The Pulse: April 24, 2024

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  • 19°C: Increasing cloudiness in the morning. Wind becoming west 20 km/h in the afternoon. High 19. UV index 4 or moderate. (forecast)
  • Green: The High Level Bridge will be lit green for National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week. (details)
  • 8pm: The Edmonton Oilers play the Los Angeles Kings at Rogers Place for Game 2 of the NHL playoffs. (details)

Smoky skies in downtown Edmonton.

Is your neighbourhood vulnerable to climate change? New research provides answers

By Stephanie Swensrude

University of Alberta researchers have used public data to create a set of maps that illustrate the Edmonton neighbourhoods where residents are most vulnerable to negative health outcomes caused by climate change.

The team found that much of the city's south and west have more people who hail from vulnerable demographics, more exposure to pollution and extreme weather, and less natural protection. Added up, these factors make residents in these areas more vulnerable than others in the city.

"These maps aren't meant to stigmatize any particular areas — just because you might live in an area with higher vulnerability, we're not saying you need to move," said Sammy Lowe, the research lead of the university's Climate, Health, and Environment Epidemiology Research lab. The levels of vulnerability between the neighbourhoods are all relative to each other, he explained. "Edmonton, in general, is actually doing pretty well in the grand scheme of things in terms of climate health vulnerability. So even though some of these areas are a bit worse, they're not necessarily doing terribly."

The researchers determined that the city areas and residents least vulnerable to climate change are around the university, downtown, Oliver (soon to be wîhkwêntôwin), Bonnie Doon, North Glenora, Spruce Avenue, Beverly, and Mill Woods Town Centre.

The lab's goal is to guide governments to spend money strategically in areas where it will make the most difference and on projects that make the most sense for a neighbourhood.

When determining how vulnerable a neighbourhood is, the lab takes three domains into account: its risk of experiencing pollutants and extreme weather (exposure), its features that can mitigate those consequences of climate change (adaptability), and socioeconomic and demographic traits that can make its residents more susceptible (sensitivity). Those three factors combine to indicate a neighbourhood's vulnerability.

Taproot took a closer look at what specifically makes neighbourhoods more or less vulnerable and what can be done to help mitigate health problems from climate change.

Continue reading

Headlines: April 24, 2024

By Mariam Ibrahim

  • Redevelopment plans for Hangar 11 in Edmonton's Blatchford area are in question after a massive fire destroyed the historic Second World War-era structure on the evening of April 22. The Edmonton Police Service says the fire, which broke out around 7pm and quickly engulfed the white wooden structure, is being investigated as suspicious. NAIT temporarily closed its main campus due to poor air quality from the smoke. The hangar was intended to be the centrepiece of a $40 million mixed-use development that would include student housing and commercial space, accommodating about 250 people. Its future is now uncertain, said Hangar 11 project founder Tim Antoniuk.
  • Edmonton city councillors debated a potential 8.7% property tax increase during a meeting on April 23 that ran late into the evening. Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said that while he hopes to find areas to reduce spending in the operating budget, several factors are putting pressure on the City's finances, including inflation, higher labour costs, lower provincial funding, and previous underinvestment in key municipal services. "We can probably reduce property taxes to Edmontonians if the province is stepping up," said Sohi, who is working on setting up a meeting with the provincial municipal affairs minister.
  • Ward Anirniq Coun. Erin Rutherford published an op-ed in Postmedia discussing the role of Edmonton's city council in managing the financial health of the City. Rutherford wrote that while keeping taxes low is politically popular, it can be detrimental to the long-term viability of a city. "When we don't address growth and inflation, we are digging ourselves a knowingly bigger hole and not effectively using our resources because they are spread too thin," Rutherford wrote.
  • Edmonton city council has approved the construction of two new supportive housing sites in Garneau and Canora, which will provide nearly 100 homes by 2026 for residents at risk of homelessness. The Garneau site will have 34 units, while the Canora site will have 63. Both will also have barrier-free suites for people with disabilities. The projects, funded by the city's affordable housing budget and additional funds from the Alberta Affordable Housing Partnership Program, will be managed by Homeward Trust upon completion.
  • Demand for retail space in Edmonton is increasing even as retail sales slow, according to the latest Edmonton Retail Insight report from real estate firm JLL. Demand is outpacing supply, the report says, with major international and national retailers like Nike, Uniqlo, and Moncler expanding in Edmonton. The growth in the city's retail market is supported by factors such as population growth, the oil and gas industry, and government employment.
  • Empty seats were visible in Rogers Place on April 22 as the Edmonton Oilers faced off against the Los Angeles Kings in Game 1 of the NHL playoffs. Despite an announced sellout, about 180 tickets were still available just before the game started. The unsold seats were largely due to returned holds from the Kings and the NHL. With ticket prices higher than last year, some fans are choosing to skip early-round games, with more than 275 seats unsold for Game 2 and a significant number available on the resale market.
  • Edmonton Oilers forward Adam Henrique, who was recently acquired from the Anaheim Ducks, scored a pivotal goal during the team's game against Los Angeles Kings on April 22, ending his playoff goal drought, which was the longest in NHL history at 4,333 days. His last playoff goal was in Game 4 of the 2012 Stanley Cup finals.
  • Fort Edmonton Park is celebrating its 50th anniversary this season. The park, which opened on May 17, 1974, is known for its immersive cultural heritage programs, including the Indigenous Peoples Experience, paranormal tours, and the historic Capitol Theatre. As part of the celebrations, the park is encouraging Edmontonians to share their memories on social media using the hashtag #FORTED50, and will give away 50 family passes during the anniversary weekend in May.
  • Liz O'Neill, the long-serving executive director of Boys & Girls Clubs Big Brothers Big Sisters of Edmonton & Area has announced her retirement effective Aug. 31, after a 45-year tenure. Under her leadership, the organization grew substantially, expanding its services and reaching more than 3,900 children and youth. Kerry Woodland and Kim Collister will take over as new co-executive directors effective July 1, the organization's board of directors said.
  • The Alberta government is considering allowing alcohol sales in grocery and corner stores, a move that has sparked concern among local liquor store owners. Service Alberta Minister Dale Nally said a panel of MLAs is exploring the idea, but no decisions have been made as the government is still reviewing feedback from industry groups and advocacy organizations. The Alberta Liquor Store Association and other industry representatives say increased competition from the change could harm locally owned small businesses.
A newspaper clipping that reads, "Appearing Nightly, Mayfair Hotel, Lounge & Mayfair Room"

