Conversion Immersion

It’s hard to believe this is our third anniversary of The Yards. Only three short years ago, The Yards was launched in partnership with the Downtown Edmonton and Oliver Community Leagues to serve as the voice of Edmonton’s core. In that short time we’ve had the pleasure of working with local editors, writers, illustrators and volunteers to bring you a hyper-local community newsmagazine to be proud of.

Since we started, we’ve seen the opening of Rogers Place, a pilot that looks at the future of Jasper Avenue and we have featured portraits of many talented community volunteers.

We’re proud to bring you this, our third edition of ‘Best of the Core’ – everything we know to be fantastic and fabulous about living in our communities.

Now we can ponder: What will the future bring?

It’s been 20 years since the first Capital City Downtown Plan (CCDP) was approved. There’s a measurable difference from then to now. Back then, only 5,300 people lived in the downtown core; now we’re looking upwards of 14,000. Can we get to the ‘magic’ 20,000 by 2020, as envisioned by the Downtown Vibrancy Task Force?

The CCDP imagines a sustainable downtown as one with a vibrant community of people living there, taking ownership for, and living in a walkable community along- side arts, culture, entertainment, business and retail services. Add to that recent amen- ities to make downtown more livable.

Previous Downtown Plans have enabled landowners to take older, vacant office buildings and convert them to residential buildings. In the early 2000s, a wave of office-to-residential conversions brought life to some buildings and reinvigorated our Downtown with people who live, work and shop in their community.

Recent vacancies mean we could see a second wave of conversions.

If these conversions move us towards our goal of a sustainable Downtown, the more the merrier. While new office building construction is wonderful to see, it’s also the addition of people Downtown that will ensure there is a thriving community. The Downtown Edmonton Community League will continue to serve them and The Yards Magazine will continue to be the voice of our neighbourhood.

Chris Buyze
President, Downtown Edmonton Community League

DECL Winter Events

FRIDAYS, 10:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Urban Kids Playgroup

Our playgroup has returned on Fridays. Parents (and their tots, ages 0 to 5) can join us for coffee, snacks and a chance to get to know other families living downtown

Urban Kids Family Night

Our monthly family night returns for kids and parents. Join us for games, talent shows and more.

Wednesdays, 12:10 PM – 12:50 PM
DECL Noon-Hour Yoga

Free noon-hour yoga at DECL. Take a break to breathe and relax your mind with Irma and Jessica, and enjoy some ow and Hatha practices at lunch. All levels welcome and beginner friendly. Space is limited. Please register at

Christmas Mixer

Come celebrate the season with your downtown neighbours. Bring some baking to share. Light refreshments will be provided and there will be a cash bar. Donations of warm clothing and new socks will be used to decorate our tree and donated to Boyle Street Community Services.

DECL Book Club

Join us for the return of the DECL Book Club. We focus on urban themes both fiction and non-fiction.


DECL Fall Events

Cornfest 2017
Experience the new Alex Decoteau Park,
at 105 Street and 102 Avenue, with some
free corn on the cob, kids and dog activities,
and a chance to grab your new 2017-’18
DECL membership ($5). Starts at 11am
and runs until 3 pm.

Alex Decoteau Park Dedication
Join DECL President Chris Buyze, Mayor
Don Iveson, members of Alex Decoteau’s
family, police, military (on horses!) and
local residents for the official opening of
our first new downtown park in 30 years.
Starts at 11 am.

BreakOut West Festival
The festival takes over downtown Edmonton
and our community space with local and
Canadian talent. Enjoy all venues for only

SEPTEMBER 6, 13, 20, 27
Free noon-hour yoga at DECL
Take a break to breathe and relax your mind
with Irma and Jessica, enjoy some flow and
Hatha practices at lunch. All levels welcome.
Beginner friendly. Runs 12:10 – 1:50 pm.
Space is limited so please register at irma.

Up+Downtown Festival
The festival returns for a third year at DECL,
with performances by Woodhawk, Chron
Goblin, Weaves, the Garrys, Ia Am Machi
and others. for more info. 18+

Edmonton Election Day
Don’t forget to vote.
Polls are open until 8 pm.

