The Pulse: July 3, 2024

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  • 21°C: A mix of sun and cloud. 30% chance of showers late in the afternoon with risk of a thunderstorm. Wind becoming northwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 near noon. High 21. UV index 6 or high. (forecast)
  • 9,071: The Edmonton Riverhawks broke an attendance record at REMAX Field during their July 1 game against the Port Angeles Lefties. The Riverhawks won 16-3. (details)

A photograph of a historic building on Jasper Avenue in Edmonton.

Group brings co-op model to downtown investment to build change

By Colin Gallant

The new Homestead Investment Cooperative allows members to collectively buy into a piece of downtown real estate and participate in a community doing so, its co-founder said.

"So often, investment in commercial buildings and downtowns is saved for the higher net worth individuals and the (real estate investment trusts)," Tegan Martin-Drysdale, a co-creator of the organization, told Taproot. "It can be difficult for an everyday citizen to have an opportunity to invest in their downtown core."

That's why Martin-Drysdale is launching the new investment co-op with co-founder and former Edmonton mayor Don Iveson. (Chris Henderson, Iveson's former campaign manager, also helped establish the co-op but "had to step away," Martin-Drysdale said.)

The first building the co-op will focus on is the Alberta Block, a 40,000-square-foot building on Jasper Avenue that dates back to 1909. Martin-Drysdale already owns a stake in the building through her RedBrick Group of Companies. (A representative for Martin-Drysdale did not provide details on who her co-owners are.) It's also where she operates the Homestead Coworking business that she owns.

A conventional investment in the building would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, she said. But rather than that huge figure, investors in the new co-op can buy a stake in the building with a minimum outlay of $10,000. Phase 1 of the launch is currently open to directors, officers, employees, founders, control persons of the business, their close personal friends and business associates, family members, existing security holders, or accredited investors. Phase 2, open to anyone, will be launching in the coming weeks. In June, Martin-Drysdale said the co-op had raised approximately $250,000 of investment in its first few months from the circles of the founders and board members. Now, she's ready to spread the word publicly.

Martin-Drysdale uses "Homestead" in the names for both the co-work business and the co-op because she feels it's emblematic of a certain mindset. "It's that pioneering spirit — that's kind of where the Homestead brand came from, out of creating something where it didn't exist before."

Martin-Drysdale is one of several current owners of the Alberta Block who will be essentially bought out by the co-op. Her stake will be converted into co-op shares and her unnamed co-owners will exit ownership, a representative said. The representative for Martin-Drysdale did not say how much the building will sell for.

Once the co-op purchases the building, its future is up to the co-op members who will vote on major decisions at annual meetings. The investment requires a five-year commitment. "We're setting a minimum expectation of five years (before selling any acquired property)," Martin-Drysdale said. "The best way to make money with real estate is usually a long-term hold, but it will be up to the membership to decide when they want to exit, when they want to hold, and when they want to acquire more properties."

Martin-Drysdale estimates investors could see a 6% annual return, thanks to strong rental revenue at Alberta Block. That's based partly on the attractiveness of the building to tenants. RedBrick oversaw a complete retrofit of the former home of CKUA after its sale in 2014.

"Our vacancy rate is 5%," she said. "We've historically had a lower vacancy than downtown Edmonton because it's a good location, it's a character building, it's got low operational costs, and it just attracts a certain creative, innovative type of company to be here. And people want to be here. The energy is palpable on our block."

