Final What the Truck?! event of the season is Friday at Churchill Square!

What a season we’ve had for food trucks in Edmonton! We’re up to well over 70 trucks in the Edmonton area now, which is great news for diners looking for diverse menu options and lots of selection. We’ve had a good year with What the Truck?! more specifically as well. By the time our season is done this weekend, we’ll have featured more than 60 different trucks at our events and already this year we’ve connected 250 events with food trucks.

What the Truck?! at Churchill Square
May 2015 was our busiest event ever

It might have been a chilly long weekend but summer is not over yet! Our final event of the season is going to be Edmonton’s biggest yet, with 35 trucks participating:

What: What the Truck?!
Where: Sir Winston Churchill Square
When: Friday, September 11, 2015
Time: 4-8pm
RSVP on Facebook!

You can check out the full lineup and menus here. This is our second event of the year at Churchill Square, as we started the season there back in May.

If you came to the May event this year and had a negative experience, I’d encourage you to give the event another shot. We’re always learning and trying to improve things, and we’ve worked with the food trucks to make some behind-the-scenes changes that should help. The number of menu items has been reduced, we’ve implemented a line-management system so that you don’t get stuck waiting for something that is sold out, and of course we have ten more trucks! If you came to our June, July, or August events, you’ll know that May was unusually busy and that your typical experience is much more positive.

If you’ve never been to What the Truck?! before, that’s okay too – we’d love to see you on Friday! Be sure to come prepared by checking out our FAQs and reading our Tips & Tricks page.

Stay tuned to our website, Facebook event, and Twitter for updates and other details!

Media Monday Edmonton: Update #171

Here’s my latest update on local media stuff:

Business in Edmonton

And here is some less-local media stuff worth mentioning:

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 9/6/2015

Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:


Downtown Wedding
The rain couldn’t stop this wedding party!

Upcoming Events

World Triathlon Series Tour 2015 - Edmonton
World Triathlon Series Tour 2015, photo by IQRemix

The Metro Line is open: Edmonton’s LRT now extends north to NAIT

Today the oft-delayed Metro Line LRT extension from Churchill Station to NAIT opened. The 3.3 km extension adds a second operational line to Edmonton’s LRT Network Plan, and features the first new stations in four years. But today’s launch was very different than the two most previous extension openings, to South Campus in 2009 and Century Park in 2011. Those extensions opened with great fanfare featuring politicians making speeches and shaking hands. The Metro Line opened quietly this morning with no ceremony.

MacEwan LRT Station
Train to NAIT leaves MacEwan Station

The Metro Line features three new stations: MacEwan, Kingsway/Royal Alex, and NAIT. The extension is expected to add 13,200 weekday riders to the system, and ETS says it has “capacity for considerable growth” once the line eventually extends into St. Albert.

The service that launched today isn’t exactly what was planned, of course. The line has been repeatedly delayed, ostensibly due to issues with the signalling system. The Metro Line was planned to open in April 2014, but here we are in September 2015 with what the City is calling a “staged approach” to bringing it into service. Here’s what that means:

  • Metro Line trains will run every 15 minutes between Century Park and NAIT.
  • They will also occasionally run between Health Sciences/Jubilee and NAIT (weekdays after 10pm, Saturdays after 7pm, and all day Sundays).
  • Every third train running between Churchill and Century Park will be a three-car Metro Line train (most of the time).
  • Trains are operating with “line of sight” which restricts the speed of trains between MacEwan and NAIT to 25 km/h, half the planned speed.
  • This means travel time between Churchill Station and NAIT is approximately 14 minutes.

Sharon and I decided to check out the new extension this afternoon, starting our journey from our home station at Bay/Enterprise Square. It’s been chilly and raining all day (and still is as I write this) but that didn’t stop us!

Bay/Enterprise Square LRT Station

The Metro Line was designed to operate between NAIT and the existing Health Sciences Station, so both the Metro Line and Capital Line share the stations in between (and actually will share stations all the way to Century Park as part of this interim service). That means you need to pay attention to the destination of the train you’re boarding.

