It’s here, Edmonton: summer. And this year, you’re going to make the most of it. No more missing an event because you didn’t hear about it. No more sitting at home when you could be out there, soaking it in and adding yourself to the community spirit. But how do you maximize it all? Well, we’ve got you covered. We approached the question of how best to experience summer from a multitude of angles. How do you summer if you’re a family in the core? If you’re hoping to move about? If you’re a newcomer? If you’re looking to network? And we interspersed this how-to advice with an events listing tailored to life in the core.
So get out there, dear reader. Go get that summer.
How to Summer for Newcomers
Rolling Out the Welcome Mat
Edmonton is a fun city with a lot of things to do in the summer,” said Oliver resident Laura Vega. “But the hard part is finding people to do them with.”
The city has a history of attracting enterprising souls in search of jobs or dreaming of commercial opportunities. And whether those opportunities are real or perceived, the 2017 Canadian census reported that immigration to Edmonton is on the rise. But, as Vega says, the life of a newcomer can be isolating, and full of unexpected challenges, making social connection especially important.
Vega came to Edmonton from Costa Rica two years ago to pursue a master’s degree at the University of Alberta. She found activities easier than making connections. “You can go to the farmers’ market or explore the neighbourhood, but you just kind of, get your stuff and you go home. Finding people to hang out with can be tough when you’re not connected to anyone.”
She has made friends, however, through her classes and her job at the U of A, but found it challenging. Vega tried volunteering to build community connection, which has also had mixed results.
“I once decided to volunteer to help clean up garbage in the river valley, but then they sent out a notice that we should bring a friend in case we all got separated, so that wasn’t very helpful,” she said, laughing.
As an animal lover, volunteering at the Edmonton Humane society has been a positive experience for Vega. She recently adopted a dog, which she says has been a great way to connect to the community.
“When I take her for walks, way more people are likely to stop and say hello. She’s just so cute and everyone loves her.”
The question is, who is responsible for welcoming new residents to overcome the challenges of social isolation? According to Coun. Scott McKeen, the answer is not a simple one.
“I suspect gaps exist in our systems to welcome and engage newcomers,” he said. “Numerous agencies, such as the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers, Catholic Social Services, and Action for Healthy Communities work in the ward and across the city in settlement, language training, employment, etcetera.”
When it comes to support and connection to overcome social isolation, McKeen said the City of Edmonton has various programs to help newcomers access recreation facilities and transit. They partner with numerous agencies around everything from arts to anti-racism, but informal social ties seem to be the most effective.
“The City is also studying the concept of access without fear, to allow newcomers with expired or disputed status to remain active and involved with City facilities and services,” McKeen said. “In Oliver, the obvious access point would be the outdoor pool.”
The infrastructure to support new Edmontonians has yet to catch up to the need, making it challenging for people to get settled, said Marco Luciano, director of Migrante Alberta (pronounced me-grunt-ay), a chapter of an international organization that supports foreign workers across Canada. Alberta is seeing a growing number of agricultural workers from the Caribbean, Mexico and Guatemala, so there is a great need for advocacy work, migrant services and settlement, Luciano says.
In the meantime, Luciano encourages the community to get curious about their neighbours.
“I think it’s important for all residents of Edmonton to look beyond their backyards to see that there’s a lot of really good people out there that can contribute our community,” he said. “I think in these times of uncertainty a community composed of different folks, regardless of their status, is an awesome thing to have.”
By Kirsten Bauer
How to Summer: Get Networked
Summer is Social, so Here’s How to Do It
Summer is a time to get outside, enjoy the sunshine and meet your neighbours. We’ve chosen three of the best (and active) ways to network in the core.
The November Project
Originating in Boston, the November Project is a free fitness movement for all ages and abilities. Since 2013, former Oilers defenceman Andrew Ference and his sister, Jen, spearheaded the now dedicated group of Edmontonians who meet at 6 a.m. every Monday at various locations, Wednesday at the Royal Glenora Stairs and Friday at Walterdale Hill for a 30-minute workout. It’s about kickstarting your day rain or shine, even through those cold, winter months. The best way to learn more about the November Project and its members is to follow them on social media and just show up.
“November Project has become a huge part of my life and I rarely miss a workout,” said Lisa Brown, president of OCL and dedicated November Project-er. “Having a group of people caring that you are getting out there every Monday, Wednesday, Friday reminds you that what you do counts, and it’s only a matter of time before you’re making great connections.”