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Headlines: July 3, 2024

By Mariam Ibrahim

  • Edmonton city council is considering changes to its code of conduct bylaw that would keep details of council members' misconduct private by default, limiting public access to integrity commissioner's reports, and potentially holding sanction hearings in private. The proposed changes include confidentiality requirements for all parties involved in a complaint and dual procedures for public and private hearings. Council will discuss the proposed bylaw at its meeting on July 3.
  • The City of Edmonton has streamlined its Mobile Food Vending program by eliminating additional permits for vendors on public land, reducing wait times, and simplifying location approvals. Vendors can now operate in designated park spaces on a first-come, first-serve basis and use any legal parking spots in other city areas. The changes will be evaluated for further adjustments by the end of the year.
  • The City of Edmonton unveiled a redeveloped Centennial Plaza downtown featuring art installations, play areas, and new seating. The space is also expected to host year-round events. Located just south of the Stanley Milner Library, the $17.4-million project was supported by federal funding from PrairiesCan through the Canada Community Revitalization Fund.
  • Edmonton city council will vote on a proposed bylaw that would regulate the sale of bear spray by requiring retailers to record buyer details, secure the product, and prohibit sales to minors. The move aims to reduce the misuse of bear spray, which has a higher potency than other sprays and has been linked to an increase in attacks. Retailers would need to obtain a licence to sell bear spray, and violations could result in fines up to $2,000.
  • The Board of Governors for the University of Alberta is proceeding with an independent review of the decision to remove a pro-Palestine campus encampment on May 11. Retired Justice Adèle Kent will lead the review, which will gather input from the university community throughout the summer and early fall. The results are expected later this year and will be publicly released.
  • Two days after aircraft mechanics for WestJet ended their strike, passengers were still facing cancellations and confusion, with challenges getting through to customer service. The airline had grounded 72% of its fleet due to the strike, leading to 1,137 cancelled flights, including five out of Edmonton. Although the strike ended on June 30, disruptions persist, with limited rebooking options available due to peak travel periods. In an update, WestJet said 125 planes in its fleet of 180 were active as of July 2.
  • Legal Aid Alberta, which provides legal services to vulnerable Albertans, says it will effectively cease operations next week after the provincial government stopped negotiations to renew its governance agreement. The agreement expired on June 30, and without renewal, the organization said it will stop issuing legal certificates, which assign lawyers to cases, on July 9. Board chairman Ryan Callioux said a new grant agreement proposed instead by the government would reduce Legal Aid Alberta's independence and funding. Alberta Justice said the interim funding provided is sufficient for ongoing operations while a new agreement is finalized.
  • The B'nai Brith Youth Organization is raising funds by selling Montreal's St. Viateur bagels, with a goal to sell 1,130 dozen. Proceeds will help fund programming for Jewish teens in Edmonton. Orders can be made online by Aug. 6 and picked up at the Edmonton Valley Zoo on Aug. 22.
  • The Edmonton Oilers' schedule for the 2024-25 season has been released, starting with a home opener against the Winnipeg Jets on Oct. 9th at Rogers Place, where they will raise their Western Conference Champions banner. It will be the first of four home games, followed by a brief two-game road trip. The team's longest road trip happens from Feb. 22nd to March 1st, including games against the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals.
  • Jeff Jackson, CEO of hockey operations for the Edmonton Oilers and current acting general manager, made significant additions to the team's forward group during the free-agent market, including signing Viktor Arvidsson and Jeff Skinner, which could make it the most dynamic in decades. However, Jackson did not address the team's need for a stronger right defence, leaving that as a potential weak spot. Despite the improvements, the Oilers are now over the salary cap and must make further moves to balance the roster before the new season.
  • A significant number of prescription drugs are going missing in Alberta, particularly addictive opioids like codeine and oxycodone, with 88% of cases between 2018 and 2023 classified as "loss unexplained", according to Health Canada data. Alberta ranks second in Canada for total drug losses, including a major theft of 54,500 oxycodone tablets in 2019.
A newspaper clipping with a headline that reads, "Historic residence finds home"

A moment in history: July 3, 1969

By Scott Lilwall

On this day in 1969, Edmonton's other Rutherford house was being moved to a new location.

Many people are familiar with Rutherford House, the striking brick mansion on the University of Alberta campus that was once the home of Alexander Rutherford, the first premier of Alberta. But fewer know that two of the former premier's homes are historic sites in Edmonton.

Alexander Rutherford first visited Edmonton in 1894. He was a successful and prominent lawyer from Kemptville, Ontario, near Ottawa. In Edmonton, Rutherford found a growing settlement that promised professional opportunity. The dry climate was also much kinder to Rutherford's bronchitis. Ten months after his first visit, Rutherford moved here permanently. His wife and children rode the train to join him shortly after this, although they were apparently less enthusiastic about the move (perhaps they didn't have bronchitis).

Rutherford didn't waste time. Less than two weeks after moving to Edmonton, he set up a law practice, bought land, and started building a new home. The structure was a modest, one-storey house with an attached kitchen, built at 87 Avenue and 104 Street. For a while, Rutherford was the only lawyer in Edmonton. In addition, he was active in a lot of community groups, including a football club, an agricultural society, and the South Edmonton School Board. He also expanded into other businesses, including mining for gold.

Over time, Rutherford's prominence in the community grew, and so did the family's home. In 1899, the Rutherford family added a second storey to the house. By 1905, they expanded the house once again, adding a maid's room.

That year, 1905, was when Alberta became a province and Rutherford was elected as the first premier, representing the Alberta Liberal Party. As premier, Rutherford built the foundations for Alberta's future. During his time in office, railways were expanded, the legislature was established, and he helped choose Edmonton as the provincial capital. But if there was one priority that topped Rutherford's list it was education. During his term, the number of schools across the province more than doubled. Rutherford also led the creation of the University of Alberta and served as its first chancellor.

In 1910, Rutherford resigned as premier following allegations of a sweetheart deal for the Alberta and Great Waterways Railway, although he remained a member of the legislature. In 1911, the family moved from their first home into their better-known residence on the campus of the university that Rutherford helped establish.

Rutherford died in 1941. By the late 1960s, the two Rutherford houses were on very different paths. The 1911 mansion at the university had spent a few decades as a frat house and was facing demolition to make way for an expanding campus. Meanwhile, an anonymous donation meant that Rutherford's first house was moved to Fort Edmonton Park, where it was restored and became the focal point of the then-new park's 1905 Street. This year, Fort Edmonton Park celebrates its 50th anniversary as home to the original Rutherford House, as well as many other artifacts from early Edmonton.

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: July 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.