The Pulse: March 27, 2024

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  • 10°C: Mainly sunny. Increasing cloudiness in the afternoon then 30% chance of showers late in the afternoon. Wind up to 15 km/h. High 10. Wind chill minus 11 in the morning. UV index 3 or moderate. (forecast)
  • 4-3: The Edmonton Oilers (43-23-4) defeated the Winnipeg Jets (44-22-6) in overtime on March 26. (details)

A bicycle is locked with other bicycles at a bike rack on a street in Edmonton.

City invests in better bike parking at schools, but reaching it remains tough

By Tim Querengesser

The City of Edmonton has set aside $75,000 for schools and other organizations to improve bike parking, but some cyclists suggest challenges remain to feel safe riding to those new spots.

"This project is one of many initiatives underway to support improved end-of-trip facilities for cycling," Shewkar Ibrahim, the city's director of traffic operations for parks and road services, told Taproot in an email.

Ibrahim said consultation with Edmonton Public Schools, Edmonton Catholic Schools, and other organizations informed the new program, and that it will complement new zoning regulations that came into force in January, which regulate how bike parking must be built.

"The feedback received indicated that bike theft prevents some students from riding to school and many schools do not have funding to buy bike racks, so this program was designed to address those concerns," Ibrahim said. "We will monitor and modify the program based on feedback as well as the number of applications that we receive."

The new program will see the city award grants of $500 to $15,000 to schools and organizations to improve bike parking, as well as to widen, improve, or build pathways. Ibrahim said the city's overall budget for bike parking is $1 million, pulled directly from the $100 million city council agreed to invest in active transportation in 2022.

While Treena Gish and her teenage daughter are the perfect target market for the new program, Gish said improved parking will alleviate only one of several challenges affecting her daughter's ability to bike from their home in King Edward Park to a high school in Queen Alexandra, starting in September.

On a recent test ride to help her daughter build confidence to ride to school (saving time over using transit), Gish noted there were racks at the school, "but they weren't in particularly good shape," she said. There were also signs that warned people to lock both bike wheels to the frame, which Gish said signals theft will be an ever-present concern. "If you're worried if your bike is going to get stolen, you won't ride to school."

But Gish said the larger challenge for her family is not bike parking at the school — it's the trip one must take to get to it. Indeed, though a large portion of the route is in dedicated and protected lanes, the test ride revealed that drivers often ignore signage and other cues. One even drove westbound in the bike lane as Gish and her family cycled eastbound in front of the Old Strathcona Farmers' Market.

"They just came straight through and right towards us on the bike lane," Gish said. "They weren't going particularly fast, but they were clearly right on the lane. I was in front. I waved at them. The driver turned onto the road, then they were going the wrong direction because (83 Avenue) is a one-way street. My kids were freaked out. My daughter said, 'If I was by myself, that car would have hit me.'"

Gish said the experience was a lesson in what's possible with infrastructure and what still needs to be done with habits. "At some point, you can't engineer out every bad driver," she said. "It's like squeezing bike lanes into areas designed for cars. It's not bike-first."

In February, Taproot reported that the city will build 10 bike routes in 2024 as part of the $100 million investment, but these routes will cover just 17 kilometres. The Bike Plan calls for hundreds more kilometres of protected lanes for cyclists to help reach the City Plan's goal to see half of all trips made by transit or active transportation.

Photo: The city has launched a new program to build better bike parking at schools. (City of Edmonton)


