The Pulse: Oct. 17, 2023

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  • 11°C: Cloudy with 60% chance of showers or drizzle in the morning and early in the afternoon. Clearing late in the afternoon. Wind northwest 30 km/h gusting to 50. High 11. UV index 1 or low. (forecast)
  • Purple/Gold: The High Level Bridge will be lit purple and gold for PROBUS Month Celebration. (details)
  • 6pm: The Edmonton Oilers (0-2-0) play the Nashville Predators (1-2-0) at Bridgestone Arena. (details)

The facade of a brick building reading "MacEwan University" with parking signs and cars parked along the street.

Conservatory of Music needs new home after Alberta College sale

By Colin Gallant

MacEwan University is seeking a new home for its Conservatory of Music following the sale of the Alberta College building that now houses it.

"We're in discussions with the Winspear Centre (for) Music to take the programming and operations of the conservatory," Lisa Rochman, dean of the School of Continuing Education, told Taproot. "Over the next two years, we're going to have more information about what this looks like."

Edmonton Public Schools recently celebrated its purchase of the Alberta College building, which it finalized in May for about $22 million following a lease agreement that began in 2019. Centre High students have been attending classes there since 2020, with the conservatory continuing to operate on the fourth and fifth levels.

The school board has given the conservatory until summer of 2025 to find a new home. Though MacEwan has made efforts to consolidate its offerings at its main campus in the past, Rochman said Allard Hall is a less-than-ideal home for the conservatory.

"It's a beautiful space, but it's not suited towards the way the conservatory runs with the individualized instructional model," she said. "I'm not a person who will ever say anything is completely off the table, but that is not the plan. We are in great talks with the Winspear and that is what we are looking forward to moving forward with."

Rochman said it's too soon to get into the specifics of how running the conservatory at the Winspear Centre would work, if it happens. The Winspear Expansion Project is still underway, and while discussions are ongoing, there aren't "a lot of firm details" yet, a representative of the Winspear Centre told Taproot in an email. The expansion is optimistically slated for late 2025, "contingent on a number of details," the spokesperson added.

Elizabeth Raycroft, a conservatory instructor, is disappointed by the department's impending eviction.

"I think it's a horrific shame that we lose a building that was purpose-built for music education," she said in an interview. "There has been, amongst teachers, a sadness, a distress that we weren't listened to and that we're not being given any really viable options."

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Headlines: Oct. 17, 2023

By Mariam Ibrahim

A large green box reads "SAND BOX IF EMPTY CALL 311."

Edmonton cuts community sandboxes to beef up other snow control measures

By Colin Gallant

The City of Edmonton's plan to reduce the number of community sandboxes from 770 to 100 over two years could dismay residents, say the hosts of Speaking Municipally.

"We've just lost 70, then to go from that to just 100 centralized sandboxes — that's quite the change," Mack Male said on Episode 237 of Taproot's civic affairs podcast. "At least we're getting some notice, but I think people are going to be pretty upset by that change."

The city announced on Oct. 12 that the number of public sandboxes will decrease from 770 to 700 this winter, then further decrease to 100 locations in the winter of 2024-2025. The sand is free for anyone to use to make icy sidewalks more passable.

"Changes are being made to the program over the next two winter seasons so that more resources can be dedicated to improving Snow and Ice Control service levels for Active Pathways, including bus stops and public amenities," the release reads. "The program will transition to fewer — but more centralized — sandboxes that are evenly distributed across neighbourhoods."

Male and co-host Troy Pavlek both noted that the decrease for 2024-2025 is dramatic. "There's a middle ground," Pavlek said. "There's an incremental way to do this."

The decision followed a call for public engagement in February that presented citizens with four options for the future of sandboxes: add more, maintain the status quo, replace community boxes with just eight larger bins, or reduce and redistribute the existing boxes.

"The two sort of neck-and-neck most popular options were reduce-and-centralize or status quo," Male said, noting that 35% opted for the status quo, with 33% choosing reduction and centralization.

The option the city is going with is expected to save $800,000, which will be reallocated to other forms of snow and ice control. Male opined that while this won't make a substantial difference, "every little bit helps."

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