Edmonton Notes for May 24, 2020

It started out wet, but the weekend turned into a beautiful one. We were busy in the garden and went for a walk on Sunday in the sun to show Emily the Talus Dome. There were an awful lot of people out enjoying the weather, though everyone did seem to be obeying the physical distancing rules. We certainly didn’t see anything close to what happened at Trinity Bellwoods in Toronto. Instead, Edmontonians had to be reminded to stay off the river and away from the river banks (Edmonton Fire Rescue Services had to rescue a dog on Sunday morning). Stay safe!

Talus Dome

Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:

Headlines

  • The relaunch is underway in Edmonton. On Friday, "playgrounds, skateparks, tennis, pickleball, volleyball and basketball courts, disc golf, outdoor fitness parks and athletic tracks" started to reopen. EPark fees will be reinstated starting June 8 and the Edmonton Valley Zoo is slated to reopen on June 15.
  • The City also relaxed rules for new temporary patios, sidewalk cafes, and outdoor retail operations.
  • Mayor Don Iveson said in an interview with CBC News that the City may be forced to shut down public transit for the summer due to the financial impacts of COVID-19. "The idea of spending less on it in the warmer months so that we have more to spend in the colder months is just one possible scenario," he said. Ridership is down 70-80% and the City projects a net loss of more than $33 million for transit due to the pandemic. On Twitter, Iveson clarified that "shutting down transit would be an absolute LAST resort for us."
  • “I can’t imagine a better place to come to than the home of the Edmonton Oilers or this province that has done so much for the sport of hockey and for the NHL for decades,” said Premier Jason Kenney, responding to questions about the NHL’s plans to resume hockey. “It just makes so much sense, so we will be making a significant pitch.” Mayor Don Iveson sent a letter to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman that said "by bringing hockey back to a smaller market, the NHL would generate a significant boost to a great hockey city that has long laboured to create conditions to support the game."
  • Troy and I discussed the possible transit changes and the NHL hub city possibility on the latest episode of Speaking Municipally.
  • Mayor Don Iveson and the mayors of most Edmonton-area municipalities have sent a letter to Premier Jason Kenney asking for help in securing federal funding due to the COVID-19 pandemic, reports Global News. “As we look ahead to the reopening and relaunch phases, now is the time to ensure municipalities are not grappling with financial uncertainty,” the letter said.
  • The Edmonton International Airport (EIA) said it has been forced to reduce its workforce by up to 40% which is up to 100 positions.
  • The City of Edmonton has mailed more than 400,000 property tax notices to Edmonton property owners. "The payment deadline is June 30 but, this year, late-payment penalties on unpaid taxes will not be charged until September 1." Notices are also available online.
  • Home sales in Edmonton recorded over MLS systems dropped by 46.6% in April compared to March, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.
  • Baseball Edmonton, a group of 20 people including former Edmonton Oiler Randy Gregg who serves as managing director, has been awarded the 10-year lease (beginning April 2021) to operate RE/MAX Field, reports Global News. In a statement, the City of Edmonton said, “We are supportive of the group’s vision for the facility, its commitment to advancing baseball in Edmonton and continuing to ensure community access to RE/MAX Field.”
  • Richard Skermer, president and CEO of RWE Events and producer of the Edmonton Airshow, has been awarded the J.A.D. McCurdy Trophy from the Royal Canadian Air Force Association, "in recognition of outstanding and praiseworthy achievement by a Canadian in the field of civil aviation."
  • Get the latest on Media, Tech, Food, Health Innovation, the Region, Music, Arts, Business, and Council with Taproot Edmonton’s latest roundups.

Upcoming Events (May 25-31)

The vast majority of upcoming events have been cancelled or postponed. If you’re unsure, just stay home – especially if you’re feeling sick.

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Edmonton Notes for May 3, 2020

As of May 3 at 3:30pm, there are 5,766 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, including 504 in the Edmonton zone. There have been 95 deaths in Alberta due to the disease.

The Government of Alberta’s page on COVID-19 has the most up-to-date information for our province. Anyone who has health concerns or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should complete an online COVID-19 self-assessment. The new ABTraceTogether app might protect you from being unknowingly exposed and possibly spreading the disease.

