Anne Stevenson Interview


Meet Anne Stevenson, O-day’min’s newest representative. She’s part of a history-making municipal election that saw eight women elected to City Council.

Stevenson beat out nine other candidates after receiving endorsements from outgoing Mayor Don Iveson and incumbent councillor Scott McKeen. A resident of Oliver, a former city planner, and a new mom, Stevenson will represent O-day’min, named for the Anishinaabe word for strawberry or heart-berry.

Q: How will your background in urban planning help you make decisions on City Council?

A: A lot of the decisions that City Council makes are land-use related. I’m excited to be able to bring that lens in terms of those choices. I think it’s also having a solid sense of the city plan, really understanding that document and how we implement it decision by decision. I’m excited to be at the table to see the vision and the goals and the policy, and to see the city plan come to life through the individual decisions that we make on City Council.

Q: What are some things you hope to accomplish?

A: Just today I was talking about the revitalization of Downtown. Certainly, working to support the businesses here, and the great initiatives happening through the Downtown Edmonton Community League and the Downtown Business Association as well.

Housing and homelessness is absolutely a huge priority for me. I think there’s been some great work done and there’s a number of policy shifts, certain different ways of approaching the resources that we’re already deploying, to be even more effective at addressing housing and homelessness.

Also, continuing to lobby the other orders of government to ensure that we’re getting the funding and the supports that we need. A lot of downtown businesses are asking for permanent supportive housing, and I think that’s something that we can really do—and received such a strong mandate for [when campaigning]. Easily two-thirds of people that I spoke to, when asked what their top issue was, it was housing and homelessness.

A third thing would absolutely be around how we think of and how we fund community safety and wellness. We have a great roadmap through the Community Safety and Well-Being Task Force report. I’m committed to ensuring that those recommendations are implemented. And continuing to advance reconciliation and anti-racism initiatives are huge priorities as well.

Climate change is obviously a key one. We can make a lot of difference through our land use and transportation decisions. Something that I’d like to see for our next four-year budgeting process, which happens next November, is to be sure we implement a carbon budgeting system, so that we have a way of tracking and measuring our progress to get to net zero as a city and to ensure that we stay within our budget.

Q: What are some of the unique challenges facing your ward?


Homelessness is a very visible issue in our community across the ward. I was just blown away by folks understanding the complexity of that.

Most people, even when they’re expressing frustration about petty theft or disruption, recognize that the solution is permanent supportive housing. It’s definitely a challenge for our community but a great opportunity as well, to come together and tackle that issue.

The revitalization of Downtown is unique to our area just given the office-worker employment density of the area. We face a challenge, not just in rebuilding the vibrancy back to what it was but doing so in a fundamentally different environment, where we won’t necessarily have the same office capacity that we did before. It provides us with an opportunity to address an issue that has always been apparent Downtown, which is that we didn’t have enough of a residential base. This gives us an opportunity to add more residential units through conversion of existing office buildings into residential units.

I’m such a Pollyanna sometimes but I see more of the opportunities than the challenges. We have a great active transportation network in terms of our bike lanes, multi-use trails through the River Valley, the LRT expansion, bus routes, but there are a lot of missing links. It’s always a lot of fine-tuning those pieces, continuing to support our business areas: High Street, 124th Street and 107th Avenue, and Chinatown. Those are big challenges, and it links into some of that both real and perceived sense of a lack of safety downtown. I think there’s been a loss of confidence in downtown and the core, so rebuilding and attracting people back to the area.

Q: One of your priorities is championing changes that support the 15-minute city. What does that mean and how will you support that?

A: The 15-minute city is about building the type of city where we can live our daily lives with the least amount of travel time or the least amount of friction when going about meeting our daily needs.

A lot of the pieces are there for many of us living in O-day’min but it’s really filling in those gaps. Riverdale is an interesting example. Previously, there was nowhere to meet needs in terms of a café, restaurant, or bakery. We’re starting to see some of that happen through Little Brick and now Dog Patch. To me, those are real examples of retrofitting communities to have the 15-minute city amenities.

Q: Is there anything else that people should know about you?

A: There’s this analogy that I heard one time about city planning. Someone described it as a jazz band. You have the rhythm section and the soloists. The rhythm section is those basics—the core things that we need every day. Then you have the soloists, which are flashy and exciting. I see myself as a rhythm section-type person. I want to be sure that the city is getting a strong foundation to allow our phenomenal community groups, our amazing businesses, our amazing civil society to really shine. I want to be focused on supporting those people and I really look forward to connecting with the community in the coming years.

Anne’s Fast Favourites

Favourite …
Place to get a beverage? Coffee Bureau or Cavern
Edmonton landmark? High Level Bridge and the River Valley. And City Hall is a beautiful building
Way to relax? Reading, camping, and getting outdoors
Podcasts? Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend and BBC Radio Desert Island Discs
Show to stream? Parks and Recreation
Spot in O-Day’min? Paul Kane Park and Oliver Exchange

Safety issues in the core

Reports of people feeling unsafe while walking downtown have been shared anecdotally among friends and colleagues in the past few months, reported to the Downtown Edmonton Community League and other organizations, and also to the police as the stats below will show. Lockdown measures, working from home, and generally less people out and about in the core has led to an uptick in reports of crimes of opportunity on the one hand, and on the other hand, there is increased visibility of those suffering mental health crises, addictions and opioid use, and a lack of sustainable housing and shelter for the most vulnerable.

Fardoussa Omar has been Safety Chair of DECL for three years and says they’ve always had complaints about safety in the core but agrees that COVID is exacerbating things for those who live and work downtown. She is also concerned about those who are dealing with addictions and mental health issues experiencing targeted crime.

Photo by Alex Pugliese

“The folks who live and work downtown are coming into contact with the unhoused and then also the unhoused are coming into more volatility of just being on the street. I think when everybody’s mandated to work from home or when businesses are mandated to shut down, you really notice who doesn’t have a home and who doesn’t have a space to be and some of the challenges they have to cope with,” Omar says.

