Autumn Opportunities

Most people don’t realize it, but just as the fall is an important time for students, it’s also a significant season for most of Edmonton’s 157 community leagues.

That’s because September is membership renewal time. It’s when we, the Downtown Edmonton Community League, ask you, the residents, to continue your support. Downtown, being the unique community it is, here in the heart of our city, welcomes residents, visitors, local organizations and many other would-be league members to join our ranks and benefit from what DECL has to offer.

Your 13-member board of directors works hard to bring programming and events to you all season long. The fall of 2015 is no exception.

We celebrate being part of the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues Day with CornFest 2015 on September 19. This annual tradition in Beaverhills House Park (Jasper and 105 St.) is the site for roast corn, kids activities, music and the chance to meet new neighbours. It is our biggest membership drive and renewal opportunity.

Hallowe’en conveniently falls on a Saturday this year, and so does the return of our Spooktacular Scavenger Hunt. Last year’s inaugural event had a great turnout with members enjoying a well-crafted scavenger hunt throughout the downtown core. Best costume wins a prize, of course. Hopefully your costume idea can beat the Darth Vadar who joined us last year!

As the season hastens and the first snow-flakes hits the ground, we like to meet up with our membership and provide an update on the latest news and issues facing our neighbourhood. Look for a regular general meeting November 19 at 7pm.

For a complete list of DECL events, check out our website, follow us on social media or flip to page 9. Your neighbourhood and community is what you make of it. And just as they were 98 years ago, when they first emerged in this city, your community leagues are a way for you to discuss ideas, address issues and socialize with follow residents.

If you have a programming idea for Downtown Edmonton, an issue to raise, or if you just want to find out more about DECL, please email us. We hope you’ll help us make the next 12 months our best yet.

For information or to learn how you can volunteer with the DECL, visit decl.org or email my_decl@telus.net.

Downtown Edmonton Community League Events

Sept. 18—Urban kids board games night. (6–9pm, Community Space, 10042 103 St.)

Sept. 19—OCL and DECL co-host the neighbourhoods’ chapter of Edmonton Federation of Community League’s Community League Day, a fun-filled afternoon for families to relish in park games and barbecue, before heading to the beer garden for the evening. (2pm–12am, Oliver Park, 10326 118 St.)

Sept. 19—DECL’s annual CornFest. Enjoy free corn on the cob, crafts for kids and bands. (11am–3pm, Beaverhills House Park, 10440 Jasper Ave.)

Oct. 31—Spooktacular Scavenger Hunt around downtown, prizes for the winning team and best costume. (7pm, Community Space, 10042 103 St.)

The Downtown Edmonton Community League board is: Chris Buyze (President); Ian O’Donnell (VP); Milap Petigara (Treasurer); Jillian Gamez (Secretary); Erin Duebel; Laurissa Kalinowsky; Christie Lutsiak; Jarrett Mykytiuk; Lindsey Trufyn; Vikki Wiercinski; and Chris Wudarck.

The Next Campus: How Universities Will Shape Our Neighbourhoods

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It was the best decision of my life.

After three uncomfortable years in the trades I enrolled in school with visions of the post-secondary life that was to follow: crossing manicured lawns with books tucked under my arms during that perpetual autumn that exists on campus grounds, according to every movie ever made about college. Then I arrived at MacEwan University, first at its bright orange Centre for Arts and Communication building on the west side, then its central campus after my program was moved there the following year. Needless to say, neither had the sprawling quads and the centuries-old trees that shaded Matt Damon and Robin Williams.

Having spent my entire life on an acreage north of Edmonton, I hated going downtown as a kid and I especially hated commuting there as a student—too many people, too many cars. But a strange thing happened not long after clutching my first pair of apartment keys: I started growing attached to the city centre—and the city itself.

Universities of old act like pseudo-cities. They’re self-contained, not just with their own roads but their own housing and commerce, so students can live comfortably on campus 24/7. That’s a far cry from the student life experienced by me and 30,000 others commuting to downtown’s 10 post-secondaries. But as these colleges expand and their student populations explode, could it soon be the standard model for higher learning? And how might that reshape central Edmonton and students like me?