Ice District

Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:

Headlines

  • City Council voted 9-4 to approve a shift in taxes from businesses to homeowners. The 2020 tax levy increase has been set at 2.5% for residential property owners and 0% for non-residential property owners. Combined with the reduction in provincial education taxes this year, the net effect is a 0% tax increase for residential property owners and a 2% decrease for non-residential property owners. Councillors Nickel, Banga, Paquette, and Knack voted against the change in tax share.
  • "A city relies on its businesses to drive employment and the economy — as well as our quality of life," wrote Mayor Don Iveson in a blog post about the operating budget decision. "We want to help our businesses now so we can protect Edmonton’s economic future."
  • Another 900 City of Edmonton employees will be temporarily laid off due to the financial impacts of COVID-19. Nearly half of the affected staff are transit operators. “How the City responds and recovers will determine when and how we bring employees back,” said interim city manager Adam Laughlin.
  • The provincial government announced a phased relaunch plan this week. Some non-urgent surgeries will resume May 4, as will services from dental and other healthcare workers. Parking lots in parks, boat launches in provincial parks, and golf courses opened this weekend. "Progress to Stage 1 will occur once health measures are achieved to the satisfaction of the government based on the advice of the chief medical officer of health, as early as May 14."
  • The City of Edmonton said it will be reviewing its response measures in light of the provincial announcement. “While the relaunch plan gives us hope for the future, it’s important to remember that this transition won’t be linear and could last for months,” said interim city manager Adam Laughlin.
  • The City of Edmonton restarted its TLC for LRT initiative today (May 3). McKernan/Belgravia LRT Station will be closed until July. Construction at Stadium LRT Station will begin in mid-May and is expected to be complete by Jan. 2022.
  • Food trucks will be allowed to operate in Edmonton "with added requirements in place to ensure public health and safety is maintained," the City of Edmonton announced. Hot dog vendors and other sidewalk carts won’t be allowed.
  • Residents in the Crestwood area have made a large-scale Monopoly replica with sidewalk chalk, and it is attracting spectators from across Edmonton.
  • Mobility data from Apple comparing changes in walking activity in 89 major world cities suggests that Edmonton is an outlier in getting out for a walk. "While everywhere around the world saw that big fall-off in mid-March, no other cities have rebounded like Edmonton," said Blake Shaffer, assistant professor at the University of Calgary. Warmer temperatures are likely the reason behind the increased activity.
  • "For 25 years, a succession of owners have propped up the 399-passenger sternwheeler that plies the North Saskatchewan River. It may never be a moneymaker, but for the current owner, keeping it afloat is victory enough," reports Macleans.ca on the Edmonton Riverboat.
  • "The Edmonton Queen is actually a living reminder, like so much else in Alberta’s cities, of Alberta’s pre-Ralph Klein history of demented economic incentives and grandiose overbuilding," wrote Colby Cosh at the National Post.
  • Get the latest on Media, Tech, Food, Health Innovation, the Region, Music, Arts, Business, and Council with Taproot Edmonton’s latest roundups.

Upcoming Events (May 4-10)

The vast majority of upcoming events have been cancelled or postponed, though an increasing number are moving online. If you’re unsure, just stay home – especially if you’re feeling sick.

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Edmonton Notes for April 26, 2020

As of April 26 at 4:45pm, there are 4,480 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, including 479 in the Edmonton zone. There have been 73 deaths in Alberta due to the disease.

The Government of Alberta’s page on COVID-19 has the most up-to-date information for our province. Anyone who has health concerns or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should complete an online COVID-19 self-assessment.

Valley LRT line Edmonton Alberta
Valley Line LRT, photo by Jason Woodhead

Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:

Headlines

Upcoming Events (April 27-May 3)

The vast majority of upcoming events have been cancelled or postponed, though an increasing number are moving online. If you’re unsure, just stay home – especially if you’re feeling sick.

Thanks for reading! Want to support my blog? Buy me a coffee!

Recap: DemoCamp Edmonton 49

Edmonton’s 49th DemoCamp took place on Thursday night via YouTube Live. It was the first DemoCamp in Edmonton to be held virtually.

If you’re new to DemoCamp, here’s what it’s all about:

“DemoCamp brings together developers, creatives, entrepreneurs and investors to share what they’ve been working on and to find others in the community interested in similar topics. For presenters, it’s a great way to get feedback on what you’re building from peers and the community, all in an informal setting. Started back in 2008, DemoCamp Edmonton has steadily grown into one of the largest in the country, with over 200 people attending each event.”