“I was walking down my alleyway and I noticed one of our unhoused neighbours in a lot of pain and he was screaming out for help. I called 211 and they said I have to call the police because it looks like he’s in a medical crisis and will need an ambulance. So I ended up doing that and after the incident was resolved the police officer called back and said my unhoused neighbour was bear sprayed by someone walking by.”

Edmonton Police Chief Dale McFee talked about concerns with safety in downtown on Facebook Live on October 7 and said there are two major issues happening that require different strategies: crime and social disorder.

“They’re not the same conversation. We’re going to need to change how we deploy downtown to get some better outcomes,” McFee said.“We need to rethink the whole approach downtown. And let me just contextualize what I mean by that. We have focused as a city, and not just as a police service, on housing. Housing is an important ingredient [but housing] isn’t the ultimate solution, it’s the destination. We’re dealing with a major addictions problem. A major, major addictions problem.”

Photo by Brandon Erlinger

Year-to-date the number of safety occurrences Edmonton Police have dealt with downtown has increased 3%, while citywide they’ve actually decreased 4.3%. There’s been an increase of 14.4% of assault overall: 9.7% increase of assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm, 12.9% increase in aggravated assault, 27.3% of assault. These numbers have actually decreased in other parts of the city. Family violence, street disorder, and mental health issues have also increased.

These numbers are significant and need to be addressed. Working as a community, the hope is that solutions can be found to make folks feel safe being downtown, while also putting essential services in place to separate those who are committing crime from those who are in a tough spot and need help with addictions, housing, and mental health.

Taking paintbrushes to the pavement

With a newly painted crosswalk, the Oliver Community League (OCL) hopes the colourful artwork will get drivers to pay more attention to pedestrians crossing one of the less safe roads in the neighbourhood.

Volunteers from the OCL took their paintbrushes to the pavement on October 16, decorating the crossing at 103 Avenue and 111 Street with paintings of strawberries, peas and carrots.

Sydney Gross, a member of the community league’s recreACTION committee, said painting the crosswalk can help increase the intersection’s visibility, and can potentially make drivers slow down. She also came up with the harvest-themed design.

“We chose the theme of harvest because we were painting this
in the harvest season,” she said. “The design was inspired by the farmers’ markets near our neighbourhood as well as a celebration of how beautiful this autumn has been in Edmonton.”

Daniel Morin, who chairs the OCL’s civics committee, said they identified 103 Avenue as one of the unsafer roads in the neighbourhood, as there are a few uncontrolled intersections with only a yield sign in place. He added that cars often use the road to drive through the neighbourhood quickly.

The idea to add a vibrant crosswalk to that intersection came after the City of Edmonton launched its Street Labs program, where anyone with an idea for increasing road safety can submit a proposal.

While he thought it was going to take some time to get approval from the city, Morin said he was impressed by how straightforward and collaborative the process ended up being. The city also covered the cost of materials.

“Initially we were kind of intimidated by the number of documents and templates that were for the program,” he said. “But once we just got something in, we had that point of contact and we were able to just move on things rather quickly.”

Edmonton launched the two-year Street Labs program in April 2021 with $700,000 in funding. The initiative is part of the city’s Vision Zero strategy, which aims to reach zero traffic-related serious injuries and fatalities by 2032. More than 80 applications were sent in by late May.

City spokeswoman Sarah Giourmetakis said that five Edmonton neighbourhoods saw the implementation of a Street Labs project this year. These projects include eight vibrant crosswalks, four shared streets, nine parklets, and 12 curb extensions. The city is now working with other communities to install projects next year.

With a painted sidewalk now in place at 103 Avenue, Morin said the response has been generally positive.

“When we were painting it on their day, there were residents walking around and seeing the work being done, and they were all very positive about it,” he said. “They talked about how that intersection is problematic, and they are glad that there was something done with it.”

Morin added that the OCL is planning to do more to improve pedestrian safety on 103 Avenue, including more painted crosswalks, adding additional stop signs, and possibly putting in curb extensions.

best in the core

By Sydnee Bryant

What would life be without fries? Seriously though, this potato of choice can be paired with breakfast, burgers, and even fancy nights out. For obvious reasons, fries had to make the cut.


It’s not surprising that a French restaurant has incredible French fries – steak frites are a classic for a reason, after all. But it is a delightful surprise just how incredible the hand-cut fries are. These golden-brown French treasures are elevated to another level when paired with the restaurant’s sinful truffle aioli.


This Edmonton staple offers both classic hand-cut fries and yam fries. These Kennebec potatoes are lucky that they get to become hot, crispy fries that are gluten-free and dairy-free, as well as safe for vegetarians and vegans to eat. The decadent yam fries reach peak deliciousness when dipped into the spicy mayo that accompanies them.


Sherlocks garlic thyme fries are a delight, a true superstar. No mediocre chips here, just hot, buttery fries full of that amazing garlicky taste that we can’t get enough of. These fries do more than just take up room on your plate or soak up alcohol in your tummy—they make your meal complete.

By Sydnee Bryant

Edmontonians are some of the most creative and hard-working folks around and we wanted to take a moment to give a shout-out to amazing BIPOC products and places you need to check out.


Founder Fanta Camara was inspired by her grandmother, a medicine woman in Mali, West Africa, to learn about how herbs and spices can affect health. Vitaliteas sells their custom blends of black, green, herbal, and decaf tea, as well as Chai, at a variety of stores, including RGE RD’s The Butchery, and Meuwely’s Artisan Food Market.


For more than 45 years, Bearclaw Gallery has worked with Indigenous artists to promote Canadian First Nations, Métis, and Inuit art. Whether you’re looking for a piece of art for your living room or are shopping for gifts, consider supporting a Canadian Indigenous artist. The Inuit soapstone sculptures are particularly stunning.


This Edmonton-based clothing brand, founded by award-winning designer Alèthe Kaboré, mixes African prints with fabrics such as denim, lace, and tulle. A self-taught designer and seamstress, Alèthe was born and raised in Burkina Faso. Bold, colourful business and business casual clothes designed locally and available online? We’ll take one of everything.

