Media Monday Edmonton: Update #218

Here’s my latest update on local media stuff:

  • Even the newspaper delivery boys are getting fired! Thirteen-year-old “Connor Piquette has been delivering the Edmonton Examiner every Wednesday after school for the past year. But this Wednesday will be his last on the job.” He was one of “approximately 600 contract carriers” who received termination letters last week. In a follow-up statement, Postmedia said they have “restructured our distribution model in Edmonton aligning our FlyerForce distribution system and Edmonton Examiner distribution system” which led to the change.
  • Trent Wilkie interviewed Ryan Jespersen on The Undad. “From the moment Wyatt is old enough to understand English, I’ll be telling him talk radio is the world’s most important public service.”
  • The City found itself in trouble last week when it “took permission away” from CTV Edmonton reporter Breanna Karstens-Smith who was going to do an interview in Kinsmen, apparently because she wasn’t “promoting” the facility.
  • The Oilers too caused a stir this week by cancelling an interview with CBC Edmonton about the community benefits agreement for Rogers Place. “An interview set up with Susan Darrington, vice president and general manager of Rogers Place, was cancelled by the organization following publication of a news story containing comments from critics of the community benefits.”
  • Congratulations to Omar Mouallem on being published in The New Yorker! Here’s his contributor page.
  • Historian Laureate and CJSR News Coordinator Chris Chang-Yen Phillips has launched a new podcast called Let’s Find Out which aims to answer questions about Edmonton history.
  • Congratulations to Global Edmonton’s Carole Anne Devaney on the birth of her second child!
  • Apps are coming to a radio near you! 91.7 The BOUNCE will feature the new local daily countdown show “The Shazam @ 7 Countdown” which is a partnership between Rogers Radio and Shazam. “Using unique, targeted data to feature different playlists in each market, the show highlights the top seven songs of the day, comprised of recently Shazam’d tracks and new and trending tracks from across the country.”
  • Believe it or not, Postmedia is looking for a part-time senior copy editor for the Edmonton newsroom. The deadline to apply is September 3.
  • Want to be the new Public Address Announcer for the Oilers? You can apply here. Auditions for selected candidates will take place early next month.
  • Sportsnet has released details of the Edmonton Oilers broadcast schedule for the 2016-2017 regular season. The schedule features 37 national games and 45 regional games and all can be streamed online as well.

SB167087
Elise Campbell, Marty Chan, Annie Dugan, and Holger Petersen, photo by Capital Ideas Edmonton

And here is some slightly less local media stuff:

  • You can always count on The Onion: Media Intern Looking Forward To Moving Up At Company That Won’t Exist In 8 Months.
  • Fox News will soon celebrate its 20th birthday and is currently the most-watched cable network “with a larger audience than its nominal rivals, CNN and MSNBC, combined.” But its secret sauce is demography and that may not last.
  • Is John Oliver a journalist or not? He continues to state that his show is comedy, not news. “If you make jokes about animals, that does not make you a zoologist. We certainly hold ourselves to a high standard and fact-check everything, but the correct term for what we do is ‘comedy.’” He’s clearly committing acts of journalism, however!
  • I did not realize that some college papers in the United States are actually owned by for-profit companies. And now they’re feeling the effects, “of course, student publications haven’t been immune to the business challenges facing the news industry as a whole.”

You can follow Edmonton media news on Twitter using the hashtag #yegmedia. For a great overview of the global media landscape, check out Mediagazer.

So, what have I missed? What’s new and interesting in the world of Edmonton media? Let me know!

You can see past Media Monday Edmonton entries here.

Edmonton Notes for August 28, 2016

I hope you had a great weekend! It certainly feels like summer is winding down with a noticeable chill in the air. Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:

Headlines

Churchill Square

Upcoming Events

Canadian Derby - Edmonton 2016
Canadian Derby, photo by IQRemix

Coming up at City Council: August 29 – September 2, 2016

In addition to discussing the report on Northlands’ Vision 2020, there are a number of other things coming up for Council next week.

Wading Pool Race!
Photo by Kurt Bauschardt

Here’s my look at everything else that Council will be discussing in the week ahead.

Meetings this week

You can always see the latest City Council meetings on ShareEdmonton.

