The Pulse: June 23, 2023

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  • 22°C: Mainly cloudy with 60% chance of showers. Risk of a thunderstorm in the afternoon. High 22. UV index 6 or high. (forecast)
  • Red/White: The High Level Bridge will be lit red and white for Canada's National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism. (details)
  • 83-88: The Edmonton Stingers lost to the Scarborough Shooting Stars on June 22. (details)
  • 5:30pm: The Edmonton Stingers play the Brampton Honey Badgers at the CAA Centre. (details)

A large group of people stand to the right of a solar panel array on a rooftop. The sky behind them is cloudy and grey.

SPICE enables investment in community-powered solar

By Colin Gallant

A solar cooperative is now accepting investments from the public to build renewable-energy infrastructure on community buildings.

The Solar Power Investment Cooperative of Edmonton (SPICE) is inviting members to invest $1,000 or more to finance the installation of solar arrays, starting with the Bissell Thrift Shop on 118 Avenue.

"Some solar cooperatives start at $5,000. We really wanted to lower any barriers to being part of this," said Raquel Feroe, a founding board member of SPICE. "In the future, we'd like to lower that even more."

SPICE members are eligible to buy shares in the project, starting at $1,000. They are paid back through two years of lease payments that the community organization — in this case, Bissell — pays for the system. The project also sells electricity back to the grid. (Lifetime memberships in SPICE are $50, and there are a few other criteria for investors.)

Investors are very likely to make their money back, with a return on investment, SPICE board director Annette Dautel told Taproot.

"I would say it's extremely unlikely that investors will not see their complete investment returned, plus some dividends," she said. "We only pick partners that we really see as trustworthy and working with this (model)."

As of June 12, SPICE had accrued about $45,000 in its first raise, which will close when it hits $250,000 or in October 2024, whichever comes first. Funds raised beyond what it costs to complete the Bissell project will be used for additional SPICE builds.

The project is not just about renewable energy or revenue generation — it also helps build job skills. SPICE's preferred installer is Newo Global Energy, a non-profit that trains Bissell clients and other overlooked workers to install solar panels.

"This journey together is part of envisioning a different future for all of us," said Louise Traynor, Bissell's chief operating officer. "Not just people experiencing poverty, not just people who have the capacity to invest, not just people who care about the environment, not just people who care about community. This is one small piece of — all of us together — imagining a better future."

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Headlines: June 23, 2023

By Kevin Holowack

  • The city issued a reminder that property taxes are due June 30. A 5% penalty on any outstanding 2023 payments will be charged to accounts on July 1, and further penalties will be applied later this year. Due to high volumes, the city advises property owners not to wait until June 30 to make their payment.
  • The city provided an update on the Healthy Streets Operations Centre (HSOC), which was soft launched in October 2022 with the aim of reducing social disorder and crime in several core neighbourhoods. The city said the HSOC community safety teams, which include police and peace officers, paramedics, fire rescue workers, community liaisons, and Alberta sheriffs, regularly connect with residents in Chinatown, Downtown, and Kingsway, where they work from 7am to midnight on weekdays. The Edmonton Police Service said total crime severity increased slightly from February to March this year, from 77.5 per 100,000 people to 85.8, but reported an overall decline in crime severity since November 2022. Police also say crime severity is expected to increase in summer months due to seasonal fluctuations. Council has allocated $15.2 million to fund the HSOC community safety teams for two years starting in January 2023.
  • The Edmonton Police Commission had decided not to proceed with advocating for the addition of race on government-issued identification and instead request that the province prioritize the collection of race-based data as part of its Anti-Racism Action Plan. The commission first considered a motion to advocate to the province to collect race via identification in October. Commission chair Erick Ambtman said they were led to a "different outcome that sounds a lot better" after engaging the public and hearing from experts, including presentations from the RCMP and the Race-Based Data Collection Table, a group led by the United Way and EndPovertyEdmonton.
  • Const. Elena Golysheva with the Edmonton Police Service, who was relieved of duty without pay in 2022 after posting a video to social media expressing support for the "Freedom Convoy" protests, will return to active duty, an EPS spokesperson said. An internal disciplinary hearing for Golysheva concluded on June 21. EPS did not say why Golysheva will be returning to active duty but indicated a timeline for her return is not finalized.
  • Postmedia columnist Keith Gerein published a piece on the contentious Zoning Bylaw Renewal Initiative encouraging Edmontonians to understand how their city develops and advising city administration to increase engagement efforts prior to council's final vote on the bylaw in October. Gerein wrote that Edmontonians should not expect extreme changes and suggested that one of the "biggest unknowns" is whether the proposed changes will really improve housing affordability. "City growth is unrelenting," he wrote. "Newcomers and young adults need homes somewhere, and it is unhealthy, uneconomical and unfair to just keep developing the way we have."
Five large, tentacle-like sculptures covered in colourful tiles undulate towards the sky

Weekend agenda: June 23-25, 2023

By Debbi Serafinchon

This weekend offers a sale of vintage gems, a charity baseball game for LGBTQ2S+ causes, a celebration of public art, a festival for vegans, a screening of Pride-themed short films, and a road race for top Canadian cyclists.

Find even more things to do in the Arts Roundup and the Food Roundup.

Photo: A piece of public art called A Mischief of Could-be(s) by Erin Pankratz and Christian Pérès Gibaut will be officially unveiled in Churchill Square on Saturday. (Red Knot Studio)