By Christopher Sikkenga

No, it isn’t 2008 and we’re not talking Four Loko. Instead, let’s talk 1908 and locomotives!


From the gorgeous views at the top of the High Level Bridge to the history of the streetcars provided by the Edmonton Railway Society that operates the fleet, this is the best way to ride the rails. Additionally, the High Level Bridge Streetcar is the most efficient way to get from downtown to Whyte Ave.


Since 1999, a train with thousands of lights has traversed the country each holiday season to aid food banks. A modified car serves as a stage for performers to play at each stop. This year’s event will be a virtual concert, see the community tab on for more information.


Bill Graham rescued Locomotive 107, the steam engine, from a swamp in Louisiana. The massive 50 tonne engine provides a trip through time as you can move from the entrance of the park to a station near the fantastic new Indigenous Peoples Experience.

By Sydnee Bryant

Allergies and specific food preferences are what make us all so unique and loveable, right? We’re happy to let you know of some restaurants that go above and beyond to cater to their customers’ needs.


This plant-based café is best known for their Instagramable space but they’re also a haven for anyone suffering from food allergies, sensitivities, or Celiac disease. Every menu item is clearly marked to indicate the presence of seven common allergens, and everything is dairy-free (even their amazing coffee and tea lattes!).


This is where to find the best gluten-free wraps possible (they don’t fall apart!). A lot of their menu can be made gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan, and their menu is helpfully colour-coded! They also crush the raw dessert game, and offer lactose-free, almond, soy, and oat milks. And did we mention the vegan milkshakes?


The best gluten-free pizza in the city, hands down. The staff are very careful when handling a gluten-free order, and they offer an allergy guide on their website so that you can read up on everything beforehand. Dairy allergy or vegan? They’ve got you covered with Daiya mozzarella! They also have a keto-friendly crust!

By Christopher Sikkenga

When we pave over paradise Joni Mitchell advises we go to a “tree museum,” or the U of A Botanic Garden to find peace and silence. All the concrete in the core carries sound through our skulls and these are the absolute loudest.


In 2015 the city started a project to “enhance the avenue with innovative, vibrant and relevant streetscape.” In March 2020 phase 1, the area from 109 Street to 114 Street started construction. Enter the vac truck! These shrill machines are used for sludge, sewers, or hydro-excavation to expose utility lines and pipes under the road. Jasper Ave was turned into a deafening soundscape for several months. Those of us living and working near the construction would have rather spent 10 hours a day with the brutal buzz of a dentist drill.


The goal of bar hopping is to be seen, and unfortunately heard. Those of us living off of Jasper Ave hear the call of the wild each weekend. The intoxicated excitement of e-scooter shenanigans and the agony of the ambulance aid can be heard throughout the evenings. Turn off your TV and enjoy the back-alley breakups and the drunken delusions howled at the moon.


Pardon? I missed your surprise at the St. Joseph’s Basilica being on this list because my ears are ringing. While some may enjoy the clangor, being neighbours with the cathedral bells is challenging. The 1990 addition of bells to the basilica made sure to comply with the noise abatement bylaw, but it is easy to lose one’s train of thought in the last few minutes of the workday when the brain is struck by the chimes at 5:22 pm.

By Christopher Sikkenga

The fantastic thing about living downtown is that escaping to nature is only several steps away. When things get too noisy, one can descend to the River Valley in a variety of ways.


For those of us looking for some quiet reflection and something in between a full-on workout and mechanized transportation, the stairs hidden where 114 Street meets 99 Avenue are an excellent compromise. The stairs in the neighbouring Grant Notley Park and those at the end of 113 Street have large seating areas at the top which can attract more people. On 114 Street, seating consists of a single bench which allows for easier social distancing in these uncertain times. The staircase is a straight shot to the River Valley trails, without any switchbacks, to efficiently deliver you from the noise of the Albertan Provincial Vehicle, the pickup truck. Slip down at 9850 114 St NW.


This is the popular spot for the disciples of cardio. The roughly 202 steps see a lot of traffic because of the challenge and the access to the Commonwealth Walkway which travels 10km along the North Saskatchewan River. Get moving at Constable Ezio Faraone Park, 11004 97 Ave NW. Learn more about the Commonwealth Walkway at


If cardio is not your cup of tea, the 100 Street Funicular has your back. Completed in 2017, the mechanized River Valley access floats you from downtown to a small promenade above Grierson Hill Road. From there, you can continue to a river lookout or take an elevator down to the River Valley trails. Ride down at 10007 – 100 Street NW.

By Sonia De Fazio

Home, shmome. If you gotta work on your own, at least there are some great local spots for ambiance and background buzz to make you almost miss the cubicle life.

★ ★ WINNER: DOSC ★ ★

By far the coziest and most delicious spot to set up shop in Downtown. Located in the historic Metals Building, hugging the corner of 104 Street and 101 Ave, DOSC offers a creative coffee shop space for the nomadic worker. Whether it’s a crypto check-in, email blast or a spot to sit and research, DOSC’s snacks, staff and scenery are what makes this coffee shop office the best in the core. Next time you’re there, try the waffles. Spoiler alert! You’ll actually be eating a waffle-shaped donut and it will blow your mind.


Located in the Oliver Exchange building, this is a happening spot for being tucked away on a side street. It’s a great place to people-watch while you pretend to read a book. In the warmer months grab your drink and your laptop and settle into one of the tables on the sunken patio. Coffee is roasted daily and if you seriously haven’t tried it yet, then it’s time to treat your taste buds.


Lock Stock is a classic choice to hunker down and bang out a few hours of work. Suggested for an early morning or early afternoon work blitz, since they do close at 3:00 pm. The Lock Stock workspace is consistently cool. The coffee is always hot, the breakfast sandwiches are always satisfying and the tunes always fresh.

By Sonia De Fazio

Sometimes you just want to grab something and go. No fear, we’ve tried all the spots and found the best cheap eats to keep you satiated and your wallet happy too.