WHERE: Monday – Various locations,
Wednesday – Royal Glenora Stairs,
Friday – Walterdale Hill
WHAT YOU’LL NEED: Comfortable clothes, runners and a water bottle
Alex Decoteau Community Garden
If stairs aren’t your thing, maybe gardening is. Alex Decoteau Park officially opened in September 2017 and is the first new park in downtown Edmonton in 30 years. Named after the first Indigenous police officer in Canada, the park features a fenced off-leash dog park, a community garden with raised garden plots and green grass turf that adds a bit of colour to the neutral concrete of the surrounding area. Community gardens promote community building and healthy recreation, and with 33 gardeners and 25 names on the waitlist, Alex Decoteau Park’s community garden is the perfect space to connect with others.
“Our intention is to host community events for the public,” said Erin Bayus, DECL’s garden director. “We have a community bed for people who wish to partake in plantings for food donation and we encourage folks to volunteer with our garden committee and site maintenance.”
WEB: www.facebook.com/ADCGyeg/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org
WHERE: Corner of 105 Street and 102 Avenue
WHAT YOU’LL NEED: Seed donations (carrot, beet, peas and beans)
Coffee Outside began as a group of bike enthusiasts who exchanged stories on Twitter of cycling in Edmonton. Well-known enthusiast Darren Markland decided to continue the discussion in person, and add coffee, and it has now become a weekly meet-up at Constable Ezio Faraone Park. Everyone is welcome. Just bring a cup and join the conversation.
“Bicycles are easy to stop and they frame conversation. So, we stop once a week on Friday mornings in all weathers to say hello and share stories of pedalling in the city,” said Glenn Kubish, who has been attending Coffee Outside since it began over three years ago. “I think the movement will keep growing. Being on our bikes puts us closer to people we can support in different ways.”
WHERE: Roughly 97 Avenue and 110 Street
WHAT YOU’LL NEED: A bicycle
By Jasmin Joe
Edmonton Pride Festival June 8-17
Celebrate diversity and identities along the LGBTQ spectrum by catching events throughout the city. The top drag performers and queer artists will perform at parties at Evolution Wonderlounge (10220-103 Street), and there will be more events to meet other queer people at mix and mingles, literary events, and other celebrations. Various venues, edmontonpride.ca
Nuova Opera & Music Theatre Festival Through June 30
In honour of their Nuova Opera’s 20th anniversary, this special festival will offer a free lunchtime concert every Monday at 12:30 p.m., featuring three singers and a pianist. These concerts will showcase the accessibility and enjoyment of opera and add an inspiring break to your work day. City Hall, 1 Sir Winston Churchill Square, operanuova.ca
How to Summer: Party Time
Gather Your Friends and Get Grilling at These Bookable Hot Spots
Pining for a yard this summer while living your closed-in, downtown condominium life? Well, stop: You don’t have to live in the suburbs to stretch out on the grass – grilled burger and fresh lemonade in hand — and soak up the sun and vibes of a BBQ. Several beautiful parks in the downtown area have bookable sites for outdoor parties, or you can round up your neighbours and
host a block party on your street or alley (though, do be prepared for a lot of paperwork and door-knocking on that last idea).
Here’s our guide to find out where and how to host your outdoor event. All you’ll need to bring are the beef and veggies for grilling and a cooler filled with chilled drinks (alcohol-free).
Idea: Party in the Park
Many downtown parks have shelters and BBQ pits you can rent for an afternoon or evening with your friends. Or you can choose a drop-in location for an impromptu party that’s inspired by a shopping trip at one of the several farmers’ markets within a walk, bike or otherwise to the core. Some of these spots even allow you to bring a bouncy castle to get the party jumping!
View the details on the various parks near the downtown core below. All sites are available until 10 p.m., and you can discover how to book them on the City of Edmonton’s website here: edmonton.ca/activities_parks_recreation/picnic-sites.aspx
Emily Murphy Park
11904 Emily Murphy Park Road
Nestled in the beautiful river valley on the south bank of the North Saskatchewan River, this park is named after the well-known women’s rights activist.
Bookable sites: 2 (includes a canopy shelter)
Drop-in tables: 24
Inflatable play equipment: Yes (on site #1)
Government House Park
9938 Groat Road
With the river as your party’s backdrop, this park offers plenty of green space to explore.
