Edmonton Notes for November 13, 2016

Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:

Headlines

Supermoon, St Albert, Alberta
Supermoon, St. Albert, photo by Jeff Wallace

Upcoming Events

Remembrance Day 22682
Remembrance Day, photo by Premier of Alberta

Media Monday Edmonton: Update #227

Here’s my latest update on local media stuff:

Fort McMurray visit 21334
Photo by Premier of Alberta

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 November 6, 2016

I’m in Chicago this week! Sharon and I arrived late Thursday evening, just in time for the big Cubs parade on Friday. They say 5 million people attended, which sounds high, but no doubt there were a lot of people there. Very cool to be a part of it! Now we’re enjoying food, architecture, and everything else the city has to offer.

Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:

Headlines

Ice District
104 and 104

Upcoming Events

Terwillegar Park Footbridge
Terwillegar Park Footbridge

Avenue Edmonton’s Top 40 Under 40 for 2016

Tonight, Avenue Edmonton unveiled their latest cohort of Top 40 Under 40 honorees at the Royal Alberta Museum. This is the eighth year that the magazine has recognized amazing young Edmontonians doing great things in our city.

“Really, the fact that each annual list features so many people with new perspectives, ideas and causes is a tribute to how Edmonton incubates those who like to strike out on their own. We are a city of entrepreneurs and people unencumbered by worrying about what others think of us.”

“This year’s class is another exciting and eclectic mix of business leaders, philanthropists, doctors, scientists, fashionistas, artists and visionaries. They’ve all accomplished great things before they’ve hit their 40th birthdays. We can’t wait to see what they will do next.”

After including everyone on the cover last year, the magazine returns in 2016 to featuring a single honoree, Sylvia Soo:

Sylvia Soo

Here’s the Top 40 for 2016 and where you can find them online (in alphabetical order):

Congratulations to everyone who was recognized this year! I look forward to learning more about this new group of Top 40 alumni. You can read the November 2016 issue online here.

top 40 under 40

There were five judges who worked to determine this year’s cohort:

  • Trudy Callaghan, Avenue Edmonton Associate Publisher
  • Carolyn Campbell, Deputy City Manager, Communications & Engagement, City of Edmonton
  • Ken Crocker, Assistant Dean, Advancement at University of Alberta School of Business
  • David Jones, Sergeant, Edmonton Police
  • Dave Mowat, CEO, ATB Financial

Nominations for 2017 are open here and the deadline to nominate someone is April 30, 2017. Keep an eye on this page for updates. You can also follow Avenue Edmonton on Twitter.

Want to see who made the list in past years? Check out my posts from 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.

Media Monday Edmonton: Update #226

Trick or treat! Apparently the earliest reference of that term can be found in an 89-year-old newspaper clipping out of Blackie, Alberta.

Here’s my latest update on local media stuff:

Premier Rachel Notley visits Fort McMurray during wildfire recovery
Premier Rachel Notley visits Fort McMurray during wildfire recovery, photo by Premier of Alberta

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 October 30, 2016

Happy Halloween! Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:

Headlines

Brick and the Blues
Brick and the Blues, photo by Jeff Wallace

Upcoming Events

Elevate Food Fair
Elevate Food Fair opens in City Centre on Tuesday

Media Monday Edmonton: Update #225

Here’s my latest update on local media stuff:

Influenza immunization clinics open across the province 19419
Influenza immunization clinics open across the province, photo by Premier of Alberta

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 October 23, 2016

Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:

Headlines

Edmonton Skyline
Edmonton Skyline, photo by ALLEN QIAO乔谦之

Upcoming Events

Downtown Pedway Construction
Pedway Construction between Enbridge Centre and Manulife Place

Don’t get too excited about supertall building proposals in Edmonton

There’s nothing quite like a skyline-defining tower to get people excited. Earlier this week a proposal for an 80-storey tower in The Quarters known as the The Quarters Hotel and Residences caught the eye of many. Developers Alldritt Land Corporation LLP still need to get approval for the tower from City Council, something they’ll seek within the next year. But is this proposal really something we should get excited about?

After decades without any new towers being built downtown, I completely understand the appeal of these proposals. Especially with recent examples to point to like Enbridge Centre and the new City of Edmonton Tower, both of which are very attractive buildings. Not to mention the Stantec Tower, which will finally get Edmonton into the skyscraper club. Closing the City Centre Airport and removing the height restrictions over downtown made these buildings possible.

Kelly Ramsey Hero Shot
Kelly Ramsey Hero Shot, photo by David Sutherland

But those are office towers, not residential towers, and they’re located in the heart of our commercial core. When we look at residential towers elsewhere in our downtown and the surrounding neighbourhoods, density is what should be important to us, not necessarily height. We want to increase the population of our core neighbourhoods, but we don’t need record-setting heights in order to achieve that. And in fact, such heights might actually be detrimental.

I wrote about this back in June when the issue of changing downtown land economics came up before Council:

“A really tall tower on one site might be appealing for the impact it’ll have on the skyline, for the apparent “prestige” that comes along with height, and for the increased profits and/or reduced financial risks for the developer. But it could also mean that instead of development occurring on multiple sites, only the tall tower goes ahead. Look at it this way: would you rather have three 20-storey towers or one 60-storey tower?”

There is one other potential benefit of the supertall towers aside from being attractive and it’s that in theory Council can negotiate with the developers to ensure there are public good contributions made in exchange for the height. The problem is that the last time that opportunity came up with the 45-storey Emerald Tower in Oliver, we didn’t end up with a very good deal. This is partly because there are no formal rules for those negotiations.

