any particular agenda, adding that the province has "no bearing on my decision-making." Mayor Amarjeet Sohi, who earlier expressed concern about the province's lack of consultation with council over the appointees, called Lee a "great addition to the commission." Meanwhile, Calgary city council showed its opposition to the province's new power to make appointments to the Calgary Police Commission by voting against bylaw changes that would align with provincial legislation.
  • Edmonton's Food Bank unveiled its brand new Niso Building at a ribbon cutting ceremony on June 21. The warehouse, located at 11448 120 Street between the charity's two other buildings, will house its community pantry and food hamper program. Executive director Marjorie Bencz called the unveiling "bittersweet," noting that the charity is now serving between 30,000 and 35,000 people every month, compared to about 17,000 each month during the peak of the pandemic. The purchase was supported by the Muttart Foundation, which gave the food bank a mortgage on the property.
  • The city announced that its solar rebate program, which reopened on May 8, has closed early due to being fully subscribed. According to a release, the program was "so successful that in just six weeks $1.96 million in funding was committed." Since its launch in 2019, the program, which is called the Change Homes for Climate Solar Program, has provided a total of $6 million in rebates to more than 1,900 households. "We understand that some homeowners will be disappointed with the sudden closure," said Kim Petrin with the city's urban planning and economy department, adding that the city is working to launch the Edmonton Clean Energy Improvement Program (E-CEIP), which will replace the solar rebate, "as soon as possible." An online notice indicates the E-CEIP program, a two-year pilot administered and financed by Alberta Municipalities, is "at capacity and has closed to pre-qualification submissions."
  • A class-action lawsuit against the City of Leduc, which was filed in February 2022 amidst allegations of abuse and harassment of female firefighters, has reached a settlement. The settlement includes $10,000 to $285,000 in compensation to all members of the class action, and any woman who worked at City of Leduc over the past 20 years is eligible to participate. Mayor Bob Young is also required to make a public apology and ensure women represented in the lawsuit do not face retaliation. Christa Steele, one of two female firefighters who started the class action, said she was "relieved everything that we've worked so hard for has come to fruition," but that the result is "just the start of accountability." The settlement, which is believed to be the first for a class action lawsuit involving sexual misconduct or assault at a Canadian municipality or fire department, is expected to have a significant impact on case law and set a precedent for future workplace harassment settlements. A court hearing to approve the terms of the settlement is scheduled for July 4.
  • Officials lifted evacuation orders for some residents of Whitecourt who were forced to leave June 20 due to flooding, which also prompted the town to declare a state of local emergency. On June 21, officials issued evacuation orders for parts of Woodlands County, including areas southwest and east of Whitecourt and near Fort Assiniboine, after both the McLeod River and Athabasca River flooded nearby lands and washed away roads.
A speed bump on a sun-dappled road

Calls for public engagement: Edmonton, Strathcona County, and Leduc

By Kevin Holowack

Here are some opportunities to offer your input on various civic issues, including traffic-calming in Northmount, family resources in Strathcona County, and transportation in Leduc. (Please ensure you live in the affected area before answering surveys.)

  • Northmount Street Lab — The City of Edmonton is exploring a Vision Zero Street Lab in the Northmount 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 12.
  • Strathcona County parent and caregiver surveyStrathcona County is looking to better understand how the provincially funded Family Resource Network (FRN) initiative can best meet the needs of families with children and youth up to 18 years old. Parents and guardians are invited to complete an online survey until July 13.
  • Leduc Transportation Master Plan (TMP) Update — The City of Leduc is inviting resident input into the long-term plan for the city's transportation network. The city's public engagement around updates to its Municipal Development Plan ended June 11. Residents can share thoughts on the existing transportation network through an online interactive map until June 30.

Upcoming events

More input opportunities

Photo: A speed bump in Oliver installed as part of Vision Zero Street Lab. (City of Edmonton)