Bookable sites: 1 (includes a BBQ pit)
Drop-in tables: 8
Inflatable play equipment: No
Grant Notley Park
116 Street and 100 Avenue
This small and quaint park features a rentable gazebo that overlooks the river valley. It’s the perfect spot to mark a special occasion or toast an achievement.
Louise McKinney Park
9999 Grierson Hill Road
The Chinese Garden Gazebo here is open to public bookings. You’ll want to plan far ahead though, as its close proximity to the large flower garden makes it a very popular destination.
12130 River Valley Road
This wide-open park offers plenty of space for lawn games such as bowling, cricket and horseshoes.
Bookable sites: 6 (includes canopy shelter)
Drop-in tables: 54
Inflatable play equipment: Yes (on sites #2–6)
Note: Liquor is not permitted in any public areas.
Fire Bans: Before lighting a fire anywhere, visit www.albertafirebans.ca or call 311 to find out if there’s a fire ban within the City of Edmonton.
Idea: Host a Block Party
A great way to build a sense of community and connect with your neighbours is to host a block party. Permits must be submitted a minimum of 14 days before the party, and your celebration needs the support of all the residents affected by the street or alley you’ll be closing. So get to work.
Tips and tricks on the best ways to go about informing your neighbours and collecting their signatures can be found on the City of Edmonton’s website. Learn more of the rules and find the application form here: edmonton.ca/residential_neighbourhoods/neighbourhoods/block-parties.aspx
Idea: Where to Stock Up
What’s a party without delicious food? Here’s where to get some of the best.
10160 104 Street
This exquisite wine bar offers many of its gourmet cheese to go — perfect for picnics. thecavern.ca
Chocorrant Patisserie & Café
10328 124 Street
Pick up fine French pastries, including savoury and sweet croissants, to add some fancy flair to your party. choccorant.com
Italian Centre Shop
10878 95 Street
While outside the core, with its wide range of imported European meats, cheeses and antipasti, this is definitely a one-stop shop for all your BBQ needs. italiancentre.ca
Arno’s Fine French Pastry
10038 116 Street
Pastry chef Arnaud Valade uses the culinary skills he learnt in Lyon, France, to craft chocolate croissants, sweet macarons and fluffy quiches. facebook.com/ArnosPastry
Lucky 97 Supermarket
10725 97 Street
With a large variety of imported foods, this Asian grocery also makes for a great place to pick up Vietnamese subs, sweet red bean buns and fresh veggies. luckysupermarket.ca
By Matthew Stepanic
Improvaganza June 13-23
One of Canada’s largest improv and sketch comedy festivals will bring in actors from across the country to compete in Theatresports matches, host innovative workshops, and have the audience rolling in the aisles with laughter! The opening night gala on June 14 will feature Canadian legends and Whose Line Is It Anyway alum Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie. Citadel Theatre, 9829 101A Avenue, rapidfiretheatre.com
Make Music Edmonton June 21
The business fronts of 124 Street will be transformed into sidewalk stages at this family-friendly music extravaganza, with more than 40 live performances. Emerging to established musicians will celebrate the diversity of music, including a showcase of Indigenous musicians to celebrate and acknowledge National Indigenous Peoples Day. 124 Street, makemusic-edmonton.ca
Works Art & Design Festival June 21-July 3
Take some time out of your work day or evening on a tour of more than 50 art exhibits in the downtown core. Every year, this festival unleashes art and design, creating a giant outdoor gallery, and the Works Street Stage will feature live performances from noon to 9:30pm every day. Federal Building Plaza, 108 Street and 99 Avenue, theworks.ab.ca
Jazz Festival June 22-July 1
This annual festival explores a variety of musical genres from bluegrass to zydeco, with some of the hottest jazz acts from around the world. Experience a jazzed-up evening with the smooth and
sharp sounds in performances from Sheila Jordan & Cameron Brown, Snarky Puppy, Johnny O’Neal and more. Various venues, edmontonjazz.com
House of Hush Burlesque June 22, July 13
At these speakeasy-style burlesque shows, you’ll travel back in time to an era of luxurious outfits and cocktails, where some of the top burlesque performers from Alberta will perform an intimate and extravagant show. Sip a craft cocktail while you take in the glitter and glamour of gin-soaked revelry. Crash Hotel, 10266 103 Street, houseofhushburlesque.com
Taste of Edmonton July 18-29
Savour sample-sized treats from some of the city’s best restaurants in the Taste Piazza at this popular festival —it’s the perfect way to turn your lunch or dinner into a culinary adventure. Relax a while in the expanded seating area and catch some evening entertainment of live music. Runs from 11am to 11pm. Capital Plaza, 108 Street and 99 Avenue, tasteofedm.ca
Looking for the Edmonton Street Performers Festival?
