The Pulse: April 25, 2024

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  • 16°C: A mix of sun and cloud. Wind becoming northwest 20 km/h in the afternoon. High 16. UV index 4 or moderate. (forecast)
  • Blue/Green: The High Level Bridge will be lit blue and green for the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) Summit Awards. (details)
  • Olivia/Noah: Provincial records show that Olivia is the most popular name for baby girls in Alberta for the 11th year in a row, and Noah is the most popular for baby boys for the fifth year. (details)
  • 4-5: The Edmonton Oilers lost to the Los Angeles Kings in overtime on April 24. (details)

A smiling person stands behind work tables, in front of cabinets, and surrounded by files.

How Edmonton's first community archivist builds better records

By Colin Gallant

Edmonton is expanding the story it tells about itself by adding a community archivist, who is tasked with actively addressing blind spots in the city's work to preserve information by seeking new archives to add.

"I think there's been this myth of archival neutrality when really archives are political bodies," Jia Jia Yong, the first community archivist at the City of Edmonton Archives, told Taproot. "Archives are very much geared to benefit certain people, and also geared to be a barrier to other people."

The archives' main purpose for the city is to house all of its records within the Prince of Wales Armouries Heritage Centre at 10440 108 Avenue NW. In tandem, archivists work to preserve stories about all manner of Edmontonians. They house documents, photos, videos, and more. The city deposits its own records; citizen stories, however, are obtained primarily through donations.

While Yong performs typical archivist duties like cataloguing incoming materials and assisting researchers to navigate the collection, what sets her role apart is her outreach. She forges relationships with potential record donors through cold calls, attending events, holding meetings, and designing promotional materials.

"We definitely hope to work with cultural communities and communities of interest across Edmonton … for all communities to be included," Yong said. "Very often, the conversations I have with people are simply just introducing what archives are, and to some extent affirming that their history and their story and their materials and their records are of value."

She's seen the fruits of her outreach labour. Jim Yee, whom she met at an event, decided to donate his family records and even joined Yong in the archival process. Similarly, the Edmonton Japanese Community Association donated records, leading to a pleasant surprise.

"In those organizational records there was actually a film reel that nobody knew what was in it. It had just been sitting in their library at their centre for years," Yong recalled. The film turned out to be a documentary made by Alberta's culture ministry in the 1970s that showed the lives of Japanese Edmontonians at the time, including footage of the second-ever Edmonton Heritage Festival in 1977. Yong is planning to screen the film with the community association in the hopes of drawing further interest in the city archives.

