The Pulse: Nov. 21, 2023

Here's what you need to know about Edmonton today.

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  • 11°C: Increasing cloudiness early in the morning. Wind becoming north 20 km/h late in the morning. High 11. (forecast)
  • Green/Gold: The High Level Bridge will be lit green and gold for University of Alberta Fall Convocation 2023. (details)
  • 3-5: The Edmonton Oilers lost to the Florida Panthers on Nov. 20. (details)

A woman with red hair poses in a long leather, crocodile-skin patterned trench coat and dark jeans.

Founder shifts from neuroscience to fashion

By Ashley Lavallee-Koenig

One of Edmonton's newest fashion brands comes from the mind of a founder who is finally doing what she wanted to do when she grew up, after detours into neuroscience and an internet-of-things tech startup.

Emma Doolin created GALLERIADELE after her previous pursuits left her unfulfilled and convinced her to chase her true passion.

"I learned that nobody knows what they're doing and everything is making stuff up, and I thought, 'I could also make stuff up and not know what I'm doing, but own the full company myself and actually potentially love what I'm doing,'" Doolin told Taproot. "That's kind of what inspired me to start my own fashion brand."

Doolin's heart has been with design since she graduated from high school. But after moving to Toronto, she opted to ignore fashion programs that called to her and enrolled in a psychology program at the University of Toronto.

"I was this close to wanting to go to fashion, but instead I went to U of T because I thought, 'You know what? I need to get a traditional career. What sort of careers are there in fashion?'"

Partway through her degree in Toronto, she returned to Edmonton and finished it at the University of Alberta. She went on to earn a PhD in neuroscience after completing a thesis focused on patient recovery from spinal cord injuries.

She briefly enrolled in a post-doctorate degree before switching gears to co-found Element 4 with her husband, Callum, and other business partners. Doolin took the role of chief operating officer at the startup, which manufactures battery-less devices that harness ambient energy and help power the industrial internet of things.

Doolin and her husband "forfeited their stock options" at Element 4 and parted ways with the company in 2022. "I didn't love technology either," Doolin said. "It was a fun experience and I learned a lot, but also it was not my passion or where my heart was."

Officially founded in 2022, GALLERIADELE went live in June 2023. Doolin said the brand offers "edgy, luxury wardrobe staples" that are ready to wear. The name (pronounced gallery-uh-day-luh) is a combination of "gallery" and the German pronunciation of Adele, one of Doolin's middle names.

GALLERIADELE had its first in-person showcase at the PARKLUXE 2023 Fashion Show in Calgary on Oct. 13. The event included a runway featuring designs from Holt Renfrew, Greta Constantine, UNTTLD, and Paul Hardy, in addition to the local vendor market.

"PARK invited me to have a booth there, and they've been so supportive," Doolin said. "That was the first time where I had my clothes out and people could come and feel the clothes, shop it."

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Headlines: Nov. 21, 2023

By Mariam Ibrahim

  • A CBC investigation into the safety record of TransEd, the consortium that built the $1.8-billion Valley Line Southeast LRT found that injury rates for project workers spiked to more than five times the industry average in 2020. While TransEd has not released its project-wide records publicly, it provided CBC with limited data showing 283 near miss incidents, 350 first aid incidents, 93 medical treatment cases, 14 lost workday cases, and 15 public safety incidents. In a statement, TransEd spokesperson Dallas Lindskoog said records "indicate that TransEd partner companies and all the subcontractors that work for them ... exceed OHS averages and industry norms." Workplace safety expert Christopher Coles said "a lack of transparency when it comes to health and safety statistics is concerning."
  • A CBC investigation revealed previously unreported problems contributing to the delayed opening of the Valley Line Southeast LRT, including poor quality construction, design errors, and safety violations. Some issues required some work to be removed and redone. TransEd, the consortium responsible for the project, said that most issues were typical for a major infrastructure project. The line, which was originally scheduled to open in December 2020, finally opened on Nov. 4 and has received positive feedback from commuters.
  • The Coalition for Justice and Human Rights is concerned that its proposed injunction against the city to prevent the dismantling of homeless encampments won't be heard in court until January. Organization president Sam Mason said forcing people out of encampments is harmful, and questioned whether it contributed to an increase in amputations last winter. "We are disappointed that the injunction hearing was scheduled for mid-January and another holiday season will pass while the city continues to regularly displace unsheltered people," Mason said. The city said in a statement that its approach "is compassionate and balances both the safety of the unhoused and the community at large." According to Homeward Trust, more than 3,000 people were experiencing homelessness in Edmonton as of early November.
  • Several Edmonton business groups released an open letter expressing concerns with the proposed 7.09% property tax increase as council prepares to debate the 2024 budget adjustment. The letter, released by the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce the Building Owners and Managers Association, the Urban Development Institute - Edmonton Metro, and NAIOP, urges city council to re-evaluate the budget and focus on maintaining core services. It also encourages council to consider using the unexpected $8-million EPCOR dividend to offset tax impacts. Chamber president Doug Griffiths said the city should "at least get back to the five per cent they originally proposed in the four-year-long budget."
  • The Edmonton Downtown Business Association hopes to attract shoppers downtown this holiday season with the Edmonton Downtown Gift Card, which is accepted at more than 50 local businesses. Association executive director Puneeta McBryan highlighted the importance of December sales for downtown businesses, many of which are still recovering from financial strains due to the pandemic. The gift card, which was first introduced last Christmas season, can be purchased and used at any time of year.
  • A record 33,400 international migrants came to Edmonton in 2022, which was triple the city's 20-year average, according to data from the Conference Board of Canada. The city's interprovincial migration also grew last year after six years of net losses, with more than 8,900 people arriving from other parts of Canada in 2022. The data also shows that economic forecasts for the city are positive, with strong growth in the oil and housing sectors. Employment also grew by 3.9% last year and was expected to increase by 3.5% in 2023.
  • Maclean's published a longform feature examining the history of self-styled spiritual leader John de Ruiter, who is facing eight counts of sexual assault against eight different women. His wife, Leigh Ann de Ruiter, faces six counts for allegedly facilitating the encounters. Both have pleaded not guilty. De Ruiter is the head of the College of Integrated Philosophy, which held regular meetings at the Oasis Centre in northwest Edmonton but has now moved to northern Alberta. The article explores how the case against de Ruiter reflects the broader issue of consent and spiritual leaders abusing their power for sexual control. The trial is expected to take place in late 2024 or early 2025.
  • Premier Danielle Smith said she supports the decision by the University of Alberta to fire the director of its Sexual Assault Centre, Samantha Pearson. The university made the decision after Pearson co-signed a letter to Canadian MPs that included a line calling accusations of sexual violence by Palestinians on Oct. 7 "unverified." U of A president Bill Flanagan said in a statement that Pearson's views don't represent those of the university, which has appointed an interim director for the centre.
  • Edmonton-born Lwal Uguak, a defensive lineman for the Montreal Alouettes, played a crucial role in his team's 28-24 victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at the 110th CFL Grey Cup in Hamilton on Nov. 19. Uguak, who was drafted seventh overall by the Alouettes in the 2023 CFL draft, made a significant tackle on Winnipeg's star running back Brady Oliveira, helping take Montreal to its first Grey Cup win in 13 years. "We knew we were going to take care of business, and now we're here as Grey Cup champs," Uguak said after the game.
Several people sit before a desk with microphones, facing toward Edmonton city council.

