The Pulse: Jan. 10, 2024

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

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  • -21°C: A mix of sun and cloud with 60% chance of flurries. Wind up to 15 km/h. Temperature falling to minus 24 in the afternoon. Wind chill minus 27 in the morning and minus 32 in the afternoon. Risk of frostbite. (forecast)
  • Blue/Red: The High Level Bridge will be lit blue and red for the 60th Anniversary of Quikcard Edmonton Minor Hockey Week. (details)
  • 2-1: The Edmonton Oilers (21-15-1) defeated the Chicago Blackhawks (12-27-2) on Jan. 9. It was the team's eighth straight win. (details)

A picture of an Edmonton Transit Service ticket machine. The screen says "Press any button to START".

MovEd targets inefficient public services with hackathon

By Stephanie Swensrude

When Mykola Holovetskyi tried to board an Edmonton Transit Service bus for the first time, the recent newcomer from Ukraine didn't have cash or an Arc card but instead only his credit card on his phone. What happened next prompted a big idea.

"I thought, 'OK, probably they have tap-to-pay or something like that; I could probably use my credit card to pay,'" Holovetskyi told Taproot. "But unfortunately, no, I couldn't do that. I had to buy either a paper ticket or get myself a plastic card. This is a significant gap in the adoption of modern technology, so I wanted to bring a change to that."

The experience gave the founder of startup community MovEd the idea to hold a govtech hackathon that targets transforming some of these anachronisms into processes that work for more people.

Why do you have to call Edmonton's Dedicated Accessible Transit Service to add a new destination, and why isn't there real-time tracking for users to see where their bus is during the pickup window? Why does the Canadian Revenue Agency still send security codes through snail mail? Could innovation improve Alberta's emergency alert test system?

Holovetskyi, a tech entrepreneur who specializes in digital transformation for both the private and public, has planned the govtech hackathon for March to address these problems. All challenges are on the table. "We plan to tackle all the levels of government," he said.

And any innovations created could be used in Alberta or other jurisdictions across the country, Holovetskyi said. "If they can improve services here, they can improve services somewhere else."

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Headlines: Jan. 10, 2024

By Mariam Ibrahim

Newspaper clipping showing a story from 1891 with a headline that reads, "Annual School Meeting."

A moment in history: Jan. 10, 1891

By Scott Lilwall

On this day in 1891, Edmonton's first school board considered if it needed a new school for the growing settlement.

Up until the 1880s, Edmonton had a population of just more than 250 people and no real public or private education options. In 1881, residents pooled funds to build a schoolhouse on land donated by the Hudson's Bay Company, and also elected school trustees. The one-room school was opened the next year in the river valley, becoming Alberta's first free public school.

When class wasn't in session, the schoolhouse moonlighted as a meeting hall and, occasionally, a courthouse.

In 1885, residents formed the Edmonton school district, a first for both the community and what would become the province. The district had the power to use taxes to fund the school. Three years later, the Edmonton Catholic School Board formed, teaching out of St. Joachim's Roman Catholic Church.

In 1891, the school chairman issued a report. By that time Edmonton had expanded, and the small wooden schoolhouse could not handle the number of students hoping to attend despite several additions built over the years. The report addressed calls to construct a building that could provide a place for "good high scooo(sic) training.". While the 1891 report concluded the time was not right to build such a school, that decision would not last long.

In 1895, College Avenue School was built on Macdonald Drive. The four-room building was the first of many brick schools built in Edmonton over the coming decades, and taught both elementary and high school students. The school's principal, Ken W. Mackenzie, later became the first mayor of the City of Edmonton (prior to 1904, Edmonton was a town.)

The early 1900s saw Edmonton grow rapidly, and thus the need for more space for students. In 1902, both Queen's Avenue School on 104 Avenue and Grandin Street School on 101 Street were built.

The original 1881 schoolhouse continued hosting students until 1904 when it was retired. MacKay School was built on the lot adjacent to the original site in a ceremony that reflected Edmonton's new status as a city. The original schoolhouse was relocated and converted into a residence. But a century after it opened, in 1981 the 1881 schoolhouse was restored to its original location. There it remains as a monument to the origins of public education in Alberta.

Public education is quite different in Edmonton today. What was once a handful of schools has grown to be hundreds spread across the city. But some pressures have not changed, including the need to keep up with a growing population. Both Edmonton's public and Catholic school districts have seen heavy spikes in the number of students during 2023, prompting calls for new schools to be built and increased funding.

This clipping was found on Vintage Edmonton, a daily look at Edmonton's history from armchair archivist @revRecluse of @VintageEdmonton.

A title card that reads Taproot Edmonton Calendar:

Happenings: Jan. 10, 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.