Let’s face it: few people visit Edmonton in the winter unless they have family obligations or are home for the holidays. So it’s our duty to be good ambassadors by taking them to one of these unique-to-Edmonton hotspots which highlight our winter wonders and proud treasures.
Zocalo: The name, in Spanish, means “public square,” and although you’ll find it in the heart of Little Italy this greenhouse is truly a community hub. Seek out fresh cut flowers, beautiful indoor and outdoor plants and memorable gifts. After shopping with guests, catch up in the Zocalo’s café over its tempting espresso milkshakes, delicious house-made chocolates and pastries or a European-style lunch. 10826 95 St.
The IceWay Skating Trail: This fairy tale skating trail lets you and your guests wind through trees and experience nature along Edmonton’s river valley. The journey begins at Victoria Oval Park, our official speed-skating track, and turns into a skating trail lined with multi-coloured lights and lanterns. 10am–10pm, 12130 River Valley Rd.
Confederation Lounge: Reminisce on old times in wing-backed chairs and cozy up in this estate library-style setting in the iconic hotel’s lounge. The “Mac” has been a gathering spot for good times for 101 years. With a creamy cappuccino or Mission Hill Reserve’s Pinot Noir in hand, and a breathtaking river valley view, treat your guests like royalty and make them wish they never left Edmonton. 10065 100 St., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.–1 a.m., Sun–Thu 11 a.m.–12 a.m.
Made Local Society: Explore Edmonton’s creative hub, a character house filled with hands-on workshops. Inside you’ll find jewellery-making, mixed media art journaling and social media marketing for beginners. Other attractions include artist studios and a shop selling locally made treasures, from decor to skin-care products. Whether you and your guests want some bonding time, need last minute Christmas gifts or want to show of Edmonton’s brilliant minds, Made Local is a great destination. 10149 122 St.
Vacancy Hall:Burrow into Mercer Warehouse’s basement, where a versatile retail and studio space gives up-and-coming artists, brands and entrepreneurs an eclectic place to promote their products. Introduce your friends to artisans at Clo’s General Leather Co., the Skinny and Edmonton in a Box, and show them a side to this city that’s rarely recognized. 10363 104 St., Mon–Fri 10am–6pm, Sat 11am–3pm
Holland Plaza: Swing by Provisions, the kitchen and baking store created by the Duchess Bake Shop. Friends and family will swoon over its international and hard-to-find cookbooks, ingredients and bakeware. You’ll find it hard to leave, so pair it with an interactive cooking class or breakfast next door at its sister bistro Café Linnea. This multi-purpose building holds something for everyone, like Barre Body Studio for the fitness-obsessed cousin or the Local Omnivore for low-key friends. 10934 119 St.
Victoria Park Cross-Country Ski Trails: Grab your skis or borrow some from MEC, then enjoy your choice trail around the Victoria Golf Course in Edmonton’s river valley. Whether you want to try out a leisurely path just for fun, or challenge your friends on a 2.5-kilometre race, this is the place to start. Refuel at the course’s Dogwood Café for all-day breakfast offerings; consider the Portuguese-inspired breakfast sandwich or, if you need to warm up, a cup of a hot cocoa or coffee. 12130 River Valley Rd.
DEC. 1–3 Make A Wish Northern Alberta’s Calendar of Wishes
This larger-than-life advent calendar (full of “wish stories” supported by local businesses) will be up all month. But the opening ceremonies—including a Miracle Marketplace, ice sculptures and family-friendly beverage garden—only last three days. Abbey Glen Park, 10107 Jasper Ave., makeawishna.ca
DEC. 3 SNAP Print Affair: Après Ski
This annual fundraiser is your chance to snag an impressive piece of art at the opening of the SNAP members print sale—or to simply enjoy the seasonal cheer. 8pm, SNAP Print Studio, 10123 121 St., snapartists.com
DEC. 11 Lessons and Carols
Mark your calendar for this family favourite. Enjoy traditional carols and music surrounded by candlelight and good company. 4pm, Robertson-Wesley United Church, 10209 123 St., rwuc.org
DEC. 26 Christmas Social
Have fun with holiday activities in the intimate setting of the Edmonton Seniors Centre. All are welcome. 4pm, Edmonton Seniors Centre, 11111 Jasper Ave., edmontonseniorscentre.ca
JAN. 3 Salute to Vienna New Year’s Concert
Conductor Oliver Ostermann is your guide through this melange of Viennese music and dance. The Blue Danube Waltz is a fan favourite. 2:30pm, Winspear Centre
JAN. 15 Opera Brunch
Enjoy a delicious brunch hosted by Edmonton Opera, with enchanting music, the cast of Cinderella and a beautiful setting. 11am, Royal Glenora Club, 11160 River Valley Rd.