Headlines: March 27, 2024

By Mariam Ibrahim

  • The Alberta government said the navigation and support centre it opened in downtown Edmonton has had successful results and will become permanent, with plans to expand the model to Calgary in the future. The province said the centre has seen more than 700 people, leading to more than 2,550 referrals for services, including more than 500 connections to shelter and housing programs. The province opened the centre in January as the City of Edmonton and Edmonton Police Service intensified efforts to remove homeless encampments around the city.
  • Revitalization efforts in The Quarters community in Edmonton are facing challenges due to vacant lots, crime, and a need for significant investment. City officials say the area needs to attract more people, with a plan to increase the current population from 2,400 residents to about 20,000 once fully developed. However, the pandemic and competition from other neighbourhoods with more amenities is hindering efforts. The city is exploring ways to simplify the area's zoning and is in talks with non-profits in an effort to develop vacant lots.
  • While Edmonton city manager Andre Corbould made the decision to resign his position, the decision was supported by council, Postmedia reported, citing sources at city hall. One source said Corbould and council were not a good fit and another said that he made the decision to leave after growing frustrated with council "flip-flopping" on policy. His departure comes after a period of growing tensions and a series of crises, including large tax increases, contentious homeless encampment clearings, and the recent attack at city hall. His was the latest in a series of high-profile departures from the city. Corbould's last day on the job is April 3.
  • Edmonton-Whitemud MLA Rakhi Pancholi has withdrawn from the Alberta NDP leadership race and endorsed former Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi for the position. In a message posted online, Pancholi highlighted Nenshi's success in doubling the party's membership in a week. She is expected to take on a formal role in the Nenshi campaign. The Alberta NDP will select its new leader on June 22.
  • Kurt Edward Roy, a former volunteer at Les Bouts d'Choux, a non-profit French immersion preschool in Mill Woods, has been sentenced to 18 months in jail for embezzling more than $160,000 between 2012 and 2015. His actions led to significant financial strain on the preschool, resulting in reduced enrolment and the scaling back of specialized programs and activities for the children. "Mr. Roy was a part of the community, making his betrayal all the more shocking and painful," Justice Steven Mandziuk wrote in his decision.
  • Edmonton's local Girl Guides club collected more than 4,000 kilograms of food for Edmonton's Food Bank during its annual "Hike for Plenty" food drive. The fundraiser teaches Girl Guides about the importance of helping those in need, with this year's drive significantly helping to increase the food bank's dwindling supplies.
A newspaper clipping that reads "Geologists Seeks Persons Who Witnessed Meteorite"

A moment in history: March 27, 1965

By Scott Lilwall

On this day in 1965, an Edmonton geologist was on the hunt for a missing meteorite.

L.A. Bayrock had quite a task ahead of him. Only a handful of people had witnessed the meteorite blaze across the sky just after 2:30am a few nights before. One of the few to see it was a trucker on a late-night route, who claimed the meteor was so bright it overpowered his vehicle's headlights. Based on this account and others, Bayrock believed the space rock landed northeast of Edmonton and likely split into tiny pieces, reducing the chances of anyone spotting it in the snow.

It's difficult to determine if Bayrock ever found this particular meteorite. But, whether he did or didn't, the 1960s nonetheless proved to be an extremely meteorite-rich decade for Alberta. Seven separate meteorites were recovered in the province between 1960 and 1967. Three of them were discovered shortly after impact, and the other four were discovered from earlier falls. (For comparison, 88 official meteorites have been recovered in all of Canada, according to the International Society for Meteorites and Planetary Science.)

The missing meteorite wasn't even the only one Bayrock was tracking in 1965. He was part of a team that traced the path of a meteorite that passed over Edmonton and crashed near Revelstoke, British Columbia, just a week later on March 31.

Previously, Bayrock had also helped track down a grey chondrite meteorite found at a farm outside Peace River, roughly 500 kilometres northwest of Edmonton, in 1963. He also played a part in what is likely the most famous space rock to land in the Edmonton region. On the morning of March 4, 1960, a massive meteorite streaked over B.C. and Alberta, before an explosive landing outside Bruderheim, roughly 50 kilometres northeast of Edmonton. The impact reportedly rattled windows and shook people awake. Over the course of its flight, the meteorite showered the area with fragments. Afterward, dozens of people scoured the snow to collect the remains. In the end, more than 700 fragments were recovered, weighing more than 660 pounds. This set the record for the most pieces recovered from a single meteorite in Canada. That record was only broken in 2009, by another Alberta meteorite.

The Bruderheim meteorite's fragments may have been spread over the Edmonton area, but they've traveled even further over the past 60 years. The rock was the start of the meteorite collection at the University of Alberta, which is now the largest university-based collection in Canada. Samples from the Bruderheim meteorite have been donated or traded to other museums and scientific institutions, including the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Cambridge University, and the Vatican Meteorite Collection.

But it is more than just an interesting-looking rock. The Bruderheim meteorite is potentially 4.6 billion years old, and research on the fragments has led to a better understanding of space radiation, as well as potential insights into the birth of our solar system.

Alberta isn't quite the target for extraterrestrial bombardment that it was in the 1960s. In December, a Mill Woods man found a tiny chunk of meteorite in his rain gutter, the first fall witnessed in Alberta since 1977.

Another of Alberta's meteorite falls was in the news recently. Manitou Asinîy, also known as the Manitou Stone, is an ancient 145-kilogram meteorite that fell in southern Alberta a very long time ago. It has held spiritual significance for several Indigenous communities and served as a gathering place — at least until it was dug up and carted off by one of Edmonton's earliest settlers. It currently is on display at the Royal Alberta Museum in downtown Edmonton. Two years ago, the Alberta government agreed to return the stone to the land, but as Taproot recently reported, that process continues.

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: March 27, 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.