According to the Downtown Business Association, 50,000 students will call downtown home by 2020. It’s easy to see what that prediction is based on. MacEwan University’s new art campus, opening in 2017, will complete the years-long unification of its three fractured schools. Norquest College is also consolidating its five campuses, into two side-by-side towers, while hoping to expand its student body by 2,000 annually. And a decade after it saved the Hudson’s Bay building from demolition, the University of Alberta is trying to build a new home for the Department of Music and Department of Art & Design attached to the ambitious Galleria proposal. Naturally, their tuition-payers will want to live nearby.

It seems that all post-secondaries today want to be city-builders as much as citizen-builders, a trend playing out in cities across the continent. Ryerson University has completely reshaped—and continues to reshape—major sections of downtown Toronto.

It’s a similar story at the University of Winnipeg, Capilano in Vancouver, Concordia in Montreal, New York University in Manhattan and Brooklyn. After centuries of isolating themselves from cities, post-secondaries are becoming one with them.


Early this summer, MacEwan president David Atkinson was at Oxford University for professional development. As he walked down its streets, lined with 12th Century trees and venerable architecture, he took notice of the tall walls fortressing the alma mater of Oscar Wilde and Margaret Thatcher. “Inevitably they have a very tiny entrance and there are two signs,” recalls Atkinson. “One is ‘Visitors Not Welcome,’ and the second, ‘Stay Off the Grass.’” He shakes his head. “That model of higher education is dead. It’s truly dead.”

Atkinson explains that the model of locking away educational facilities is going extinct. More frequently universities, for reasons of development or financing, for instance, are becoming entwined into the communities surrounding them. If done well, it can bolster both the school and the community.

In 1991, when MacEwan broke ground on the old CN Rail yards (artifices of which are still being uncovered during the latest excavation east of Oliver Square), many wondered aloud if it was a sensible thing to do, says Atkinson, who became president in 2011. “And who would have thought that now it’s actually in the epicentre of all this activity?” he asks. “We couldn’t be better located.”

No doubt, student life will be different after the estimated $4 billion downtown makeover is complete and many thousands more students come for higher education. But a major issue arises when addressing the problem of where these students will be housed. After all, how can you create campus life if the majority of your students live in scattered pockets across the city?

After building a 13-floor, 800-plus unit residence in 2005, MacEwan has taken the unusual step of letting private developers offer the solution. The Horizon, a four-storey off-campus building just behind of the university, houses 311 students in 114 very affordable dorm-style suites. Meanwhile the vintage Healy Ford building between MacEwan and Norquest will soon be transformed into a trio of towers, each with a few floors mimicking standard residencies that centre a two- or three-room pod with common kitchens and washrooms.

Atkinson says it’s a godsend for landlocked postsecondary institutions. “We’re not going to use the valuable land to build residences. We’re going to use that for core activity, which is our academic programming.”

A rich campus life can’t just be measured in housing and academia. Students will want places in between their classrooms and dorms to mobilize their social lives, whether they be cafes, quick-service restaurants or large-capacity bars, all of which are emerging in spades in an area that Norquest College has self-designating the “Education District.”

Gord Rajewski, director of the Edmonton Downtown Business Association, believes the sudden influx of youth will be a huge driving force in making downtown a destination spot for entertainment and hospitality.

For decades, businesses have catered to the office crowd, but, says Rajewski, “The impact of three educational institutions expanding in the downtown core is that we have more people, more opportunity for retail, more opportunity to expose young people to the benefits of being downtown.”

But isn’t there something to miss about the traditional campus model that Atkinson declared dead?

A constant cross-pollination of learners and professors sows an environment rich with intellectual discourse and discovery, all of it largely governed around youthful idealism. However, “the benefits of being downtown,” as Rajewski calls it, can’t be overlooked either. As a student, you’re smack dab in the heartbeat of the city, getting a sense of the local conditions you’ll graduate into, while milling about with people in the midst of a career that you might be pining for. The career that you dedicated four years of your life to. And being amongst them helps foster professional relationships, according to Jodi Abbott, the president of Norquest College.