If you’re on the hunt for a delicious meal that will fill your belly and not break the bank, Dalla has you covered. It is an Italian restaurant, humbly carrying on the Zenari’s family legacy, with a space and menu that feels like your home away from home. Their new restaurant breathes life into the heart of our city, standing bright and beautiful on bustling Rice Howard Way. After getting pulled in by the high ceilings, hanging foliage and wholesome wall art, you’ll fall head over heels for their panini menu, all around the $10 mark and guaranteed to tantalize your taste buds. Panini menu available everyday until 3:00 pm.


Slurp up the intricate flavours of Japan at Dorinku Osaka. Located on Jasper Ave, off 104 Street, Dorinku offers a small but mighty ramen menu that will be sure to warm your heart and cool down your spending. The ramen menu is available at lunch and dinner, offering a range of traditional broth flavours and fresh ingredients, all around the $11 – $15 range. They even offer their ramen as a frozen takeaway option, so you can cook it up in the comfort of your own home. Large portions and big taste on a small budget makes Dorinku Osaka a solid runner-up for best cheap eats during the week in the Core.


Hankering for a few slices of ‘za? Cosmic Pizza & Donair is your downtown destination for pizza by the slice at a slashed price. Located at the entryway of the Fox Tower 2, it offers a cheap, quick and tasty option for the tummy rumblies. Whether it’s a snack attack, second lunch or a quick bite before your next destination, you can easily fill up on two of their hefty slices for under $10.

By Sonia De Fazio

Taking your time to look at things you didn’t even know you needed has a kind of therapeutic essence to it, doesn’t it? Indulge in some shopping therapy at these quiet and quirky spots.


Allow your curiosity to keep you just a little longer at the Royal Alberta Museum Gift Shop. It’s one of those shops that you drop in intending to kill 10 minutes but end up staying for 45 because you’re hypnotized by the perfectly curated selection of gifts and goodies. The RAM Gift Shop has everything from pottery to puzzles to prints, made by local artisans from across Alberta. You’ll hop in on a whim and leave happily with books, jewelry and apparel you didn’t know you needed until you did.


Come for the chronic, stay for the crew. Armstrong Block takes runner up for most loiter-able people factor. After you talk selection, catch up with the cool staff and toss a few tickles over to the store cat, you’re easily tagging an extra 15 minutes to your routine purchase time. The staff are super genuine and fun to chat with. They can mingle you into submission with their humour and hype. One second you’re comparing kush, the next you’re divulging into details about evening plans to slay some saliva with a side of All Happy takeout, and they are right there, encouraging you every step of the way.


Loiter in luxury at The Artworks. The exquisite display of art, florals and home decor will make you and your minutes melt. The Artworks is brimming with beauty. You’ll walk in ready to buy a one-of-a-kind greeting card, bouquet or sentimental piece of jewelry, but then stick around to bask in the beauty of the whole store. The intricate selection of gifts creates a majestic museum vibe that will tempt you into investigating each individual piece, as if it were a sacred and rare relic.

By Sydnee Bryant

Softly falling snow, sparkling in the winter light, the Core offers some beautiful places to take a stroll through crunchy snow-covered streets and trails.


Take the funicular down to this beautiful park, located right next to Downtown (or brave the stairs; we’re not your mother). Louise McKinney offers classic views of the North Saskatchewan, plenty of places to sit down for a break, and enough trees laced with snow to appease even the most cynical of winter walkers.


If you’re a fan of mixing walking with window shopping, 104 Street and 104 Avenue is the spot for you. Grab a hot beverage from Credo and stop in stores whenever you need to warm up, or something catches your eye. And when you get hungry—there’s plenty of fantastic dining options at your fingertips.

>> RUNNER-UP: 124 Street

This area mixes retail and residential, making it the ideal spot for a leisurely stroll. Admire the window displays, get a hot drink or a snack, then continue on to view the houses, lit brightly with festive decorations. It’s the perfect way to spend an afternoon outside—a Candy Cane Lane-esque spot tucked away on the westside of the core.


An Offer of Connection and Joy


In 2021, the annual music show connected to 5 Artists 1 Love was cancelled because of the provincial mandates. “During COVID, because we couldn’t meet each other there was even more reason to somehow reach out to each other and ensure we’re hearing each other and connecting.” Darren Jordan said. As the curator and producer of 5 Artists 1 Love, he creates a space for Black artists to share their paintings, sculpture, music, poetry, and creativity every February. Celebrating 15 years of the art show, 5 Artists 1 Love filled the second floor of the Art Gallery of Alberta last February. Unfortunately, Alberta was in a lockdown. As mandates relaxed, the AGA extended the show until September. The music show of 2021 was not so lucky.

However, Jordan and the team at 5 Artists 1 Love put together a video retrospective about the show’s 10 years of history available on their website, Additionally, 5 Artists 1 Love has been involved with Culture Days for many years. In the midst of the pandemic and in partnership with the National Black Coalition of Canada – Edmonton Chapter, 5 Artists 1 Love created “The Not So Tiny Desk Series,” a video performance playing off the popular NPR Tiny Desk Concerts. Musician, engineer and producer Enoch Attey has been involved with the annual concert in a variety of ways. Attey performed in the video, which is available on the 5 Artists 1 Love Youtube channel. Attey said there was a real need for the music and reminder of community in between COVID waves. “The wild thing is, could I use the money at the time? Yeah. For me, what was more important at that time was I haven’t played with anyone in a minute. I haven’t seen anyone in a minute. It’s been harder each day to find a reason to play. They could have been paying me 20 bucks and I still would have showed up.”

“As a creative it is hard,” Jordan reflected. “Most of the artists
I know, most musicians are always griping that they don’t have enough time to rehearse, to paint, to create. Most of these people have day jobs. So you would think that most people would be on fire in terms of their creative output.”