Edmonton Arena District Update

The latest update on Rogers Place and the Edmonton Arena District states:

“Since the last update report, the private sector District development surrounding the Arena has continued to advance. A significant milestone occurred at the end of May when Greyhound transferred their bus operations out of the downtown. Demolition of the Greyhound building has been completed, and excavation of the site and the abutting former 103 Street is now underway.”

Rogers Place is “nearing completion and is expected to be available for occupancy by September 2, 2016, the contracted facility turnover date.” In other words, on time, at least as of August 8, 2016. The facility is also on target to achieve the LEED Silver designation.

Former Greyhound Station

Some other highlights:

  • “A robust communications plan is planned to roll out as the opening of the facility approaches.”
  • “At the time of writing this report, commissioning was underway and various areas of the building have received final inspection. Equipment and furniture is now being moved into the building.”
  • “As of the end of June, there was a daily average of 1,019 workers on-site. The on-site team continues to work in a safe manner with one lost-time-incident. To date, there have been 8,321 workers fully oriented on the site.”
  • “Through the beginning of May, 87 percent (7,045 tons) of all waste material had been diverted from the landfill.”
  • “The building will officially open September 8, 2016, with the first major event being an Open House planned for September 10, 2016, to give the public the opportunity to explore and enjoy the building.”
  • “The City will host a separate community-focused grand opening event for the Downtown Community Arena on September 25, 2016.”

On the financial state of the project:

“The total approved capital budget for the Downtown Arena project (capital profile #1117-0099 as amended) is $611,859,000. The total capital expenditure as at June 30, 2016, is approximately $542,044,192.”

The report mentions an “unresolved legal claim” that could mean additional interim funding is required.

Edmonton Filmed Entertainment Fund

Council had previously asked for an update on the Edmonton Filmed Entertainment Fund, which was established in 2012 by EEDC with Kilkburn Media LLC and with $5 million in grant funding from the City. It was created “to support filmed entertainment projects principally shot in Edmonton using local resources.” To date, the fund has invested in three projects: Freezer (2012), Cut Bank (2013), and 40 Below (2015).

Here’s how the fund has performed so far:

  • “The Fund has invested 92% ($4.62M) of the grant funding in three projects since inception and has received 64% ($2.9M) return to date toward this investment.”
  • “In regards to the Economic Impact goal, the Fund has generated $6.47M in economic activity from three films, including $2.34M of direct employment income in the film and entertainment industry.”
  • “The Fund was created as a revolving fund. However, the investments so far have begun generating revenues 12 months after the investments or later. The lengthy payback period limits the ability to invest in multiple projects or larger projects.”

The target was to generate an economic multiplier ratio of 6:1, but instead the return on investment was -33%.

Unsurprisingly, EEDC has “concluded that the existing model used for the Fund is not proving to be successful.” They said $5 million is not enough to invest in big enough projects to see larger returns, and that “13-20 percent return on investment was optimistic, this industry involves too many risks to guarantee any profits – even with industry experts involved.”

Other interesting items

Wrap-up

You can keep track of City Council on Twitter using the #yegcc hashtag, and you can listen to or watch any Council meeting live online. You can read my previous coverage of the 2013-2017 City Council here.

Northlands’ Vision 2020 is not going to happen

The City of Edmonton released its analysis of Northlands’ Vision 2020 proposal today. Introducing the report, City Manager Linda Cochrane said, “we acknowledge that Vision 2020 is an option for what could be done with the 160 acres.” It’s clear from reading the report however that the City doesn’t support the plan.

“Northlands has proposed an ambitious plan and there are elements that are worthy of future exploration,” Mayor Iveson said. But there’s a but. “Council’s job must be to make decisions that are in the best interest of the city, not just one organization.” Suggesting that there’s more work to be done, he said “it’s critical that we aren’t rushed and that we make the right decision for our city.”

