The Pulse: April 3, 2024

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  • 9°C: Mainly cloudy with 30% chance of showers early in the morning. Clearing in the morning. Wind becoming northwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 in the morning then light in the afternoon. High 9. UV index 3 or moderate. (forecast)
  • Teal: The High Level Bridge will be lit teal for Premenstrual Disorders Awareness Month 2024. (details)
  • 7:30pm: The Edmonton Oilers (45-23-5) play the Dallas Stars (47-19-9) at American Airlines Center. (details)

A work of public art that looks like a telephone sits left of a bench and in front of grass.

Edmonton's public art strategy moves past 1% solution

By Colin Gallant

Revised policies that the Edmonton Arts Council uses to procure public art for the city, which include changes to the funding formula and selection process, are being used for the upcoming 103A Avenue Pedway and three soccer centres.

What used to be called the Percent for Art program, created in 1991, was revised in 2021 as the Public Art to Enhance Edmonton's Public Realm

The revisions mean concrete changes for projects that will be completed in the future. "It's no longer based off of 1% per project," David Turnbull, public art director for EAC, told Taproot. "Ironically, though, the reserve fund is based off of the old Percent For Art (program)."

The policy changes mean EAC's public art reserve fund is $1.8 million per year for the 2023-2026 capital cycle. This is an estimate of 1% of the eligible costs from capital projects in Edmonton that are relevant to public art spending. Costs from capital projects that are not captured in this formula include spending in areas where art could not feasibly be installed or accessed by the public — such as LRT tracks or on the private-property portions of projects.

Turnbull said many misunderstood the former 1% figure, anyway. While one might imagine that 1% of the $31 million capital cost for the 103A Avenue Pedway means $310,000 for an artist to make a work for that pedway, that's never exactly how it worked. In the prior model, 1% of eligible costs from the capital project would cover the cost of the artwork's creation and installation, but also the EAC's costs to oversee the project — plus lifecycle management costs, care, conservation, and restoration.

Those overhead costs are part of the new model, too.

The request for qualifications for the 103A Avenue Pedway closed on March 25. The call listed an artist budget of $140,000, which is less than half of 1% of the $31 million project.

The revised rules for public art in Edmonton also call for a qualitative measurement of an artwork's reach when budgeting projects, rather than rigid calculations.

"We have to take a look, on a case by case basis, at what is going to give the most impact for the citizens and workers and for visitors to the city," Turnbull said. "Does that mean that we throw a whole bunch of money at one project versus another? No. It means that we need to sit down, and we need to look at the value that these projects bring to the citizens."