These commuter campuses, she says, avail her students work opportunities beyond what instructors and administration can facilitate. “[Students] are part of the community, rather than in the box doing their education,” explains Abbott. “What it allows them is a transition into work that is a little more natural because they are already in the community.”


These institutions are also trying to integrate their students with what Abbott calls “community-engaged learning,” wherein schools partnerwith specific employers supplying internships. In this scenario, downtown isn’t just a backdrop, but an incubator for students. This could be the thread that ties a student to Edmonton, what keeps him or her here, degree in hand, instead of returning home or job-hunting elsewhere.

But the relationship between school and city, student and community, are symbiotic. Post-secondaries wishing to integrate themselves within urban areas must also contribute amenities, services and infrastructure to the others around them. We see that in MacEwan’s funding of a community rink abutting the new arena, as well as the forthcoming arts centre’s three theatres, art gallery and studio spaces that will be accessible to the public. Norquest’s contribution is a planned park with an expansive lawn punctuated by benches; it will be owned by the college but open to the public.

And then there’s the Galleria project. Although it’s not without its controversies over public financing and whether a 1,000-seat opera house is even sustainable, one can’t ignore the obvious: the University of Alberta, once a model of secluded campus life, wants to place an iconic structure 500 metres from city hall. “Having a university presence in the downtown really contributes to city-building,” says U of A president David Turpin. “It brings people downtown, it supports mixed-use development where you have an increase in the number of people living downtown, working downtown and studying downtown.”

Turpin, who’s been on the job since July, acknowledges that students at the Galleria would have a different experience than those lounging in quad across the river. “They would be closely aligned with the arts community, they would be interacting with theater companies and productions that would be happening in the city.”

But, I ask him, will these music and theatre undergrads miss out on something their engineering, sciences and law counterparts won’t—that romantic campus life, the trees, the student elections, the protests, the rowdy parties? Will they just become just another face in the downtown crowds?

He chuckles and reminds me that the new LRT and planned pedway will in essence keep the campuses linked—all of them, MacEwan, Norquest, NAIT, the University of Alberta—and, thus, link the students as well. Besides, he adds, “It takes less time to get downtown from the U of A main campus than it takes to walk across the campus of many major Canadian universities.”


 

Student Survival Guide

Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 1.18.06 AM

Are you one of the many migratory students getting settled in Oliver and Downtown this fall? We’ve got your back. Follow these tips for cheap eats, rides and stress-reliefs.

Apps to Live By

POGO CARSHARE: Tuition cutting into your prospects of car ownership? One of the perks of living in Edmonton’s inner cities is this car-share. It’s insanely simple. Sign up, add a credit card, use your phone to find the nearest car, walk there and boom—you got yourself some wheels.

STREET FOOD EDMONTON: If the spice of life is variety, then the spice of downtown Edmonton is affordable quality food. This app is like a divining rod for the city’s rich mobile food scene, peddling whatever you like—vegan, greasy spoon or something in between—just a short walk from where you’re standing.

TRANSIT APP: It makes public transit easy by automatically pinpointing where you are and guiding you to the nearest bus stop or train station. The arrival times are accurate nearly to the second, so you can gauge whether to walk, jog or sprint for dear life. It works on both Android and Apple.

Your Next Beer Run

BREWSTERS: Do you know what a growler is? It’s a big ol’ jug of beer. Now who doesn’t want a jug of craft beer? Refill it anytime for as little as $14, or just $11 on Saturdays before 5pm.

OLIVER SQUARE LIQUOR DEPOT: You’ll be happy to know it’s open late—till 2am most nights—when you need that 1:53am nightcap after putting the finishing touches on the essay due in seven hours.

THE COMMON: One wouldn’t think of this sleek place known for gourmet food and craft cocktails is also known for cheap beers. That’s because a magical thing happens on Thursday: $4 pints, even on beers you normally couldn’t afford.

Quick, Easy & Nonviolent Stress Relief

FOOD WISH DISHES: Sometimes you need the strong stuff—we’re talking kittens. When school gets too real, head in the direction of 124th street and go cuddle a purr monster at this doggy food bakery and pet shop.

DENIZEN HALL: Sometimes violence is the answer—so long as it’s simulated. Shoot down zombies or rough up ninjas at this arcade bar with the tokens that came with your drinks.