Northlands Park

Vision 2020 proposes a transformation of both Northlands as an organization and the 160 acres of land that it leases from the City and operates, which includes Rexall Place, the Edmonton EXPO Centre, Northlands Park Racetrack and Casino, and all of the parking. The plan would see Rexall Place repurposed as a recreation facility, a retrofit for Hall D in the EXPO Centre, a new agriculture strategy, the end of horse racing and a redevelopment of Northlands Park into an urban festival site, and a redevelopment plan consisting of commercial, retail, and residential uses. The key to making the plan work is debt forgiveness on the $48 million outstanding debt that Northlands owes on the Edmonton EXPO Centre, to say nothing of the capital expenditures required to build everything outlined in the plan.

Debt Forgiveness

On the debt forgiveness, Mayor Iveson was clear that is not likely to happen. “I don’t believe Edmontonians would support forgiving a debt this large.” Perhaps more importantly, there’s no upside to the City by forgiving the debt.

Northlands owes $47.4 million as of June 30, 2016 and the City has a corresponding debt obligation with the Alberta Capital Finance Authority for the same amount. Every year Northlands pays the City $4.05 million which the City in turn pays to ACFA, so there’s zero impact to the City. If the loan were forgiven, the City would have to find a way to pay the $4.05 million each year for the loan from ACFA, which expires in 2034 and does not have an option for early termination. “Funding this loan from the tax levy would require a 0.3% tax levy increase in 2017 at a total cost of $72.8 million for the remaining duration of the loan.”

Northlands is projecting negative cash flows of $7.7 million per year which means it may be at risk of defaulting on its loan payments as early as next year. If that were to happen, the City would have the ability to terminate the lease and take back possession of the EXPO Centre which provides the City with “a tangible capital asset that will limit the impact of a default on the City’s financial position.” In theory the City could use income generated from the EXPO Centre to fund the ACFA loan.

“The business case for the expansion of the Expo Centre was overly ambitious in retrospect,” Mayor Iveson said today. But we are where we are, there’s no going back now.

Debt forgiveness or not, the City is on the hook for the money. But by allowing Northlands to default on its loan, the City gains complete control of the Northlands site and EXPO Centre as well.

Repurposing Rexall Place

“There is no immediate demand for six new ice sheets in Edmonton,” the report states, “however opportunity does exist to leverage the Rexall repurpose concept in the context of closing or repurposing four single-sheet ice facilities in north and northeast Edmonton.” The Mayor sounded somewhat optimistic about the idea, and mentioned that he had even spoken with Hockey Canada recently to explore the idea of a hockey academy in the facility. Northlands estimates the cost of repurposing the facility at $85 million. While the City says it “is technically feasible” they disagree on the cost, suggesting “an estimate of $102 million within -10% to +20% would be more appropriate.”

Farewell Rexall Place
Farewell Rexall Place, photo by Jeff Wallace

The wrinkle with this part of the plan is that the City is restricted by the Master Agreement with the Edmonton Arena Corporation (EAC) on the kind of investments it can make to Rexall Place. “The City cannot not make additional capital expenditures that exceed those required to maintain Rexall Place in a safe condition and in compliance with applicable laws.” Furthermore, as soon as Rogers Place opens the City has to stop providing any financial support to Rexall Place, directly or indirectly, except as required to comply with the law and maintain public safety.

The biggest issue however is that “the City must not financially support or advocate in favour of any plan to rebuild or renovate Rexall Place, unless it is to convert the facility to something other than a sports or entertainment facility.” If the plan to repurpose Rexall Place is going to go ahead, the EAC would need to formally waive that restriction.

Hall D

The Hall D retrofit would increase seating capacity to 5,000 but “appears difficult to justify based on the anticipated market demand” for events it might serve. Vision 2020 assumes the facility could attract 50 concerts and events annually, but the consultants research indicates that “a maximum of 20 to 24 concerts annually appear to be the upper boundary for this type of building.” Last year, Hall D hosted 6 concerts.

Electrical and mechanical upgrades as well as a roof replacement would all be required for Hall D in the next 2-4 years. “Without a long term tenant (e.g. minor sports franchise), enhancements to Hall D cannot be justified in the immediate term.” Again the report suggests a higher cost estimate than Northlands did, at “$38.7 million within -10% to +30%.”