Edmonton LRT
On the train!

Though there are clear announcements, this is going to be an issue for new riders. As our train was leaving Churchill Station, another announcement was made and a couple in front of us realized they had gotten on the wrong line. I expect this’ll happen quite a bit over the next few weeks.

It’s just a few moments after the track returns above ground that you arrive at MacEwan Station. I would not be surprised at all if it is renamed MacEwan/Rogers Place at some point in the future. The new arena is such a major part of the station that it almost seems inappropriate that it’s not reflected in the name!

MacEwan LRT Station
MacEwan LRT Station

This station we had previously explored as it’s just a short walk from home. Thinking about it now, it would have been much faster to walk and catch the train there than waiting for a Metro Line train to take us from Bay/Enterprise Square.

MacEwan LRT Station
Future walkway to Rogers Place (and 104 Street) from MacEwan Station

MacEwan Station is just a short walk across 105 Street to MacEwan University. The landscaping and park around the station is quite attractive, though it can be a little confusing at first where to enter and exit the platform (at least from the west side).

MacEwan LRT Station
MacEwan Station

Upon leaving MacEwan Station you immediately notice the reduced speed of the train. It feels comically slow at times. Still, riding the train to NAIT or Kingsway is certainly convenient, even if it takes a few minutes longer than expected.

Kingsway/Royal Alex LRT Station

Aside from being close to the Royal Alexandra Hospital, the Kingsway/Royal Alex station is also adjacent to the relatively new bus terminal. If you’re a transit rider, the new station is going to be great. If you’re a driver though, be prepared to wait.

Kingsway/Royal Alex LRT Station

The longest wait seemed to be for cars turning east onto 111 Avenue from 106 Street. There wasn’t much traffic today, so the waits probably weren’t too bad, but during rush hour I could see a 10 minute or longer wait being very realistic. The rumor flying around this weekend is that waits will last 16 minutes or more, but the City says this won’t be the case. “To be clear — the City does not expect the Metro Line to cause 16 minute traffic delays at these intersections all the time,” they wrote.

Kingsway/Royal Alex LRT Station
Trains pass each other at Kingsway/Royal Alex Station

I really like the design of the station, with its enclosed, heated waiting areas and very attractive wood features. Oddly though, it’s probably faster to walk to Kingsway Mall from NAIT Station than it is from Kingsway/Royal Alex Station. That’s because you have to cross two roads to get to Kingsway Mall, not to mention waiting for trains to go by (which are slower than normal, remember). So this will probably be the station I use least, unless I need to make a bus transfer.

NAIT LRT Station

Once the train very slowly makes its way up 106 Street and across Princess Elizabeth Avenue, you arrive at NAIT Station. This is going to be a big win for students and means that all of our major education institutions are now more or less connected via LRT (with NorQuest getting even better connectivity when the Valley Line LRT opens).

NAIT LRT Station
NAIT Station with Kingsway Mall to the left

As mentioned it’s just a short walk across Princess Elizabeth Avenue to the Sears side of Kingsway Mall. Unfortunately the sidewalk ends almost as soon as you get to the south side of the street, and you’re left dodging vehicles racing in and out of the parkade. That’s one improvement that could definitely be made.

NAIT LRT Station
The current end of the line at NAIT

NAIT Station is currently the end of the line, but if you look northwest you can see what will eventually become Blatchford (which will have its own LRT station).

At NAIT Station
Selfie at NAIT Station!

Even though this “staged approach” is not ideal, it’s very exciting to have the Metro Line open at long last. Our experience today was very positive, but the real test will come Tuesday morning as students are back to school and everyone else is back to work. You can learn more about the Metro Line opening at the Transforming Edmonton blog.

Lincoln Ho of Yegventures rode the very first train this morning – watch his YouTube feed for the video. You can see more photos from our trip today here.

Coming up at City Council: September 7-11, 2015

Monday is a holiday so the public hearing will take place on Tuesday and the Council meeting has been pushed to Wednesday. It looks like it’s going to be a finance-heavy week!