This thrill-filled fest will take place in Dr. Wilbert McIntyre Park (Gazebo Park) from July 10 – 15. edmontonstreetfest.com
How to Summer: Family Edition
The Core is a Playground for Kids and Parents Hoping to Make Connections
A few years ago, Rachel Jones started approaching strangers with children in downtown coffee shops and grocery stores. She had a good reason. Jones noticed that, just like her, the people were new
Jones is 30 and lives in a downtown loft with her husband, Mark, and three-year-old son, Alex. When Alex was a baby, like many new parents, Jones said she felt isolated. So, when she talked to other new parents who lived in the community, she suggested they connect on social media. This turned into a Facebook community, which also turned into a blog for new parents who live
in downtown Edmonton. It’s called edmomton.com.
On the blog, Jones and others write about resources available to new parents in the core, list kid-friendly business and explain different family-geared summer activities.
For example, there’s the “downtown mom hack,” as Candace Rogers Haughian, 32, describes it. (Conveniently, it works for parents of all genders.)
Haughian lives in Westmount and takes her two-year-old son to parks and playgrounds all around the core — and grabs a coffee along the way. What’s the hack, then? Pairing the parks with the pots (of coffee).
“There are a couple pretty awesome combos,” Haughian said. Duchess Bakery (on 107 Avenue) and the playground on 126 Street between 106 and 107 Avenue. There’s also Elm Café (on 117 Street), or The Art of Cake in the Brewery District, and Kitchener Park (at 114 Street and 102 Avenue). Or there’s the Barking Buffalo (on 124 Street) and Edmonton Grads Park (on 121 Street), or the 104 Street farmers’ market and Alex Decoteau Park (105 Street at 102 Avenue).
Parks are important for families who live centrally. And in the summer, with most parks come pools. The general consensus is Oliver Pool (which will be free again this summer) is better for older kids, while splash parks like the ones at Kitchener Park, Glenora Park, Alex Decoteau Park and Queen Mary Park are great for younger kids. The Alberta Legislature pools and grounds are also very popular with families on a hot summer day.
For those who grew up in Edmonton, the Green Shack program is also a familiar summer activity for families. Rose Pink is 41 and lives in Westmount. She and her family take advantage of the
shack in the park around the corner from their house all summer, when they’re not biking around Oliver, downtown and the river valley trails.
“The staff are there for a good chunk of the day and they get to know all the kids’ names while they do planned activities and crafts and things,” Pink said. “We lived in Halifax before and they didn’t have things like that there. It’s wonderful that they have these programs for kids to encourage them to be outside.”
What exactly is the Green Shack program, though?
Dee Dee Carr, supervisor of neighbourhood recreation experiences at the City of Edmonton, said the program continues to exist after more than 50 years. Green Shacks provide crafts and activities for kids during the summer in neighbourhood parks across the city, including a new program called Flying Eagle, which teaches kids aboutIndigenous history and culture.
“The program is great for everyone, and lately it’s been very important to newcomer families. It’s a great way for kids to play with a variety of children that they might not have the opportunity to meet otherwise, even at school,” Carr said. “A lot of the staff that come on with us participated in the program growing up.”
The Green Shack program runs through July and August in the mornings or afternoons in most locations, although a few locations have programming all day long. To find a Green Shack close to you, visit edmonton.ca and search for “green shack” to find the drop-in guide. Guides are also available to pick up at City of Edmonton facilities.
But what is there to do when it’s not so nice outside? Jones said she and her family like to walk the halls of MacEwan University and visit Rogers Place when it’s raining. “We wander around the different levels, take Alex for ice cream. There’s tons of other little siblings of kids who play hockey and they always play with our little guy,” she said.
