CITIZEN INFO

So You Think You Can Bike?

Once you know the basics, you can get crazy with it.

The Edmonton Bicycle Commuters’ Society (EBC…hey, what happened to the S?) is launching a series of cycling courses this month.

I see…they’re shaming me into riding my bike more…clever…

The courses range from getting to know your bike, actually learning to ride, riding with the family, commuting in the city, and CAN-BIKE 2 which is is a nationally certified cycluing training program. For the hardest core cyclists; CAN-BIKE 2 is 16-hours of bikes, bikes, bikes! The cheapest of the courses and presentations will cost you $20, and up to $100 for the big, bad CAN-BIKE 2. (Everything is cheaper if you have an EBC membership.)

Hey, the better you are on your bike, and the more you know the rules and best practices, the more you can know it’s the drivers who shouldn’t be on the road. To register for a course (or have EBC teach your group of riders) head to edmontonbikes.ca/ridingeducation.

Now get on your bikes and ride!


White Out

You may have noticed posters around Edmonton with people from local news, media, sports, and the Mayor all wearing white. This is part of a campaign to “White Out Domestic Violence.” It’s a partnership between the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters and Edmonton City Centre mall.

Through the month of June the mall has been making counselors available (including this afternoon), and you can drop off clothing for women’s shelters. Thursday night, however, is likely the biggest night of the month.

Thursday is “White Night,” on the pedway bridge that crosses over 101 Street. White Night will include a cocktail party and fashion show. (more…)


DIYalogue

This past weekend, we were invited to be on a panel of Speed Mentors (FYI, also the name of my new deep house project) at Edmonton Next Gen’s super cool DIYalogue. Obviously a wildly flattering invite, both Jeff and I showed up to the party cleaned and fully clothed, lest someone figure out that we’re really in no position to advise anyone of anything. But it was an honour to be at an event that featured local movers and shakers like The Royal Bison, The ARTery, Solidaritees, dEdmonton, Parlour Magazine, City and Dale, Fridget Apparel and SOS Fest.

As part of our “mentoring,” we figured we’d better make a list of the upwards of four things we’ve learned from working on the edmontonian. That evolved into a handout, which we brought to share with anyone interested – and just in case you happen to be a blogger, content generator, or other interested party, we figured we’d post it here too.

Click below to download.

Click to download our "Tips for Content Generators" handout


Think of the Children!

I had the pleasure of attending the “Ready for Life” breakfast fundraiser for the Edmonton Public Schools Foundation this morning. I am all about the full-day kindergarten now, and helping out kids in tougher situations (including newcomers to Canada) and neighbourhoods.

Back in March, Twestival helped raise money for the EPSF. Since today was the real big fundraiser (and kick-off to getting ready for next school year) all you tweeters who bought a ticket or won a silent auction item, and businesses and organization which donated an auction item, were recogznied through our EPSF-Twestival connector, Brittney Le Blanc.

You can see Brittney in a Twestival video (below) with EPSF Chair Sandra Woitas, which explains a little more about what the foundation does.

All of the placemats and centrepieces at this morning’s breakfast were designed by kids!


It’s Date Night

If you live in the Edmonton-Centre riding you’ve got a date tonight.

Tonight, at Metro Billiards, Edmonton Next Gen and interVivos, are putting on another candi(date) – last seen during the Edmonton election in October.

Here’s how it works: Candidates speak with small groups of voters for 10 minutes, like it’s a speed date.

Voters will be able to “date” Conservative Laurie Hawn, Green David Parker, Liberal Mary MacDonald, Marxist-Leninist Peggy Morton, New Democrat Lewis Cardinal, and Pirate Mikkel Paulson.

Paulson’s not a real pirate, just running for the Pirate Party of Canada (think Internet and copyright, not cannonballs on the high seas). Though, you should treat him like a sea pirate and see how the conversation goes.


Yo..ga…Yoga…Yoga!

Hey, Edmonton, if you’re looking for some yoga, of the free and entry-level variety, the City of Edmonton’s got you covered.