Unfortunately, the pandemic has many of us feeling anxious because of all the uncertainty. Jordan, who works in mental health continued, “You may not have the spirit right now because of what’s going on in the world. The uncertainty zaps your energy and it can sometimes cover that spark that you need.” Jordan hopes that the art show and the music performance of 5 Artists 1 Love are bringing people together to support each other. “Now, more than ever, people need to connect. Now, more than ever, people need to share joy together.”


As the 5 Artists 1 Love website states, part of the spirit behind the organization is to provide “Edmonton residents with the opportunity to celebrate the cultural mosaic within the city’s Black community.” As the Black Lives Matter social movement continues to grow and evolve it feels important to remember the diversity within the Black community.

“That’s key. I think a lot of people tend to forget that and lump Black people together, but it’s a lot more than that.” Attey put it this way, “There’s folks from Trinidad, folks from Jamaica who are going to see things and experience things completely differently. I’m going to taste someone’s dish and be like, ‘Nah, I am not about that.’ Then there’s the dish I grew up with, and I’m like, ‘Yes! And everyone else is like are you crazy?'”

Jordan is passionate about exposing people to the variety of cultures within the Black community. “Not only are we celebrating that diversity within ourselves, but we’re sharing it with the people that come through the door as well. We’re connecting and educating with other communities and cultures as well. Nothing but good can come from that. You can’t hate somebody once you’ve shared their culture, broke bread with them or danced with them or you nodded your head to some Marvin Gaye.”

Just as Edmonton recognizes Ukrainian and French heritage, Jordan reminds us, “Just because you’re Black, we’re not a monolith. We don’t all respond the same way. We don’t all act the same or share the same views.” As a performer, Attey noted that Jordan and the team at 5 Artists 1 Love could use their social capital after 15 years to attract bigger acts. Attey went on to say, “But every year there’s a push, how can we do something different this year? Who wasn’t showcased last year that we can showcase this year, that has a completely different voice than anything we’ve ever heard before? That drive for innovation and solving that puzzle is epic. It’s the thing that has me waiting by the phone, hoping Darren calls me and says, ‘Yo Enoch, I need you.'”

Jordan has a core group of artists to rely on for 5 Artists 1 Love events, “but it is imperative that we make way for people who haven’t had that opportunity. So, for example, where the art show is concerned, it doesn’t matter how successful or how well received your work is, two times. You are allowed to be in the show twice as a featured artist. And what that does, it opens the door for new and emerging artists to throw their hat in the ring to show the city, the community what it is they have to offer.”

In addition, 5 Artists 1 Love has used The Wall to encourage more community participation. This feature of 5 Artists 1 Love allows anyone to provide a 12 x 12 gallery-ready, 2-inch thick canvas with art based on a different theme each year. Feature artists in the art show are encouraged to participate in The Wall, but Jordan says individuals from a variety of different backgrounds share their work. “One of the goals of the show is to invite people to the party. How do you hate somebody when you have learned about their culture, experienced their culture, you’ve heard their stories. You make the connection in the similarities you have in your values and cultures as well. What I try to do is be a conduit for those conversations. Set something up so that people can gather, meet and learn about each other in a safe and welcoming environment.”


Conversations about racism can be uncomfortable. How do we, as Edmontonians, rise to that challenge? Jordan offered, “Acknowledging that it is an uneven playing field and that there’s a history that precedes you or your family. I believe behaviour is purposeful. A system like that, a system that is uneven, inequitable there’s a reason why. I think people need to be honest about the fact that it does exist.” Jordan believes that our city is constantly changing with a rich influx of different cultures. “We’re fortunate in that respect. It goes back to educating each other. Sometimes there are people within our own community that don’t know much about another set of people, another group. And if they’re given an opportunity to share that culture through music, food and art I just think it makes for a much more cohesive and positive community as a whole.”

Attey commented that being part of the music production of 5 Artists 1 Love allows him to engage “with people from different backgrounds, worldviews and mindsets and cultural roots. I get to engage with them all on even ground. It doesn’t matter if the person sitting next to me is black or white or indigenous, we are all there to enjoy, partake, contribute to this beautiful exposure of culture, and to learn.”

Despite the pandemic, over 6000 people went through the AGA during the 2021 5 Artists 1 Love show. The 2022 art show has been extended to run from February to April. Darren Jordan is “hoping to do the 5 Artist 1 Love music show in-person this year. We’re at the Winspear. It’s been my goal from day one that we’ll play at the best stage in the city. Looks like that might happen.” Saturday February 5, 2022 is the scheduled date. Tickets to the last 11 years of the shows sold out quickly, but should you miss out Jordan mentioned they’re always looking for volunteers. There is an application available on the 5 Artists 1 Love website, along with contact information to be part of The Wall. 5 Artists 1 Love is always looking for sponsors and can contact them through the website as well.

Enoch Attey is a guitarist and the music director for an Edmonton group called Melafrique. You can find more information at Attey hopes to be involved in the 2022 show in some capacity. “What’s so deep about Edmonton for me, especially coming from a place like Washington D.C. where the music scene is thriving, what’s so deep for me is that here you have the unique opportunity to not just contribute to the scene but shape and change it, To mold it. I never would have dreamt that was a thing I could do.”

The Sweetness & The Stress

Scott McKeen reflects on his time as Ward 6 councillor

I was up on stage under hot lights, giving out awards, for what seemed like two hours. I began to sweat. Feel a bit dizzy. Then I thought: I might pass out, right here.

We rushed to my car after my duties concluded. My able assistant Rebecca took the wheel, while I nauseated in the passenger seat.

A few kilometres down the road is when it happened. Somehow, Rebecca got the car stopped, my seatbelt unbuckled and reached across to my door—at some risk to her ensemble—as I held my hands over my mouth in a futile attempt to … you know.


We laugh about it now. We laughed about a lot of things in the Ward 6 office. Just as we grieved and raged and panicked and planned.

Constituents come in all shapes and personalities. The vast majority are kind, even under the stress of a waterline break or a late bus. But any group 80,000 or so will have its outliers.