THE (OTHER) LIBRARY: Don’t worry—we know more books are the last things you need. Juice up on mindless binge-watching at Edmonton Public Library’s flagship, the Stanley Milner. It has a dizzying array of DVD box-sets. But if you’d rather not put on pants, punch in the number on your (free) library card online for access to online streaming services like Hoopla and Indieflix.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that MacEwan University Residence opened in 2004; that it has 14 floors; and that MacEwan contracted the Horizon to develop the Horizon, a private residence that isn’t affiliated with the university in any way. We regret the errors.

Student Survival Guide

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Courtesy IQRemix/Flickr

Are you one of the many migratory students getting settled in Oliver and Downtown this fall? We’ve got your back. Follow these tips for cheap eats, rides and stress-reliefs.

Apps to Live By

POGO CARSHARE: Tuition cutting into your prospects of car ownership? One of the perks of living in Edmonton’s inner cities is this car-share. It’s insanely simple. Sign up, add a credit card, use your phone to find the nearest car, walk there and boom—you got yourself some wheels.

STREET FOOD EDMONTON: If the spice of life is variety, then the spice of downtown Edmonton is affordable quality food. This app is like a divining rod for the city’s rich mobile food scene, peddling whatever you like—vegan, greasy spoon or something in between—just a short walk from where you’re standing.

TRANSIT APP: It makes public transit easy by automatically pinpointing where you are and guiding you to the nearest bus stop or train station. The arrival times are accurate nearly to the second, so you can gauge whether to walk, jog or sprint for dear life. It works on both Android and Apple.

Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 1.18.06 AMYour Next Beer Run

BREWSTERS: Do you know what a growler is? It’s a big ol’ jug of beer. Now who doesn’t want a jug of craft beer? Refill it anytime for as little as $14, or just $11 on Saturdays before 5pm.

OLIVER SQUARE LIQUOR DEPOT: You’ll be happy to know it’s open late—till 2am most nights—when you need that 1:53am nightcap after putting the finishing touches on the essay due in seven hours.

THE COMMON: One wouldn’t think of this sleek place known for gourmet food and craft cocktails is also known for cheap beers. That’s because a magical thing happens on Thursday: $4 pints, even on beers you normally couldn’t afford.Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 1.18.06 AM

Quick, Easy & Nonviolent Stress Relief

FOOD WISH DISHES: Sometimes you need the strong stuff—we’re talking kittens. When school gets too real, head in the direction of 124th street and go cuddle a purr monster at this doggy food bakery and pet shop.

DENIZEN HALL: Sometimes violence is the answer—so long as it’s simulated. Shoot down zombies or rough up ninjas at this arcade bar with the tokens that came with your drinks.

THE (OTHER) LIBRARY: Don’t worry—we know more books are the last things you need. Juice up on mindless binge-watching at Edmonton Public Library’s flagship, the Stanley Milner. It has a dizzying array of DVD box-sets. But if you’d rather not put on pants, punch in the number on your (free) library card online for access to online streaming services like Hoopla and Indieflix.

6 Things to Hear and See in the Core this Season

Source: Bandcamp.com

Source: Bandcamp.com

Scenic Route to Alaska
SEPT. 10: The homegrown, multi-talented and hard-working trio has a distinct and heartfelt indie-folk-rock sound that’s earned them numerous distinctions, including Sonic Band of the Month and Cruz FM’s Emerging Artist Award at the 2014 Edmonton Folk Music Festival. (Denizen Hall, 10311 103 Ave.)

YEGfest: Colours & Sounds
SEPT. 11–12: Creative Clubhouse hosts this unique festival featuring local talents like the Archaics and the Velveteins, plus other performance artists and visual art installations. Spray the graffiti free-wall or watch professionals create impressive murals from beginning to end. Don’t miss the afterparty at the Bower, hosted by Night Vision. (Heritage Amphitheatre, William Hawrelak Park)

Nickelodeon
SEPT. 25–26: As part of Nuit Blanche and Alberta Culture Days, the Drawing Room transforms its storefront gallery into an old-timey cinema, as groups are admitted in quick intervals to watch the reel of short films for free. They’re recreating the Nickelodeon theatres of the 1900s, when the working class head to moving picture houses to escape from their everyday lives for a nickel. (The Drawing Room, 10253 97 St.)