Active Edmonton is offering free yoga on Wednesday (and Wednesdays through June 29) to try and get you moving. So, head on over to the City Room at City Hall tomorrow at lunch. I guarantee yoga will pack on fewer calories than a midday poutine.

A couple of the Wednesday sessions will take place at CBC Centre Stage, in City Centre Mall, so you may want to check the schedule so you don’t freak out a City committee that’s had its meeting run into lunch. Although, that would probably liven up the meeting…


If We Can Dream It, They Can Build It

Kinsmen Sports Centre SurveyAttention Hive Mind: the City needs our help.  From their website:

The City of Edmonton is looking to rejuvenate one of the City’s premier sports facilities to provide a fresh new look and feel to Kinsmen Sports Centre and continue meeting Edmontonian’s recreational needs for years to come.

The City of Edmonton is looking for input from the public as we put together a plan to enhance a facility that has served Edmontonians well since it was built in 1968. Over the years, Kinsmen Sports Centre has undergone renovations and upgrades in order to continue providing for Edmontonians sports and leisure needs.

As we head into the future, the City of Edmonton is looking to define the role of the Kinsmen Sports Centre and in order to ensure we’re meeting Edmontonians needs, we want to hear from you.

Through a public survey, information will be gathered and used to craft the Kinsmen Sports Centre Master Plan. This plan, built on your input, will guide the City as it makes decisions about the future of the recreation centre.

The public can fill out the online survey or attend a public open house.

The City also gives us a few jumping off points:

  • How the Kinsmen Sports Centre is used today – who uses it, and what are their sporting activities?
  • What are the strengths of the facility, and
  • Are there any sporting needs that cannot be met at present?
  • How does the Kinsmen Sports Centre compare with the best facilities in other cities?
  • How does the Kinsmen Sports Centre fit within the whole spectrum of sport and recreation facilities in Edmonton, and
  • What is the best use of the facility in the years to come?

Obviously I will be filling out this survey, because having now had a pass to the Kinsmen for almost 4 days, and having been there once to look around, I’m what people in the industry (what industry?) typically call an EXPERT.

Anyway, here’s my to do list for the Kinsmen, based on things I oversaw on my recent first visit to the facility:

1) An 87% increase in the number of Senior Citizens doing step aerobics to Salt ‘n’ Pepa’s “Push It.”

2) An 87% decrease in the number of people eyeing me suspiciously for sitting in the spectator area and eating poopcorn while watching an aquasize class.

3) Construction of a new wing featuring a monster bouncy castle so I can train for a spot on the Canadian Olympic team, playing whatever the hell this is:

That’s really about it for my list. If you guys have any suggestions, leave them in the comments!


Open House week 2010

If you like giving the City of Edmonton your two cents, you’re looking at a good week.

As we mentioned last week, there are two more downtown arena information sessions this week. Tonight and Wednesday at MacEwan’s downtown campus (5pm-8:30). There are discussion groups in the latter half of both evenings (7pm-8:30).

edmonton, quarters, downtown, development, east Jasper, armature

A little taste of what The Quarters (east Jasper) could look like.

Also tonight, there’s an open house for the Boyle Renaissance and Quarters projects (6-8pm). Those projects are downtown too. (Gee, you’d think the city was trying to rejuvenate downtown or something.)

Interesting to note, the Quarters regularly comes up in criticism of the downtown arena. It’s thought the two large projects can’t move ahead at the same time. Maybe you’ll have some input on that this week.

And that’s not all!

There’s also an open house Thursday evening, at the TransAlta Arts Barns (just off Whyte Avenue) to talk about the Walterdale Bridge and west Rossdale (4pm-8:30). The bridge is going to be replaced, parts of Rossdale could be redeveloped, and Thursday is a good chance for you to learn about what may take place, and offer your opinions.

It’s like I, and Tony Danza, always say, you’re the boss.


Arena open house(s)

Are you ready to get your downtown arena on?

There are four open houses about the downtown arena project in the next eight days.

The first one is tonight, at MacEwan University. The next one is tomorrow night at the Santa Maria Goretti Community Centre. Then it’s back to MacEwan for two more open houses next week (Monday and Wednesday).

