The Pulse: Aug. 9, 2023

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  • 20°C: Cloudy. A few showers beginning near noon. Risk of a thunderstorm late in the afternoon. High 20. UV index 4 or moderate. (forecast)
  • Blue/Yellow/Red: The High Level Bridge will be lit blue, yellow, and red for the Alberta Indigenous Games, which run Aug. 9 to 19. (details)

A crowd gathers in an alley behind the China Marble Restaurant in Edmonton's Chinatown as the sun goes down.

Chinatown event succeeds with simplicity, organizers say

By Nathan Fung

Organizers of Chinatown After Dark say its success demonstrates how low-cost community events can be effective in bringing vibrancy to a neighbourhood.

YEG Chinatown Re:VITA, a grassroots collective focused on Chinatown revitalization, organized the event on July 29 in the back alley of the China Marble Restaurant on 97 Street. The event featured food vendors such as Van Loc and Hing Lung BBQ House, as well as activities like karaoke and mahjong.

Jenny Trinh, an organizer with YEG Chinatown Re:VITA, told Taproot the group wanted to highlight Chinatown's vibrancy with a night market-style event that leveraged existing infrastructure in the area.

Since Hung Trang and Ban Phuc Hoang were fatally assaulted near their workplaces in May 2022, much of the attention has turned toward policing Chinatown. The group wanted to counter those narratives around crime and disorder, Trinh said.

"There is this stigma around the Chinatown neighbourhood that it's dangerous, unsafe to be around here, and those kinds of narratives perpetuate and become self-reinforcing," she said. "But within this community, there's a lot of vibrancy and a lot of connections to be made… just there wasn't like a place for a gathering to showcase that vibrancy."

Organizers didn't know what to expect from the event, as it mostly came together in about two weeks and there wasn't much time to promote it, said William Lau, another member of YEG Chinatown Re:VITA. But it was a success, generating around $4,500 in revenue and attracting somewhere between 300 and 400 people.

It shows that steps can be made toward community revitalization without relying on costly, large-scale plans, Lau said.

"The importance of grassroots initiatives, I think, really comes into how inclusive and how affordable events can be," he said. "When you do things grassroots, you can cut so many costs that you don't have to pass on to your consumer."

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Headlines: Aug. 9, 2023

By Mack Male

  • Several residents are opposing the construction of a six-storey apartment building at 9321 101A Avenue in The Quarters, citing concerns including construction noise and the potential for blocked access to the Artspace co-op apartments. The subdivision and development appeal board held a hearing on Aug. 3 for the project that is being led by SPAN Architecture. A decision is expected on Aug. 18.
  • Edmonton's Food Bank collected a total of 14,400 kilograms of food donations during the Edmonton Heritage Festival, including 6,817 kilograms donated at the festival site and dropped off at fire halls and grocery stores. That's down from the 22,716 kilograms collected during the same weekend last year. The festival, which was forced to temporarily relocate due to rehabilitation work at Hawrelak Park, received mixed reviews after its first year at the Exhibition Lands.
  • Social worker Millicent Asiedu founded the Mesh of Mothers Foundation in 2021 to address the lack of Canadian data and resources for the mental wellbeing of Black moms. The organization is hosting an event on Aug. 12 at the Orchards Clubhouse called Black Motherhood From Our Lens to "delve into the ups and downs, the turmoil and victories, and the unique challenges faced by Afro-Heritage mothers."
  • Downtown Recovery Coalition chair Alex Hryciw told Postmedia she has seen an increase in violent crime over the past 18 months, calling the situation "unprecedented" and suggesting all levels of government need to do more. "We're really disappointed in the lack of urgency from all orders of government and addressing this really serious issue," Hryciw said. Coun. Michael Janz said the city is dealing with the consequences of poverty, with the provincial closure of safe consumption sites exacerbating the situation.
  • The city's Residential Boulevard Gardening Program, which allows residents to plant gardens on the boulevard in front of their houses, has received 123 applications since it began. "Within the two years the program has been running, there's been no fines, there's been no enforcement issues so far," said city program lead Jodi Ehrman, who emphasized the program focuses on education.
  • Several businesses in the 124 Street area, including Pura Botanicals, So Pretty Cara Cotter, and PaperDoll Clothing Co., have been dealing with an increase in break-ins and thefts. "We have an Instagram chat going with several dozens of local businesses, and every week we receive a notice that someone else has been broken into, or their front windows have been smashed," Pura Botanicals founder Lane Edwards told CTV News. "It's very difficult."
  • Starting Sept. 1, so-called move over legislation will help to keep roadside workers in Alberta safe. Drivers in the lane closest to any roadside worker vehicle stopped with its lights flashing must slow down to 60 km/h or the posted speed limit, whichever is lower. They must also "move over to the far lane if it's safe to do so and take reasonable steps to allow other drivers to move over as well." The Alberta Motor Association said it was disappointed with the bill, which originally applied to drivers in all lanes travelling the same direction. "This is not what had been promised to Alberta's essential tow operators, to first responders as well as to the roadside workers that are included in today's expanded framework," said AMA vice president Jeff Kasbrick.