The Pulse: Jan. 30, 2024

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  • 7°C: Clearing late in the morning. Wind west 20 km/h gusting to 40. High 7. UV index 1 or low. (forecast)
  • Purple: The High Level Bridge will be lit purple for Eating Disorders Awareness Week. (details)

A photo from 2013 of the city hall council chambers, showing empty desks for councillors without glass partitions between them.

A council that can't meet adds to its to-do list

By Tim Querengesser

While security questions following the Jan. 23 shooting attack at city hall are obvious, the effects will be felt in other ways, too, co-hosts Mack Male and Troy Pavlek observed in Episode 248 of Speaking Municipally.

The cancellation of this week's committee meetings in the wake of the attack will create a "knock-on effect" that will add to the Items Due list the city keeps, which already runs to hundreds of items.

Pavlek said he expects city hall to remain closed for a significant period. One wrinkle, he added, is that city meetings currently require staff like clerks to be at the building to run them, even if councillors stay virtual. This nearly guarantees delays. "Because we're pushing some stuff (forward), the most important stuff will get routed through a general review," he said.

The result? Sorry, downtown pedestrianization plan, which is currently scheduled to be discussed on Feb. 9 and has already been rescheduled twice. Both hosts expect that meeting to get bumped, along with many others. "I mean, if they could reschedule the police funding formula three, four, or five times, what's another reschedule on a pedestrianization report," Male said.

The question of what city hall will be like in the future also interested Taproot's civic affairs podcast. Male observed that councillors have shared sentiments about wanting city hall to remain as open to the public as possible, while also being safe.

"(T)hey're going to have to try to find some kind of a balance between real safety improvements and security improvements, and that sort of accessible, open to the public, open to the community thing that is so great about city hall," Male said.

Another question that could come up is where to hold meetings at city hall. Male wondered if future committee meetings in the River Valley Room could be pushed to the main council chambers, as it already has metal detectors and far less direct access to councillors. "It would seem to me easier to secure one room rather than multiple rooms," he said.

Speaking Municipally also chimed in on the impending closure of the Edmonton Downtown Farmers' Market after an unsuccessful stint at 10305 97 St NW. Male said he is not surprised by the institution's demise.

"It's really sad that an organization, an institution in this city, that's been around for more than 120 years, is now facing bankruptcy and about to shut down," said Male, who noted that he decided to raise his family on 104 Street in part because of the market's presence there before it moved indoors. "I don't have a lot of sympathy for them … for the most part it was handed to them on a silver platter … and all the market did in that time was refuse to go back outside, talk only about the free parking … and exclude vendors because of competitive concerns."

Hear more about these issues as well as the single-use item bylaw, Oliver's new name, and some high-profile departures on the Jan. 26 episode.

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Headlines: Jan. 30, 2024

By Mariam Ibrahim

Three jars of honey each with a label that says Product of Canada

Bee Maid Honey finds sweet success in global exporting


The "Trade Heroes" series highlights Edmonton region companies who have 'EXPORT-itude' — the mindset and commitment to think globally when it comes to their business. It's brought to you by Edmonton Global.

Bee Maid Honey has been exporting honey abroad for more than four decades, transforming the organization from a local cooperative into a global ambassador of Canadian honey.

The company's approach to honey processing is simple: gently warming and filtering the honey, then packaging it for a diverse customer base that ranges from individual consumers to restaurants to large industrial clients.

CEO Guy Chartier said that while export currently accounts for about 15% of Bee Maid's business, there's significant potential for growth. The company currently exports its products to the United States, South Korea, and Japan, and it is making headway into China, too.

It is in Japan, where Canadian honey enjoys a prestigious reputation, that the company sees the most potential for growth. In Japan, honey is not just a sweetener for drinks but is also frequently used as a topping, such as on pizza, Chartier explained. Canadian honey tends to be lighter in colour, which is associated with higher quality in Japan, so that contributes to increased demand.

Bee Maid has adapted its products and marketing strategies accordingly, including a new package design for international customers.

Chartier said the company has benefited greatly from a long-time relationship with a broker in Japan, who has helped it navigate the complexities of the Japanese market.

"That's extremely important, to make sure you have somebody on the ground there that understands the regulations and can really help you with that," Chartier said. "Don't make any assumptions going into a country, because that could get you in a lot of trouble!"

The Alberta trade office in Tokyo has also been a valuable resource, Chartier added. Attending trade shows there has been helpful, too.

The main challenges the company has encountered along its export journey are logistical issues and fluctuating international demand, which has been affected by events like the COVID-19 pandemic. Chartier's advice to aspiring exporters is straightforward: Do thorough homework, understand the market, ensure financial safeguards are in place, and take advantage of government support.

To support more beekeepers and the future growth of the business, Bee Maid is in the midst of a $9-million expansion of its Spruce Grove facility. The additional 50,000-square-foot space is expected to be operational this summer. Chartier said the company hopes to explore new export markets thanks to the additional capacity.

Bee Maid's story is a sweet reminder that with the right approach, dedication, and understanding of global markets, local businesses can achieve international success.

Photo: Bee Maid recently launched a new package design for international customers. (Supplied)

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A title card that reads Taproot Edmonton Calendar:

Happenings: Jan. 30, 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.