The Pulse: July 4, 2024

Here's what you need to know about Edmonton today.

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  • 24°C: A mix of sun and cloud. 30% chance of showers in the afternoon with risk of a thunderstorm. High 24. Humidex 26. UV index 6 or high. (forecast)
  • $280 million: Edmonton's economy pulled in $280 million across all four rounds of the Edmonton Oilers playoff run, with $100 million coming from the final round alone, according to a study from Explore Edmonton based on OEG data. (details)

Five people stand by a sign.

Applied Pharma facility could open local doors while bridging national gap

By Stephanie Swensrude

The head of Applied Pharmaceutical Innovation said a new manufacturing facility and start-up incubator that the company is building at the Edmonton Research Park should help spur a new wave of health innovation in the city.

Crews broke ground on the 83,000-square-foot Critical Medicines Production Centre in June, and it will nearly double API's footprint in Edmonton when complete in 2026. Andrew MacIsaac, CEO of API, said the plant will be able to produce more than 70 million doses of a vaccine, drug, or treatment yearly. In a crisis like another pandemic, MacIsaac said the facility could produce enough medicine or vaccines for all of Canada within 100 days.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada's lack of domestic vaccine manufacturing capabilities became clear. Canada's vaccination rate lagged behind that of other Western countries, partly because it had to rely on imported vaccines. In 2021, the federal government announced a Biomanufacturing and Life Sciences Strategy and has since dedicated $2.2 billion to enhancing the country's therapeutic production capability, especially for vaccines. API has received $80.5 million from the federal government and $17.6 million from the province to build the facility.

The production facility is a collaboration between API and the University of Alberta's Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute. It's partly funded by the $200-million Canadian Critical Drug Initiative.

MacIsaac said it's important for Canada to have domestic manufacturing capacity regardless of whether we're in a pandemic or not because it can increase supply-chain security for common drugs. Often, he said, massive facilities in other countries manufacture these drugs and produce enough to meet global demand. "As a result, they are able to produce a very cheap product that is cost-effective, but the challenge is if there's a disruption with them, it creates massive issues across the board from a supply chain standpoint, and a lot of these drugs are critical."

Take propofol, a common and low-cost sedative that's usually available but can cause major disruptions when it's not. Propofol is one of the first drugs the API facility will manufacture.

MacIsaac said the second reason a local facility is important is it can help commercialize innovations. While promising discoveries and developments are coming out of Edmonton's postsecondary institutions, he said the resulting economic activity is too often lost to other countries. "You know, there could be cures for cancer within a lab bench somewhere that, because of the challenges commercializing, (researchers in Edmonton) aren't able to take forward," MacIsaac said.

"It's an example of a sector where we have excellence from the academic side, but not the economic activity associated with it," he said. "In the life sciences sector, we're just about to hit the gas pedal and we'll start to see a lot more growth and development."

The new facility will also have space for health innovation startups. Across the street at API's Biotechnology Business Development Centre, MacIsaac said there are companies "bursting at the seams" that the facility will allow to scale up. "The goal is to basically build the runway for companies that are all the way from that first employee to that 30- or 40-employee company," he said. "Then at that point, they're getting to the scale where they're building their own facilities and moving forward."

API has also been established as one of the key advocates for the businesses that call the research park home. The company is co-chair of the Edmonton Research Park Advisory Group, a committee formed after a land sale created tensions between the City of Edmonton and entrepreneurs in the research park.