Urban Festival site

Recognizing that the site “may provide a unique opportunity to the region” the report raises major concerns about the feasibility of the idea. Industry data suggests there may be market demand in the long-term, but “it is unclear if there is sufficient market demand to achieve the necessary revenue to make the site profitable.” Interviews conducted with local festival organizers suggest “there is not significant interest in relocating to the Northlands site at this time.”

K-Days

In general, the report highlights a lack of detail supporting the idea and says that further investigation would be required. “The updated cost estimate provided by Northlands of $83.6 million cannot be verified as accurate with any certainty,” the report says.

Residential Opportunities

Vision 2020 proposes 3,195 residential units in a mix of concrete high-rise buildings, wood frame low/mid-rise buildings, and townhomes. It anticipates absorption of 540 units per year, a figure the report says is unrealistic. The consultants estimated that Northlands “could reasonably capture at most 15-20% of apartment demand in the city’s mature neighbourhoods” which would mean demand for, “at most, 100-150 multi-family apartment units per year on average from 2015 to 2035.” There does appear to be “market demand for 400 beds to serve Concordia University” but the report notes that in addition to a lack of funding, “the economics of a concrete high-rise for student housing that assumes market rates for land is difficult to achieve.”

The Future of Northlands

When Vision 2020 was released earlier this year, Northlands suggested it would cost $165 million. The City puts the estimated cost at more than $230 million. Northlands deserves some credit for thinking big and putting something on the table, but Vision 2020 just isn’t realistic and will not happen. The future of Northlands will be something different.

Asked if the decision to build the new arena is the root of all of Northlands’ problems, the mayor said that was an oversimplification of a complex situation. “This has hastened a conversation that I think would have happened anyway,” he said.

mayor don iveson

Mayor Iveson indicated he will propose a merger of the EXPO Centre and Shaw Conference Centre next week when Council discusses the report. “This report provides a wake up call that the time for integration is now,” he said. “I believe that if we look at bringing the two conference centres together under a shared events authority, we will get better tourism and economic development results for our city.” He wouldn’t speculate on whether Northlands, EEDC, or a new organization should become that shared events authority.

This is an idea that is long overdue. It regularly comes up in discussions about the various facilities and organizations, and came up again earlier this month when Chris LaBossiere suggested a merger could be a way forward for Northlands. To his credit, Northlands CEO Tim Reid is open to the idea. “One of the things that has never made sense to me in our city is why we have two very large conference, convention and trade facilities that are run under different entities,” he told Metro.

Council will discuss the report at a Special City Council Meeting on August 31. You can dig into the full analysis here.

Media Monday Edmonton: Update #217

Here’s my latest update on local media stuff:

102.3 FM radio station Edmonton car
102.3 FM Now! Radio’s trucksicle, photo by jasonwoodhead23

And here is some slightly less local media stuff:

You can follow Edmonton media news on Twitter using the hashtag #yegmedia. For a great overview of the global media landscape, check out Mediagazer.

So, what have I missed? What’s new and interesting in the world of Edmonton media? Let me know!

You can see past Media Monday Edmonton entries here.

Edmonton Notes for August 21, 2016

Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:

Headlines

Five Towers and a Pyramid [Explored]
Five Towers and a Pyramid, photo by Jeff Wallace

Upcoming Events

ICE district Edmonton
Rogers Place on August 20, photo by jasonwoodhead23

Media Monday Edmonton: Update #216

Here’s my latest update on local media stuff:

Edmonton Bulletin
Throwback to the Edmonton Bulletin, photo by Bill Burris

And here is some slightly less local media stuff:

You can follow Edmonton media news on Twitter using the hashtag #yegmedia. For a great overview of the global media landscape, check out Mediagazer.

So, what have I missed? What’s new and interesting in the world of Edmonton media? Let me know!

You can see past Media Monday Edmonton entries here.

Edmonton Notes for August 14, 2016

I am working in London, UK for the week. Nice to be here in the summer for a change! I’ll be back to Edmonton on Saturday, August 20 just in time for our next What the Truck?! event! It takes place from 4-8pm at the Edmonton Ballpark (TELUS Field) with a great lineup of trucks. Hope to see you there!

Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:

Headlines

University of Alberta
Signs of fall already?

