2016 Best in the Core: Best in the Community

The spaces, people and events that make our neighbourhoods awesome

Best City-Builders

unspecified-2Leslie Bush

In the two years he’s lived in Oliver, Leslie Bush has had an impressively large fingerprint on the community. He has promoted sustainable living as treasurer for the Local Good, cofounded the Edmonton Tool Library so that no downtowner goes hammerless and he’s become an integral part of the Secret Alley Gallery project by imbuing unexpected places with exciting artworks. He began his city-building efforts as a 14-year-old with the Edmonton Bicycle Commuters Society, where he worked as a volunteer mechanic. His work has continued to expand throughout Edmonton. “Once you start volunteering you always get asked to volunteer,” he jokes. Somehow he’s made time for municipal and provincial politics, door-knocking and fundraising for parties big and small, to contribute to what he thinks is right. “I want to make Edmonton the best city it can be,” he says. “The only way to do that is to get involved and get people to do the same.”

unspecifiedKirsta Franke

If you spend much time at farmers’ markets and community events around downtown, odds are you have witnessed Kirsta Franke’s hard work firsthand. The Rossdale resident has played an indispensable role in planning the All is Bright Festival, Nuit Blanche and the Winter City Shake-up—major events that get people interacting in the core at street-level. Ditto for the 124 St. Grand Market—the Thursday night summer event Franke founded has activated a chunk of Oliver and celebrates local artisans. Her company Wildheart Collective has operated out of Westmount for six years. A proponent of the farm-to-fork movement, Franke spreads the philosophy of local sustainability to kids through an educational program called Little Beans, where she teaches them how to be discerning consumers and make informed choices about food in our city. She admits to a time when she wanted to ditch Edmonton for a city that already exemplified the qualities and attractions she’s now fostering here. Luckily for us, she decided to stay and focus on life in the core. “That’s why I live and work downtown,” she says. “There is definitely some magic happening.” —RF

Best Citizen on Four Legs

Fergy of the Wee Book Inn

Fergy of the Wee Book Inn

Hemingway, Burroughs and Twain all counted cats amongst their muses, so what better animal-in-residence for a bookstore than a regal feline? You’ll find Fergy in the shop’s window, curled in bookshelf corners or grooming her luscious, apricot-hued coat atop a stack of paperbacks. Not averse to play, she’ll expect you to toss around one of her plush mice on your next visit.  10332 Jasper Ave., weebookinn.com


Smudge at the Hotel MacDonald
The Canine Ambassador of Fairmont’s stately hotel is a welcome sight for weary travellers. Home-sick guests can request to take the Yellow Lab for walks as they explore the core.  10065 100 St., fairmont.com/ macdonald-edmonton

Mystique at the “Rainbow House”
The fluffy coat and sly smile of this gentle tabby is as much a staple to Oliver residents as the rainbow-bright fence he perches on.  The Rainbow House, 99 Ave. and 112.St. —JP

Best Annual Event

The can’t-miss fête was once a part of the K-Days parade, but has morphed over the last three decades into a separate three-day festival, starting with a flamboyant parade that always seems to appear loudly out of nowhere. Revel in live reggae, sip some rum, feast on jerk chicken and ogle the colourful costumes at this celebration of Caribbean heritage every August.  cariwest.ca


Up + Downtown Festival
New to Festival City, this weekend-long, multi-genre music festival in the fall appeals to the rockers, punkers and everyone in between. With the addition of stand-up comedy and craft beer tours, it could become our own tiny SXSW.  updt.ca

…Kickoff to Winter Patio Season Party (formerly Farewell to Winter Patio Party)
Let it snow—because regardless of the weather, these bars and restaurants want to remind you that every season is patio season during this annual weekend party. wintercityedmonton.ca —NW

Best Unconventional Spots for Stretching

Awaken your chakras and escape the “busy trap” every week with yogi Tori Lunden inside the airy spaces of the Art Gallery of Alberta. Classes are inspired by the changing exhibits and are intended to not only stretch your body, but stimulate your mind as well. Sessions run for eight weeks; snag a drop-in pass for only $12.  2 Churchill Sq., youraga.ca


Gentle Hatha with Keely
Wind down with yogi Keely Scott every Tuesday evening from 6 to 7:45 p.m. at the Oliver Community League Hall. Offering affordable sessions for OCL members, this beginner hatha class will help you connect body and breath in your everyday practice.  10326 118 St., olivercommunity.com

Yoga in Churchill Square
Looking to squeeze in a quick sweat session on your lunch break? Forget those lame “deskercises” and get stretched en masse on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 12:30–1:30 p.m.  Churchill Square, edmontonarts.ca —BN

Best Architectural Transformation

Despite being over budget and schedule —and that unfortunate “Skypalace” business—the once dormant Federal building’s renovation is a triumph of modern architecture. Featuring an expansive Visitor Centre, it does more than add office space for government needs: it creates a connection between the government and Albertans, offering educational films in the Pehonan theatre, an “Alberta” branded retail store and “living walls” blanketed with lush greenery.  9820 107 St.


Kelly Ramsay Block
After an arson destroyed it, this historic building on the sadly underappreciated Rice Howard Way was demolished and partly recreated. The facade was rebuilt, originalbrick-by-original-brick, and topped with the 25-storey Enbridge Centre.  100A St. and Rice Howard Way

Williams Engineering Building
Many protested the demolition of the 49-year old Bank of Montreal building, fearing it would be replaced by something unsightly. Instead a stunning contemporary multiuse structure, defined by its angular beauty, was put in its place—maybe going down in history itself.  200, 10065 Jasper Ave. —RF

Best Architectural Renovation

While planning Oliver’s newest residential tower, the Hendrix, Edgar Development took the initiative to preserve the J.T. Ross house and incorporate it into its design. Reinvigorated as a boutique ofce space, the century-old house lends character to the otherwise contemporary townhouse and apartment complex.  9733 111 St.


The Mountafield Residence
A comprehensive process—including referencing historic photos for re-creation—and a pretty penny were required to restore one of Oliver’s earliest permanent residences, a French Second Empire style house, to its former glory.  9850 112 St.

Alberta Hotel
Once considered the best hotel west of Winnipeg, architect Gene Dub gave it a second life decades after it was carefully disassembled. Now, the Calgary sandstone walls, older than the province itself, house a restaurant, venue and CKUA radio station. 9802 Jasper Ave. —RF


This entry was posted in 2016 Winter.