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Headlines: July 4, 2024

By Kevin Holowack

  • Service adjustments on the Capital and Metro LRT lines are scheduled for this month due to maintenance work. Central Station will undergo electrical work from 4pm on July 7 until 4am on July 8, and riders must use a different station. On July 13 and 14, the Metro Line will be affected by construction on an LRT bridge crossing, and riders will need to use the Capital Line to travel south of Government Centre. The NAIT/Blatchford Market Station will be closed July 13 until 8pm to accommodate the construction of a 60-foot feature wall at the site of the former NAIT station.
  • Edmonton city council unanimously rejected proposed amendments to the council code of conduct bylaw during its July 3 meeting. Administration said in a report to council that the changes would "provide additional procedural clarity to increase transparency." One of the proposed changes would have eliminated the automatic publication of the integrity commissioner's findings of wrongdoing. Another change would have allowed sanction hearings to be held in private. Council members expressed concern over how the changes would affect transparency and sent the amendments back for revisions.
  • Edmonton city council approved amendments to the Business Licence Bylaw to regulate the sale of bear spray, also called oleoresin capsicum (OC) spray. The amendments include banning the sale of OC spray to minors, creating a category for businesses that sell the spray, and requiring the tracking of transaction records. The amendments come into effect immediately, but administration says it will focus on educating businesses about the changes before enforcement begins.
  • The City of Edmonton is accepting applications to this year's Anti-racism Grant Program, which is offering nearly $1.4 million in grants to community and non-profits. This year's four funding streams support community activation, anti-racism capacity-building and innovation, participatory action research, and helping not-for-profits in the media sector tell stories of underrepresented communities. The application deadline is Sept. 12.
  • The three-year-old boy who died after he was struck by the driver of pickup truck in Edmonton earlier this week was identified by a family friend, who set up a GoFundMe page to support the family. The fundraiser had more than 670 donations as of July 3.
  • The City of Edmonton is providing a total of $5 million in one-time grants to 27 community organizations for youth and family intervention initiatives. The funding is through the Early Intervention and Intervention Grant Program, which supports the Community Safety and Well-Being Strategy that council approved in May 2022.
  • The latest analysis from Zoocasa shows the number of home sales in Edmonton and Calgary grew rapidly from 2020 to 2024, with a 146% increase in sales recorded across both cities. In Edmonton, there were 5,498 sales in 2020, compared to 13,518 in 2024. The rate of growth in the two Alberta cities accompanies a major population increase and is far greater than most other Canadian cities.
  • CBC's This is Edmonton podcast took a ride-along with the Human-centred Engagement and Liaison Partnership (HELP) Unit, a partnership between the Edmonton Police Service and a collection of social service organizations. CBC's Pippa Reed followed along with a HELP team to get a sense of the program on the front lines.
  • Several sports commentators offered their assessments of the Edmonton Oilers' picks for the 2024 NHL draft. The team has drafted forward Sam O'Reilly, goalie Eemil Vinni, left-winger Connor Clattenburg, defenceman Albin Sundin, centre Dalyn Wakely, centre William Nicholl, and defenceman Bauer Berry. The Athletic rated Edmonton's draft picks a "C," casting doubt on O'Reilly but suggesting Vinni is "the most athletic goaltender in the draft," and ESPN rated them a "B-," calling it a "mixed bag."
  • Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi appeared in city hall wearing a Florida Panthers jersey on July 3 after losing a friendly wager over Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final against the mayor of Sunrise, FL. In a social media post, Sohi acknowledged "a bet is a bet," adding the playoffs showed Edmonton is a "vibrant, exciting city, where anything is possible."
A photo of a person walking in a crosswalk

Calls for public engagement: Edgemont park, housing, missing links

By Kevin Holowack

Here are opportunities to help inform municipal planning for parks, water, housing, and more. Please only answer surveys from municipalities where you are a resident.

  • Edgemont Community Park Development — The City of Edmonton is currently planning a community park in the Edgemont neighbourhood. The park site will eventually also have a public K-9 school, set to open in September 2027. Residents can view project information and complete a survey that will help develop a vision and design options until July 5.
  • Water Use and Summer Watering Survey — Strathcona County wants to better understand how its residents use water and how they might differ from other municipalities. Residents are invited to complete a survey about their water practices and outdoor usage until July 9.
  • Housing Strategy — The City of Spruce Grove is developing a housing strategy to help meet housing goals and inform future land use and development. Administration previously completed a housing needs assessment. Residents are now invited to answer a survey until July 15.
  • Missing Links 2024Paths For People is running its second crowd-sourced campaign to identify missing sidewalk and cycling connections across Edmonton. As in the inaugural 2019 campaign, results will be shared with city administration to identify where investments should be made. The survey will be open until July 28.

More input opportunities

Photo: Paths for People invites residents to help identify missing links in Edmonton's active transportation system, including crosswalks. In 2019, data from the campaign helped create a map of gaps and supported advocacy efforts, the group said. (Mack Male/Flickr)

A title card that reads Taproot Edmonton Calendar:

Happenings: July 4, 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.