The open houses will have two parts. They begin with an information session, running 5-7pm, and then have discussion groups, 7-8:30.

Whether you make it out to one of the open houses or not you should fill out an online survey about the downtown arena. It’s a little leading (a push poll of sorts), but you could always fill in those “further input” sections to talk about issues it doesn’t address (like a model funded entirely by private business).


And now…an election day message from Trent Wilkie…

Have you voted yet?

If you have not, Trent’s got a great tip for you before you head to the voting booth. (video above)

After you’ve marked your ballot, head home, put the kids to bed, crack open a case of beer, order pizza, and watch our election show (I’m giving you a lot of things to do here).

Trent will be there. I’ll be there. All of your friends will be there.

Or, at least, all of your friends will be watching. Maybe invite your friends over to watch.

8pm. Right here at theedmontonian.com. It’s gonna be off the hook.


And now…an election day message from Edmonton’s first mayor…

Vote today.

Then tune into our election night show. the edmontonian celebrates democracy at 8pm, right here at theedmontonian.com.

You can also hear more from Mayor McCauley, and other former Edmonton mayors, in the Ghost Mayor podcasts.


Vote! Vote now!

edmonton, vote, polling station

The advance polls are open until 4pm today. There’s one at City Hall, and one in your very own ward.

But don’t let me berate you into voting…listen to the soothing sounds of school board candidate Michael Janz (above).

Then go vote. Or remember to vote Monday.

Vote!

p.s. vote.



Electioneering with the edmontonian: The Basics of City Hall

Before you cast your vote, Edmonton, I want you to take a long hard look at this:

This is a picture of me from junior high school. I think its relevance is clear.

Junior high school is the time when many of us were first taught about how City Hall operates. But junior high is also the time when many of us are preoccupied with discovering the world of being a teenager. I, myself, was preoccupied with things like “Does the boy I like like me back?” or “I wonder what will happen to Jason and Maria on the next episode of Northwood” or “I hope my mom buys me one of those sweet Generra Hypercolor shirts.” And of course, the obvious, “Am I pulling this look off?”

Somehow, with all of those thoughts rattling around my 13-year-old brain, I seem to have checked out of my Social Studies class; more than 15 years later, I’m kind of lost for any of the municipal government specifics.  But what I do remember with great clarity is my Social Studies teacher from Ecole Secondaire Beaumont Composite High School (or ESBCHS), Monsieur Marc Halun.

M. Halun, or simply “Halun,” as many of the students called him, was revered by kids, because even as a tween, you could tell he knew his stuff and was really dedicated to teaching.

Now I know what you’re thinking. As a 30-year-old adult working for a blog, I should obviously bother a man I knew nearly two decades ago who must have nothing better to do than explain basic facets of democracy to me for the second time around because INTERNETS.

And that’s exactly what I did. (more…)


Electioneering with the edmontonian: Ward fever, Pt. 2

I know you’ve been on the edge of your seats waiting to see how this whole wards thing turns out, #yeg, so I won’t bore you with extraneous chit chat.

Here’s the last half of our wards cliffhanger; part one can be seen here.


Electioneering with the edmontonian: Ward Fever Pt. 1

People be talking about politics, am I right?! And they be doing it a lot.

I cannot tell a lie* – politics bores me to tears. I get that this makes me a lout, but a few years of technical school and community college aside, I’m completely uneducated. I know that I SHOULD care about the mayor, city council, school boards, etc. And I try to care. But as soon as I endeavour to catch up on current affairs in the news, I quickly discover that there is this huge gap between what everyone else seems to THINK is “common knowledge” and what this commoner actually knows.

Which led me to wonder, “What would it take to get me to get interested?”

I have come to the conclusion, my little monkeys, that it would take someone explaining municipal politics to me as though I were a child, using the only framework I have to operate within:  a monosyllabic vocabulary and a lot of pop culture references. And since Jeff has grown weary of me demanding he put everything in terms of old episodes of 30 Rock, I decided to do some research of my own.

So I give you part one of my two part video series on Edmonton’s new-for-2010 12-Ward System; watch for part 2 towards the end of the week. I hope you enjoy it.

