The Pulse: Oct. 3, 2023

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  • 15°C: Sunny. Fog patches dissipating in the morning. Wind becoming west 20 km/h gusting to 40 near noon. High 15. UV index 2 or low. (forecast)
  • Red: The High Level Bridge will be lit red for Disability Employment Awareness Month. (details)
  • 4-1: The Edmonton Oilers beat the Seattle Kraken on Oct. 2. (details)

The interior of Vine Arts Wine and Spirits includes many shelves stocked with bottles and, in the background, a mural depicts humans and creatures standing in a row

Zoning appeal allows Vine Arts to open on 124 Street

By Colin Gallant

A Calgary-based specialty liquor store chain is now open on 124 Street after a successful appeal to bend the city's rules governing the concentration of alcohol vendors.

Vine Arts Wine and Spirits opened its first store outside Calgary (and third overall) on Sept. 9 at 10961 124 Street NW. It's the result of a longtime goal of its proprietors.

"We probably first started looking at spaces kind of casually in 2014," co-owner Jesse Willis told Taproot. "Edmonton actually has more stringent municipal bylaws about liquor store licences than Calgary or elsewhere in Alberta. So that was part of the challenge."

Willis cited a bylaw passed in 2007 that requires a minimum distance of 500 metres between liquor stores. That rule was loosened for suburban communities in 2016, but a recommendation by administration to do the same in Oliver and downtown was voted down in 2019.

"The original intention of those bylaws is to make sure that we don't have clustering of liquor stores either in an area where it might potentially have some negative social impacts, or just somewhere that it doesn't make sense," Willis said.

The new Vine Arts is in fact within 500 metres of two other liquor stores: Cheers and Beers Liquor Store and Westmount Liquor Hub. The company behind the retail space, Beljan Development, took its case to the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board in July 2022 and won.

"On the basis of the evidence presented, the Board is of the opinion that the proposed development would not unduly interfere with the amenities of the neighbourhood, or materially interfere with or affect the use, enjoyment or value of neighbouring parcels of land," reads the appeal board's written decision.

Vine Arts isn't the only specialty liquor store on 124 Street to receive an exemption. Sip Liquor Market's owners went through the same appeals process prior to opening in June 2022.

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Headlines: Oct. 3, 2023

By Mariam Ibrahim

A map showing the four temporary locations housing Boyle Street's services

Boyle Street solution seen as heartening but puzzling

By Ashley Lavallee-Koenig

Boyle Street Community Services has moved to four temporary locations while it waits for its new facility, okimaw peyesew kamik (King Thunderbird Centre), to be finished next fall.

  • Bissell East at 10527 96 Street NW will house Boyle Street's general services, such as bus pass and mail pickup, harm-reduction supplies, and the pet food bank;
  • The Mercer Warehouse at 10363 104 Street NW will be the site for Indigenous cultural support programs;
  • CO*LAB at 9641 102A Avenue NW will host a 25-person community space;
  • Trailers at the new site at 10010 107A Avenue NW will provide temporary quarters for Four Directions Financial and Hiregood.

"I am really heartened by all the teams involved stepping up … to do this," remarked co-host Troy Pavlek on Episode 235 of Speaking Municipally, Taproot's civic affairs podcast.

But the puzzle remains as to why Boyle Street found it financially unviable to extend its stay at the community centre at 10116 105 Avenue NW, even though the Oilers Entertainment Group said it could continue to lease it for $1 per month.

"It makes me wonder what exactly these conditions that are private that we're never going to hear about — how arduous could they be that it is a better idea for Boyle to fracture their services all across the city?" Pavlek asked. "What was so arduous about these lease conditions that this is the best path forward?"

Concerns remain about how well the changes will be received by those who need help.

"It's the people that Boyle Street serves that are going to pay for it," said co-host Mack Male, citing worries expressed by Jim Gurnett of the Edmonton Coalition on Housing and Homelessness.

Hear more on the Sept. 29 episode, which also tackles the Valley Line LRT audit, the Edmonton Police Commission's perception survey, and a campaign to address crime in Old Strathcona. You'll also hear about an illuminating field trip that changed Pavlek's mind about the Blatchford LRT station.

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