Upcoming Events

Edmonton Airshow2016 (3 of 10)
Edmonton Airshow, photo by Dale C

Coming up at City Council: August 15-19, 2016

Council is back from the summer break next week! Let’s hope they all got some much needed R&R.

City Hall

Here’s my look at what Council will be discussing in the week ahead. Interesting to see that a number of the reports now include a section called “Metrics, Targets, and Outcomes” in addition to the existing “Corporate Outcomes”. This is a welcome addition.

Meetings this week

You can always see the latest City Council meetings on ShareEdmonton.

Municipal Voting Age

The City of Edmonton Youth Council (CEYC) wants the Province to amend the Local Authorities Election Act to allow 16 and 17 year old citizens the right to vote. The CEYC voted in factor of asking for the change at their February 3, 2016 meeting and now they want Council to give them permission to send a letter requesting the change.

The letter the CEYC has prepared reads in part:

“Youth in Edmonton have proven they are ready for this change. Sixteen-­year-­olds already have rights permitting them to drive on city roads, be emancipated and live on their own, be in the army reserves, and be a parent, among many others. Through being able to handle these responsibilities youth have shown not only that they are ready but that they are competent in municipal issues.”

The report notes that “lowering the voting age has been successful in countries such as Norway, Austria, and Scotland to increase voter engagement and turnout.”

If Council accepts the recommendation, the letter will be sent to the Province. It would be great to see this change made and for it to take effect in time for next year’s elections!

River Valley Alliance

In February the River Valley Alliance submitted to its members a Draft Capital Program for 2017-2022 and now it needs the City of Edmonton’s approval in order to seek additional funding. “The total projected cost to complete the proposed River Valley Alliance trail system from Devon to Fort Saskatchewan is estimated at $200 million, of which close to $100 million of the proposed capital spending would occur within Edmonton’s municipal boundaries.” So far $72.9 million has been spent on River Valley Alliance projects like the Terwillegar Park pedestrian bridge and the new funicular, split evenly between the three orders of government.

The report identifies three next steps:

  • “If City Council supports the Draft Capital Program 2017-2022, Administration will continue to work with the River Valley Alliance to confirm alignments, land acquisitions, cost sharing agreements, phasing of construction and determination of alternate priorities (if required). At this time City Council would only be providing its tentative support for these projects with formal approval being subject to further work with the River Valley Alliance to identify a mutually agreed upon final list of projects based on better understanding of City and partner municipality priorities, project costs, schedule and logical project phasing.”
  • “Administration will continue to work with the River Valley Alliance to develop a proposed cost-sharing formula for the portion of the Draft Capital Program 2017 – 2022 within Edmonton’s municipal boundaries, which will be brought back to City Council for approval.”
  • “Administration will confirm with the River Valley Alliance that the City will continue its role in planning, operating, designing, building, operating and maintaining any future river valley capital projects within Edmonton’s municipal boundaries as described in the Draft Capital Program 2017-2022.”

The list of projects for 2017-2022 in Edmonton includes four new pedestrian bridges, three new boat launches & docks, and four new trails.

Fort Edmonton Foot Bridge
Fort Edmonton Foot Bridge, photo by IQRemix

Administration recommends that Council provide its conditional support for the projects “and that formal approval be subject to further work with the River Valley Alliance to identify a mutually agreed upon final list of projects based on better understanding of City and partner municipality priorities, project costs, schedule and logical project phasing.” Once the proposed list and cost-sharing formula are finalized, Administration would create a budget submission for consideration as part of the 2019-2022 Capital Budget.

Soccer Centres

This report responds to the inquiry Councillor Walters made in May about the current usage and capacity of the City’s indoor soccer centres. Here are the highlights:

  • Edmonton has two types of indoor soccer facilities: boarded (with a carpet surface) and non-boarded (with artificial turf).
  • There are three soccer centres that accommodate boarded soccer (northeast, southeast, west). Each facility has four playing surfaces for a total of twelve fields.
  • Collectively each year, the twelve fields have approximately 20,000 scheduled games, 23,700 hours utilized, 853,200 player visits for games, 138,000 spectators, and over $550,00 in revenue collected.
  • During prime time (5pm to 10pm Monday to Friday, 7am to 10pm on weekends) in the winter (September to March) the utilization rate of the three facilities is 94%. During prime time in the summer (April to August) the utilization rate is 54% and most of that is for sports other than soccer.
  • “The Recreation Facility Master Plan (2005-2015) reflects a service level ratio of one pitch to 55,000 residents. To maintain this, the Plan recommends two additional indoor pitches.”
  • The fieldhouse at the Commonwealth Community Recreation Centre is the only City-owned non-boarded indoor facility. “The only other indoor non-boarded facility in Edmonton, located at 14025 142 Street, is owned and operated by the Victoria Soccer Club.” A second turf facility is under construction there and is expected to open in November 2016.
  • “The St. Albert Soccer Association is proposing a partnership with the City of Edmonton and the City of St. Albert for a full-sized, indoor, artificial turf field on land owned by the City of Edmonton in north Edmonton.”

The report notes that soccer is particularly popular in our city. “Soccer is the number one minor sport activity in Edmonton based on the 2010 Current State of Sport assessment and census data shows the population under the age of nine grew by 13 percent from 2009 to 2014, which may lead to continued growth in registrations.”

Other interesting items

  • A new report recommends that City Policy C532 (Sustainable Building Policy) be updated “to ensure it aligns with City of Edmonton goals for a sustainable, energy resilient, low carbon Edmonton.” If approved, the updated policy is slated to return to Council in Q1 2017.
  • Council will receive a City of Edmonton Youth Council report on Experiential Graphic Design, defined as “involving the orchestration of typography, colour, imagery, form, technology, and content to create environments that communicate.” The idea is to integrate this thinking into the City’s recent wayfinding efforts. “Experiential Graphic Design could act as a powerful tool to help both residents and visitors navigate the city’s extensive pedestrian, bicycle and public transit networks, while forming memorable through personal interactions with their environments.”
  • There are three notices of intent to designate new Munipical Historic Resources for the Hunt Residence at 12520 109A Avenue NW, the Shop Easy Grocery at 11606 129 Avenue NW, and the John Wood Residence at 11833 102 Avenue NW.
  • A total of $28,675 is recommended in Travel Grant funding to 43 individuals.
  • A total of $330,700 is recommended in funding to support 18 facilities through the Arts Building Operating Grant program. The largest grant is $59,000 for the Metro Cinema Society.

Wrap-up

You can keep track of City Council on Twitter using the #yegcc hashtag, and you can listen to or watch any Council meeting live online. You can read my previous coverage of the 2013-2017 City Council here.

Media Monday Edmonton: Update #215

Here’s my latest update on local media stuff:

Edmonton Folk Festival 2016
Edmonton Folk Festival 2016, photo by Bo Lu

And here is some slightly less local media stuff:

  • I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while: John Oliver on Journalism. In that segment he said, “the media is a food chain which would fall apart without local newspapers,” and covered a range of familiar themes.
  • Contrast that with the fascinating changes taking place at the New York Times. In short, they’re going to do less local reporting in order to better go after their “lofty international ambitions.” Public Editor Liz Spayd wrote, “You can’t have your reporters parked in courthouses and police stations all day — or chasing fires — and still deliver memorable, ambitious stories that take time to produce.” I realize that New York and the Times are a bit different than everywhere else, but still.
  • In the Washington Post, Margaret Sullivan defended John Oliver’s 19-minute riff, saying “the whole Oliver piece was a pitch-perfect ode to how important newspapers are to their communities, and how troubling it is that they are fading.” The Newspaper Association of America was less than thrilled and accused Oliver of “petty insults.”
  • Tweeting about the Olympics? Be careful! Here are the many, many ways your business can get in trouble for doing so.
  • Should the government bail out the news business? That’s the topic of the latest Canadaland podcast.
  • Joshua Topolsky’s new site The Outline has been called “a New Yorker for millennials.” Good luck figuring out what that means, but their target reader “lives in urban areas”, is “really tech-savvy”, and “eats farm-to-table food,” among other things.

You can follow Edmonton media news on Twitter using the hashtag #yegmedia. For a great overview of the global media landscape, check out Mediagazer.

So, what have I missed? What’s new and interesting in the world of Edmonton media? Let me know!

You can see past Media Monday Edmonton entries here.