At it’s July 6 meeting, Executive Committee passed the following motion in attempt to change that:

“That Administration conduct further research and stakeholder engagement towards a formalized review procedure and incentive system to be applied to Direct Control Provision rezoning applications that add Floor Area Ratio in the city core and Transit Oriented Developments, and return to Committee in the First Quarter of 2017.”

Ideally this framework will be approved before the proposed Quarters tower goes to Council.

Downtown Skyline

There are other reasons to question proposals for supertall buildings, of course. Plenty of proposals have come forward and then quietly disappeared, such as the 71-storey “Edmontonian” tower that was proposed back in 2013. More recently, there are concerns about the vacancy rate downtown with the approved towers coming online and the impact that’ll have on the residential market. And on top of that residential towers like Brad Lamb’s Jasper House Condos which haven’t started construction yet are now lowering prices. For all of these reasons there’s no guarantee that the proposed Quarters tower will go ahead.

Yes, it would be great to see The Quarters develop into a vibrant part of our downtown core, and maybe this building could help us achieve that. A supertall building there could do for The Quarters CRL what the Bow Building did for The Rivers District CRL in Calgary. It’s certainly better than a giant hole in the ground! But I’m not convinced a single, supertall building is what we should be pursuing for the area.

A similar discussion is playing out in cities like New York, albeit at a very different scale. Here’s the criticism that Diller Scofidio + Renfro co-founder Elizabeth Diller had for the multiple out-of-character skyscrapers being proposed in New York City:

“I believe in planning logics where you have neighbourhoods, and you don’t just do one building at a time. We need more planning vision in the city than there is now, where there’s no thinking of the effect of tall buildings. I believe in planning, and even zones that are planned up high. There are zones and then logics, and they have edges. There needs to be a consciousness of the urban adjacencies and the products of what the building comes with.”

Edmonton absolutely needs to build up rather than out, but we need to consider the impact that approving one supertall tower will have on the surrounding area. Multiple tall buildings is probably more desirable than one supertall tower.

Taproot Edmonton: We’re making progress!

Karen and I have made a lot of progress since announcing Taproot Edmonton nearly five months ago. I’ve been including some updates in my weekly media notes and we have a regular newsletter that we use to keep everyone updated but I thought it would be useful to summarize our progress in one post.

Taproot Edmonton

If you want to skip all of this and jump right into becoming a paying member, you can do that here. We’d love to have you!

What is Taproot Edmonton?

Here’s how we’re answering that question today:

Taproot Edmonton is a source of curiosity-driven stories about our city, cultivated by the community. We are building a new way to do local journalism, and a new way to fund it. We don’t sell eyeballs, and we don’t put up paywalls. We enlist our members to tell us what they’re curious about, we commission writers to explore those questions, then we publish the story for all to see.

We recently put together a video outlining what Taproot is and what we’re working to achieve:

As anyone who has tried to craft an elevator pitch knows, it’s not easy! We continue to iterate on the best way to communicate what we’re all about.

Members

Without our members, there is no Taproot. They give us the fuel we need to publish great local stories. Members share their curiosity with us and their questions are the starting point for our writers. In that way, members act as our assignment desk. They also provide us with the financial resources we need to pay writers fairly for the work they do.

We are very thankful to the more than 50 members who have joined us thus far – your support is making Taproot happen! But we need our membership to grow in order to continue moving forward. A Taproot membership is $100/year or $10/month. We hope you’ll consider joining us to help build the future of local journalism in Edmonton!

Story Garden

The Story Garden is central to how Taproot works. It’s the place that members go to post their questions, to comment and vote on other questions, and to interact with one another. In the early days we prototyped the Story Garden using online forms (we used Typeform) and we learned a lot through that process. It was a free, simple way to validate some assumptions and it allowed us to keep moving forward.

In August we launched the first version of our real Story Garden. We have big ambitions for the site but it’ll take time to achieve those. Our first version is a solid platform to build upon and we’re improving it as we learn from our members. We showed off the Story Garden on September 22 at DemoCamp Edmonton 32 and received some great feedback from the crowd there too.

Stories

We have published two stories so far:

I’m incredibly proud of both! Mel and Anna did some really great work and we have two high quality stories as a result. I hope you’ll check them both out if you haven’t already.

It took quite a bit of effort to get our first stories published. We had to make our theoretical process real and there was a lot to figure out and setup along the way. Now that we have, we are working toward ramping up our production of new stories. We’re not the kind of place that you’ll find ten new stories a day, but we would like to publish more frequently than once a month.

Future of Local Journalism

We are building Taproot because we know that the business model that used to support local journalism is broken. We want to find a new, sustainable approach that can ensure quality local journalism will exist in Edmonton and beyond. We know we’re not the only ones experimenting in this space, and that’s a great thing. We want to learn from others, collaborate when appropriate, and do our part to push the industry forward.

That’s why it was important to us to be a part of this list of 30+ examples of Canadian media innovation. And it’s why we wanted to be at Hacks/Hackers Connect in Toronto last month. Organizer Phillip Smith posted a recap of the event today, saying “we knew that by bringing participants together from coast-to-coast we had a unique moment to start some critical conversations about the shifting landscape of media facing Canadians in the next months, and years.”

What’s next?

We are thrilled to be one of the presenting companies at Launch Party 7 on Thursday evening. If you’re curious about Taproot and want to learn more, please come and talk to us about it.

Next month we’re going to be attending the People-Powered Publishing Conference in Chicago. We’re excited about the opportunity to connect with others working on innovative new approaches to participatory journalism.

We have a number of stories in the works and we can’t wait to share them with you! We’re working with some great local storytellers and our members have given us fantastic questions to explore. We’re also focused on improving the Story Garden and adding new value to our members.

You can help us do all of this by becoming a Taproot Edmonton member today. Thank you!