The Pulse: Sept. 12, 2023

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  • 23°C: Mainly cloudy. 30% chance of showers early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Wind west 20 km/h gusting to 40 becoming light near noon. High 23. UV index 4 or moderate. (forecast)
  • Red/Blue/White: The High Level Bridge will be lit red, blue, and white for Chilean Week for Art and Culture. (details)

Rosaly DeVenz stands inside the rebuilt Italian Bakery, with tables and chairs stacked beside her and shelves behind

Italian Bakery returns to its roots with rebuilt store in Chinatown

By Sharon Yeo

The Italian Bakery is finally ready to re-open in Chinatown with a brand-new building.

A fire devastated the original structure in 2020, after the company's Beverly site had to be rebuilt after a fire in 2016. While undertaking another major construction project so soon was not ideal, owner Rosaly DeVenz said doing so was the only option.

"My parents (founders Antonio and Aurora Frattin) started this bakery here in 1962, and this was their home," DeVenz told Taproot. "We rebuilt it for them."

Construction was supposed to last only a year, but due to COVID-19, materials shortages, and contractor challenges, the timeline extended to three years. Unfortunately, both Antonio and Aurora passed away in 2022 and were not able to see the final result. The new build at 10644 97 Street NW included a customized apartment unit above the bakery that was intended for them. Still, DeVenz knows her parents would be pleased with the outcome.

"They would be happy that we rebuilt in this neighbourhood and will step up our game," said DeVenz. "You have to make out of the rubble like a phoenix rising, and make it bigger and better."

DeVenz is aiming for a soft opening later in September. Although the footprint of the new building is only slightly larger than the previous one, the design has significantly enlarged the retail area. This will allow the location to stock fresh produce, milk, eggs, and more grocery items than before, as well as accommodate a larger deli.

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Headlines: Sept. 12, 2023

By Mariam Ibrahim

  • The Alberta government is introducing a "zero tolerance for crime" approach with new measures to address increased crime in urban centres. The Alberta Crown Prosecution Service will create targeted units to prosecute violent offenders in Edmonton and Calgary. The province is also introducing changes to the bail protocol to allow prosecutors to argue in court that violent offenders, particularly repeat violent offenders, should remain in custody unless bail conditions can address the public safety risk. "The position of the Alberta government is absolutely clear: there is no safe haven in Alberta for criminals," Justice Minister Mickey Amery said at a Sept. 11 news conference. Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said he supports the new efforts but that more needs to be done to address root causes. "Everyone agrees that the status quo is not working and things must change," Sohi said. The measures follow other recent efforts to address crime in Alberta's two major cities, including the deployment of provincial sheriffs, funding to hire more police officers, and $5-million grants to help each city address safety on public transit.
  • The Edmonton Police Service is introducing a new approach dubbed Safer Public Spaces to address public safety concerns in the city. The police service said its major objectives include reducing violence, addressing public drug use, offering support to victims and connecting people with treatment, aggressive enforcement against people involved in the drug trade, and working with the city to address public safety threats tied to encampments. "The impacts of violence and social disorder, including random violence, have grown increasingly prominent," police Chief Dale McFee said. Recent public engagement done by the city found that 89% of respondents were very or extremely concerned about visible drug use in public spaces.
  • Boyle Street Community Services says it will adjust its client services as it prepares to move out of the 105 Avenue location it has been leasing from the Oilers Entertainment Group, which has plans to redevelop the site as part of the Village at Ice District. A spokesperson for Boyle Street denied rumours that it is being evicted from the site and said more information would be available on Sept. 12. The agency is planning to build a new facility, called the King Thunderbird Centre, at 101 Street and 107A Avenue. So far $28.5 million has been raised for the project's construction, which is expected to finish in 2024.
  • In an opinion piece for Postmedia, Edmonton River Valley Conservation Coalition chair Kristine Kowalchuk shared concerns about a flood mitigation plan proposed by EPCOR. The city's utility committee has already approved the plan, which will go before city council for final approval on Sept. 12. The coalition opposes the plan due to its potential impacts on the river valley and drinking water, instead arguing for a nature-based solution that focuses on re-wilding the Rossdale and E.L. Smith water treatment plants to increase resilience and prevent floods.
  • Edmonton firefighters who have died in the line of duty were honoured at Firefighters Memorial Plaza during a ceremony on Sept. 11. Mayor Amarjeet Sohi, fire Chief Joe Zatylny, and other officials attended the ceremony to acknowledge the efforts of city firefighters, particularly given this year's extreme fire season and ongoing opioid crisis. The memorial is held annually on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York City, during which more than 340 firefighters died.
  • Edmonton Transit Service is inviting the public to attend open houses at three transit garages in September. The events will provide a behind-the-scenes look at the city's public transit operations. Visitors will have the opportunity to sit behind the wheel of a bus or a train, and the chance to take home a vintage ETS bus stop sign. The first open house is scheduled for Sept. 16 from 10am to 3pm at the Centennial bus garage, followed by the Percy Wickman garage on Sept. 21 from 11am to 2pm, and the D.L. MacDonald LRT garage on Sept. 23 from 10am to 3pm.
  • Longtime Global News health reporter Su-Ling Goh had her last day at the station on Sept. 11. Goh said she will be joining Alberta Health Services to help promote the province's organ and tissue donation program. Global News highlighted Goh's 17-year career with the station during her final noon newscast, which she had recently begun co-anchoring.
  • The Edmonton Oilers experienced personal changes off the ice over their summer break with several players welcoming new babies. Centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and his wife welcomed their first child on Aug. 19. "It's been a different summer this year for sure," Nugent-Hopkins said. Defenceman Darnell Nurse and his wife had their second child on Sept. 6, and on June 20, forward Evander Kane welcomed a baby boy with his girlfriend. The team's training camp begins next week, with the pre-season beginning Sept. 24 with a game against the Winnipeg Jets.
A wrinkled and torn paper McDonald's bag discarded in the street

