The Pulse: Nov. 24, 2023

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

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  • 3°C: Mainly sunny. Wind up to 15 km/h. High plus 3. Wind chill minus 8 in the morning. UV index 1 or low. (forecast)
  • Blue: The High Level Bridge will be lit blue for World Antimicrobial Awareness Week. (details)
  • 1pm: The Edmonton Oilers (5-12-1) play the Washington Capitals (10-4-2) at Capital One Arena. (details)
  • 7pm, Nov. 26: The Oilers play the Anaheim Ducks (9-10-0) at Rogers Place. (details)

A large outdoor crowd gathered under holiday lights in an outdoor square.

Jasper Place builds 'symbiotic' community-business relationship

By Colin Gallant

A business association in Edmonton is testing whether building belonging can be good for both the community and the bottom line with a new micro-grant program that focuses on community resources, transforming existing assets, creating events, and launching pilot projects.

We Belong in Jasper Place is the creation of the Stony Plain Road Business Association and Lindsay Humber Consulting. The two built the concept after speaking with the Jasper Place community. The project has a total pot of $50,000 and is nearly ready to adjudicate grant proposals for up to $5,000 each.

"We feel that community development and economic development are conjoined," the business association's executive director Todd Janes told Taproot. "It can be a really great symbiotic relationship."

Janes has worked to make the project a reality since joining the business association in 2019. With the city winding down its revitalization programs for Jasper Place and Alberta Avenue, he felt there was a need to build a bridge between that and a new initiative for community development.

Janes and the interim executive director for the Alberta Avenue Business Association, along with other stakeholders from Alberta Avenue, all made their case at city hall. "They saw it was time to move on … We both went to city council and said 'We're not sure if you're really done,'" he said.

Jasper Place and Alberta Avenue are both designated as Extended Revitalization Support Neighbourhoods as part of their exit from the conventional revitalization program. For this transition, in 2022 Janes secured $270,000 in city program funding to spend on the future of Jasper Place over two years.

"We begrudgingly became the fiscal agent, because with public money, they wanted some type of established organization to administer and report back on how the money is spent," he said.

The business association hired Humber — a "community engagement consultant with a passion for participatory decision-making and capacity building," according her website — after signing the funding agreement. Humber helped lead community engagement with stakeholders, from residents and business owners to city employees and elected officials, primarily in the first half of 2023.

These discussions led to a focus on "belonging." A post-engagement document lays out that this word means different things to different people, but common themes include beauty, safety, knowing, place-making, and collective contributions.

"If we could look at amplifying belonging … our hypothesis would be that residents would be more engaged, they would care, meaning if we could explore that a bit more, then we were hoping that community capacity or safety, and community well-being and cleanliness, would be enhanced," Janes said.

Proposals for grants are due Nov. 26; the notification deadline is Dec. 12; successful applicants will have to make use of the funds between Jan. 1 and March 31, 2024, according to a page on the project's website. (Janes said the implementation timeline might not be set in stone, though.)

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Headlines: Nov. 24, 2023

By Kevin Holowack

  • Edmonton Transit Service will adopt winter service changes starting Dec. 3, including increased service during off-peak hours along popular routes. The Route 73 bus will continue to run along the Valley Line Southeast LRT route until February to give riders time to transition, and Routes 52, 53, 54, 55, and 56 will see increased frequency on weekdays and weekends to address growing demand. ETS will release information about holiday seasonal service adjustments in mid-December.
  • CBC News published an explainer on why Edmonton is facing a potential 7.09% property tax increase in 2024, which would be the biggest increase in recent years. Enid Slack, a municipal governance expert at the University of Toronto, noted Edmonton isn't the only city facing a steep tax increase due to inflation, with Calgary and Saskatoon looking at proposed 7.8% and 7.1% increases respectively. Coun. Keren Tang said she's skeptical about Edmonton bringing the increase down to 5%, adding "we're just trying to stay above the water" in the current economic climate.
  • Josh Mayers, an Edmonton man who volunteered to fight in Ukraine, is believed to have been killed in a drone strike on Nov. 10 near Bakhmut. Mayers worked as a paramedic with Alberta Health Services for nearly 10 years, and before that was a paramedic in rural Alberta. He is survived by his wife Cathryn Unverricht. Global Affairs Canada says nine Canadians have been killed in Ukraine since Russia's invasion in 2022.
  • The Candora Society of Edmonton, which offers community-based programming in the Beverly area, is giving students work experience while helping those in need through its new Auntie Bev's Frozen Meals program. The program was launched over the summer and provides home-cooked meals as an alternative to frozen meals from grocery stores. The organization's employment preparation program runs twice a year and enrols about 40 students per semester.
  • The Edmonton Elks created a committee to review its ownership structure in the face of mounting losses and a difficult financial situation. The team had a $3.3-million operating loss in 2022, the fourth straight year it ran a deficit, and has announced it will close the upper bowl at Commonwealth Stadium next season. Interim president and CEO Rick LeLacheur said new investment is needed for the team to run beyond 2024. The club, which has been community-owned since 1949, has attracted interest from potential private investors, but LeLacheur told them they'll "just have to wait."
  • The province announced it is banning photo radar on ring roads in Edmonton and Calgary starting Dec. 1 and will work with municipalities and law enforcement to remove all "fishing hole" locations across Alberta. The province also extended the cap on new photo radar equipment, programs, or locations until Dec. 1, 2024, as it consults with municipalities. Edmonton and Calgary will have the option to redeploy photo radar units from ring roads to schools, playgrounds, construction zones, and other high-risk areas. Anthony Henday Drive currently has 22 photo radar sites.
A person walking in a vast field with a cloudy sky.

Weekend agenda: Nov. 24-26, 2023

By Debbi Serafinchon

Events to put on your list this weekend include a flick by a local filmmaker, a much-loved art and craft fair, stuffing a bus with donations for the Edmonton Food Bank, seasonal fun on Ada Boulevard, and shopping at a vintage pop-up.

Find even more things to do in the Arts Roundup and the Food Roundup. And check out this weekend's holiday markets.

Photo: Hands That Bind director Kyle Armstrong and producer Blake McWilliam will speak to Taproot Edmonton's Colin Gallant after a screening at Metro Cinema. (Mongrel Media)