On Friday the City announced a new proposed Vehicle for Hire Bylaw, intended to give companies like Uber a way to operate legally. You can download the PDF to read here and be sure to fill out this survey by September 10 with your feedback. The results will be presented along with the bylaw at Executive Committee on September 16.

And tomorrow, Sunday, September 6, the Metro Line LRT will finally open to the public. It’s not going to be operating as expected, with slower trains, manual signals, and big delays, but it’s a start.

Meetings this week

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

Projected Year-End Operating Financial Results

As of June 30, 2015, the City is projecting a loss of $10.6 million for the year, or 0.4% of the overall expense budget. This is being blamed on higher than expected costs for snow removal, pothole repair, and vehicle maintenance, plus greater than expected losses on tax appeals and other tax adjustments. It could have been worse though, as the City has saved a lot on fuel costs across the board and also on personnel due to the delay of the Metro Line LRT which delayed hirings.

Under the heading “potential impacts to be monitored”, the report highlights the following:

  • Police Association and Senior Police Officers Association contracts expired last year and are currently under negotiation.
  • Snow and ice control costs are weather-dependent and difficult to predict.
  • Fluctuating fuel costs have historically impacted results, even though the City buys half its annual fuel at a fixed price.
  • The exchange rate could make parts for vehicle maintenance more expensive.
  • The general economic downturn could have an impact.

Here are the Municipal and Consumer Price Index projections:

price index updates

For an update on inflation, employment, and other economic indicators in Edmonton, check out this report.


As required by City Policy C217B, Administration is currently reviewing the City’s reserve and equity accounts, with a report to be presented to Council in October. The last review was completed in October 2012. Our current or year-end projected reserve balances are as follows:

  • Financial Stabilization Reserve – $90.9 million
  • Current Planning Reserve – $28 million
  • Traffic Safety & Automated Enforcement Reserve – $25.3 million

CRL Updates

From the report: “Community Revitalization Levy revenue and/or expense variances may change throughout the year as work progresses and financial impacts become more certain.” Here’s the status of our three CRLs:

  • The Belvedere CRL is projected to end 2015 with a deficit of $0.4 million and a cumulative deficit balance, since inception, of $5.8 million. It’s not expected to have an annual positive net position until 2023.
  • The Downtown CRL is projected to end 2015 with a deficit of $4.6 million and a cumulative deficit balance, since inception, of $8.2 million. The Downtown CRL is expected to have an annual positive net position from 2019 onward, but we’ll still be playing catchup until 2022.
  • The Quarters CRL is projected to end 2015 with a surplus of $3 million and a cumulative deficit balance, since inception, of $5.9 million. The report says the Quarters CRL is “performing better than forecast” in the original plan, and should be in a positive position as of 2024.

You can learn more about CRLs here.

Debt Update

There was a lot of discussion about Edmonton’s municipal debt during the municipal election back in 2013, which I wrote about here. At the time, our debt stood at about $2.2 billion or 53.4% of the MGA-allowed debt limit.

According to the latest figures, Edmonton’s debt currently sits at just over $2.9 billion and is expected to top $3 billion by the end of the year, which would be 59.3% of the MGA-allowed debt limit. Our debt servicing, which includes annual principal and interest repayments, is expected to reach 33% of the allowed limit for the year. The City has set more conservative limits than the MGA does:

“For 2015, debt servicing is projected to be 53.6% of the debt service limit for all borrowing and 70.6% of the limit for tax-supported operations, as defined under the City’s policy.”

The report notes that “the percentage of the debt servicing limit utilized increased significantly in 2015 and will increase again in 2017 due to the repayment of $60 million of short-term borrowing in each of 2015 and 2017.” Those repayments are for $120 million that was borrowed to fast-track capital expenditures for projects that were ultimately funded through MSI or the provincial fuel tax.

Capital Finance Update

This report provides an update on financial results for the first six months of the 2015-2018 Capital Budget. Because we’re so early still in the four-year plan, most projects should be on-time and on-budget. The approved budget value is $7.9 billion, which includes carry-forward from 2014 and approved expenditures beyond 2018. The City has 448 active profiles with planned expenditures in this budget cycle.