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Headlines: April 3, 2024

By Mariam Ibrahim

  • Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi wrote a letter to Premier Danielle Smith calling on the Alberta government to reverse funding cuts the province has made over the past several years. "Provincial cuts and downloading impact every municipality in Alberta," Sohi wrote in the letter released publicly on April 2. It outlines nine ways the province could help the city with its finances, including fully funding emergency medical services and restoring the city's share of automated enforcement fine revenue. The mayor's appeal comes amid concerns from the province about the city's financial management, with Smith saying last week the province is on standby to help if asked.
  • The City of Edmonton has chosen Capital Line Design-Builders, a collaboration between Ledcor and AECOM, as the preferred bidder to design and build Phase 1 of the Capital Line South Extension, which will extend from Century Park to just north of Ellerslie Road. The city will now begin negotiations with the preferred bidder, with a goal of awarding the contract by the end of May. This phase includes extending the LRT to the Heritage Valley Park and Ride, introducing an underpass at 23 Avenue and 111 Street, two new bridges, and two new stations. Construction of the 4.5-kilometre extension is expected to start later this year and last about four or five years, followed by testing and commissioning.
  • Edmonton's luxury real estate market has seen a 32% increase in sales of homes over the $1 million mark in the first two months of 2024 compared to the same period last year, according to a new report from RE/MAX Canada. The surge in activity is attributed to both local buyers and those moving from Ontario and British Columbia, with detached homes priced between $1 million and $1.5 million the most popular. The growth is part of a nationwide trend of increased luxury home sales.
  • An 11-year-old boy died in a dog attack at a residence in south Edmonton on April 1. Police said the boy was attacked by two dogs just before 8pm, and despite efforts to save him, he died at the scene. The dogs, believed to belong to someone living at the residence the boy was visiting, were seized by Animal Control. The city confirmed that Animal Control peace officers had responded to two other attack complaints at the same residence this year.
  • Charge Solar, a solar power and battery storage supplier, has expanded its operations in Edmonton with the opening of a new 11,000-square-foot facility. The warehouse, located at 5252 75 Street, will help Charge Solar increase its capacity to meet the demand for renewable energy solutions in Western Canada, the company said in a release. It officially opened on March 1.
  • The Alberta government announced the creation of two new organizations, Recovery Alberta and the Canadian Centre of Recovery Excellence (CoRE), to manage mental health and addiction services, as part of its plan to restructure Alberta Health Services. Recovery Alberta will take over service delivery from AHS by July 1, while CoRE, a Crown corporation, will focus on building recovery-oriented systems, with an initial operating budget of $5 million. The Alberta NDP has criticized the reorganization as "chaotic and expensive," while the president of the United Nurses of Alberta called the changes confusing for nurses who will be impacted. Legislation to establish both new organizations will be introduced this spring.
A photo of an old newspaper. The headline reads, "Early Pioneer of Edmonton Is Dead"

A moment in history: April 3, 1922

By Scott Lilwall

On this day in 1922, the funeral for one member of an Edmonton mining power couple was being planned.

William Humberstone was more seasoned than most settlers who sought opportunity in Edmonton in the late 19th century. He was already 44 when he decided to hitch an ox to his cart and make the three-month journey from Winnipeg. After he arrived in 1880, Humberstone quickly built a way to make money, by harvesting coal from a simple mine in the river valley. Humberstone made his first coal delivery to Fort Edmonton later that year, using the same cart he arrived with (potentially pulled by the same ox). This was the start of a long, lucrative relationship with the Hudson's Bay Company.

The year 1899 proved to be a rollercoaster for Humberstone, though. He married his wife, Beata, who was 20 years younger. But the newlyweds soon had to deal with flooding on the North Saskatchewan River, which swept away many buildings in the river valley — including the couple's mine, some of their other businesses, and even their home.

The Humberstones weren't finished. Instead of rebuilding in the same spot, the pair moved their operation to the Clover Bar coal seam east of Edmonton. The Humberstone Coal Company, as well as other mines in the area, attracted mine workers to live nearby. This small community eventually grew into the town of Beverly, which was amalgamated with Edmonton in 1961.

In addition to the mine, the Humberstones built a farm, where they grew food to feed both mine workers and the horses the company used. Beata apparently grew chunky cabbages, too.

William fell ill in the mid-1910s and could no longer handle running the business, so he transferred operations to Beata. A woman in charge of a large coal mine was quite rare at the time, but the company flourished under Beata's management. Indeed, she reorganized the company, recruited new talent, and embraced new mining technology, resulting in extensive growth and higher productivity. By 1918, the Humberstone Coal Company employed around 200 miners.

William died in April 1922 at the age of 86. Beata returned to Germany, where she died roughly four years later. The coal company would continue to be run by the couple's former business partners, but it was closed during the Great Depression in the 1930s. The site of the mine was used as a landfill, and a septic system, before it was cleaned up and renamed Rundle Park.

Coal mining was a major part of early Edmonton's economy. It has left a lasting legacy, including a maze of collapsed tunnels that remain underneath parts of the city. Coal has played a big part in producing Alberta's energy, too, but that's changing. Due to its high carbon emissions and the environmental damage that mining can cause, coal has fallen out of favour. Last month, Alberta's electrical grid went 11 hours without drawing energy from coal-powered plants for the first time in decades. For the past two years, renewable energy has provided more electricity to the province's grid than coal.

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: April 3, 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.