*totally a lie


Engage

One upside to all of these election shenanigans is that our “Citizen Info” category (down at the bottom of our homepage) is getting quite the workout.

It’s probably going to remain that way for the next month or so. Oh well, you’re just going to have to come back here more often than usual to keep up-to-date.

Tonight there are two big options for some citizen engagement.

You can head to the Ward 7 candidate’s forum or a sector review workshop with the Edmonton Public School Board (EPSB).

Ward 7 is one to watch too. That’s where Tony Caterina (#TonCat) is running for re-election. He’s up against Brendan Van Alstine, who’s been campaigning since last year, and Scott McKeen, the Edmonton Journal City Hall columnist.

The forum is at St. Bernadette Elementary School (11917 40 Street), and runs 7-9pm.

But…

As mentioned earlier, you can watch from the comfort of your home because the City of Edmonton is livestreaming all of their forums.

The “sector review workshop” is about school closures. Hey, I’m not going to let the EPSB sugarcoat this. And they are:

Come to a “hands-on” workshop where you will review the input to date along with the facts and data and propose options on how to move forward in ways that address these issues.  You can work through the details in a group or on your own, and EPSB representatives will be on hand to answer questions.

Was that written by Vaguey McVaguerson?

Anyway…get out to one of their workshops in the next few weeks if you want to talk about how to keep neighbourhood schools open, and maximize use of resources.

Tonight’s workshop runs 4-9pm and you can drop in at anytime. It’s at Queen Elizabeth School, in the cafeteria (9425 132 Avenue).

It kind of stinks the school board would plop the workshops in the middle of the freakin’ election, but that just means you’ll have to double-up. And elect some public school trustees who don’t just see a giant “Close it” button in front of them.


Let the games begin

The 2010 Edmonton municipal and school board elections are officially underway!

Council and the school boards are done meeting. Nominations have closed. The forums begin Tuesday night.

That last one is what I’m about to go on about.

There are only two public school wards where candidates have been acclaimed (they didn’t have any challengers), so every other public, catholic, and council ward is a race to watch.

If you can’t make it out to one of the City of Edmonton forums for your neighbourhood, you’re in luck. They will be broadcast live on the Internet. So you can tune in from your couch.

There are going to be other forums, hosted by various groups and organizations, so you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled if you’re looking to attend one for your ward.

The Edmonton Elections website will have just about anything else you might need.


Mid-week civic engagement

I’m a little late with this post, but there are two ways to engage as a citizen tonight in Edmonton.

The first already started (see, I’m late) at the Four Points by Sheraton on Argyll Road. It’s another LRT open house.

This one is about the Southeast LRT. That’s the leg that will run from downtown, across the river, and to Mill Woods. You can poke around, look at stuff, ask questions, and catch a presentation at 7 o’clock.

Don’t worry if this information finds you late today, there’s a second open house, at the same location on the same LRT path, tomorrow night. It runs 4pm-9:30, with presentations at 4:30 and 7pm.

Also tonight (Tuesday) is an Edmonton Police Service Town Hall, at the TransAlta Arts Barns. It’s going to focus on the southwest (the division Old Strathcona is in), and there will be superintendents and inspectors on hand to answer questions. That runs 7-9pm.

There’s also a Wednesday night town hall, in the Northeast. It also runs 7-9pm and is at Bellevue Community Centre (7308  112 Avenue).

Engage!


Maybe in your backyard

We haven’t done a civic-minded event in a while, and I found one while poking around ShareEdmonton.

Tonight (and tomorrow) the City will be talking about the new West LRT. There’s an open house tonight at the Fantasyland Hotel (in West Edmonton Mall).

The open house runs 4pm-9:30, with presentations at 4:30 and 7:30 (the same presentation).

Tonight the focus is on the leg of the LRT that will run between Lewis Estates and 156 Street/Stony Plain Road. Tomorrow,  it’s all about the stretch from Meadowlark to MacEwan University.

Even though the LRT lines have been chosen, there’s plenty left to decide. That’s where you can put in your two cents.

The City needs to determine where stations are going to go, what kind of alignment and configuration the line (and stations) would have, and how overall transportation will look, including personal vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians.