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Headlines: April 25, 2024

By Kevin Holowack and Mariam Ibrahim

  • Edmonton city council unanimously approved the spring operating budget adjustment, including a property tax rate of 8.9% in 2024. The number is higher than the 6.6% council approved last fall and the 8.7% proposed by administration for this budget adjustment. Of the 8.9%, 5.1% is meant to maintain city services at existing levels. An additional increase is due to council's decision to add spending for event attraction, cleaning the city core, and an assisted snow clearing program for seniors, Postmedia reported. Coun. Tim Cartmell appeared on Global News to speak about changes he'd like to see to council's approach to budgeting.
  • Global News obtained a two-page anonymous letter alleging that Coun. Keren Tang has tried to show a non-profit Edmonton organization co-founded by her husband in a favourable light during meetings and council discussions. In an interview, Tang told Global News that she has "always sought the advice of our ethics advisor" on potential conflicts of interest. The letter, which was received by the provincial government and referenced by Premier Danielle Smith on her radio show, has been forwarded to Edmonton's integrity commissioner, Jamie Pytel. In a statement, Pytel said she is reviewing the letter to determine whether it should be investigated.
  • Alberta Health Services issued a warning after a person with a confirmed case of measles visited several Edmonton-area locations in recent days, including the Edmonton International Airport on April 16 and the Stollery Children's Hospital on April 20 and 23. AHS says people who visited the locations are at risk of developing measles if they were born after 1970 and have fewer than two doses of a measles vaccine. Anyone who believes they were exposed should contact Health Link.
  • The Stadium Station on Edmonton's Capital LRT Line is among the 12 recipients of the 2024 National Urban Design Awards, offered by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, the Canadian Institute of Planners, and the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects. The redeveloped Stadium Station officially opened in 2023 and was designed by GEC Architecture.
  • WestJet CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech provided an update on the company's progress on its Edmonton growth strategy during a speech at the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce. The company says it provides 50% of all air travel from the Edmonton International Airport and has increased its capacity in Edmonton by 13% since 2022, with "aggressive growth plans to build upon this momentum."
  • CBC's This is Edmonton podcast explored Edmonton's food scene and asked, "what is the most Edmonton dish you can eat?" Host Clare Bonnyman discussed local food culture with food writers Phil Wilson and Sharon Yeo, who is also a Taproot contributor.
  • The Edmonton Opera released an Oilers-themed version of La Bamba performed by Edmonton Oilers anthem singer Robert Clark and soprano Helen Hassinger. La Bamba is played whenever the Oilers win at Rogers Place and was a favourite of long-time team attendant Joey Moss and young fan Ben Stelter, who died from cancer in 2022.
  • CTV News spoke to Edmonton Oilers superfan Dale Steil, who is known for the blue and orange face paint and costumes he wears to every home game. Steil has used himself as a canvas for 91 designs since 2022, and he hopes to do 100 by the end of this season. Steil keeps a catalogue of his designs on Instagram.
  • The Edmonton Elks announced their game day themes for 2024, which will be the club's 75th season. The team says history will be important this year, along with attracting the "next generation of football fans." The team also launched single-game ticket sales and this season will debut the Elks Fan Park outside Commonwealth Stadium, which will be an "epicentre" for pre-game activities.
  • The Alberta government implemented sweeping fire restrictions across the province's forest protection areas due to wildfire risk brought on by hot, dry weather. All outdoor fires are now prohibited on public lands, including areas for backcountry and random camping, except for Calgary's forest protection zone. Wildfires in Alberta have burned more than 755 hectares of forest so far this year, compared to 440 by this time in 2023. More than 200 fires have been reported so far, compared to 135 last year.
  • University of Alberta PhD students Ping Lam Ip and Andrea DeKeseredy published an article in The Conversation in response to the UCP government's tabled Bill 18, the Provincial Priorities Act. The act prevents "provincial entities," including post-secondary institutions, from entering into agreements with the federal government without the province's approval, which some argue could put academic freedom and research funding at risk. Ip and DeKeseredy, whose findings are based on data from the three main non-partisan entities that distribute federal research funding, wrote there is "no factual basis to suggest that federal agencies favour liberal or leftist research." The university's president, Bill Flanagan, said in a statement the bill has "caused uncertainty and concern across the post-secondary sector."
A vacant lot with a concrete barrier set up around it, viewed from the far side of the street

Calls for public engagement: Rezoning on 99 Street, aging in Strathcona County

By Kevin Holowack

Here are opportunities to provide feedback to municipal planners about street safety in Brander Gardens, a proposed rezoning on 99 Street, north of Whyte Avenue, and healthy aging in Strathcona County.

  • Brander Gardens Safe Routes to School — The City of Edmonton invites families with children in Brander Gardens School and Tempo School to provide feedback about recent safety upgrades made to the Brander Gardens neighbourhood. An evaluation survey will be open until April 29.
  • Strathcona Junction 99 Rezoning — The City of Edmonton wants resident feedback on an application to rezone 8904 99 Street NW, a vacant lot in the Strathcona neighbourhood, as medium-scale residential. The proposed rezoning would lower the maximum height limit and floor area ratio for the lot, plus remove any commercial requirements. The rezoning application is from Situate, an Edmonton-based firm specializing in "awesome infill projects." Residents can ask a question or share their thoughts about the application until May 5.
  • Healthy Aging Survey — Strathcona County has begun a three-phase engagement process to understand the needs and priorities of adults aged 55 or older. The results will shape a vision for healthy aging in Stathcona County and inform recommendations to council. Residents in the age range can complete a survey until May 10.

More input opportunities

Photo: The City of Edmonton is considering a request to rezone a vacant lot on 99 Street, which has faced years of stagnant development, CBC reported last year. (Google Maps)

A title card that reads Taproot Edmonton Calendar:

Happenings: April 25, 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.