FEB. 2 Green Drinks with the Local Good
Talk global warming over a cold one at Green Drinks, where neophytes and experts alike come together to discuss environmental issues affecting the city and the world at large. 7pm, Yellowhead Brewery, 10229 105 St., thelocalgood.ca
SUNDAYS (JAN.–FEB.) Swing ‘n’ Skate Sundays at City Hall
Dance inside with the Sugar Swing Dance Club or skate on the plaza to the tune of local bands—it’s up to you. Come early if you plan to take advantage of free skate rentals. 1–4pm, City Hall, edmontonarts.ca
DEC. 2–4 Winter Patio Kick-off Party
Who’s afraid of a little snow?Certainly not the proprietors of Little Brick, Sherlock Holmes or eight other restaurants and pubs that are extending patio season. Don’t worry, there will be heaters and blankets. exploreedmonton.com
FEB. 20 Family Day at Churchill Square
The holiday has many names across Canada—Louis Riel Day in Manitoba, Islanders Day in Prince Edward Island. But here, in Alberta, it’s all about spending time with those you hold dear. Enjoy performances, games and activities with your loved ones in our civic plaza all morning and afternoon. Churchill Sq., edmonton.ca
DEC. 2 Miserable Christmas
This third annual event, where Christmas attire is encouraged but Christmas cheer is not, is also a release party for bluegrass favourites the Misery Mountain Boys’ Moon Dog and the Familiar Spirits. 8pm, The Needle Vinyl Tavern, 10524 Jasper Ave
DEC. 12 Aesop Rock
The tongue-twisting alt-rap legend handled both the production and the rhyme-smithing on his 2016 album The Impossible Kid. 8pm, The Starlite Room, 10030 102 St.
JAN. 17–FEB. 5 Fortune Falls
Check out the world premiere of Catalyst Theatre’s newest musical in the company’s penchant macabre style. Fortune Falls is about a town dealing with the closure of their claim-to-fame and source of prosperity: the world’s largest candy factory. Citadel Theatre, 9828 101A Ave., citadeltheatre.com
FEB. 22 Opera 101: Elektra
Elektra has been performed for more than 100 years, and though the Edmonton Opera performance comes at a price this casual lecture is free. Music historian Stephen Bonfield is your guide to the rich history surrounding Richard Strauss’s one-act opera as he delves into its music and ancient Greek themes. 7pm, CKUA, 9808 Jasper Ave.
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
As another year draws to a close, the Oliver Community League is reflecting on its successes and challenges in 2016. This year, the OCL created the Hall Redevelopment Committee and Social Advocacy Committee to further the goals of our strategic plan. The addition of new events like the Summer Social, Halloween in Oliver and quarterly potlucks provided even more chances for neighbours to meet neighbours.
This year also saw our second anniversary of The Yards magazine. In 2014, our League initiated the creation of The Yards in collaboration with DECL and the Central Edmonton News Society (CENS). Both leagues have seats on the CENS board and help steer the content of the magazine. Add in the non-resident readers who find it in area businesses, and we have well over 30,000 readers each issue. That’s 30,000 people who read about Oliver and the fine work being done by our League to create a neighbourly, sustainable, well-developed community.
Where will 2017 bring us? In the past two years the League has held larger events (like Canada Day and Community League Day) and regular smaller events (like pub crawls and library afternoons). Next year will bring more opportunities to meet at events and programs designed to attract the variety of our demographic.
Social advocacy will gain a footing for the League in 2017, with plans to see how we can assist organizations and agencies in meeting the needs of our more isolated residents.
The Hall Redevelopment Committee will continue to make strides with public engagement and a “needs assessment.”
Planning and development will remain in our lens as we help shape the visual identity and social integrity of Oliver with recommendations on changes to our community, both on public and private land.
In a word, we will be busy. The commitment of the many volunteers who give time and energy to the League is astounding. Together we can create a model community that showcases positive urbanism, neighbourliness and cohesion.
At times, as you walk along those wooden pathways reminiscent of old-timey boardwalks, downtown Edmonton feels like Fort Edmonton. Construction hoarding—especially those dead ends with bright orange “Sidewalk Closed” barriers—permeate the core. The list of downtown sidewalks that have become adventures in detouring is too long to name, but a few stand out: the 7th Street Annex, whose glacial construction on 104 Ave. has frustrated MacEwan students from junior year to graduation; or the City of Edmonton’s own new office tower which hogged the sidewalk for most of its construction, forcing pedestrians to criss-cross through the Ice District or (illegally) walk with traffic. But with more people living downtown—and intent on using their feet—the City is finally ready for change. A proposed policy in 2015 could force builders to keep sidewalks open or relocate them in the streets, whenever possible. It’s the first attempt to balance pedestrian needs with traffic flow and construction work.