You like to party, don’t you?

Look at all the fun stuff community leagues do! (Image: EFCL)

Since you all like to party this story will be worth your time.

How does one, big city-wide party sound to you?

Yeah, you like that.

Well, the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues (EFCL) also likes it like that, so they’ve declared the third Saturday in September (Sept. 18) “Community League Day.”

(Image: EFCL)

What that means, so it’s not just another day that’s declared something or other, is that community leagues around the city will be throwing parties. Wouldn’t you know it, there’s a community league in your neighbourhood.

So far, 30 leagues have joined the party.

To be clear, the Strathcona Centre annual Arts BBQ will probably be on the Sunday (Sept. 19). We usually hold it on a Sunday. (This is my community league. I recently returned to the board for another two years.)

Some of those other events may also be on the Sunday. And if the other 100+ community leagues all want in, they may also split it between Saturday and Sunday.

But that still means we have great, community events, all weekend, all around Edmonton. See you at one of the parties!

For those of you on Twitter, and engaging in community in other online forums, let me talk to you for just a minute.

Community Leagues are a great way to take all the good connections and ideas from the online world into the real one. They’re also a good way, if you want to be on your league’s board, to help effect change and programming in your neighbourhood.


The fix is in

I took the stairs down because I didn't think it would ever be fixed. What a nice way to start the week!

Another one bites the dust.

That is, another broken item is fixed.

And we will, of course, pretend we had something to do with it.

Yes, after five months (5 of them!) the escalator on the east side of the University LRT station is open again. Man, those frozen pipes must have just obliterated things.

There’s some absolutely, delicious, coincidental timing to this one. I was at a media mixer Friday night and was chatting with a pair of gents from City of Edmonton communications about, among other things, this LRT escalator.

Bam! Monday morning everything is fixed.

Also funny, our table was musing about the fact this could have all been part of secret plans of Active Edmonton and Walkable Edmonton to force people to take the stairs. Those sly so-and-sos and their love of “walking” and “being active.” Give me the moving stairs!

But…it all gets me thinking. Maybe we do like being the ones loudly complaining about broken stuff. Maybe we should follow the lead of those smarter than us and do this kind of thing on a more regular basis.

Of course, it would have to be something that’s been broken for a long time, or that’s been reported and not fixed.

And what are the chances that would continue to happen?

Let us know if this is an idea you’re into.


A night on the town, Edmonton Arena Project style

(Editor’s note: We’ve got a great take on the downtown arena open house from Paul coming up.

After you read his thoughtful thoughts, check out all the other arena links. I kind of short-changed you in the Headlines to give you the full arena package here. You’ll forgive me in about 15 minutes, when you’re a freakin’ expert on the open house.)

Behold, the future of downtown Edmonton. (?)

By Paul Poulsen:

When it was announced that we would have a new art gallery in the heart of downtown, I couldn’t have been less excited. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not anti-art. It’s just that I’m more of a monster truck/pie eating contest kind of guy. The art gallery was a project I didn’t really care about and I truly thought I would never step foot in the building.

Well imagine my surprise when I found myself looking forward to attending the Edmonton Arena Project Open House last night (May 6th).

At the Art Gallery of Alberta.

The Katz Group has done some homework.

I anticipated seeing some drawings of the proposed arena complex and some rah-rah propaganda. What I wasn’t prepared for was the depth of work and research that has already gone into the arena project.

The Katz Group obviously spent an enormous amount of time preparing answers for any questions proponents or opponents may have. From peak hour traffic volumes to environmental impact plans, there was an answer for every question imaginable.

Really cool.

Almost.

The one topic left unspoken was how this this was going to be paid for. That said, I understand the importance of secrecy while the Katz Group and city council are negotiating who will pay how much for what.

So what did I take from the event aside from the fact that the conceptual drawings look really, really cool? I left the AGA even more firmly entrenched in my position that Edmontonians should be willing partners to get this development built.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t want to give Mr. Katz a blank cheque. But I really and truly believe this is a once in a generation kind of project that all Edmontonians should be excited about.