The rules were the same for this virtual edition: "7 minutes to demo real, working products, followed by a few minutes for questions, and no slides allowed."

Here’s my Twitter thread for the event. We had five demos, in order of appearance:

First up was Stream.ML which offers a marketplace for learning models. Users can use the site to build their own models by uploading and tagging data, and they can also deploy those models to the cloud or on-premise. The marketplace enables buying and selling of those models. There are currently 168 models on the site, 15 of which are ready for purchase. Back in early March, Stream.ML was accepted into the SVG Ventures THRIVE Accelerator. Stream.ML runs on Microsoft Azure.

The next three demos were all from CODEVID-19, the world’s first global pandemic hackathon.

First was Charity Shop Exchange, a UK-based platform that applies the increasingly popular subscription box model to charity shops (of which there are more than 10,000 in the UK). Here in Canada, we usually call those thrift stores (places like Goodwill or Value Village). On Charity Shop Exchange, you input the things you like to watch and read, then the site will buy those from the store and deliver them to you. It’s a way to support isolation.

Next was Trusted Locals, a platform that helps locals share information about their current on-site situation "in an organised and audited way." Users can submit posts such as where they saw toilet paper available. Then other users can confirm or disconfirm it, which informs a confidence score for the post. The idea is to help others around you with more trustworthy information. The developers are also looking to scrape social media sites like Twitter for information.

Next up was Where Have I Been which lets users record all of the places they’ve visited on a day-to-day basis. Check-in apps aren’t new, but what this one lets you do in addition is see how risky the places you visited were. If a user self-reports that they have COVID-19 symptoms, the app will notify other users who visited the same places in the last two weeks. You can also view high risk locations in your area on a map.

The final demo was Prototype Hubs which offers a platform to connect clients with 3D printing and CNC cutting services. The idea is to streamline the process of getting quotes and interacting with multiple manufacturers. And for those with the equipment, they can offer their services to attract new customers and revenue. The service is hosted in Amazon Web Services (AWS).

I think Edmonton’s first virtual DemoCamp went incredibly well. Aside from a minor hiccup at the start, the tech worked smoothly. The presenters did a great job, and Adam and the team from Startup handled the question portion very well.

You can re-watch the entire thing on YouTube:

DemoCamp Edmonton 49 on YouTube

Instead of in-person drinks following the demos, this time everyone was invited to join virtual drinks on the Startup TNT Discord channel.

Here are the events and other announcements that were mentioned in-between demos:

  • Business Model 101 workshops are now free and virtual! Startup Edmonton is currently offering the program twice per week.
  • CODEVID-19 is looking for more than 50 judges to help consider entries starting in May.
  • Prelight is also free and running online. Applications are being accepted for upcoming cohorts.
  • Lots of the regular tech meetups that take place at Startup Edmonton have also moved virtually.

Be sure to check out the Tech Roundup for the latest headlines & happenings in Edmonton’s technology community every Tuesday.

If you’ve got something to show, apply to demo at a future event.

Next up is a milestone, DemoCamp Edmonton 50. That’s slated to take place in the fall. See you then, hopefully in person!

Edmonton Notes for April 19, 2020

As of April 19 at 4:45pm, there are 2,803 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alberta including 429 here in the Edmonton zone. There have been 55 deaths in Alberta from the disease.

The Government of Alberta’s page on COVID-19 has the most up-to-date information for our province. Anyone who has health concerns or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should complete an online COVID-19 self-assessment.

Alberta Legislature

Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:

Headlines

  • The City of Edmonton faces an estimated $109.8 million shortfall by September due to the pandemic and will consider additional layoffs as a result. Delays in infrastructure spending are also on the table. “If things get really bad, we’re going to need significant support from senior orders of government to avoid deficits or huge tax increases or massive loss in service delivery or crippling infrastructure cutbacks,” said Mayor Don Iveson. Council will discuss the budget again on April 27.
  • Edmonton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC) has announced it began laying off nearly 1,100 hourly workers on March 12, and that a second round of temporary layoffs for full-time staff is coming. Cheryll Watson, VP of Innovate Edmonton, and Glen Vanstone, VP of Research and Strategy, have both "departed" the organization and other senior leaders have been impacted by salary rollbacks. See the latest edition of the Business Roundup for more.
  • Mayor Don Iveson has asked Premier Jason Kenney to support $2.1 billion in infrastructure projects, which could create 6,400 jobs in Edmonton. “We’re hopeful we can advance some priorities that also advance some of the city’s goals,” said Iveson. The list contains the Lewis Farms Recreation Centre and the Downtown District Energy Initiative.
  • Starting Monday, April 20, Edmonton Transit will end LRT services at 10pm every night and bus service will shut down at midnight. "The City is exploring options to assist essential services workers who may be impacted by this change."
  • The City of Edmonton will suspend license agreements with e-scooter businesses like Bird and Lime until at least the end of June. "This decision was made with the safety of the public in mind."
  • Edmonton’s hospitality industry should have been celebrating the NHL postseason, but thanks to COVID-19 there is just shared gloom, reports The Globe and Mail. “Our ultimate dream as bar owners in Edmonton was a matchup between the Oilers and Flames,” said Jerry Rota, co-owner of Central Social Hall. “Now, the restaurant industry is in a major crisis. It is very sad. We expected this to be a good time in our lives,” said Devin Pope of Mercer Tavern.
  • The 39th annual Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival has been cancelled. "Sometimes it simply isn’t possible for the show(s) to go on," wrote festival organizers. "The decision to cancel is difficult, emotional, but necessary." Last year, a record 147,358 tickers were sold generating $1.4 million for participating artists, reports CBC News.
  • Edmonton Public Schools is temporarily laying off 1,868 workers as of May 15, including 1,094 educational assistants who have been deemed non-essential.
  • Edmonton Catholic Schools is temporarily laying off 708 staff as of April 30, including 479 educational assistants who have been deemed non-essential. The cuts will save $5.7 million. Board chair Laura Thibert said when schools reopen, "they will be back."
  • Edmonton Fire Rescue Services is reminding Edmontonians to stay off the North Saskatchewan River and away from the river banks.
  • According to the Canadian Real Estate Association, home sales in Edmonton declined 13.2% between February and March. "Home price trends have ticked downwards in Calgary and Edmonton to start 2020 but have generally been stable since the beginning of last year."
  • "The aggregate price of a home in Edmonton decreased 1.4% year-over-year to $371,118 in the first quarter of 2020," according to the latest Royal LePage market forecast.
  • The Edmonton Oilers have announced the creation of the Colby Cave Memorial Fund to "help carry on the memory and legacy of Oilers forward Colby Cave, who passed away suddenly and tragically on April 11."
  • Get the latest on Media, Tech, Food, Health Innovation, the Region, Music, Arts, Business, and Council with Taproot Edmonton’s latest roundups.

Upcoming Events (April 20-26)

The vast majority of upcoming events have been cancelled or postponed. If you’re unsure, just stay home – especially if you’re feeling sick.

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Edmonton Notes for April 5, 2020

As of April 5 at 6pm, there are 1,250 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alberta including 309 here in the Edmonton zone. That’s up from 661 provincial cases and 149 local cases just one week ago. Twenty-three Albertans have died from the disease.

The Government of Alberta’s page on COVID-19 has the most up-to-date information for our province. Anyone who has health concerns or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should complete an online COVID-19 self-assessment.

Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:

Headlines

  • The economic impacts of COVID-19 are impacting the City of Edmonton which is facing a potential $28 million net loss by the end of April, reports CBC News. That equates to a 1.7% tax increase, and the loss could grow to $61.1 million if businesses remain closed until mid-June and $112 million if physical distancing continue until mid-September.
  • The City of Edmonton has announced it will temporarily lay off 1,600 staff along with 489 Edmonton Public Library employees as a result of the closure of facilities and libraries. The City will be providing supplement pay "for eight weeks for provisional or temporary employees and 16 weeks for permanent staff," reports CBC News.
  • City Council has renewed the State of Local Emergency for another seven days and the City has announced new restrictions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Effective April 4, "four fenced dog parks will be closed and users of other off-leash areas must keep their dogs on-leash until further notice."
  • City Council has approved the deferral of Business Improvement Area (BIA) Tax Levy payment penalties until September 30, 2020.
  • The Edmonton Public School Board is facing a $17.5 million cut this school year as a result of the provincial government’s announcement of reduced funding for K-12 education during the COVID-19 pandemic, reports CBC News. "These changes significantly impact our ability to support students, all of our students," said board chair Trisha Estabrooks.
  • "Our community is in crisis and I think that’s really alarming because these are such early days," said Janet Riopel, president of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce. According to the Chamber, only 13% of local businesses surveyed expect they’ll be able to avoid layoffs.
  • Fairmont Hotel Macdonald has closed its doors to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to a social media update from the hotel. "This certainly isn’t goodbye, it’s farewell for now."
  • The Oilers Entertainment Group is temporarily laying off 139 workers effective April 13, reports CBC Edmonton. The organization will "create an employee assistance fund to ensure all non-executive employees who have been laid off, or who are working from home, will still receive 75% to 90% of their salaries."
  • "Despite his complaint that there is no vision at the city, it’s never been obvious to me that he has much of one to offer himself," wrote Keith Gerein about Councillor Mike Nickel, who he says is politicking during a pandemic.
  • Connor McDavid has decided to stay put in Edmonton rather than risk travelling home to Toronto, reports CBC News.
  • "We gathered a panel of Edmonton fashion experts and combed through a wide, unsolicited array of local fashion mavens with style attitude for our first official celebration of our city’s style," writes Avenue Edmonton. The April issue features Edmonton’s Best Dressed.
  • "With public gatherings in the province limited to just 15 people and the majority of public facilities closed to the public, Edmonton is looking a little bit like a ghost town," reports the Edmonton Journal.
  • Ryan Reynolds has made a $4,000 donation to Edmonton’s Food Bank. “I happen to love Edmonton. This donation is in memory of Connor McGrath. Love, Ryan Reynolds,” the Deadpool star wrote.
  • Get the latest on Media, Tech, Food, Health Innovation, the Region, Music, Arts, Business, and Council with Taproot Edmonton’s latest roundups.

Social distancing
Social distancing, photo by HandsLive

Upcoming Events (April 6-12)

The vast majority of upcoming events have been cancelled or postponed. If you’re unsure, just stay home – especially if you’re feeling sick.

Gatherings with 15 or more people have been restricted in Alberta. "If you violate this public health order and proceed to hold an event with more than 15 attendees, you may be subject to a fine."

There are some online events taking place, however. The latest Music Roundup lists some of the online concerts coming up!

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Edmonton Notes for March 29, 2020

As of March 29 at 5:30pm, there are 661 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alberta including 149 here in Edmonton. That’s up from 259 provincial cases and 60 local cases just one week ago. Three Albertans have died from the disease.

The Government of Alberta’s page on COVID-19 has the most up-to-date information for our province. Anyone who has health concerns or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should complete an online COVID-19 self-assessment.

COVID-19 coverage from Taproot Edmonton

As I mentioned last week, we have launched a COVID-19 microsite to answer questions from our community. Here are some of the most recent entries:

Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:

Headlines

  • City Council unanimously approved the extension of the state of local emergency (SOLE) on Thursday afternoon. By provincial legislation, the SOLE must be renewed every seven days. The Emergency Advisory Committee will meet every Thursday at 1:30pm until the SOLE has ended.
  • "If we don’t get hold of this thing and fast, more drastic distancing orders could come down," tweeted Mayor Don Iveson in response to reports of crowded parks and trails. "Everything is on the table," said Councillor Aaron Paquette in an interview with CBC. "The next step, of course, is more strict control, maybe curfews, maybe even closures, but we don’t want to go there if we don’t have to."
  • Troy and I discussed the state of local emergency and the power it affords on the latest episode of Speaking Municipally.
  • The City of Edmonton also ordered personal service businesses, including hair and nail salons, tattoo parlours, and body rub parlours, to close. The order "will affect about 1,000 store-front businesses and 500 home-based businesses and is effective immediately," reports CBC News.
  • The City had earlier in the week closed all City playgrounds, citing the fact that playground equipment is not cleaned or sanitized.
  • Mayor Don Iveson said in a news release on Tuesday that Edmonton "wants to offer the option to defer all property taxes to both residential and non-residential taxpayers" but "would need a substantial commitment from the provincial and/or federal government that they would provide a cash backstop or other measures that makes this relief financially possible for municipalities."
  • Data from the past week shows there are 30% fewer vehicles on city streets but during the same period there has been "a 30% increase in motorists exceeding the speed limit by 20 km/h, and a whopping 200% increase in drivers travelling at more than 50 km/h over the speed limit," reports CBC News. Council said on Thursday they’ve been receiving a bunch of correspondence about this.
  • The Downtown Business Association is calling for the Edmonton Police Service to do more patrols due to how quiet the pedway system and buildings have become as more people work from home. “We want to make sure that people that aren’t supposed to be in these buildings [aren’t],” said executive director Ian O’Donnell.
  • "Organizers of Edmonton’s biggest summer festivals worry that COVID-19 may kill their season this year," reports CBC News. The Edmonton Folk Music Festival, Taste of Edmonton, and the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival are all discussing contingency plans.
  • Linda Hoang has put together Spin the Wheel of Local: Edmonton Edition! to "add to the growing resources aimed at helping you support local businesses, in a fun and slightly different way."
  • Bob and Doug, "two iconic and aggressively Canadian characters on the sketch comedy show Second City TV (SCTV)," have been honoured in bronze in ICE District.
  • Get the latest on Media, Tech, Food, Health Innovation, the Region, Music, Arts, Business, and Council with Taproot Edmonton’s latest roundups.