Edmonton International Film Festival
OCT. 1–10: For nine days and nights, movie fanatics and film-
makers come together to eat, sleep, and breathe all things cinema. EIFF understands well the importance of discovery, so expect a wide array of feature-length films, documentaries, and shorts—150 in all—gathered from across the globe for your viewing pleasure. (Landmark Cinemas, City Centre, 10200-102 Ave.)

Autism Artistry: Create, Communicate, Connect.
Oct: 29: Autistic artists and brothers Grant and Ben Kurtz know well that words aren’t the only means of communication. Though they can’t speak, they express themselves vividly and evocatively through art, as shown in this exhibition about human connection and interaction. Grant’s paintings and Ben’s photography gives us a glimpse into their world and a mutual understanding achievable only through art. (Art Gallery of Alberta, 2 Churchill Sq.)

Elemental Sky Opening Reception
NOV. 19: All are welcome to the free opening reception of this exhibition illuminating the movement of natural landscapes through the work of Samantha Williams-Chapelsky. Running until Dec. 12, Elemental Sky showcases TerraSkin, a stone-based paper, as the foundation for acrylic washes intertwined with alcohol sprays and gestural brushwork to symbolize the shift of clouds and weather patterns. (The Daffodil Gallery, 10412 124 St.)

3 Artsy Ways To Appreciate the Core’s Public Spaces

Src: EFCL.org

Src: EFCL.org

CHALKING UP CHURCHILL
SEPT. 6: Remember the days of drawing chalk on your driveway? Now you can relive your childhood, only you’ve got all of Churchill Square to call your canvas. Picture it now, collectively coloured by countless expressions of love for our city and community. You’re encouraged to bring your own chalk. (Churchill Sq.)

Park(ing) day 2014. Image Courtesy of Paula Kirman/Flickr

Park(ing) day 2014. Image Courtesy of Paula Kirman/Flickr

PARK(ing) DAY
Sept. 18: Join your neighbours in pulling off Edmonton’s version of an annual worldwide event, wherein
citizens, artists, designers and activists turn metered parking spots into temporary pubic parks. In a show of grassroots community development, last year’s event saw bocce ball, gardens and tea time where there’d otherwise be vacant vehicles. The installations are meant to display the versatility of public space and how it can represent the people who live here. (Around 97 St. and 101 Ave.)

BEYOND DOWNTOWN
OCT. 3: We all know the giant baseball bat and Mahatma Gandhi bust, but what about those public artworks that are hard to find? This free bus tour starts with central Edmonton hidden gems, then heads off to see the newest public arts highlights and other unexpected places throughout the city, before finishing with a tour of a local art studio. Space is limited; email bustour@edmontonarts.ca to reserve your spot.

4 Places to Make New Connections This Fall

ExploreEdmonton.com

ExploreEdmonton.com

IGNITE EDMONTON FESTIVAL
SEPT. 9–10: It’s the ultimate gathering place for local entrepreneurs, creatives and community-builders. Bring an open mind to this new initiative from Edmonton Economic Development, which offers hands-on learning through master classes, innovation labs and social spaces. (Shaw Conference Centre)

THE YARDS FALL ISSUE LAUNCH & SALON
SEPT. 9: Meet the volunteers who put together the magazine every season, while enjoying a live podcast recording and conversation with Danny Hoyt of the Oliver Community League and Ian O’Donnell of the Downtown Edmonton Community League. They will discuss the surprising ways community leagues shape your neighbourhood. It’s an early celebration of Community League Day (Sept. 19)! Tickets are $20 online or at the doors, opening at 6pm. (Iconoclast Coffee, 11807 105 Ave.)

Creative Mornings Edmonton/Flickr

Creative Mornings Edmonton/Flickr

CREATIVE MORNINGS
OCT 2, NOV. 6: From “action” to “humility,” 99 cities explore one theme every first Friday of the month. A new speaker at each event will spark your creative curiosity. The breakfast series is free, but you must register online. (Startup Edmonton, 10363 104 st.)