Not everyone thinks millionaire hockey players suiting up for a billionaire need any help from taxpayers.

You’re not a hockey fan? So what.

I hate have a strong dislike for children but I fully accept that I’m partially responsible to pay for schools. I only use public transit when going to an Oilers game, an Eskimos game or the Indy yet I couldn’t be more proud of the fact that my tax dollars went to fund the new LRT expansion.

Before I ever heard of the Edmonton Arena Project, I swore that there would never be a reason for me to step foot in the Art Gallery of Alberta. Yet, last night, there I was.

I’m willing to bet that once this arena is built (and it IS a case of “when” not “if”), even the most ardent opponent to this development will attend a concert, a sporting event, or some currently unforeseen occasion, and be truly impressed with what the Katz Group and city council worked to build on their behalf.

—–

(Now, back to me.)

Journal: Edmontonians flock to arena open houseNot convinced, not at allEdmonton citizens both blast and praise Katz Group executives at open house

Sun: Katz’s downtown arena open house draws hundredsSelling the idea of downtown arena

Metro: Public gets peek at Arena District

CBC: Katz Group holds open house on arena plans

CHED/iNews: Katz Group hears positives about arena district project

Global: (I mentioned my troubles with the video player, so just work your way around to find their story. Sorry.)

CTV: Edmontonians gets a glimpse at Katz Group’s plan for new arena


Renaming the Children’s Library

If you’ve been to the Stanley A. Milner branch (Downtown) of the Edmonton Public Library, you have passed by the super-cute, brightly coloured children’s wing that is also housed within the building. It’s just to the left of the main entrance.

Recently I noticed they’ve kicked things up a notch, with an aquarium. And…is that a boat?!

So, when we received word from the Edmonton Public Library (EPL) announcing they were having a sweet library event, officially naming the children’s library, we were all over that!

EXCEPT…SNOWMAGGEDON!

Yes, that blast of winter got in our way, and we missed the news conference. We know this, since a parade of snowsuit-clad kids leaving the library greeted us.

But when life hands you snowy lemons you contact a well-connected person for some thoughts on the subject.

As these computers prove, the library is more than books.

Of course, we turned to man-about-town Jerry Aulenbach. He also just happens to be the current Mayor of the Stanley A. Milner Library on mobile game foursquare.

So we asked Jerry about naming the kid’s wing of the downtown branch the “Shelley Milner Children’s Library,” named for the late daughter of the main library’s namesake (Stanley A. Milner).

“Often, when buildings, and the like, are named after people, you don’t get to find out why, or who they were,” Jerry said.

“It’s kind of nice to know that Shelley had a love of literature, which I found out from my friend (and her cousin) Joe Milner.”

“I know that the Milner family has been investing major dollars into the library [$500,000 for this expansion], as well as other organizations, such as the U of A School of Business.

Jerry, being foursquare mayor, said an official name means the children’s library should be its own venue in the game.

I want a reading boat!

“Already added it to foursquare,” he said. “Next trip there, and I’m mayor, baby!”

(Isn’t it nice to see people excited about a library?)

The new children’s library expansion comes after a half-million dollar donation from the Milners. It adds more space for kids, and books, new computers, and provides ongoing programming and services.

Plus there IS a boat, and aquarium, a few of both which also go into other EPL branches.


Escalator Watch Begins (sort of)

This picture is actually from January.

Look, we don’t want to be typecast as the blog that points out stuff that doesn’t seem to get fixed.

(Although others clearly like the idea.)

One day I will take the LRT and not see these awful yellow notices. One day.

But it’s been five months. Five. Months.

And the escalator on the east side of the University LRT Station is still broken.

It made for absolutely jam-packed crushes up the working escalator all school year. At busy points it’s still really annoying.

LRT Station, we want two escalators!

It’s Escalator Watch ’10 – and we’re already at five months…

Do you think the escalator will be fixed by the time the new LRT stations open at Southgate and Century Park. That’s a race to watch!!!

Next time…we may actually ask the ETS what’s up…but we also like just sitting on our high horses and demanding things be in working order…

I peered into the work area months ago. It's still under construction.