The Ward 6 office staff took the brunt of it. The boss, Roxanne Piper, was with me from the start. Rebecca Visscher does communications and policy work. Sydney Gross worked with us part-time and we enjoyed her expertise in planning. Rachael Putt, now working in housing policy, taught me so much about the tragedies and travesties causing people to end up on the street. Amy McBain, now working in the private sector, was my first policy advisor and my campaign manager in the 2017 election. She ended up romantically partnered with the campaign manager from my 2013 campaign. They have a boy, ahem, they did NOT name Scott. Francis is a delight, nonetheless. Also joining us for a time were Kalie Stieda and Melissa Bui, who both went on to support Edmonton’s social service sector during the pandemic.

The two things I will always remember about being a city councillor are the stress and too-often brief human connections with humble people who imbue Edmonton with its sweetness and passion.

I was privileged to attend hundreds of events large and small. But it was often the small ones by community leagues, multicultural groups or social service organizations that swelled my heart.

So I felt a tremendous burden of responsibility and then struggled afterwards with doubts about my votes.

Yet I leave with pride over several things. The Ward 6 office and council made huge strides on homelessness, though the work is far from complete. We were able to get council’s near-unanimous support for a motion demanding action from Ottawa and the Kenney government on the overdose crisis. We also did a ton of stressful, strategic work in the background to ensure Downtown Edmonton will have a major park opening in about 2024.

I met so many talented artists and musicians. Sadly, we are brainwashed from birth to think culture created elsewhere and backed by corporate America must be better. It is not.

As for the stress of the job, I felt like I was always fighting my personality. I am a large-part shy. I am definitely sensitive. I’m prone to anxiety. Yet City Council is tasked with making huge decisions. An infill development in a mature neighbourhood seems as threatening to the community as running LRT from southeast Edmonton, through downtown, to the far west end.


But I’m worried about boasting, humble-bragging or taking credit for work mostly done by the amazing civil service. I worry that might make you nauseated.


What you need to know about the upcoming municipal election

In the upcoming municipal election, we’ll be voting for a new city councillor for Edmonton’s core and a new mayor. Our city is growing not just in population size, but also in respect for the Indigenous communities who have made their homes here for thousands of years. Along with a new councillor, our ward has the new name of O-day’min.

Lorisia MacLeod, a member of the James Smith Cree Nation, librarian at The Alberta Library, and resident of Ward 6, said she believes that giving Indigenous names in place of ward numbers was an important and necessary change to show how Edmonton is growing.

“I also honestly feel like numbers don’t represent Edmonton or Edmontonians well but these names are connected to stories and histories—now that’s Edmonton,” MacLeod said. “We aren’t numbers; we are bold vibrant stories with deep roots and bright futures.”

MacLeod said she will be on the lookout for a candidate who puts their best foot forward when it comes to Indigenous issues and peoples.

“I am going to be looking for councillors who are in support of these names and are going out of their way to use and say them—even if they stumble a little at first,” MacLeod said. “I want to know that they are willing to put the time and effort into things that matter.”

Voting is necessary to the well-being of the city. The decisions city councillors make have a huge impact on our quality of life and on a wide range of locally controlled services and initiatives, such as drinking water, policing, emergency services, and property and business taxes.

Andy Gunn, an instructor of public administration who teaches local government at the University of Alberta, said that the role of city councillors is significant in providing policy direction to municipal administration—approximately 10,000 full-time staff in Edmonton—on these matters or “steering the ship,” while municipal administration is seen to be doing the detailed implementation work of “rowing the ship”.

“Causes that are unique to the city, particularly related to the quality of life, social agendas, wellness and community health, are most effectively addressed at the local level,” Gunn said. “This often works that receives little public recognition.”

There are limits to municipal power. While federal elections are administered by Elections Canada and the provincial elections are administered by Elections Alberta, local elections (which also includes school boards) occur through the provincial Local Authorities Election Act (LAEA).

Gunn said that municipalities are highly influential because approximately 81 percent of Canadians live in urban municipalities like Edmonton. Municipalities generate most of Canada’s GDP and are viewed as the source of many innovations. As city councillors do not align themselves with political parties’ platforms, they represent only the citizens’ interests.

Gunn added that Edmonton is a very ethnically diverse community and a worthwhile city councillor would be “increasingly aware of public support for dealing with community issues, supporting open opportunity to services by removing systemic biases, supporting new Canadians, and honouring the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations in addition to the provision of the local services.”


Join the Downtown Edmonton and Oliver Community Leagues for an opportunity to meet and hear from the municipal candidates running for City Council in Ward O-day’min.

Wednesday, September 29th | 5PM-7PM
Matrix Hotel (10640 100 Ave NW)

For more information:

urban reserves


What would an urban reserve look like in the middle of Edmonton?

Indigenous populations in Canada are growing, especially in urban areas. According to the 2016 census, half of the population of First Nations people live in the western provinces. From 2006 to 2016, the number of Indigenous people living in a metropolitan area of 30,000 or more increased by 59.7 percent.

In the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, established in 1991, Chief Georges Erasmus and Justice Renée Dussault called Canada, “A test case for a grand notion” where people with different cultures and perspectives shared resources and power. They write, “The story of Canada is the story of many such peoples, trying and failing and trying again, to live together in peace and harmony.”

Urban reserves are one such way in which to try this out. They have been around in one form or another for a few hundred years. There are currently around 120 urban reserves in existence right now in Canada. One of the first modern urban reserves was created in Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan about 30 years ago.

There are two ways they have traditionally developed. The first is a reserve based near or within a city. This type of urban reserve dates back to the 1800s. The second, also called a new urban reserve, is a sort of satellite holding by a First Nation band. One example of this would be Yellow Quill First Nation owning a small street in Saskatoon, which includes a First Nations bank.


Urban reserves are a modern way of envisioning postcolonial Indigenous spaces for commerce, community and recreation.

“A lot of the current research challenges that these reserves are still very much governed by colonial norms,” said Zane Davey, a graduate student from McGill University in the School of Urban Planning. Davey would like to see more when it comes to the development of urban reserves and was personally motivated to research these areas because he sees the possibility for creating new Indigenous spaces with urban reserves.

