Edmonton Notes for August 7, 2016

Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:


Summer Sunset
Summer Sunset

Upcoming Events

Animethon 23, photo by ceasol

Media Monday Edmonton: Update #214

Here’s my latest update on local media stuff:

Servus Heritage Festival 2016
92.5 Fresh FM and 630 CHED at the Heritage Festival

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 July 31, 2016

Happy Long Weekend! Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:


Edmonton River Valley
Edmonton River Valley

Upcoming Events

Edmonton K-Days Exhibition 2016
Edmonton K-Days Exhibition 2016, photo by IQRemix

Summer fun at K-Days 2016

No summer in Edmonton is complete without a trip to K-Days to eat greasy food, take in the sights and sounds of the midway, enjoy some entertainment, and to stay up late for the fireworks. It’s something Sharon and I do every year, and this year we were fortunate to have our gate admission, food, and tickets to the TD Comfort Zone covered by Northlands. We visited on Saturday, and couldn’t have asked for better weather.

Swing of the Century on the midway

This being the year of the Pokémon Go craze, the game was everywhere. From the Pikachu and other plush characters being won at the midway games to the five PokéStops on site, good luck ignoring Pokémon if you attend K-Days this year.


It turns out the first new food item we ate this year was the best! The Meatball Sub on a Stick from Pizza Casa actually won 1st Place in the New Food Contest and we can see why. It took a few minutes to make, but it had great flavor, wasn’t messy to eat, and actually didn’t feel all that unhealthy! I really liked that the meatballs were wrapped in dough, rather that in a bun that was awkardly skewered which is what I had imagined.

Meatball Sub on a Stick

The Teriyaki Chicken Perogies from International Perogies were on our list of new food items to try, but once we got there we were swayed by the Poutine Perogies. The $12 price seemed a bit steep, but the portion size was actually pretty generous. Have a bottle of water on hand when you eat this dish, because it was a bit salty, but it was very tasty.

Poutine Perogies

There are two things I always eat at K-Days: a corn dog and mini donuts. This year I tried the Bacon BBQ Corn Dog, which was pretty good and not much different than a plain corn dog with BBQ dipping sauce actually. I also tried the new Big Pickle Dog from Chicky’s Chicken. I really wanted to like it, but it was awful. The pickle was way too big and much too difficult to bite into. And in trying to bite into it, hot pickle juice flew everywhere. Worse, the hot dog itself was soggy and slid right out of the centre of the pickle. Just avoid it.

Big Pickle Dog

Also on the avoid list was the Mac N’ Cheese Stuffed Burger from Gourmet Hand Made Stuffed Burgers. Aside from the highly questionable food safety practices of the vendor (even for K-Days) the dish just lacked flavor. Like the pickle dog, two things I love combined should have been amazing, but instead it was pretty disappointing.

Games & Attractions

I wouldn’t say that we’re big midway gamers, but Sharon does love Bowler Roller (the 25 cent version). Though we spent a few dollars there, she actually won on her very first roll! Aside from Pokémon characters, emoji seemed to be the other hot prize this year. She won two of them.

Sharon won an emoji

There was also fun to be had inside! We spent some time inside at TechLife where lots of people were playing video and board games. I’m tempted to go back on the weekend for the Canadian Drone Racing Championships! One of the more interactive features was the Jenga Giant games, which Felicia and Sharon played. They attracted a small crowd at one point because of the height they got to before it call came crashing down.


Back outside we visited the K-Days Pow Wow, produced in partnership with the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation. The pavilion features a different theme each day of the festival and “will host members from First Nation communities within Treaty Six and across Canada.” Every day between 3:30pm and 8:00pm you can experience a variety of traditional songs and dances.

Pow Wow Grand Entry

If I’m being honest it felt a little like it was tacked on, but to be fair we didn’t spend a lot of time at the Pow Wow. I do think it’s important to recognize that K-Days takes place on Treaty Six land and I hope this aspect of the festival can be built upon in future years.


In past years we have enjoyed the Super Dogs show inside the Expo Centre. This year, we watched the Peking Acrobats then went outside to take in The Canine Stars.

The Canine Stars

I mean, who doesn’t love dogs doing amazing stunts? They caught frisbees, jumped over incredibly high hurdles, and dove into a giant pool, splashing everyone around it. It’s the kind of event the crowd really gets into!