100th street Edmonton March 22 2020
100th Street Edmonton on March 22, photo by Jason Woodhead

Upcoming Events (March 30-April 5)

The vast majority of upcoming events have been cancelled or postponed. If you’re unsure, just stay home – especially if you’re feeling sick.

Gatherings with 15 or more people have been restricted in Alberta, a reduction from the previous limit of 50 people. "If you violate this public health order and proceed to hold an event with more than 15 attendees, you may be subject to a fine."

There are some online events taking place, however. The latest Music Roundup lists some of the online concerts coming up!

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Edmonton Notes for March 22, 2020

As of March 22 at 3:30pm, there are 259 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alberta including 60 here in Edmonton. That’s up from 56 provincial cases and 15 local cases just one week ago.

The Government of Alberta’s page on COVID-19 has the most up-to-date information for our province. Anyone who has health concerns or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should complete an online COVID-19 self-assessment.

COVID-19 coverage from Taproot Edmonton

COVID-19 has been the focus for us this week as it has been for many of you. We’re continuing to curate and publish the news in our roundups, so that’s one way to keep up-to-date on the latest developments.

In the latest episode of Speaking Municipally, Troy and I discussed a number of COVID-19 topics. We recorded the show remotely, and are planning to do so again this week. Social distancing!

On Friday, Taproot launched a COVID-19 microsite. Our objective is to help the local community understand this complex and quickly evolving topic better. To do that, we’re taking a Q&A-style approach. Here’s what I wrote in a blog post about the site:

"We don’t intend to publish the news of the day nor are we trying to be the destination for breaking news. The mainstream newsrooms in our city have that covered, and we are grateful to those journalists for their hard work, much of which we are pointing to in our answers and in our roundups. Our contribution is to simply and succinctly deliver what our readers say they want to know."

Visit the site here, share your questions with us, and send us your constructive feedback. As the pandemic evolves, so will the microsite.

Presumptive COVID-19 case reported in Alberta
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw

Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:

Headlines

  • "An Edmonton man in his 60s has become Alberta’s first fatality in the coronavirus pandemic," reports CBC News. "As heartbreaking as this news is, it was expected. This is a dangerous virus," Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday.
  • The City of Edmonton declared a state of local emergency early Friday evening, to help "expedite decision making and ensure City operational decisions are centralized, prioritized and coordinated." This is the first time a State of Local Emergency has been declared in Edmonton. At least 25 other local states of emergency have been declared in Alberta because of COVID-19.
  • Transit and parking are now free in Edmonton until further notice. Council made the decision on Friday to help minimize contact and increase social distancing. Earlier in the week, ETS moved to a reduced service (on the Saturday schedule) but had to add additional buses due to overcrowding.
  • All City Council and committee meetings have been suspended through April 27, with the exception of the meeting scheduled for March 30. All committees of Council, such as Youth Council and the Edmonton Design Committee, have been restricted from meeting in person until at least April 27, though they can still meet electronically.
  • The University of Alberta has eliminated 400 positions and could cut another 600 in the coming year due to provincial funding reductions. "Over the last four months we have received a reduction in government funding in the order of $110 million," said president David Turpin.
  • Bill Flanagan has been named the 14th president and vice-chancellor of the University of Alberta, effective July 1, 2020. "Born and raised in Alberta, Bill Flanagan joins the University of Alberta from Queen’s University, where he served as the dean of law for 14 years from 2005 to 2019."
  • A campaign called #YEGTechCares has launched "asking volunteer participants to donate one hour’s wages a month to Edmonton’s Food Bank," reports the Edmonton Journal. "For the next three months, at least, participants will donate an hour of their salary to the Food Bank."
  • "Edmonton’s Belmont Sobeys is proving that positive thinking and good intentions can go a long way," reports the Edmonton Journal. The store has instituted an early morning opening to let seniors and vulnerable people shop for essentials during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. "As a result of the initiative, Sobeys will introduce a seniors shopping hour at many of its nationwide locations for customers who require access to a clean, comfortable, stress-free shopping environment."
  • "Home price trends have ticked downwards in Calgary and Edmonton to start 2020 but have generally been stable since the beginning of last year," reports the Canadian Real Estate Association.
  • The Edmonton Police Foundation is gathering input on its next paid challenge which will be an app for first responders "that supports employees physically and mentally throughout their careers (and perhaps into retirement)."
  • "I think when the economy slows down as fast as it is, every business is going to be impacted by this," said Justin Archer, partner at advertising agency Berlin. "I don’t think government should spare any expense to make sure that, economically, there’s something to come back to."
  • The staff at United Sport & Cycle have "decided to simulate the remainder of the Oilers’ season on NHL ’20 – and livestream the games at the times they normally would’ve aired on Facebook," reports CTV News.
  • "Whether it’s a few weeks from now or a few months from now, we will get back to a normal," wrote Steven Sandor, editor of Avenue Edmonton. "And the kind of city we wake up to when this crisis comes to an end will depend on the actions we take now."
  • A little fun with a downtown landmark: "Self isolate, it’s the most Edmonton thing you can do."
  • Get the latest on Media, Tech, Food, Health Innovation, the Region, Music, Arts, Business, and Council with Taproot Edmonton’s latest roundups.

Upcoming Events (March 23-29)

The vast majority of upcoming events have been cancelled or postponed. If you’re unsure, just stay home – especially if you’re feeling sick.

Gatherings with 50 or more people have been restricted in Alberta. Currently there are some exemptions, such as grocery stores and health care facilities. Restaurants and cafes are limited to 50% capacity to a maximum of 50 people – bars and nightclubs are prohibited.

Thanks for reading! Want to support my blog? Buy me a coffee!

Edmonton Notes for March 15, 2020

As of March 15 at 4:30pm, there are 56 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alberta including 15 here in Edmonton. The situation has changed dramatically in the last week and continues to evolve rapidly. The Government of Alberta’s page on COVID-19 has the most up-to-date information for our province:

"It is crucial that we do everything possible to contain and limit the spread of COVID-19. The most effective way to do this is by taking a comprehensive, society-wide approach. Not testing alone. Not contact tracing alone. Not social distancing alone. All of them, together."

"The most important measures that Albertans can take to prevent respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, is to practise good hygiene. This includes cleaning your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds, avoiding touching your face, coughing or sneezing into your elbow or sleeve, disposing of tissues appropriately, and staying home and away from others if you are sick."

Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:

COVID-19 Headlines

COVID-19 pandemic in Alberta (March 15 update)
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw, accompanied by Premier Jason Kenney