Prior to the proposal, and amidst the downtown construction boom and residential resurgence, hoarding became a major issue. The Fox Towers on 104 St. were the breaking point for residents. Construction consumed one of two laneways, but also made it impossible for people to walk along what’s supposed to be a key downtown attraction. “When you see a sidewalk that you use all the time disappear, you’re more likely to raise a fuss about it,” says Ward 6 Coun. Scott McKeen. In the summer of 2014, McKeen, on request of his constituents, asked administration to investigate a better way.
Up to that point the city had no policy on how sidewalk hoarding affected pedestrians—only on how it affected traffic. “It’s a symptom of regulations that don’t fully consider people,” Max Amerongen from Paths for People, an advocacy group for active transportation, explains of the policy currently on the books. The closed sidewalks aren’t just an inconvenience but evidence of a disconnect between the pursuit of walkability and the reality on the ground. Instead of squeezing a lane of trafc to open a pedestrian path, it’s been easier for the city to shut down the sidewalk. “[The policy] was a fairly small decision to say we have to look at ways to ensure there are still safe sidewalk areas for people,” says McKeen. The investigation into practices revealed an internal communications failure. Project approvals require numerous departments in the process. Building permits in sustainable development evaluate the developer’s need for space and ensures the permit works with Alberta Safety Codes standards, while transportation evaluates access for pedestrians and vehicles. Yet the two didn’t communicate effectively, so as construction plans were approved by sustainable development, there was little opportunity for other departments to include pedestrian and transit access. Hoarding would obstruct sidewalks and bus stops. The main result of the 2015 policy proposal is that it would make departments aware they had to talk to one another and, hopefully, do better.
“We recognized that we need to circulate [information] to a lot of areas—parks and rec, overhead power lines, transit,” says Roger Clemens, who oversees building permits in sustainable development. Previously, his department would overlook how construction affected a bus stop or alternate walking routes. Now there is some advance communication to prevent some of these oversights.
It’s still hard to detect real change because many of the construction boom’s developments were approved before 2015. Soon, however, we’ll see much more consideration given to the pedestrian experience, as builders are now encouraged to consider pedestrians more. It’s the best the City can do until policy approval, but the proposed laws could go further. In cities such as Toronto, developers are required to use vertical space, building space up instead of out, to hold construction equipment and worker space. Edmonton’s future doesn’t encourage this option, nor does it charge a fee structure that would penalize contractors using sidewalk space, a major incentive to overlook pedestrians. There is also no way to measure if a balance between pedestrian needs and traffic is being met.
Brad Vanderhoek, with traffic control, says that as the City emphasizes walkability in more planning processes, the solutions to sidewalk obstruction could become easier. Initiatives such as the recently passed minimum grid for bike lanes and Vision Zero (a pedestrian safety initiative) will begin to integrate pedestrian and cyclist access everyday, he says.
But for hoarding specifically, design requirements could set minimum standards for pedestrian-friendly detours and could lessen the amount of public space that’s hoarded. Perhaps most effectively, a fee structure that charges companies more for using sidewalk space as much as it does roads would help to keep companies accountable. One suggestion made in the early stages of the development of the 2015 policy was to discount fees for companies who created visually appealing hoarding.
McKeen is skeptical that the fee structure in place is adequate. The problem, he argues, is largely an issue of cars being prioritized for so long. “As a community we’ve put cars, in a hierarchy, [to be] much more important than the pedestrian. We’re at a stage of maturation that other cities probably went through far earlier.”
For the past 20 years, renting in the core meant choosing between out-dated walk-ups or privately owned condos with less-than-attentive landlords. But that’s changing, as more purpose-built rental apartments come to market, including two premium towers that could shake up the rental game.
Both the Mayfair on Jasper by ProCura and the Hendrix by Edgar Development include all the features you would expect in a brand-new home: high-end kitchen appliances, in-suite washer and dryer, pet-friendliness and balconies with stunning views of the city (and, in the Hendrix’s case, the river valley). Not long ago, Edmontonians had to flee to suburban apartments for such perks. But it’s the lifestyle amenities—from car-shares to rooftop lounges—that set these properties apart. Here’s how they stack up.