The Canine Stars

Entertainment, and specifically music, has been a focus for K-Days this year with great line-ups at both the North Stage and the South Stage. Shawn Hook, Rachel Platten, and Victoria Duffield are some of the artists you can hear at the North Stage, while major names like X Ambassadors, Moist, Tom Cochrane, Simple Plan, and Finger Eleven can be heard at the South Stage. On Saturday when we attended, I was thrilled that Matthew Good was performing!

For the first time, the South Stage was moved from the concrete jungle alongside the rides to the track infield at Northlands Park. With a capacity of more than 12,000, the fully-licensed, grassy infield gave the stage much more of a music festival vibe. Just to the left of the stage was the TD Comfort Zone, a VIP area “designed for those superfans who truly want a night to remember.” It’s a large, covered, raised structure with appetizers, a cash bar, and a great view of both the stage and the crowds. Compared to the 5,000 or so people out in the infield, the VIP area was pretty empty, and we think most in attendance were invited by Northlands. Still, it did make for a comfortable way to take in the show if beach balls and mosh pits aren’t your thing.

Matthew Good performs at the South Stage

The other great thing about the new South Stage is that it offers an amazing view of the fireworks! We’ve always made our way over toward the casino for fireworks in the past, but this year we were able to get closer and could see the lights of the midway in the background. I definitely recommend checking it out, even if you aren’t particularly interested in the musical act that night.


So far K-Days has had pretty good weather and with strong pre-sales thanks to the music line-up (I’ve heard twice as many pre-sales as last year), I think this could be an incredibly strong year for the festival. K-Days attendance peaked at 810,503 back in 2005. The festival was re-branded Capital EX the following year, and attendance plummeted to 688,369.

k-days attendance

What’s most interesting is that the average attendance for the seven Capital EX years was 731,992. That’s only slightly below the average of 753,933 for the preceding seven years. But the branding damage was done, and the switch back to K-Days in 2013 was widely celebrated.


So that was our experience this year! There’s a lot more to K-Days than we were able to take in, like rides, but we had lots of fun. Thanks to Northlands for the opportunity. You’ve got until Sunday to visit K-Days for yourself! You can see more photos from our 2016 experience here. You can read about our 2014 experience here. Be sure to check out Linda & Mike’s experience this year too!

Media Monday Edmonton: Update #213

Here’s my latest update on local media stuff:

CTV Edmonton’s “So you want to be an anchor?” at K-Days

And here is some slightly less local media stuff:

  • I meant to link to this last month: the crowdfunding campaign to launch The Calgarian ended with only a third of the pledges needed to continue. “Someone asked if I regretted starting this, since it cost me my job and failed in the end. I have to say I do not. It may have been a long-shot, but I believed it had a chance at success. If I hadn’t attempted this, I would have always wondered what might have been,” wrote Taylor Lambert, the man behind the project.
  • Just in time for the Olympics, TELUS is launching 4K on Optik TV in BC and Alberta. “Customers will require a 4K TV, a 4K PVR, as well as a minimum of Internet 50 to support 4K streaming.” You can learn more here.
  • Yahoo has agreed to sell its web businesses, including the purple brand and exclamation point, to Verizon for $4.8 billion. CEO Marissa Mayer is staying on for now. That means Verizon will own both AOL and Yahoo!
  • The Washington Post is going to adapt some of its stories for Medium. “One of Medium’s big draws is its emphasis on getting users to engage with the posts they read,” notes NiemanLab.
  • I guess we should prepare ourselves for more sponsored content: 75% of The Atlantic’s ad revenue and about 50% of Slate’s ad revenue come from the format, and others like the Times “have declared sponsored content to be an important part of their strategies.”

