The Pulse: May 8, 2024

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  • 15°C: Mainly cloudy. Clearing early in the afternoon. High 15. UV index 5 or moderate. (forecast)
  • Blue: The High Level Bridge will be lit blue for Goodwill Week. (details)
  • 8pm: The Edmonton Oilers play the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena for Game 1 of the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. (details)

A circle of seated people all hold intertwined string.

Edmonton grants $4.7M to 17 organizations through Edge Fund

By Colin Gallant

Details of $4.7 million in Edmonton Edge Fund grants the city is awarding to 17 innovators and entrepreneurs to create economic or social benefits went live on May 7.

The city's biggest investment is $750,000 into DiveThru, an end-to-end mental health service provider, which will now construct and open two new locations to add to its existing location on Whyte Avenue. DiveThru is part of the Edge Fund's Scale & Grow Stream, which aims to support companies to grow to the next level, with grants of between $250,000 and $1 million (though no organization received the largest amount).

The other Scale & Grow investments are $530,000 for 48Hour Discovery to scale its early drug discovery service; $550,000 for Future Fields to open a 6,000-square-foot biomanufacturing facility; $289,000 for Kind Ice Cream to launch a new production facility, a spin-off company, and two new "modular" locations; $334,000 for MuslimKids.TV to create a video game development studio; $581,570 for Technology North to scale its digital services and create jobs for people with autism spectrum disorder; and $723,000 for Zero Point Cryogenics to scale its production of dilution refrigerators.

In August, the city said all Scale & Grow Stream recipients will require a 50% matching amount from other funding sources.

The Edge Fund's second grant bucket is the Start Stream and offers investments up to $100,000 for companies entering the Edmonton market. Canchuks Corrosion Inc. will receive $91,800 to validate its tech for testing pipelines. All other recipients will receive the $100,000 maximum.

Those recipients are Dark Matter Materials, which is developing a catalytic hydrogen generator; International Renewable Energy Systems, which is working on small-scale energy generation via vertical-axis wind turbine; Millennium Three Technologies Inc., which is working to improve industrial processes with a computer-vision-powered assembly system; NGT Energy, which is developing and testing a non-radioactive, multiphase flow meter prototype; OligomicsTx, which is working to treat facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy; Optimal Combustion, which is developing a mobile utility system for worksites; Swift Charge, which is working to test and manufacture a fast charger for electric vehicles; UpRow, which is integrating artificial intelligence for its newcomer services; and ZerOne, which is upgrading its digital infrastructure and collaborating with the University of Alberta.

Sohi, who campaigned in the 2021 election on a promise to create a city innovation fund, has supported the Edge Fund during the 2023-2026 budget deliberations.

The Edge Fund launched with an event in August. At the time, Sohi promised on LinkedIn that the fund would "transform our community."

Two Edge Fund recipients were also winners at the recent YEG Startup Community Awards. Future Fields won Most Edmonton Startup of the Year while UpRow made that category's finals. Oligomics Tx won the Startup TNT Life Sciences Summit finale in March.

The 2023 grants are part of Phase 1 of the Edge Fund, but the city has yet to say whether the fund will be renewed for further phases. When the fund was announced, program manager Nik George said recipients would have to adhere to a "milestone payment mechanism." Successfully funded companies aren't required to pay back the money.

Photo: Mental health service provider DiveThru received the biggest chunk of the Edmonton Edge Fund — $750,000 to construct and open two locations. (Supplied)


