The Pulse: April 26, 2024

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  • 11°C: Mainly cloudy. High 11. UV index 4 or moderate. (forecast)
  • Pink: The High Level Bridge will be lit pink for Myelin Oligodendrocyte Glycoprotein Antibody-Associated Disease (MOGAD) Awareness Month. (details)
  • 8:30pm: The Edmonton Oilers play the Los Angeles Kings at Arena for Game 3 of the NHL playoffs. (details)
  • 8:30pm, April 28: The Oilers play the Kings at Arena for Game 4 of the NHL playoffs. (details)

A photograph of a multi-storey institutional building.

City could inherit Citadel building's maintenance and renewal costs

By Stephanie Swensrude

The Citadel Theatre's lease, signed with the city in 1974, is up for renewal as of September, and a proposed new agreement could see the costs to maintain and renew the venerable arts institution's building transferred to the City of Edmonton.

The Citadel built and operates the theatre located at 9828 101A Avenue NW, and has leased the land from the city since 1974. The first phase of the building opened in 1976, the second in 1984, and the building was completed to its current form in 1989. The original lease said the building would be transferred to the city at the end of the 50-year term. "Well, who would have thunk it, but 50 years went by," the Citadel's interim executive director Alan Nursall told Taproot.

City administration has drafted a new 10-year lease that could see the City of Edmonton take on maintenance and renewal responsibility for the theatre. The city estimates that would cost it about $1.36 million annually, plus up to $375,000 to support current maintenance work.

A report accompanying the proposed lease, scheduled to be examined at a city council executive committee meeting on May 3, said the Citadel told the city it did not have the financial resources or expertise to continue maintaining the building. Nursall said that isn't accurate. "It's not that we can't do it — we have been doing it, we've got a 50-year track record. It's a question of making it simple for both parties."

Maintaining the building requires time from Citadel staff, Nursall said, and the proposed transfer would allow the theatre to focus on creating art.

Administration estimates the facility needs $56.2 million invested into renewal over the initial term of the proposed lease and $131 million over the next 25 years. The city noted in the report that there is already a $4.8 billion gap in capital renewal investment for city assets and that taking on the Citadel would increase this gap. If council approves the lease, the city said it will determine how pressing renewal work is for the Citadel building and possibly move other projects down the list to prioritize the Citadel.

Nursall said the building's heating, air conditioning, and ventilation will need attention over the next 30 years, along with regular repairs to the roof. He said the estimates outlined in the report are "worst-case scenario" numbers. "We would never estimate that high," he said.

The Citadel would provide at least $100,000 per year toward the renewal costs. The theatre would achieve this by adding a $2 fee per ticket. The Citadel would cover its own janitorial, insurance, security, utilities, and property tax costs under the proposed lease. The Citadel would continue to sublease portions of the theatre to commercial tenants, like the restaurant PlayWright, which is set to open in the old Normand's location. The subtenant's rent would contribute to the Citadel's expenses. Any improvements to the theatre's auditoriums, like new curtains and seats, would be the Citadel's responsibility.

In 2022-2023, the Citadel reported $14.5 million in revenues and $15.2 million in expenses. The Citadel spent an average of $1.5 million annually on the facility over the last five years, amounting to roughly 10% to 15% of the organization's total expenses.

Nursall calls the proposed lease a win-win situation, as more room in the budget means the theatre's artists can create more art. "The city needs a vibrant art district, and this is a small opportunity for the city to keep investing in that space," he said. "Downtown would be much worse off without it."