Urban Kids Family Night
Our monthly family night returns for kids and
parents. Join us for games, talent shows and
more, from 6-8 pm.

Alex’s Park

Every community needs green space. These spaces help connect us to nature, offer a quiet spot to relax or a place to meet our neighbour. And downtown is finally getting one. After 10 years of steady effort and planning by the community league, and support from city council, downtown is opening our first new park in 30 years — Alex Decoteau Park.

Our downtown population continues to grow. As it does, green spaces become even more crucial to the everyday lives of residents. When you live in a condo or apartment, parks within walking distance are important and necessary parts of a healthy neighbourhood.

But Alex Decoteau Park is not only downtown’s first new park in decades, it’s also a first for our city in many ways. It was designed with community input and features many ‘active’ uses that residents can participate in and enjoy. These include a community garden (complete with raised beds, shed and composting); a fenced, off-leash dog area for our furry friends (a first for Edmonton); grassed areas; lots of seating and meeting places, and push-activated fountains that every kid (and parent) will doubtlessly enjoy on hot summer days.

The park is significant for what it brings our community, but it’s also a reminder of the life and legacy of Alex Decoteau, its namesake. Decoteau was the first indigenous police officer in Edmonton, working on the beats right around what is to be the park named after him. He represented Canada at the Olympics in 1912, and died in the Second World War at the second battle of Passchendaele, in 1917.

While Decoteau is no longer with us, his legacy will live on. I invite you to join us for the opening of the park, at our annual CornFest, on September 9. Or you can come to the the official dedication on September 16. We have talked about the park for a long time. Now it is time to enjoy it.

Chris Buyze
President, Downtown Edmonton Community League

Construction pain will build benefits

The adage that there are two seasons in Edmonton—winter and construction —is set to hold true in our downtown this summer. But that’s a great thing.

While Ice District continues to take shape, other construction projects are starting up. The much anticipated Valley Line LRT will close much of 102 Avenue and Churchill Square, beginning this fall, leaving some festivals scrambling for new places to call home over the next few years.

This is all wonderful, because we are already starting to see the downtown of our future emerge.

Rogers Place has already brought thousands of Edmontonians to our downtown, sometimes for the first time in years. That the Oilers have gone on a playoff run that has been a boon for many restaurants and pubs is icing on the cake.

This summer will also see Alex Decoteau Park, downtown’s first new park in many decades, start offering residents another place to get some green. The park’s official opening is September 16, but no doubt many are already itching to use the community garden or walk their pooch in the off-leash dog run, or let their kids frolick in the water fountains.

What else? Well, an entire downtown bike grid has seemingly popped up over night, and soon the new Royal Alberta Museum will open and become a place for downtown residents and visitors to enjoy.

Great cities are always changing. As governments realize the economic, social and cultural benefits of a healthy, vibrant core that people want to live in and visit, we will all benefit. Rogers Place and Alex Decoteau Park are proof.

Through all of this, DECL will continue to grow our community and try to connect residents to each other through our events and programming. Our annual Pancake Breakfast is June 17, from 9–11am at our community space, at 10042 103 St. The breakfast is a chance to meet your neighbours and celebrate the fantastic summers we enjoy. And on July 21 we will again host a patio pub crawl to some of downtown’s finest patios. Stay tuned for details.

As always, if you have ideas or questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at info@ Even though much construction is still in our future, let’s celebrate what’s been achieved in the place we call home.

Chris Buyze

President, Downtown Edmonton Community League

DECL Summer Events

JUNE 5 & 19
Urban Kids Playgroup
Meet other parents and kids ages 0–5.
No registration required. Just drop-in!
10–11:30am, DECL Community Space,
10042 103 St

Urban Kids Family Night
Our monthly family night is where kids-
and parents-can play, explore and make
friends in their neighbourhood.
6-8pm, DECL Community Space
10042 103 St.