Hold me in abeyance: Your guide to budget terms and processes

By Tim Querengesser

City council is this week deliberating how to adjust Edmonton's four-year budget, which it passed in December 2022. Each spring and fall, council revisits this four-year budget to allow it to respond to any significant changes, such as shifts in legislation, economic conditions, unforeseen salary settlements, or even new projects and services council itself wants to add.

Edmonton creates budgets in four-year cycles. Each council, therefore, passes one budget and adjusts this budget each spring and fall. Edmonton's budgets are broken into four chunks: capital, operations, the waste services utility budget, and the Blatchford utility budget. Edmonton has added a carbon budget, too.

But do most Edmonton residents understand this process or the terms used during it? Could the average Edmonton resident, say, explain what it means to hold something in abeyance, what an unfunded service package is, or what a capital profile looks like? Rather than wonder, Taproot decided to explain the basics to help you understand a conversation that will shape your city.

  • Capital vs. operations: A capital budget is money that pays for the construction of new things. An operating budget pays for maintaining, operating, administering, or otherwise activating many capital investments. Take a library: To build it, we use the capital budget; to staff, maintain, clean, and make it safe, we use the operations budget.
  • Service packages: During adjustment debates, expect to hear about service packages. These are administration's costing of what adding or enhancing an existing operation would cost. Many city operations have money that flows in, known as revenues — think transit rider fees. The shortfall between revenues and expenses is referred to as the net operating requirement.
  • Capital profiles: If city administration suggests or responds to council direction to build something new, and this was budgeted inside the original four-year budget, council will debate it as a capital profile.
  • Funded vs. unfunded: Anything that council suggests we need as an additional capital project or operations enhancement — outside of the original four-year budget — comes to them during the adjustment as unfunded. This means council has not passed the money needed for the thing or service to proceed, and doing so will mean changes to the bottom line.
  • Hold in abeyance: You made it to the end! To hold something in abeyance is city-speak for pausing or suspending something until the next adjustment deliberation, or another agreed-upon trigger.

Photo: Members of city administration address city council during a meeting. (Mack Male/Flickr)

Three people cross a street in downtown Edmonton

Dallas reporters walk Edmonton for street safety tips

By Ashley Lavallee-Koenig

Reporters from Dallas, Texas, recently visited Edmonton to learn about the city's Vision Zero efforts and feature them as an example their city can learn from.

Dallas has the highest traffic death rate in the United States.

Taproot's city hall watchers discussed the Dallas coverage on Episode 242 of Speaking Municipally, pointing out that although Edmonton may not be where it aspires to be with Vision Zero, our progress may be better than we think.

"I think there's a fair amount of Dallas doing something wrong here, but there's also a fair amount of Edmonton doing something right," said co-host Troy Pavlek.

In 2022, Dallas reported 228 traffic-related deaths, while Edmonton reported 14. Both cities have comparable populations of just more than one million people.

"It's just a good reminder that there are big cities not that far away, like Dallas, that are far behind where Edmonton is," said co-host Mack Male. "For all the — maybe justified — criticism we levy at things that happen in our own city, it's not all that bad."

Edmonton adopted the Vision Zero program in 2015. Its goal is to decrease traffic fatalities in the city to zero. In 2021, traffic-related deaths had declined by 50% and severe injuries decreased by 32%, according to the 2021 Annual Report.

The city's traffic safety could see further changes on Dec. 1, when the province's four-year freeze on new photo-radar equipment and locations expires. The policy has been extended before, but the Alberta government has not yet announced what will happen this year.

In an article by CBC, Coun. Jo-Anne Wright of Ward Sspomitapi expressed concerns about enforcement not being allowed in zones with speed limits under 50km/h if the freeze is to lift, which Pavlek echoed.

"It is absurd that we can't enforce in exactly where we want to enforce in: where our children are playing, where kids are walking to school, where people are trying to live their lives in a calm, relaxing manner," Pavlek said.

Hear more about Edmonton's traffic safety stardom, snow removal expectations, and the potential consequences of an unsuccessful budget adjustment on the Nov. 17 episode of Speaking Municipally.

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