The Pulse: Jan. 9, 2024

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

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  • -12°C: Cloudy. 30% chance of flurries early in the morning. Snow beginning in the morning. Amount 5 to 10 cm. Wind up to 15 km/h. High minus 12. Wind chill minus 23 in the morning and minus 18 in the afternoon. (forecast)
  • 6:30pm: The Edmonton Oilers (20-15-1) play the Chicago Blackhawks (12-26-2) at the United Center. (details)

Three men smile and stand next to each other in matching black jeans and white t-shirts that say "elev".

Elev builds student housing hub

By Ashley Lavallee-Koenig

As housing becomes ever more precarious for post-secondary students, startup Elev is building a platform that seeks to make them more attractive to landlords in order to encourage more matches between the two.

"As a student, when you are in the general market for housing, there are many characteristics that prevent you from competing against other people that are in the market," co-founder and COO Jean Bruce Koua told Taproot. "For example, as a student, you are expected to have a credit score or credit history, payroll/pay stub … which many students don't have."

The Elev platform allows students to browse rentals that range from whole apartments to shared accommodations with other roommates, as well as to book viewings, apply for and sign a lease, find a roommate, and pay for rent. For landlords, which Elev refers to as hosts, the platform allows a place to advertise an offering and describe its essentials, as well as to set their availability for showings, manage applications and maintenance requests, and receive payments.

Elev acts as a middleman and charges from both sides. On the student side, it adds 2-4% to a unit's base rent to the fee it advertises to prospective tenants and collects this from the monthly payment. On the host side, Elev takes 1% of the base rent from a host's revenue.

Elev aims to offer value for these charges with protective features. For landlords, it recently added a guarantee that rent will arrive on time even if a student falls behind paying it. Elev also covers a student's rent for 45 days if they break a lease, and works to find a host a replacement tenant.

A similar insurance feature is currently in beta testing to help students with rent when they hit income delays. It helped platform users who experienced delays to their student loans in the fall semester.

"The vision for Elev is that no students in Canada, and eventually across the world, ever has to worry about finding housing and living off campus," Koua said. "And so that's sort of our mission — making sure that every student has a door and a place to stay while they're attending university."

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Headlines: Jan. 9, 2024

By Mariam Ibrahim

  • The city activated its extreme weather response on Jan. 8 as severe cold hit Edmonton. The response, which is set to last until Jan. 18, includes a third bus for the Winter Shelter Shuttle Service, 50 temporary shelter spaces at the Al Rashid Mosque, and expanded day services at social services agencies, including the Bissell Centre and Boyle Street Community Services. Residents are urged to be aware of hypothermia signs and encouraged to call emergency services if they see someone in distress outdoors. Agencies are accepting donations of warm clothing and money. More information is available through Homeward Trust.
  • Members of the Edmonton Police Service and city crews suspended the tear down of the eighth encampment site identified for removal. Jim Gurnett of the Edmonton Coalition on Housing and Homelessness told Postmedia he suspected the removal was stopped because the city activated its extreme weather response, which happens when temperatures hit -20°C. A spokesperson for the city couldn't confirm when the encampment would be closed, but said the city is following the requirements established in a court order issued in December.
  • The Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society is urgently requesting Edmontonians to foster dogs and puppies as it experiences a critical capacity issue that is being worsened because of the sudden drop in temperatures. Director Rachel Cote said the organization is anticipating an increase in rescue calls to save animals from the cold as conditions are expected to hit -40°C wind chill on Jan. 12 and 13. Cote said prospective foster families can apply through the organization's website and will be provided with necessary supplies.
  • Edmonton recorded an unusually low snowfall in 2023, with the Edmonton International Airport recording just 36.8cm, the lowest snowfall since 1981 and significantly lower than the yearly average of 120cm, according to data compiled by the Edmonton Weather Nerdery blog. The city saw its last snowfall of the spring on April 11, which was earlier than usual, and the first snowfall of the fall on Oct. 23, which was typical. Compared to other Canadian cities, Edmonton's snowfall was one of the lowest, with Ottawa and St. John's receiving the highest accumulations at 260cm and 363cm, respectively.
  • Edmonton Oilers General Manager Ken Holland said the team is still determining its approach for the upcoming trade deadline on March 8, praising the chemistry and recent performance of goaltenders Stuart Skinner and Calvin Pickard. Despite Jack Campbell's struggles and subsequent reassignment to the AHL's Bakersfield Condors, Holland said decisions regarding any roster changes will be made closer to the deadline. The Oilers, currently holding the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference with a 20-15-1 record, are experiencing a resurgence after a rough start to the season.
  • Sports writer Allan Mitchell ranked Edmonton Oilers General Manager Ken Holland's top 10 defining moments in a piece for The Athletic as Holland's tenure with the team approaches its end. Among the moves highlighted were Holland's successful free-agent signings, including signing Zach Hyman, who has become a top performer, and the acquisition of Mattias Ekholm, who has improved the team's defence. The piece also examined Holland's less successful trades, such as the controversial acquisition of Duncan Keith and the signing of goaltender Jack Campbell, who have not met expectations and strained the team's salary cap.
  • The Edmonton Elks have signed McLeod Bethel-Thompson as the team's starting quarterback, a move head coach Chris Jones says will strengthen the team's position for 2024 and beyond. Jones said the team still has plans for quarterback Tre Ford, who helped the Elks turn around a losing streak last season. Bethel-Thompson, a two-time Grey Cup winner and former Toronto Argonaut, said he wants to work closely with Ford to develop his skills further, emphasizing the importance of creating a solid play-by-play approach to complement Ford's natural talent.
A title card that reads Taproot Edmonton Calendar:

Happenings: Jan. 9, 2024

By Debbi Serafinchon

Here are some events happening today in the Edmonton area.

And here are some upcoming events to keep in mind:

Visit the beta version of the Taproot Edmonton Calendar for many more events in the Edmonton region.