Other Headlines

  • City Council voted 8-5 to lower the speed limit on all residential streets and main streets such as Jasper Avenue and Whyte Avenue to 40 km/h. The new speed is expected to be in place by mid-2021, reports CBC Edmonton. Councillor Andrew Knack had pushed for 30 km/h in the core. "At this point, there’s really no denying the fact that a 30 km/h speed limit is the right speed in terms of reducing injuries and death," he said.
  • All 13 eligible municipalities have now voted on the Regional Transit Services Commission (RTSC) with only Strathcona County voting against participation. “The Commission makes good sense, and I’m looking forward to seeing this established for the benefit of every community involved,” said Councillor Michael Walters. A joint application is expected to be submitted to the Government of Alberta in May 2020.
  • "The City of Edmonton posted a $20-million operating surplus in its 2019 budget, in part by holding off on filling vacant staff positions and spending less than expected on snow and ice control," reports CBC Edmonton.
  • Jobber has been named one of the 10 most innovative enterprise companies of 2020 by Fast Company magazine. "This CRM startup has been transformative in how it empowers small home-service industries–such as your local plumber or electrician–to get the same access to enterprise tools as huge companies," they wrote. "We’re proud to be the first home service management software recognized as one of the world’s most innovative companies,” said Sam Pillar, CEO and co-founder of Jobber.
  • "Edmonton’s transit service is ramping up efforts for women and girls to feel safe using the system as their go-to choice for getting around the city," reports the Edmonton Journal.
  • TransEd says the Valley Line Southeast LRT will be running "as soon as possible in 2021" and gave reporters a first look inside two tunnels beneath Riverdale. “We are really proud of our progress. It’s a challenging job. It’s the biggest job that the city’s ever undertaken,” said Chris Gentile, Valley Line technical manager for the City of Edmonton.
  • "Edmonton must grow in a dramatically different way than it did in its first 120 years, with significant ramifications for how residents live, move and work," writes Keith Gerein in a column on City Plan. "As aggressive and controversial as this strategy is, much of it is also necessary."
  • Edmonton Fire Rescue Services (EFRS) has been granted international accreditation for the third time, making it one of only nine agencies in Canada to receive this designation.
  • City Council has approved a sliding scale for seniors transit passes. "Eligible seniors with yearly incomes between $28,513 and $32,400 will qualify for an annual seniors pass for $136.50, starting on March 30," reports Global News. That’s far less than the planned increase in the cost of an annual seniors pass to $374.
  • "Tucked against a brick wall in a downtown parking lot, it could be mistaken for a mobile concession that sells hot dogs at baseball games," reports CBC Edmonton. It’s actually a ghost kitchen, a commercial kitchen that exists only to fill orders from food delivery apps. "Alberta Health Services spokesperson said in an email that the health authority has approved nine mobile and five permanent-structure ghost kitchens across Edmonton."
  • Peggy Garritty, formerly ATB Financial’s chief reputation and brand officer, has been named the 22nd chancellor of the University of Alberta. “I’m absolutely thrilled to be chancellor of the University of Alberta, to be in a position where I can connect the university to the community and in turn, represent community views to the university,” said Garritty. Her four-year term begins June 18.
  • Housing sales in the Edmonton CMA were up 8.3% in February compared to a year ago and up 32.29% over January 2020, according to the latest figures from the Realtors Association of Edmonton. “We typically see an increase in activity at this time of year as we head into spring,” said Jennifer Lucas, the organization’s chair.
  • Get the latest on Media, Tech, Food, Health Innovation, the Region, Music, Arts, Business, and Council with Taproot Edmonton’s latest roundups.

Upcoming Events (March 16-22)

The vast majority of upcoming events have been cancelled or postponed, and those that haven’t probably should be. CBC Edmonton has an up-to-date list of all of the closures, cancellations, and other notices. If you’re unsure, just stay home – especially if you’re feeling sick.

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Media Monday Edmonton: Update #378

Taproot Edmonton’s latest Media Roundup was published today. Sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Monday morning.

Local updates from the Media Roundup

Here are a few select updates from today’s Media Roundup, written and curated by Linda Hoang:


Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

Media-related updates from elsewhere

Here are some non-local media links that I found interesting this week:

  • "Twitter has applied a “manipulated media” tag to a doctored video of former Vice President Joe Biden that was shared by White House social media director Dan Scavino and retweeted by President Trump," reports The Verge. "It’s believed to be the first time the platform has used the tag to denote faked media."
  • Based on a sample of 200 news outlets collected by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, just 23% of the top editors are women.
  • "Until 2019, it has been the case that if you come across several paragraphs of text on a consistent topic with consistent subjects, you can assume that text was written or structured by a human being. That is no longer true," reports Vox. Stories generated by AI are improving quickly.
  • "Journalists are overwhelmed by the information they process in their working day and want to explore solutions with third-party providers and management to make it more manageable," reports NiemanLab.
  • NPR recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. "The beginning was rocky. NPR could have a brilliant piece and a poor one in the same program," reports Current. Today of course, NPR is doing just fine. I listen to their podcasts all the time!

Follow Edmonton media news using the hashtag #yegmedia and be sure to check out Mediagazer for the latest media news from elsewhere. You can see past Media Monday Edmonton entries here. If you have a tip or suggestion for future updates, let me know.

At Taproot Edmonton we’re working hard to ensure that local journalism has a future in our city. Join us to be part of the movement.