Headlines: May 8, 2024

By Mariam Ibrahim

  • In a letter to city council, Edmonton's Energy Transition Climate Resilience Committee has raised concerns about the use of blue hydrogen, which is derived from natural gas with carbon capture, for reducing the city's carbon emissions. The letter suggests that alternatives like green hydrogen or zero-emission technologies for personal vehicles and heating should be prioritized instead, recommending further research and analysis. Both the province and the federal government have promoted hydrogen energy in recent years, with the province releasing a road map in 2021 and the Canadian government releasing a national strategy in 2020.
  • Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi met with Alberta Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver on May 6 to discuss restoring provincial funding to the municipality. The meeting followed a six-page letter Sohi sent to the province last month outlining how the province could help the City with its finances. Sohi said the City is seeking more than $60 million in retroactive payments from the province, which could alleviate the need for the planned property tax increase of 8.9% in 2024. "I was very clear that I wasn't there to ask for more, I was there to ask for restoration of the support that we had in the past," Sohi said following the meeting.
  • University of Alberta graduates contribute about $250 billion annually to the global economy, according to a 2024 Ernst & Young survey. The survey highlights that the university's alumni have founded more than 75,000 companies worldwide, employing 922,000 people, and have contributed $136.4 billion annually to Alberta's economy, which is 41% of the province's GDP. The survey also found that 86% of alumni have volunteered over the past year and have made $979 million in charitable donations.
  • Applications are open for the City of Edmonton Youth Council, which offers young people aged 13 to 23 an opportunity to engage in municipal governance and influence community issues. Six positions are available and interested candidates can apply online until June 9. Appointments to the youth council will be made this summer.
  • Health experts are recommending Albertans, especially those who are high risk, ensure their vaccinations are up-to-date as COVID-19 cases rise in the province. Hospitalizations and positivity rates are increasing, and although severe cases remain uncommon, hospitals are facing challenges with overcrowding. People are also asked to consider masking in crowded areas to mitigate risks.
  • University of Alberta President Bill Flanagan is advocating for research funding to be exempt from Alberta's proposed Bill 18, which would require provincial approval of federal funding agreements with post-secondary institutions. "We're a research powerhouse to the great benefit of Alberta," he said on CBC's Edmonton AM. "So we don't want anything that comes in between us and our ability to secure even more federal funding." Last year, the university received $215 million in federal research funding.
  • The 2023 Edmonton JUNOs Host Committee held the Together YEG Concert series between October 2023 and March 2024, featuring 36 Edmonton artists and raising funds for iHuman Youth Society, YONA-Sistema, and MusiCounts, which each received $4,460. The series highlighted Edmonton's diverse music scene across various venues, including The Buckingham and The Starlite Room.
  • Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid has been nominated as a finalist for the Hart Trophy, aiming to secure the NHL's MVP award for the second consecutive year. McDavid is up against Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche and Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning. McDavid won his third Hart Trophy last season.
  • Edmontonian Shane Osepchuk spoke to CTV News about his childhood memories in the 1980s and 90s when his father, Dwayne, was part of the Edmonton Oilers equipment team during their Stanley Cup victories. Later in life, Osepchuk purchased a replica of the Stanley Cup, though he eventually sold it. With the Oilers now in the second round of the NHL playoffs, he hopes to see the real Stanley Cup return to Edmonton for a sixth victory.
A newspaper clipping that reads, "Hardstone Brick Company of Edmonton, Limited"

A moment in history: May 8, 1912

By Scott Lilwall

On this day in 1912, the Hardstone Brick Company was pumping out bricks that would help build the city.

In Edmonton's early years, the city's river valley looked far different than today. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the banks of the North Saskatchewan River housed much of the city's industry. There you would once find lumber mills, coal mines, meat-packing plants, and other businesses that took advantage of the valley's natural resources and used the river to transport their wares by boat.

Brickyards were also common along the river. Ample deposits of clay provided the materials, while coal mined nearby fuelled furnaces to harden the bricks. But one of Edmonton's early brickyards took a slightly different approach. In 1907, the Pressed Brick Company purchased a bit of land on the riverbank in what's now Cloverdale from Cornelius Gallagher (the namesake of the park where the Edmonton Folk Music Festival is held each year). The land contained sand — a lot of sand. Instead of the traditional baked-clay bricks other brickyards were making, the Pressed Brick Company mixed the sand with lime brought in on the Edmonton Yukon and Pacific Railway. The result was sand-lime bricks, which proved to be stronger, cheaper, and faster to make.

Pressed Brick began producing bricks at the perfect time. Edmonton's population was skyrocketing. The demand for new schools, churches, and homes was strong, and they all needed to be made out of something. Sand was dug out of the ground uphill from the brickyard and carried down to be processed. Then, the finished bricks were taken further downhill, and loaded onto boats, horse-drawn carts, or railcars. The bricks are still viewable in several buildings constructed during the period, including the Alberta Legislature Building and The Bennett Centre.

Gallagher returned to this story in 1912, when he and several investors purchased the brickyard and renamed it the Hardstone Brick Company. The brickyard had by then become a high-tech operation for the time. Automated machinery and a connection to the city's relatively new electrical grid let it continue production in the evenings and the winter months, when some brickyards had to shut down. By 1912, Hardstone could produce five million bricks a year.

But the success didn't last. The need for bricks began to wind down as Edmonton's rapid growth slowed, which was only made worse when Canada went to war in 1914. But it was the devastating flood of 1915 that brought the true end for the Hardstone brickyard. In June of that year, water levels were incredibly high in the river valley, washing away more than 50 buildings — including many of the industries along the river. Hardstone was high enough along the bank to remain standing, but the flood badly damaged the equipment inside. Attempts to restart production were made, but eventually the business was liquidated sometime around 1920.

But though the brickyard might be gone, the land it was built on remains forever changed. The quarries and piles created while gathering sand for bricks left behind hills and depressions on the site. Over the past century, the area has been reclaimed by aspen and poplar trees. In 1986, the environmentally sensitive area was designated as Camel Hump nature reserve (likely named for its lumpy terrain.)

In recent years, the City of Edmonton has explored the future of the area. In 2019, they started public consultation on a plan that would guide the future of Gallagher Park, including the Camel Humps.

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: May 8, 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.