As of June 30, 2015, the six month spend was $321.6 million. Of the 85 significant capital projects identified (meaning they have costs greater than $20 million), 77 have been classified as green, two are categorized as yellow and 6 are flagged as red.

You can see the complete breakdown of project status here, but I’ve summarized the high profile ones as follows, sorted by size of budget:

Project Status Planned Completion Projected Completion Approved Budget
Valley Line LRT Green December 2020 December 2020 $1.8 billion
Metro Line LRT Red April 2014 September 20151 $665.8 million
Blatchford Redevelopment Green December 2038 December 2038 $631.9 million
Downtown Arena Green December 2017 September 2016 $605 million
Neighbourhood Renewal Green Annually Annually ~$452 million
Westwood Transit Garage Yellow December 2017 March 2018 $201.5 million
Walterdale Bridge Red December 2015 December 2017 $154.8 million
Northwest Police Campus Yellow December 2017 March 2018 $106.9 million
River Valley Alliance Projects Red December 2014 December 2017 $76.1 million
41 Avenue/QEII Interchange Green Fall 2015 Fall 2015 $72.5 million (City)
$205 million (total)
Milner Library Renewal Green December 2018 December 2018 $62.5 million
Great Neighbourhoods Red December 2018 March 2020 $60.4 million
The Quarters Phase 1 Green December 2015 September 2015 $52.1 million
The Quarters Phase 2 Green December 2018 September 2018 $43.2 million
102 Avenue Bridge Red December 2015 October 2016 $32.0 million

1 – Yes the Metro Line technically opens tomorrow, but it’s not what we were expecting.

Committee Recommendations

Recommendations that have come forward from Committee include:


There are a number of bylaws on both agendas. Here are a few highlights:

  • Bylaw 17298 makes amendments to the Community Standards Bylaw regarding backyard fire pit use, and is ready for three readings.
  • Bylaw 17297 makes amendments to the Public Places Bylaw to prohibit the use of e-cigarettes, and is ready for three readings.
  • Bylaw 17353 makes amendments to the Procedures and Committees Bylaw to ensure compliance with the Supreme Court’s decision prohibiting prayer at Council meetings.
  • Bylaw 17361 would rezone the property at 10349 122 Street NW in Oliver from RA7 to DC2, to allow for high density, mixed-use development. Plans call for an 11 storey residential building. I hope they don’t interfere with the beautiful boulevard trees on that street.
  • Bylaw 17347 would allow for the development of a grocery store at 403 McConachie Way NW.
  • Bylaw 17359 would rezone the property at 13218 102 Avenue NW in Glenora from RF1 to RF2, to allow for the existing house to be replaced with three new single detached homes. A notice was sent to surrounding property owners and the Glenora Community League, and in response the City received 8 letters and 23 emails of concerns and opposition. Such is the state of infill in Edmonton.

Other interesting items


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 #170

Here’s my latest update on local media stuff:

“I really wish I could’ve made Edmonton my home, but the truth is, the air-quality, and the pollution made it impossible for me to stay. There really does need to be more public awareness about the air-quality here, and the horrible pollution with the coal in the refineries.”

And here are some less-local media things worth sharing:

Podcasting in 2004
My podcasting setup circa August 2004 (I still have and use that board actually)

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 8/30/2015

Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:


Legislature Fountain
Legislature Fountain, photo by Dave Sutherland

Upcoming Events

The End of the World
“The End of the World” in Edmonton

Coming up at City Council: August 31 – September 4, 2015

Council is back to Committee meetings this week. Below are a few highlights from the week’s agendas with links to the reports and more information.

City Council Swearing In 2013-2017

Meetings this week

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

Metro Line Update – Testing Results

The report is not yet available, but Council is slated to receive an update on the results of testing at the Transportation Committee meeting on Wednesday. The City is planning to open the Metro Line LRT on September 6 using a modified approach (slower trains, line of sight operation, etc). Last week Council discussed the auditor’s report.