TheLocalGood.ca

TheLocalGood.ca

GREEN DRINKS
OCT. 7, NOV. 4: Every month, blog and non-profit group the Local Good brings together environmentally-conscious people who value all things local, sustainable and green around one theme. It’s a great way to make new friends and meet like-minded community-builders working together to create the best Edmonton possible. (Yellowhead Brewery, 10229 105 St.)

3 Ways to Have Family Fun in Churchill Square This Fall

Instagram / Explore150.org

Instagram / Explore150.org

DISNEY’S FANTASIA
SEPT. 4–5: Relive Disney’s memorable and groundbreaking Fantasia at this free outdoor concert by the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. Be sure to bring a chair and arrive early for a good spot. (Churchill Sq.)

Casaservices.org

Casaservices.org

TOUR OF ALBERTA – CASA FAMILY RIDE
SEPT. 7: Bring out the whole family and their bikes to celebrate the second annual Tour of Alberta. This all-ages bike ride in support of CASA, a mental health service for children, adolescents and families, is also a great way to show off your quirky side—costumes are encouraged. (Churchill Sq.)

Christmas on the Square 2013. Image courtesy of Mack Male/Flickr

Christmas on the Square 2013. Image courtesy of Mack Male/Flickr

CHRISTMAS ON THE SQUARE HOLIDAY LIGHT UP
NOV. 14: Join thousands of fellow Edmonontians in the square for live Christmas tunes, choirs and inspired treats from food vendors. Then watch as Santa arrives for the official lighting of the giant tree and a fireworks show clinches the first night of the Holiday Season. (Churchill Sq.)

Four Reasons to Lose Sleep Over Nuit Blanche

Nuit Blanche Toronto / Courtesy of Sam Javanrouh/Flickr

Nuit Blanche Toronto / Courtesy of Sam Javanrouh/Flickr

SEPT. 26 – What began in Paris in 2002 finally arrives in Edmonton this fall. Nuit Blanche—or “sleepless night”—transforms cities with all-night contemporary visual arts festivals that arrive at dusk and disappear by dawn, each time with an exhibition unique to its host. “With Edmonton,” explains chair Ruth Burns, “we really wanted to focus on engaging with urban spaces, looking at our city in a new light and celebrating that newfound perspective.”

Edmonton’s free exhibition, Half-Lit Moon, will transform the downtown core from 7 pm to 4 am. Curated by Toronto-based artist and writer Dave Dyment, it features over 30 fun, interactive and stunning installations from local and international artists, including Yoko Ono. It’s all ages and all free, but if that’s not enough here are four more reasons to lose sleep over Nuit Blanche.

YokoOno230113

Supplied.

1. Yoko Ono’s largest installation piece yet.
Expect the largest iteration of Ono’s famous Wishing Tree, an acclaimed installation that has brought hope and inspired peace for hundreds of thousands of people over the course of 20 years. Find these 121 trees with intact roots throughout Winston Churchill Square, then record your wishes and attach them to the branches. Every desire is collected and stored at the Imagine Peace Tower in Iceland. Best of all, the trees are planted throughout Edmonton communities afterward.

2. Take back downtown

After bars close and the donair vendors serve their last wraps, downtown streets can be overtaken by deadness and a sense of insecurity. But instead of dreading the darkness of the streets, Burns wants us to celebrate it. “We tend to avoid urban spaces at night so we really want the community to engage with their city when it’s dark and gain a different perspective from it.”

Photo 2015-08-11, 9 01 47 PM

Pothole Possibilities / supplied

3. An unexpected and newfound respect for potholes

The local irritants we love to hate are reclaimed and embraced by Sarah Amato and Monique McFarlane. The artists behind Pothole Possibilities will decorate these nuisances to create amusing illustrations. You’re invited to help out by composing letters, poems and other pothole-related reflections.

 

4. Experience the community coming together

Burns hopes Edmontonians will feel a sense of community pride and collaboration when they experience Half-Lit Moon. She already has, simply from the overwhelming community support from surrounding businesses and organizations who pitched in to make it happen. “The community effort is truly heartwarming.”