A moment in history: April 24, 1971


On this day in 1971, one of Edmonton's nightlife hotspots was advertising live music.

The ad from the Mayfair Hotel promised nightly performances from Family Portrait at the hotel lounge, limply describing the band as "one of Canada's strongest vocal groups.". History seems to have forgotten what became of Family Portrait. The dramatic fate of the Mayfair Hotel is better known.

The Mayfair opened in 1955 on the corner of Jasper Avenue and 109 Street to a lot of, well, fanfare. The five-storey building had 144 rooms and cost about $1.6 million to construct. It offered amenities that people would expect for a modern hotel of the era, including hi-fi radios, a dining room, and fire-resistant construction (read on for more about that later). But the hotel's real claim to fame was being the first hotel in Canada to have underground parking for its guests. The "drive-in hotel" had space for 50 cars and boasted a heated ramp to deal with Edmonton winters — luxuries that featured heavily in the Mayfair's advertisements.

The hotel also opened with two lounges, separating men and women patrons. At the time, Alberta's liquor laws forbid men and women from drinking in the same establishment. It would be a couple more years before this law was rescinded in Edmonton, Calgary, and a few other cities. The restriction wasn't lifted until 1967 across the whole province.

Sometime after that, the Mayfair combined its two lounges into a single one, now open to both men and women. The hotel soon became a staple of the city's nightlife, hosting live music and performances.

That lounge also became a gathering place for members of Edmonton's LGBTQ+ community. It, along with other downtown hotels like the King Edward and the Royal George, were known for being safer places for gay and lesbian patrons. Not that the LGBTQ+ community was welcomed with open arms — people were expected to be discreet and often entered through the back door to specific tables. But, it was different from the open hostility and refusal that the LGBTQ+ community faced at other bars in the city. The unspoken relationship between the hotel and the community would continue until gay and lesbian bars opened, allowing gay and lesbian Edmontonians to gather more openly.

The Mayfair Hotel continued to be a big part of the city's music and entertainment scene into the '80s and '90s. In particular, Sneaky Pete's bar, which opened in the hotel's basement, would be a frequent place for blues in the city.

But by the turn of the century, the Mayfair Hotel was beginning to show its age. The structure was plagued by several problems, most notably the need to remove its asbestos.

That work would never be finished, though. In December 2007, a pipe burst in the Mayfair, which led to it being suddenly closed due to "catastrophic mechanical failure.". While the building had not served as a hotel for years by that point, the restaurants and other businesses were still open. They were shut down or relocated. The Mayfair spent the next couple of years closed off and covered with tarps, until its demolition in 2010. The process of razing the once-popular building didn't go smoothly, though. Chunks of debris fell out of the demolition site, crashing into the street and striking one of the entrances to the LRT. Luckily, the area had been blocked off and no one was injured.

The site of the hotel is now host to an apartment building that shares the Mayfair name. But the hotel itself remains an important part of Edmonton's history, particularly for the LGBTQ+ community. Although this community doesn't face the same hostility in public spaces as in the past, there is still interest in dedicated spaces. Last month, organizers of a lesbian-focused event spoke about the unexpectedly strong demand they encountered, selling their event out overnight.

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 24, 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.