Wildlife Management

A response to an inquiry by Councillor Walters provides some information on the management of coyotes within the city. Here’s what we learned:

  • 311 received 3600 inquiries/complaints about wildlife in 2013, 4500 in 2014, and 2500 so far in 2015. “It is estimated that coyote-related issues represent the majority of these calls.”
  • The City has started tracking coyote-specific inquiries in June 2015.
  • Research shows that coyotes are the top animal predator in an urban area. They help to reduce the abundance of “pests” like mice, rabbits, and grasshoppers, but they can get too comfortable around people and then become a nuisance.
  • Coyotes are considered a nuisance if they attack a human or animal, pose a risk to public safety, loiter in “safety sensitive locations”, establish a den in residential neighbourhoods, or are sick or incapacitated in residential neighbourhoods or parkland.

Coyote near Elk Island Park, photo by Shawn McCready

“While most of the existing and future plans seek to enhance and protect wildlife habitat diversity and reduce human wildlife conflict, there continues to be a growing need for a faster enforcement response, improved educational effort and more support for wildlife research and rehabilitation.”

Project Watch

UPDATE: This item has been moved to September 3.

Project Watch is “a collaborative initiative between the City of Edmonton and Province of Alberta to ensure safe housing conditions for vulnerable individuals and families that are temporarily housed in commercial accommodation.” Mayor Iveson made an inquiry about the program back in June and the report being discussed this week provides background and an update on what Administration has done to help.

Here’s how the City has been involved:

  • Research, inspections, and enforcement for infractions to the Zoning Bylaw 12800.
  • Review of business licenses.
  • Coordination and assistance from the Landlord and Tenant Advisory Board and Housing Programs.
  • Enforcement of the Community Standards Bylaw 14600, to address “any exterior aesthetic deficiencies, including nuisances on land and on buildings.”
  • A Fire Prevention Officer attends all Project Watch inspections and provides public safety and awareness.
  • Inspections and enforcement for Building Safety Codes.

Administration is working to “develop clear communication protocols” with the Edmonton Police Service and the two will continue meeting to support the initiative.

While additional budget is not being requested, Administration is assigning one full-time employee to the project.

Valley Line LRT Street Closures

Wednesday’s Transportation Committee meeting will include a non-statutory public hearing for 38 different road closure bylaws. These closures are intended to “promote the safe interaction of trains, vehicles and pedestrians along the Southeast to West LRT (the ‘Valley Line’) alignment.” The associated documents say that “construction of the Valley Line is scheduled to begin in 2016 and will result in changes to various streets and vehicular access points along the alignment.”

Implications of the Alberta Wetlands Policy in the Edmonton Region

Implementation of the Alberta Wetlands Policy began on June 1, 2015, but there are still plenty of details yet to be released. Council previously recommended that the Mayor write a letter to the Province outlining concerns with the policy. The Province responded acknowledging the concerns and committed to working with the City to address them.

The report identifies a number of implementation issues, including a risk that “if the Province maintains current compensation rates it may result in further loss of wetlands in the City.” Other potential issues include “hydrological impacts that make it difficult to sustain natural wetlands,” “an increased number of wetlands regulated by the Province within the City of Edmonton,” and “the transfer of compensation funds collected in Edmonton and spent on wetland restoration/conservation projects outside of Edmonton represents a flow of money from one municipality to another municipality without any benefit to the citizens of Edmonton.”

Whitemud Wetland
Whitemud Wetland, photo by Kurt Bauschardt

Administration has identified three options for addressing recommendations of the Wetland Task Force (which was formed in 2014 to consider the impact of the new policy). The first is to advance work with existing resources, the second is to add a full-time employee and spend $500,000 on “external services” over two years, and the third is to add a full-time employee and spend $700,000 on external services over two years.