The Mayfair on Jasper
10803 Jasper Ave.
Mayfair is defined by its podium: a street-level amalgam of restaurants, cafe and gym. The perks don’t end there; concierge and car-sharing services sweeten the deal. The Mayfair has two rooftop lounges, the wide open North Green Roof for mingling and the secluded South Green Roof for tranquil relief. Meanwhile, solar panels and cogeneration—a technology that turns waste into electricity— make it an environmentally friendly choice.
Building Amenities: Concierge service
Dual “green roof” areas
Close to: Corona LRT station
9733 111 St.
Weighing in at 30 storeys, the Hendrix is the taller of the two. It incorporates the J.T. Ross house into its visage (see p. 15), repurposing this heritage building (once a home for unwed mothers) into a boutique office space. Architectural firm Dialogue included several amenity spaces that promote a community vibe, including a movie theatre, 24-hour fitness centre and rooftop lounge.
RED STAR PUB It’s where locals come to wind down after work and run into familiar faces, neighbours and friendly staff who know them by name. This dimly lit, mellow pub has a comprehensive beer list, serving everything from low-brow Pabst to premium IPAs. Carefully made appetizers lead to long conversations and table-hopping as the evening progresses. 10534 Jasper Ave.
Credo You’ll almost certainly bump into somebody from your business network and have a power meeting on top of your pre-scheduled coffee. 10134 104 St.
Chicken For Lunch Visit “the Amazing Amy” Quon (of the Lingnan fame) enough times, and she’ll not only remember your name and have your order memorized, but she’ll move you through their winding line-up faster. 10060 Jasper Ave., 780-425-9614 —BN
Best Tailor (TIE)
OLIVER: MASTER TAILORS SEWING CENTRE Luba Korsountseva has tailored and made custom pieces for over 35 years. She has a keen eye for fabrics and quality design—and never shies from giving her professional opinion, even if you don’t want to hear it—so your garment looks its finest. And if you have a special piece that you’re looking to revamp, Korsountseva is always up for a challenge. 10147 119 St., mastertailorsedmonton.com
DOWNTOWN:TONY THE TAILOR Junko Daraseng, the owner of this 16-year old family business, has had one of the top Google ratings for tailors for five years. It’s easy to see why: atop excellent stitching, altering and hemming, you can just drop your garments of on the fly and someone will text you when they’re ready for pick up. The eco-friendly dry cleaning is a bonus. 10172 104 St. —BN
Best Signature Cocktail
BLACK PEARL’S SNOW CRAB CAESAR Craving a bit of Clamato with a side of the sea? Of course you are—you’re Albertan. This signature cocktail adds a fresh wave to the province’s favourite drink by swapping the rabbit food for a snow crab leg. Enjoy this $14.50 Caesar with some of the freshest seafood found in the city. 10132 104 St.
North 53’s Smoke & Oaked Fashioned A truly multi-sensory experience, it’s served fumed with a slab of torched oak that’s flipped over as a coaster for this $15 cocktail with oaked gin, maple syrup and a lightly stirred orange oil 10240 124 St., north53.com
Woodwork House Sour A variation on the classic whiskey sour, this signature cocktail is made with bourbon, lapsang tea-infused honey, lemon juice, egg white and an angostura bitter brûlée. 10132 100 St., woodworkyeg.com —BN
Best Place for Something Truly Unique
Source: Facebook / Swish Vintage
SWISH VINTAGE This tiny boutique brims with everything a vintage-obsessed shopper could possibly want. Owner Angela Larson’s eclectic antique jewellery, statement hats, barely-worn designer shoes and walls upon walls of jaw-dropping party dresses pair beautifully with her curated housewares, including teak cabinets, vintage club chairs and mid-century modern dishware. 10180 101 St.
Dress to Suit
Boutique Dress your best without breaking the bank at Edmonton’s only all-men’s consignment store, with an exhaustive selection of lightly worn formal and business-casual attire. 12070 Jasper Ave.
Bloggers Armoire A veritable treasure-trove for Instagram stylists, this hip consignment store carries the latest in trendy apparel and accessories, as well as brand-name fashions at a fraction of the usual cost. 11016 Jasper Ave. —JP
Best Liquor Store
JASPER LIQUOR MERCHANTS It doesn’t look like much from outside, but this unassuming liquor store tucked beside a Husky might have the most bountiful booze offerings in the core. After a recent expansion, it has enough craft beer to keep any brew-head satisfied. And if beer’s not your thing, the chatty staff will guide you through their competitively priced wines and fine spirits from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., seven days a week. 11607 Jasper Ave., 780-488-3464
deVine Wines and Spirits You won’t find more knowledgeable staff than the employees in these aisles of carefully curated wines and spirits from the globe. Ask about deVine’s regular tastings. The only downside is early closing times. 10111 104 St.