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 July 24, 2016

Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:


Downtown Rainbow
Rainbow over downtown this evening

Upcoming Events

Slide The City - Edmonton
Slide the City, photo by IQRemix

Media Monday Edmonton: Update #212

Here’s my latest update on local media stuff:

  • Kari Skelton has made a big announcement – she won’t be returning to Up! 99.3 FM. “When it came time to make a difficult decision, my little guy made it easy. My biggest honour and achievement is being a full-time mom. For now, that’s the job title I’m proud to keep.” Congrats!
  • Megan Voss has decided to leave the Sherwood Park News after a little over two and a half years. Her goodbye column should be published here on Tuesday. Best of luck Megan!
  • Check out 20 Questions with Stacey Brotzel. If she wasn’t in media she would be…”Marketing Mr. Brotzel’s hair gel.” Love it.
  • I will definitely admit to playing the “Find Any Good Song” game in the car. From Gig City on Edmonton’s radio scene: “So many stations creates a flipper’s paradise.”
  • It sounds like former Edmonton Journal reporter John MacKinnon is headed for Montreal. He was one of the folks let go when Postmedia merged the newsrooms back in January. I noticed he has been blogging on LinkedIn recently, so watch that space.
  • In the latest episode of Monetizing Your Creativity, Marty Forbes talks about podcasting. “Do you have a great career ahead of you in radio, podcasting, or both? We have some excellent advice here from one of North America’s most respected radio executives … someone who walks the talk, tweets the truth and podcasts his point-of-view.”
  • Here’s a great photo of the media folks that call City Hall their home away from home.
  • Be sure to check out the latest blog and podcast roundups from Seen and Heard in Edmonton.
  • Here’s a MIX 96 FM aircheck featuring Todd James.
  • The old CityTV space in Enterprise Square will serve as the temporary home for the Stanley Milner Library while the current location on Churchill Square is redeveloped. It’ll be great to see that part of Jasper Avenue activated!
  • Karen is teaching a workshop on August 4 about how podcasting can help get your word out at the new ATB Entrepeneur Centre. It’s free to register but space is limited.
  • The polls are open for Vue Weekly’s Best of Edmonton 2016 and there are plenty of media categories on the ballot (and a few online ones too). Voting closes August 22.

Premier Notely attends the India Film Festival of Alberta04
Premier Rachel Notedly poses with actor R. Madhavan at the India Film Festival of Alberta, photo by Premier of Alberta

And here is some slightly less local media stuff:

  • Rogers may be feeling the effects of having no Canadian teams in the NHL playoffs but TSN fared better without the NHL than expected. “TSN, for the most part, remains the network viewers turn to for NHL events outside of the games, such as the trade deadline and free agency.” Lots of good information in that article about both TSN and Sportsnet.
  • According to a recent CRTC report, about 160,000 Canadians cancelled their TV subscription last year. But losses were offset by increased prices, of course.
  • Netflix had forecasted it would add 2.5 million subscribers in Q2 but it only added 1.7 million and it blamed the miss on press about the price hike.
  • This is so incredibly interesting to me: “When the Republican National Convention kicks off in Cleveland Monday, BuzzFeed will have a reporter in everyone’s pocket. On Sunday, BuzzFeed launched BuzzBot, an automated chatbot for Facebook’s Messenger app.” I’m very eager to see what comes of it.

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 July 17, 2016

Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:


  • Have you been frustrated by the barriers on the High Level Bridge? Mayor Iveson has heard you, and blogged about it this weekend. “What I should have done was to ask for compassion for the emotionally difficult position Council has been in with respect to the barriers, and to ask for patience as we examine options to mitigate the conditions we’ve created.”
  • The Edmonton Bicycle Commuters Society, frustrated with the poor implementation of the barriers, suggested exploring the use of the top deck for a new pathway to ease congestion.
  • There was a lot of frustration at Council this week. “I think that’s what Edmontonians expect of their councillors is rigorous agreement or disagreement on the issues but not that any member of council be disagreeable with one another or city staff or the public,” the mayor said. Sounds like the summer break couldn’t have come at a better time.
  • Council did unanimously approve a review “that will look at Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy requests, closed-door council debates, and contracts kept secret for the benefit of third parties.” Councillor Mike Nickel made the motion and I really like his suggestion of sunset clauses so that information can be released after it is no longer sensitive. The report should come back in October.
  • On Friday, the Province of Alberta and Government of Canada announced funding to construction the southwest portion of the Calgary Ring Road. Mayor Don Iveson made a statement in response: “We are pleased that Calgary received the funding they needed for their ring road today and we’re hopeful Edmonton will soon see similar funding for top priority projects like upgrades to the Yellowhead Trail.”
  • Also Friday, the 102 Avenue Bridge over Groat Road finally reopened! There’s still some work to be done that will result in lane reductions during off-peak hours and on the weekends, but it should be all finished by the end of September. “The City of Edmonton thanks the local businesses on 102 Avenue and 124 Street, residents, motorists and trail users for their patience during bridge construction.”
  • The City has released a series of nine “Guiding Perspectives” reports as part of the new Transit Strategy development. They cover topics like “why people do or don’t take transit”, “how Edmonton’s transit system is performing”, and “how Bus Rapid Transit can be included in Edmonton’s transit system”.
  • Paula Simons wrote about the Edmonton Public Library’s temporary relocation to Enterprise Square while the Stanley Milner renovations take place. They’re leasing about 17,200 square feet of space. The Stanley Milner is slated to close in late December for three years. Here’s more on the move from EPL.
  • Startup Edmonton has released its Summer 2016 Update. They now have more than 120 members working in the space and more than 440 currently enrolled in programs.
  • The Edmonton Oilers signed winger Jesse Puljujarvi to a three-year entry level contract this week.
  • Dave Mulcair has some suggestions for improving the ePark app. “If you live in Edmonton and have used this app then you understand how painful it is to park a car with this app.”
  • The City of Edmonton will host the Canadian Open Data Summit in May 2017. The event will bring ” approximately 500 national leaders representing the public sector, non-profit, and private sector” to our city to discuss best practices and learnings around open data.
  • July’s big ticket event saw 3,449 violations handed out, including 3,030 for speeding.
  • Here’s a look at some of Edmonton’s power history from the Edmonton Power Historical Foundation.
  • For more recent headlines, check out ShareEdmonton.

The Rainbow
The Rainbow, photo by Jeff Wallace

Upcoming Events

Bridging, photo by Dave Sutherland

Thoughts on the proposed downtown mega-bars from Urban Sparq

The two mega-bars proposed for downtown have been top of mind for many this week. One would have an occupancy of 596 and would be located in the new Fox 2 Tower on 104 Street. The second would have an occupancy of 1,400 and would be located in the old Mothers Music location on 109 Street. If approved, these two mega-bars would represent a significant variance from the current zoning which allow for establishments of 100 licensed seats. CBC has reported that Urban Sparq, owner of Knoxville’s Tavern and The Pint, is the proponent behind both.

So far the opposition to these two proposals seems unanimous. Councillor Scott McKeen has called the proposals “ridiculous”. The Downtown Edmonton Community League has sent a letter expressing its concerns, as have numerous businesses and residents from 104 Street. Many more have shared their thoughts on social media, especially on the 104 Street Facebook page. Given this, it would be extremely bold of chief planner Peter Ohm and his team to approve these variances, or at least the one on 104 Street.

I too am opposed to the proposals, but perhaps not as vehemently as others.

Shopping 104 Street
Shopping 104 Street, photo by EEDC

To me, noise and disorder isn’t really the issue here. Just as I don’t feel any sympathy for the people who buy a house near Anthony Henday Drive and then complain about traffic noise, I don’t feel any sympathy for those who bought a condo in the Fox Towers or any other nearby tower, just a stone’s throw away from the arena & entertainment district, with an expectation of peace and quiet. It’s simply unreasonable. This is the heart of our city and it should be a lively, vibrant place. I’m not saying that downtown should only be for singles or DINKs, but on the spectrum of neighbourhoods in the city I would not expect downtown to be at the slow and quiet end.

I’m also not convinced that a large bar is going to be so much worse than 20,000 people filing out of the arena on a regular basis and into the surrounding area, including plenty of people who have already been drinking all night inside the arena. I recognize that most events will end a lot earlier in the evening than a bar would close, and maybe the impact from arena patrons will be minimal. But I’m not sure that’s a bet I’d make.

We don’t know what kind of establishment would go into the Fox Tower. With an occupancy of 600 it is large, but far smaller than the combined occupancy of Knoxville’s Tavern and Studio 107 (formerly Oil City Roadhouse and Vinyl) at 1,600. Urban Sparq’s other properties include The Pint and Denizen Hall, both of which have much better reputations than Knoxville’s does.