“Right now they are at the beginning stages of establishing indigeneity and decolonization within the urban space.”

Historically, a lot of the development on urban reserves was focused on commercial or industrial growth: things that are important to a community’s success. They have not had as much of a focus on housing for community members.

But the social aspect of an urban reserve is an important consideration. “I believe that it could become a space in which culture is celebrated, where there is Indigenous housing, [such as] social housing provided to members of the nation,” Davey said.


CHIEF BILLY MORIN, the youngest chief in Enoch Cree Nation history, declined to be interviewed for this piece as he is not currently speaking about urban reserves. However, Chief Morin did an Ask Me Anything in June on this topic in conjunction with the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues.

“It takes time, it takes effort, it takes teamwork,” Morin said in his recorded presentation about the creation of urban reserves. “Earlier this spring my awesome City Councillor Sarah Hamilton made a motion that the city will develop an urban reserve strategy.

“First Nations have their own rights and rules, but they live under the auspices of the federal government,” Morin continued as he explained about the sovereignty of Indigenous people and why urban reserves are important.

The key ideas regarding urban reserves and why they benefit First Nations people include social aspects, cultural aspects, and urban planning.

“Can an urban reserve lend itself in a plot to the city that provides services to Indigenous people in a different way than the great service providers that already exist?” Morin asked regarding the question of whether urban reserves can also address homelessness in Edmonton.

Urban reserves would likely be able to bring in additional resources through the federal government that the province or the municipality would not be able to, to help battle issues such as homelessness and addiction.


Both Davey and Morin are working to address the stigma of urban reserves based on many people not understanding how they work.

“As soon as someone mentions a reserve being built in the city, settler conditioning definitely makes people think of stereotypes, rural and neglected areas,” Davey said. “People think you’re going to have reserve dogs running around.”

The business owners on an urban reserve also face stigma when people mistakenly believe that there aren’t any taxes paid on the land. This may cause people to resent the new business owners, but it is based on a misunderstanding of how fees are paid.

“TAXES [ARE] A BIG WORD for all Edmontonians and it is a big word for First Nations too,” Morin said. He was referring to the misconception many people have that First Nations people don’t pay taxes. In fact, Indigenous people do still pay income tax. But they may not pay property tax if they live on a reservation.

According to the City of Edmonton’s website, municipalities are involved in providing services to the urban reserve lands through a municipal fee- for-service agreement and may also play roles in community notification and in bylaw and land-use planning harmonization as the urban reserve is developed.

Davey said when it comes to educating the public, the city should be responsible for informing them about the economic benefit for the municipality through shared revenue. They should also be mindful of their bylaws and planning restrictions to avoid further imposing colonial notions of living spaces on the urban reserve. Davey argues that it is important to take the opportunity for urban reserves to have their own sovereignty in how they control the land they have acquired.

The fee-for-service that is paid by the First Nation in lieu of municipal taxes would pay for the costs of policing, fire, drainage, bylaw enforcement and all of the other services a city provides.

At the same time, Davey said it is important to take the opportunity for urban reserves to have their own sovereignty in how they control the land they have acquired.


In Winnipeg, Treaty One Territory, there is a project on the former Kapyong Barracks site in west Winnipeg, which is now Canada’s largest urban reserve. The Kapyong Master Plan speaks to the highest ideals of Indigenous city-building. They plan to use the designs from Indigenous artists and landscape architects and to promote Indigenous design.

As a part of creating their master plan, Treaty One Nation, Canada Lands Company and the City of Winnipeg worked together on a community engagement process that included neighbouring residents and businesses. They hosted a powwow at the site and gathered feedback on preliminary design and planning concepts. From that input they created a community that focused on holistic elements in urban design. There are cultural camps and education integrated with community spaces, residential areas and even stormwater management facilities.

As Edmonton partners with Enoch Cree First Nation to develop urban spaces for Indigenous people, it is a good time to imagine how the city can also help to showcase Indigenous architecture, public art, and even memorial spaces. This is a unique chance to develop Indigenous-municipal relations and showcase First Nations culture as it exists in 21st Century Canada.

An urban reserve in Edmonton is an opportunity for all of us to live together in peace and harmony.

trash talk

YEG garbage cans


Upon moving to Western Canada, I was impressed by how clean the cities are. I theorized that our closeness to nature compelled Canadians to care more for the environment. However, upon closer inspection of Edmonton it would appear that nature is one of the worst litterers.

In the core my closest neighbour is the magpie. They often swoop past my head to greet me as I walk my dog. Like me, the magpie does not seem to be a fan of musicals. Instead, they would rather chatter endlessly as I walk to the Peace Park or the 124 Street Grand Market. While the magpies are not friendly with my dog, she loves the fruits of their labour, such as a discarded chicken bone. See, our community garbage cans are not actually for waste disposal, but are fine dining restaurants for the magpies.

After a hard day of keeping pigeons and seagulls out of the city and shouting at people to stay off the lawn, the unofficial mascot of Edmonton needs some carbs and there is no better place than the trash cans of our city, but what containers are the best in the core?

(Honourable Mention)
The Explore Edmonton Barrel

These containers are typically found in the trails and in some parks. They are simple barrels with a brightly coloured wrap around them and some have a yellow lid with a small opening in the middle. Now the lid can be challenging for the magpie, but there is a higher chance of finding a delicious chicken bone. These barrels are chosen by Park Services because of their large capacity. This means they do not have to be emptied as often. Barrels that have had the lid removed by entrepreneurs seeking bottle depot cash, or barrels that never had a lid to begin with are an open delicatessen for the intelligent relative of the crow, the magpie.