And then there’s always laughter. Matt Schuurman, 33, his partner and 13-month-old daughter live close to downtown. Schuurman is the artistic director of Rapid Fire Theatre, and their show, Kidprovisers is great for families, he said. The last show of the season is at the Citadel Theatre on June 17 — Father’s Day.
“It’s a show starring kids as young as six, so it’s great for families to both watch and participate in,” he said.
Improvaganza, Rapid Fire Theatre’s international improv theatre festival, runs June 13-23 at the Citadel and is good for older kids. It’s a great date-night option — and for Jones, that’s important for downtown families, too.
“Our hidden secret is our lovely 82-year-old neighbor, Donna. She babysits for us, and in exchange, we help her with chores. We don’t want to move just because she’s there.”
By Lana Cuthbertson
Yellowhead Market: Afterhours July 20
This adults-only event mixes together a craft market with a twisted party, featuring electronic DJs, pole dancers, drag queens and more. Splurge on some late-night purchases from local vendors, and
then get ready to party. The $5 entry includes a free pint of beer. Runs from 7pm to 2am. Yellowhead Brewery, 10229 105 Street, yellowheadbrewery.com
Cariwest August 10-12
This three-day arts festival celebrates the colourful and vibrant music, costumes and cuisine of Caribbean culture. A Saturday parade will fill the streets with the sounds of carnival, and Mas Bands and other entertainment will keep the joy going all weekend in the Caribbean village. Various venues, cariwest.ca
How to Summer: Get Moving
Walk, Bike or Drive – Or Do As These People Do and Get Moving
Do you just travel through Edmonton’s core from one spot to the next? Or are you moved by your travels? I spoke to four people who do the latter. Each takes pleasure in moving about the core and does so in interesting ways. So, as you consider how to move about this summer in the core, consider their stories as an inspiration for what’s possible.
I met 67-year-old Shawn Loates just off Jasper Avenue as he was chatting with his neighbour while holding his unicycle. Loates spun tales about his career on the unicycle: he once performed in the circus, as well as stage shows, festivals and movies. To explain his passion for the unicycle, which he rides about Oliver, the retired entertainer insisted I mount the big wheel myself. “Don’t worry,
I’ve got you,” he said, as he held me upright. “Now, close your eyes. Do you feel it? With your eyes closed you can find your balance instantly. That’s the feeling I love.”
Each summer morning, Suzane Couture rides her inflatable, standup paddleboard down the North Saskatchewan River before working the evening shift at Mountain Equipment Co-Op in Oliver. Living in the core allows Couture, 53, to drop into the river, ride the current northeast to Hermitage Park, then deflate the paddleboard and take transit back into town. Or she will travel to Fort Edmonton on the bus and float home to the core. “If you can take a backpack on the bus, you can take a standup board on the bus and that’s what I do,” she said. Being on the water is “peaceful,
majestic, and occasionally unpredictable,” Couture said. “Sometimes I jump in the river, float down for a bit, and then walk back up and do it all over again.”
Chef Eric Hanson of Prairie Noodle Shop said he enjoyed the thrill as he competed in longboard races as a young man. He learned his board craft in Mexico, Thailand, Australia and other countries, where the longboard was his transportation. Now, the Edmonton Gold Medal Plates winner finds riding his longboard to the Oliver restaurant he works at a more mindful practice. “It’s a feeling. You get to take your line, take your long slow curve, and if you’re listening to a song and it all comes together you’re transported,” he said. “I just get a smile on my face. It doesn’t matter how bad my day is, everything is better.”
Jenna Hoff spoke with me using augmentative communication device from her power wheelchair. She has been living with a severe form of chronic pain for 19 years. “For two years now, I’ve had to negotiate with someone every time I wanted to go somewhere,” she said. That’s changed with her wheelchair, which she has named Sophie. “To have freedom again, to take Sophie downtown and meet my husband on his lunch hour is truly exciting,” Hoff said. Instead of being housebound by chronic illness, Hoff said, “Riding Sophie is freedom and joy.”
By Chris Sikkenga
Dragon Boat Festival August 17-19
Begin this weekend of inspiring athletic ability with the traditional Blessing of the Boats by the docks on the Friday evening at 6:30pm. The dragon boat races kick off Saturday morning, with an opening ceremony featuring cultural entertainment. Hang around after the last race in the beverage gardens to party with the paddlers. Louise McKinney Park, edmontondragonboatfestival.ca
Events Listing by Matthew Stepanic