Other interesting items

  • The Community Services Advisory Board 2014 Annual Report and the City of Edmonton Youth Council Annual Report will be discussed by Community Services Committee on Monday.
  • Bylaw 17297 will amend the Public Places Bylaw to prohibit the use of e-cigarettes in the same manner as tobacco products.
  • Bylaw 17298 will amend the Community Standards Bylaw to “formalize the creation of a nuisance condition related to backyard fire pit activities.”
  • A response to an inquiry from Councillor Knack provides information on the Home for Life Initiative, part of Age-Friendly Edmonton, “focused on promoting home design features that allow seniors and people with varying abilities to live in their homes independently.”
  • The first Neighbourhood Structure Plan (NSP) with the Decoteau ASP is being developed. Currently identified as the North Neighbourhood, it will include parks, roadways, and sewers as you might expect, but will not include a library, fire station, or police station. Development is slated to start in 2020.
  • A new report outlines the authority of Administration to grant variances as part of Development Permit applications.
  • Bylaw 17353 is an update to the Procedures and Committees Bylaw to ensure compliance with the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision on prayer at Council meetings. “On April 15, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada issued its decision in Mouvement Laique Quebecois v. Saguenay (City) 2015 SCC 16, 2015 CSC 16. The court ruled that municipalities must be neutral in matters of belief and non-belief.”
  • Amendments to the Zoning Bylaw are being considered to reduce parking requirements for minor eating and drinking establishments.
  • Currently you don’t have to be a resident of Edmonton to be appointed to civic agencies, but a new report details a couple of options to change that. Many other municipalities require residency but allow Council to make exceptions.
  • Council will receive a private update on the Vehicle for Hire bylaw on Tuesday. We must be getting close the proposed changes for Uber. UPDATE: This item has been moved to September 3.
  • The only item on the agenda for the Performance Evaluation Committee is a verbal report on Consulting Firm Interviews.


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 #169

Here’s my latest update on local media stuff:

Media Room at City Hall
Waiting for a news conference to start at City Hall

And here are some less-local media things worth sharing:

  • Another National Post uproar! A column written by Margaret Atwood criticizing Stephen Harper was posted, taken down, then reposted. Why? First the claim was a lack of fact checking, then it was because it didn’t align with the values of the Post and its readers. The issue was dubbed #hairgate on Twitter.
  • “That Conservative Leader Stephen Harper dislikes the media is well known,” writes Jeffrey Simpson in The Globe and Mail. He goes on to say that the party “beats up on the press to raise money” and is successful doing so.
  • Did you read the massive New York Times feature on the culture of Amazon’s workplace? Public Editor Margaret Sullivan examines whether the portrayal was on target or not.
  • The Columbia Journalism Review asks, is it ethical to write about hacked Ashley Madison users? “On Thursday morning, the hosts of an Australian radio show invited listeners to call in if they suspected their partners of cheating. The hosts would then search for the supposed cheaters’ names in the membership rolls of Ashley Madison, a dating Web site that appeals to married adults…” Yeah, it didn’t take long for that to go south (or do they say “go north”, being down under and all?).
  • Another interesting one from CJR: How local papers are looking ‘over the top’ as part of a new model for video. I’ve definitely thought about this in the context of the Edmonton Journal. They’ve been doing more and more audio and video, and it’s good stuff, if you’re willing to deal with the horrible website to launch. But what if they had their own digital streaming channel?
  • Reading long-form journalism is a part of my weekly routine now, but the idea of ‘slow journalism’ takes that to another level, with long pieces written over long periods of time. “Slow journalists measure reporting time in months or years, rather than days, and see the form as something more than just a reboot of long-form narrative nonfiction.”
  • This one is only tangentially about media, but I found it fascinating: The Creative Apocalypse That Wasn’t. “In the digital economy, it was supposed to be impossible to make money by making art. Instead, creative careers are thriving — but in complicated and unexpected ways.”

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 8/23/2015

Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:


Treaty 6 Recognition Day
Premier Rachel Notley, Mayor Don Iveson, Treaty 6 First Nation Grand Chief Tony Alexis, and Chiefs representing the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations

Upcoming Events

Neat shot of a crane downtown by Dennis Cambly