Single-use item bylaw is doing its job, podcast suggests

By Ashley Lavallee-Koenig and Karen Unland

While Edmonton's single-use item bylaw has not been popular, complaints have decreased since it came into force on July 1, and city council should keep the rules in place, say Taproot's city hall watchers.

"We're talking about hundreds of complaints here, not thousands," Speaking Municipally co-host Mack Male said in Episode 232 of the civic affairs podcast, recorded after city council's urban planning committee received an update.

Most businesses have complied with the bylaw. The most contentious part has been the 15-cent charge for paper bags, which is to go up to 25 cents in the summer of 2024 and has made drive-thru purchases somewhat less convenient. But it will decrease waste, and that's a good thing, said co-host Troy Pavlek.

"Having systems like government say, 'In this entire city, there will be a massive reduction in single-use bags,' that is exactly the systemic change that we have been trying to encourage," he said. "It would be galling to me if council got cold feet on this because a couple people were not used to getting their fries in a bucket."

The city may adjust the bylaw in November, ahead of the federal single-use item rules coming into effect in December.

Pavlek and Male agreed it was a shame the bag fee goes back to the restaurant with no guarantee that it will be used for environmental purposes. "It would be so much better ... if all those things were collected and went to the city to be invested in other sustainability and green initiatives," Male said, noting there is no way for the city to collect that money. (One business owner later pointed out the problems with trying to recoup that fee.)

Pavlek said a recent visit to Wendy's in Spruce Grove, which has no bag fee, persuaded him that it doesn't take long for behaviour to be modified.

"This bylaw has only been in place for three months, and I've already gotten so used to it that it felt abnormal to get a bag with my food," he said. "I suspect most people will acquiesce to this change pretty quickly."

Hear more commentary on Edmonton's single-use bylaw in the Sept. 8 episode of Speaking Municipally. You'll also learn about the long-awaited West Edmonton Mall pedestrian bridge, a hopeful update on the Valley Line LRT, a decision on transit drivers' photo radar tickets, and the delayed opening of a new park.

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