As someone who has lived on 104 Street for five years, I can tell you it’s not always quiet or orderly now. Weekend evenings are frequently full of hollering from the throngs of people moving through the area, and I’ve walked around my share of puke. For the most part however, establishments on our street have been great neighbours. Most of the time you’d have no indication that Kelly’s Pub or Mercer Tavern or Cask & Barrel are on the street. They do a reasonable job of helping to make 104 Street the well-regarded area that it is and the new Purple Flag designation reflects this. I think a community working together to set reasonable expectations can go a long way toward preventing the kinds of issues that so many seem concerned about. But you need to have a dialogue to do that.

I think the way the proponents have gone about this is just ridiculous, and I think as a city we should use this as an opportunity to better define how we expect these sorts of proposals to come forward. Council squandered an opportunity to set expectations about large towers by approving the Emerald Tower last month, so I hope the City doesn’t waste this opportunity to demand more from developers looking to occupy those buildings. It’s unacceptable to avoid engaging the community and it’s even worse to try to hide your involvement altogether. It says a lot about the character of the proponents and is a major reason I am opposed to the proposals.

That said, the response from the 104 Street community thus far hasn’t been great either. The low bar set by the proponent has been matched with a “we must stop this at all costs” kind of approach, including action committees formed in many of the residences along the street specifically to fight this. Where’s the invitation for dialogue? Also, I don’t for a second believe that as many people checked the zoning before they bought into the street as one would gather from reading all the responses. NIMBYism is just as applicable downtown as it is in the suburbs, it would seem.

The most common refrain I have seen from those opposed to the proposal is that it is out of character with 104 Street and could undo the great work that has happened over the last 20 years. I have great respect for everyone who has had a role in making 104 Street what it is today, but to say that one establishment would destroy all of that strikes me as a bit alarmist. Especially considering the number of businesses that have failed on 104 Street or moved elsewhere in just the last five years alone.

The issue is not that a large bar is too dissimilar to the smaller, more intimate venues that we currently have on the street. It’s that a mega-bar like this would probably be more like Knoxville’s Tavern in that it would sit closed most of the time, meaning we’d have yet another downtown street front devoid of life. Paula wrote about this too:

“Giant big-box bars of this type tend to stay closed during the day — and sometimes during most weeknights. They often only open on Friday and Saturday nights. That means big hollow spaces sit vacant much of the week, draining life from the street. That’s not vibrancy at all.”

I get that the folks opposed are not saying they are opposed to vibrancy and business development in general. But it really comes off as, “as long as it’s vibrancy that we approve of.” Again, this could be an opportunity to identify what kinds of businesses we do want on the street and to then do something about it. How can we attract them?

Most of the discussion so far, as above, has been about the proposed bar for the Fox 2. There has been much less said about the bar proposed for the Mothers Music building, even though it is much larger and is potentially even more problematic. Consider that the building Knoxville’s Tavern currently occupies is slated to be demolished to make way for a new development and that the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board dismissed an appeal against the 388-seat Hudson’s that will open just down the block from The Pint on 109 Street. It makes sense to move the 1,000 seat Knoxville’s to the 1,400 seat Mothers Music building rather than to a smaller, more expensive location, and a proposal for a 600 seat bar on 104 Street at the same time seems like a perfect distraction. Instead of discussing whether or not we really want 2,200 licensed seats along the 109 Street strip from Jasper Avenue to 103 Avenue, the discussion is all about the supposed destruction of 104 Street. Which do you think would be worse for cleanliness, disorder, and safety?

On the Edge
On the Edge, photo by Dave Sutherland

Furthermore, there’s a bigger discussion here we should be having about the impact of Ice District. Will event-goers really need additional places to party after the arena closes? Should those places be in the district or elsewhere in the downtown? What is the impact on policing, transportation, and other considerations for each approach? These are all important questions that need exploration.

As I said, I am opposed to both proposals in their current forms. I think they would result in less truly vibrant streets and I think we should make an example of them to set expectations and to encourage higher quality proposals in the future. I am disappointed in the knee-jerk NIMBYism on display here though, and I’m concerned it is distracting us from the bigger picture. I think it is really unlikely the City will approve these variances, and I hope that once the rejections come through, we can continue the dialogue on some of the related and very important questions that these proposals have raised.

Media Monday Edmonton: Update #211

Here’s my latest update on local media stuff:

Rob Hislop shooting at the TrackTown Olympic Trials, photo by Don Voaklander

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.