Jenny Hong, Director of Corporate Waste Transformation shared that one advantage of high-capacity barrels means less disruption of the turf and park lands by vehicles servicing the cans. “Receptacles with inviting openings are so much easier for picnickers and dog walkers to use.” Perhaps the magpies are just having a picnic? Hong reported, “A lid or restrictive opening is less likely to allow animals and birds to get in, but the trade-off is the human interface. Sometimes with a restrictive opening people end up disposing of their waste beside the can. Or, they find that they cannot fit everything in there from their child’s birthday party very easily.”

(Honourable Mention)
The Black Steel Bars Basket

As far as my creative corvid neighbour is concerned, a garbage can is a garbage can. Technically, these baskets are maintained by businesses and retailers and are not the responsibility of the city. Some have an ashtray on the top, others have an inner ring great for perching magpies in search of dinner. The vertical steel bars that are designed to deter graffiti allow the birds that are flightless to make their way up from the ground. Since these cans are located in high traffic areas, they attract the rougher, more fearless magpies. Plus, the cans in the retail areas have a higher percentage of uneaten convenience store hotdogs, leftover Timbits, or day-old baked goods.

Hong reminds us, “The cans reflect the buildings we’ve built or parks we’ve developed at a specific time.” For example, the recently renamed Unity Square likely has these large capacity, black steel bar baskets so that they do not have to empty them more than once a week. The recent Brewery District has cans that reflect the thinking of today where they have prioritized sorting garbage and recycling.

Blue or Black Plastic Can

The city has been using these familiar large cans on our sidewalks and LRT stations. Blue cans are maintained by Transit Services and the black by Waste Services. The large opening makes them an excellent restaurant for our feathered friends. The cans are open 24/7, always have a table, and seemingly never run out of chicken wings. However it can be a gamble for the magpie. ETS and Waste Services regularly empty these receptacles.

In the last decade, these plastic cans brought some cohesion for Waste Services. Consistency made the containers easy to recognize and the important inviting openings encouraged their use. The larger capacity meant it was less likely to overflow like the concrete artifacts they replaced. However, change is around the corner.

Runner-up! Silver Cans of Revitalized Jasper Avenue

The small footprint of these cans mean they may fill quickly, so the birds will have to make reservations for a meal before the cans are serviced. The intelligent, impish magpie that prefers to hop can also use the grooved design to climb the side. The top of the can has a smooth, wide ring for surveying the menu and enjoying appetizers.

These new cans are a departure from the familiar black and blue plastic cans. Neighbourhood revivals and other special projects like Imagine Jasper Avenue are creating beneficial, inviting public spaces. There is an effort being made to match the benches, planters, and the trash receptacles. Hong shared, “Now in the downtown we have a new streetscape manual that is emphasizing consistency, but also trying to balance it with the character of that stretch of Jasper Avenue or The Quarters.”

Our best in the core magpie lunchbox is an 80’s brutalist landmark in the city, the old aggregate concrete garbage cans. While the slender metal insert of these receptacles allow for easy and frequent servicing, they still overflow quickly. The mix of concrete and pebbles give an excellent perching option for grip and comfort as the ravenous, raven- adjacent rooster looks for that discarded french fry.

Why are we feeding the magpies?

Why is there no lid or flap to seal away the waste?

Hong put it this way: “Part of the reason the city does not have cans with lids and flaps is the yuck factor. Knowing that there is debris and gunk coating the flap, even more so during COVID, people do not want to touch the flaps.” Hong went on to explain that some may have physical limitations to push a flap open and that isn’t an inclusive design. Hong added that many inquire about the lack of bear bins in our city. Again, with the pandemic, accessibility issues, and a less-inviting opening, these receptacles are not practical. The City of Calgary has told Hong they have replaced most of their bear bins.

The city is enhancing public recycling opportunities by introducing the three stream system to places like Fort Edmonton, Churchill Square, public pools, and the City Hall fountain area.

Created with research and engagement with municipalities in Ontario and BC, Hong stated the new cans, made locally, include recycling, food scraps, and garbage. The city wants to evaluate the performance of this system and continue to improve it. Unfortunately for the magpies, the new cans have a canopy over the top to protect the contents from rain and snow.

The next time the fretful feathered foe swoops from tree to signpost stalking your morning walk, tell the magpie many of their favourite restaurants are about to close. Park Services will continue to use some barrels, but they will be wrapped in coloured designs matching the new cans and grouped in threes. Hong’s final take on our unofficial city mascot is worth repeating.

“Yes, there may be some troublesome birds that pick some bones off and throw them onto the ground, but the fact that there are these readily acceptable receptacles that keep our streets clean, that keep pet waste off yards and parks spaces. That is a great way to mitigate environmental and human and animal health risks.”

Support Live Music

There’s something about a live show. Your favourite musicians, or those you’ve recently discovered, get on stage, the lights go down, the strings get a final tuning, and the room comes alive. You’re in a smaller space, a local venue, not a multi-thousand seated behemoth (although there is certainly a time and a place). The vibe is different here.

You nod to those you’ve nodded to at other shows. You know the bar staff enough to say hello and maybe they even remember your favourite beer. You know to avoid the table in the corner with the wobbly leg. This is your place. But what if it wasn’t anymore?

“In Edmonton, venues are dropping like flies, said David Lee, Naked Café’s marketing and booking manager. There’s virtually no support for venues.”

Lee stressed that if Edmonton had more of a focus on the importance of music, there could be a vibrant area in the heart of Downtown. COVID-19 has not helped the live music scene either and it has been an incredibly tough time for venues, artists and staff involved in the live music industry, with more than a few businesses shutting down for good.

“Live music venues are a fragile ecosystem, even during the best of times. This past year has pushed them to a near breaking point. We’re thrilled to be inviting artists back on stage, and while we hope that further shutdowns won’t be needed, we acknowledge that safety should be our first priority as the province reopens,” said Olivia Street, On The Rocks’ talent coordinator.

A way for the community to show its support is to attend more live music events. Here are some venues that have reopened in Oliver and Downtown or have come up with unique ways to get their music out such as live DJ streaming. Check out their sites for more info.

9910 109 Street

10303 108 Street

11740 Jasper Avenue

10030 102 Street

10524 Jasper Avenue