City Cellars This brightly lit, of-the-path store is massive and houses one of the core’s largest liquor selections at a variety of price points. 10505 123 St. —JP
Best Breakfast on the Go
LOCK STOCK COFFEE’S BISCUIT SANDWICH Its contents—gourmet cheese, meats and homemade mayo—may be a rotating special, but it’s all about that homemade biscuit. Baked from scratch daily, this flaky goodness melts in your mouth. 10534 Jasper Ave.
Burrow’s Breakfast Sandwich Complete with savoury tomato jam, farm-fresh eggs, aioli, gruyere and (optional) farm bacon, this sandwich might actually make you enjoy getting lost in the pedway. Central LRT Station
Careit’s Coffee & Pastry Combo Add some sustenance to your morning cup of joe by adding a house-made “Careit cookie,” banana bread slice, or Portugese tart—all for just $3. 10226 104 St., 780-426-2429 —KH
Best Store to Shop for That Friend with a Kid
Courtesy: Instagram / @shop.babyplum
BABY PLUM An offshoot of Plum Home + Design on 124 St., this is the brainchild of mother-daughter duo Pamela Freeman and Jenna Pryor. The pair have stocked the e-commerce store (and the physical one) with the top baby brands from across Canada. Find quality clothes, toys, books and blankets—all given the slobbery stamp of approval by baby-sized judges. 12407 108 Ave.
Audrey’s Books The Jasper Ave. institution boasts a children’s book selection worthy of a “please mom!” moment, or two, from little bookworms. 17002 Jasper Ave.
The Skinny in Vacancy Hall Dress matchy-matchy with your kid before it becomes a fashion faux-pas. Shop for the super-cute and super-hip infants, toddlers, tweens and mommies in your life—online or of-the-rack—inside Mercer Warehouse’s Vacancy Hall. 10359 104 St. —NW
Best Place for Little Home Upgrades
THE PRINTS AND THE PAPER Sandy Muldrew has created a destination graphic arts shop that’s wonderfully curated with gorgeous paper products, high-end prints, limited edition artwork, artful movie posters, illustrated books and eclectic stationary—plus framing services, because you might find something too precious to expose to the elements. 10725 124 St.
Alberta Craft Council The ACC has advocated for the arts in Alberta since 1980 and there’s always something new at its gallery, shop or studio. Bring home some fine art creations made by local artisans to refine your style, whether its cutting edge and contemporary or timeless and traditional. 10186 106 St.
Hideout Local Distro This garage is teeming with treasures, including crafty leather products, jewellery and ceramic décor from Canadian makers, as well as local records and fashion for a piece of true Edmontonia. Vacancy Hall, 10363 104 St. —KH
Best Place to Tinkle
ALBERTA HOTEL BAR + KITCHEN Doc and Marty had the DeLorean, but for these diners the act of relieving themselves is all it takes to travel back in time. Antique marble tiles and gleaming fixtures harken to an age of glamour and opulence. But the real showstopper is reserved for the men: Standing proudly at almost five-feet tall and two-feet wide, the marble urinals are a sight to behold. 9802 Jasper Ave.
Cavern With floor-to-ceiling Carrera marble and rich, dark wood accents, plus luxurious soaps and fresh-cut flowers filling them with soothing scents, these restrooms give even the chicest boutique hotels a run for their money. 10169 104 St.
Bar Clementine The soft green walls, brass fixtures, Victorian-inspired details and classic audiobooks on the overhead speakers (think: Moby Dick) defy these restrooms’ 2016 craftsmanship. 11957 Jasper Ave. —JP
Best Place to Sweat
DON WHEATON FAMILY YMCA Take advantage of the after-work deal. For only $30 a month, the “Y” offers express memberships, meaning you can use the health, fitness and aquatic facilities weekdays from 7:30 p.m. until 10 p.m. And, with a DECL membership, Sundays and holidays are free! 10211 102 Ave.
Hive Fit Co. Perfect for the busy downtowner, this new workout hotspot offers 45-minute cycling, rowing and yoga classes in an on-trend environment you won’t want to leave. 10343 Jasper Ave.
Hotel Macdonald’s Fairmont Fitness Centre It’s not just for guests. You too can be a member and feel like royalty in this newly renovated fitness centre featuring a saline pool, sauna, steam room, whirlpool squash, court and private sundeck. 10065 100 St. —KH