Pancake Breakfast
There’s something comforting about a
stack of pancakes for breakfast. It’s the
perfect way to start the weekend so we’re
firing up the griddles again for the annual
DECL pancake breakfast. For a toonie, pile
up your plate with pancakes and sausages.
Coffee and juice will be served. 9-11am, 
DECL Community Space, 10042 103 St.

Open Mic Night
Ever wanted to perform publicly or just want
to be inspired? It’s time to try Open Mic
Night. Play a guitar tune, read a poem or
share any hidden talent you’ve got.
7pm, DECL Community Space, 10042 103 St.

DECL Patio Pub Crawl
Cheers to downtown living. Grab some
sunscreen and come out to the DECL Patio
Pub Crawl. By foot, we’ll explore some of the
best patios in the city and signature cocktails
each location. Details will be available on

Downtown Bike Network
The wheels are turning! DECL, The City
of Edmonton and various community organi-
zations officially kick off the Downtown Bike
Network. Ride with other cyclists via to desig-
nated bike stations around the core using the
new lanes. A station will be at our Community
Space where cyclists of all ages can decorate
their bicycles and then join a bike parade to 
the Federal Building at the Alberta Legisla-
ture grounds. Follow us on
DECLORG for more details. DECL Community
Space, 10042 103 St.



DECL Spring Events

Urban Kids Playgroup
Meet other parents and kids ages 0–5.
No registration required. Just drop-in!
10–11:30am, DECL Community Space,
10042 103 St

MARCH 1, 15
DECL Book Club
Our first book Happy City was so good,
we’re on to our second! Follow us on to find out what
we’re reading next. Don’t forget to show
your DECL membership at Audrey’s Books
and receive a free Audrey’s Book Club
membership. 7pm, DECL Community
Space, 10042 103 St.

MARCH 8 & 29
Learn to Play Ukulele
Dust off your ukulele and learn to play with
Dylan Ella. Free for DECL members. $10
for non-members. 6:30–7:30pm, DECL
Community Space, 10042 103 St.

MARCH 17, APRIL 21, MAY 19
Urban Kids Family Night
Our monthly family night is where kids—and
parents—can play, explore and make friends
in their neighbourhood. 6–8:30pm, DECL
Community Space, 10042 103 St.

DECL Annual General Meeting
Find out what your league is all about, volunteer
for board positions and get the low-down
on what’s happening in the community. Light
refreshments provided, cash bar. 6:30pm
Registration, 7:00pm meeting start, DECL
Community Space, 10042 103 St.

MARCH 14, 28, APRIL 11 & 25
Programs Committee
Join us every second Tuesday of the
month to help organize programs and
events. Bring your ideas! 7–8pm,
DECL Community Space, 10042 103 St.

Open Mic Night
Got something funny to say or a poem
you’ve wanted to read? A guitar tune
to play? Share your artistic talents with
Downtown neighbours. Join us for our first
Open Mic Night. 7pm, DECL Community
Space, 10042 103 St.

DECL Annual Block Party
Join us for our annual pancake breakfast.
Our garage sale is also back for a
second year. Details to be announced
on Facebook.

DECL Winter Events

DECLlogo DEC. 16, JAN. 20, FEB. 17
Our monthly children’s game night is where kids—and parents—can play, explore and make friends in their neighbourhood. 6–8:30pm, DECL Community Space, 10042 103 St.

Urban Kids Playgroup
Meet other parents and kids ages 0–5 Downtown. No registration required. Just drop-in! 10–11:30am, DECL Community Space, 10042 103 St.

JAN. 18, FEB. 1, 15, MAR. 1, 15, 29
DECL Book Club
We’re reading Happy City by Charles Montgomery and discussing two chapters each meeting. Show your DECL membership at Audrey’s Books and receive a free Audrey’s Book Club membership. 7pm, DECL Community Space, 10042 103 St.

DEC. 15
DECL Christmas Mixer
Celebrate the season with your downtown neighbours. Bring some baking to share, but don’t worry about drinks—there’s a cash bar and light refreshments.  7pm, DECL Community Space, 10042 103 St.