Photo: The Citadel's original 50-year lease, signed with the city in 1974, is up for renewal in September. (Stephanie Swensrude)


Headlines: April 26, 2024

By Mariam Ibrahim

  • The Alberta government introduced Bill 20, which would increase provincial authority over municipalities by allowing cabinet to remove councillors from office and force councils to repeal undesirable bylaws. The bill also proposes political parties be piloted at the municipal level in Edmonton and Calgary. Critics argue the changes could lead to decisions being centrally controlled by the provincial government, rather than reflecting the will of local constituents. In a video response posted online, Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi criticized the proposed changes, saying it's "unfortunate that this provincial government is focused on issues that are not really top priorities of Edmontonians."
  • A large grass fire erupted in a field between the southeast edge of Edmonton and Beaumont on April 25, producing smoke visible from as far away as Sherwood Park. Around three dozen firefighters from Edmonton Fire Rescue Services responded to the blaze, along with fire services from Nisku and Leduc County. As of the last update, the cause of the fire remained unknown, no injuries were reported, and it was unclear if any buildings had been affected.
  • City council appointed Janine Mryglod as Edmonton's new head auditor after serving more than 17 years in the audit department, including taking on the role of acting auditor since May last year. The City auditor reports directly to city council and plays a critical role in auditing municipal departments and advising council on various issues.
  • Health officials are urging the public to ensure their vaccinations are up-to-date following a confirmed case of measles in Edmonton. An outbreak of the highly contagious disease could strain the already burdened healthcare system, officials say. Dr. Lynora Saxinger, an infectious disease specialist, emphasized the need for high vaccination levels to prevent transmission, noting the current 82% coverage rate in Alberta is insufficient for measles.
  • Leston Holdings has acquired Edmonton House for $51 million, with plans to upgrade its exterior and redevelop much of its office space while retaining its residential units. The building, located at 102 Street and 100 Avenue, has been a key feature of Edmonton's skyline since its construction in 1971, and was originally designed as a luxury residential complex. "It's a pretty predominant and iconic tower in Edmonton, so it deserves something special," said Leston Holdings president David Mitton.
  • Sales in Edmonton's real estate market are accelerating and prices are projected to reach new highs by the end of 2024, according to recent data. The average home price in Edmonton could grow by 6.5% to approximately $458,300, a Royal LePage report suggests, driven by strong demand and a low inventory of available homes. "It's an extreme seller's market for affordable homes," said associate realtor Nathan Mol with Liv Real Estate.
  • The Edmonton Elks are partnering with My Radio 580 for the league's first Punjabi broadcast rights agreement to air every Elks home game beginning May 25. The deal follows the team's first-ever Punjabi broadcast last season and is part of the club's strategy to expand its fan base by showcasing Canadian football to new Canadians in their language.
  • The Eco Move Out initiative at the University of Alberta encourages students to donate items they no longer need, such as clothing, electronics, and non-perishables, to community organizations like Goodwill and local food banks. The annual campaign helps prevent recyclable materials from ending up in landfills, supporting sustainable practices and facilitating a seamless move-out process.
  • MacEwan University in Edmonton announced the recipients of its 2024 Alumni Awards, recognizing five graduates in two categories: Distinguished Alumni and Emerging Leader. They include Josh Languedoc, an Anishinaabe playwright and teacher; Mallory Yawnghwe, co-founder of Indigenous Box; Andrew Dunn, an accountant involved in local and international volunteer work; Cheyenne Rain LeGrande, a Nehiyaw Isko artist and community leader; and Reakash Walters, a lawyer and activist with significant contributions to social justice. The awards ceremony is scheduled for June 14.
  • Edmonton Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch says he continues to have confidence in goaltender Stuart Skinner, despite Skinner struggling with a .857 save percentage in the first two games of the playoffs against the Los Angeles Kings. The series is currently tied 1-1, with Skinner aiming for redemption in Game 3 after the Oilers lost 5-4 in overtime in Game 2. Hockey analyst Tom Gazzola encouraged Oilers fans to remain confident, highlighting the team's potential and noting weaknesses in the Kings' lineup, particularly in their goaltending and defence. When the Oilers are "sharp and on top of things," they're a "far superior team" to the Kings, Gazzola said.
  • Firefighters rescued a man from a balcony during an apartment fire in a building on Jasper Avenue near 110th Street in Edmonton on April 25. The man, who is in his 20s, was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Edmonton Fire Rescue Services said the fire, which was contained to a single suite but caused smoke damage to neighbouring units, was extinguished quickly.
A title card that reads Taproot Edmonton Calendar:

Happenings: April 26-28, 2024

By Debbi Serafinchon

Here are some events happening this weekend 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.