Walking the Line on Thoughtful Development

With all the changes in Downtown, it’s easy to forget that the end goal is a sustainable, inclusive and robust community that people are proud to call home. Sometimes that’s lost on folks who don’t get why we live here, and you see it in recent conflicts like the proposed “megabars” for 104 St. and 109 St. These debates in particular stress thoughtful development—proposals that not only respect zoning and statutory plans in place (in this case the Capital City Downtown Plan adopted by City Council in 2010), but our dense, multi-stakeholder neighbourhood. No other part of the city can boast, for better or worse, a street like 104th, a place with density levels comparable to Manhattan, but which has had to fight to retain its 15-year growth and investment as a model “urban village.”

The pressures of a master-planned entertainment node, the Ice District—arguably an important missing part of vibrancy in Edmonton’s core—means we have to be thoughtful and sensitive when we decide how we’re going to encourage more people to live Downtown, and live there longer. One block can make a huge diferent in an urban setting. When it comes to the co-existing but disparate needs of residential complexes and late-night bars, other cities do this successfully. We’re only beginning to see the kinds of skirmishes that arise from an urban core, which is starting to be more bricks and mortar than gravel parking lots.

There’s a place for great late night venues and entertainment. We’ve seen how successfully Jasper Ave. has been transformed by venues like the Needle Vinyl Tavern, and we expect to raise a glass or two in the anticipated sports pubs and bars of the Ice District. A decade ago you could open any business wherever you wanted in Downtown without opposition, namely because no one lived close enough to be afected. But times have changed.

We’re learning how to co-exist as neighbours. The applicant of the proposed 400-seat bar on 104 St. pulled the appeal, not just because of pressure from local residents and businesses, but because it wasn’t the right place for such a venue. But this won’t be the only learning curve. Being open to change and growth is why we all live Downtown. We will have to continue to work together, in an open dialogue, to make sure the special community that have been created continues to thrive. It’s an exciting time to be part o

Job Post: Editor-in-Chief

The Yards magazine (published by the Central Edmonton News Society, on behalf of the Downtown Edmonton and Oliver Community Leagues) needs a new Editor-in-Chief to keep the momentum going on this popular quarterly magazine and to build its supplementary online reporting platform. This is a part-time paid position with very flexible hours. The ideal editor is self-disciplined and self-motivated, enjoys working with writers and creators and collaborating with community members, and LOVES EDMONTON’S CORE NEIGHBOURHOODS.

The Yards is a hyperlocal magazine for Downtown and Oliver covering community and civic affairs, so the ideal editor would be knowledgable about the area and someone who actually likes civics. But we also cover culture, food, business and all other aspects of downtown life—so someone “in the know” is equally valuable. The Yards has won awards from the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association and its hyperlocal journalism has been recognized by the Canadian Association of Journalism and the CBC; it is important to us that our stories meet writing and journalistic standards. We really love journalism junkies and magazine fanatics—people who relish the publishing process, who can be witnessed sniffing glossies and fondling paper stock in the magazine aisle.


  • Meet with Central Edmonton News Society to develop stories and key messages for stories
  • Schedule editorial meetings and manage pitches
  • Develop story assignments for specific writers and editorial interns
  • Hire editorial interns, liaise with writers and editorial assistant to ensure deadlines met
  • Review stories and make substantive edit
  • Liaise with CENS to ensure satisfaction with stories and to edit notes
  • Write headline, decks, pull quotes and cut lines
  • Meet with art director to plan design, assist when needed
  • Proof first and final designs
  • Publish stories to web with editorial intern
  • Contribute to social media platforms (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook)
  • Represent the Yards out in the community (broadcast media and community events)
  • Organize panel discussions and work with events manager to launch each issue

Time Commitment

Approximately 10 hours weekly. Because The Yards staff and volunteers work remotely through email, it is a requirement of the position that applicants are self-starters and can make themselves available for feedback, discussions and design changes via email at a relatively prompt speed.


Pay is negotiable and in flux, depending on the growth of The Yards online reporting.


Send your resume, cover letter and published articles to publisher Jarrett Campbell at, by Dec. 10, 2016.