Top 10 Highlights of 2012

As we enter 2013, we’re taking this opportunity to reflect on what was accomplished in the last year. Below are some highlights of events and stories of 2012 (in chronological order):

1. DECL members participated in the first ‘IllumiNITE’ winter sculpture event organized by the ‘Alley of Light‘ group in February. Even though it was quite chilly, attendance was really good and feedback was positive. It was nice to do something with our little pocket park on 104 Street and brighten up the dark days of winter with inventive sculptures of light and reflective or transparent materials.

Justin Keats Sculpture

Heads made of paper mache over balloons and lit from inside, by DECL Board Member Justin Keats, won second prize.

2. Spring is the traditional time of our AGM, this year featuring timely guest speaker Rick Daviss, Executive Director of the Downtown Arena Project. Again held at the Yellowhead Brewery, attendance was our best ever at over 100 new and existing members that came out to learn more about the arena project and what our league has to offer.

3. June 11 was the 3rd annual ‘Al Fresco Block Party’ on the 4th Street Promedade, and also our third year organizing a pancake breakfast in conjunction with the event, with generous on-going sponsorship by Sobey’s Urban Fresh. Our new location at the intersection of 104 Street and 102 Avenue seemed to increase our visibility, and thus, our attendance. We raised almost $1150.00 for the Zebra Child Protection Centre. Had we not had to make way for the Pride Parade at noon, we probably could have continued to serve people pancakes and sausages for another few hours…the line ups at times were intense!

Board members Ian O’donnell and Lindsey Trufyn flipping pancakes

4. September is the kick-off to our annual membership drive at CornFest. Every year we give away free corn in Beaverhills House Park and get downtown residents to renew their memberships. The past few years we have pushed the event a week later into September to coincide with EFCL’s Community League Day. We were blessed with sun and warm temperatures!

CornFest 2012

5. Also in late September was Alberta Culture Days’ first block party on the 4th Street Promenade. This event overtook the street for one Friday evening and attracted not hundreds, but thousands of people to celebrate the local arts and culture scene. DECL handed out free popcorn with toppings and flavourings donated by Evoolution Olive Oils and Vinegars to the crowds. This proved to be one of the most popular items at the party (especially the black truffle salt, and butter-falvoured olive oil), and we all agreed was one of the most fun events downtown that year (the warmer than usual weather helped with attendance as well)!

Board members (from left to right) William Lee, Laurissa Kalinowsky and Chris Buyze

6. Of course no year is complete without a holiday mixer, held just a few weeks ago on December 13, just before the holiday season. Thank you to everyone that attended the event, ate food, and engaged their neighbours. VP Thomas Rose created all the food, we are most grateful for his skills. Hopefully everyone left just a bit merrier!

7. Development is always one of the busiest committees. Chair Ian O’donnell continued to champion downtown issues and address concerns for residents. Some development issues that kept us busy included the continuing downtown arena project urban design, WinterCity Strategy, MacEwan Fine Arts Centre and rezoning, Civic Precinct Master Plan, and various DC2 applications. This fall included a public consultation event at MacEwan for the proposed West LRT line.

One highlight was our impromptu patio we created in front of Tres Carnales to show solidarity with their ongoing fight with the City to create a summer patio in front of their establishment. This drew a dedicated crowd of downtown folk who brought their own chairs and tables, and enjoyed some tasty food on the warm summer evening. It even drew some media attention, of which our gathering was described as a ‘patio protest’. Several City Councillors are aware of our concerns to clarify the rules governing outdoor patios and we can expect an updated policy on the issue at Council later this spring. We saw the start of what might be described as a burgeoning patio scene last year with hopefully more on the way for 2013! (Read the Metro Edmonton story)

8. We were also excited to release the first concepts for the future ‘Scott Property’ Community Park, located at the corner of 105 Street and 102 Avenue. Our stakeholder steering committee will continue to push to see this project move forward in 2013!

Scott Property Community Park Concept Layout

Scott Property Community Park Concept Layout

9. We are also grateful and proud to have partnered with several other groups or organizations. ‘What the Truck?!‘ Food Truck events organized by DECL’s Sharon Yeo and Mack Male are some of the most popular summer outings for downtown folk and foodies alike. Various Alley of Light events were held throughout the year, and Mercury Opera continues to wow audiences with their stellar performances, including November’s FIAMMA. Both What the Truck?! and Alley of Light now call DECL ‘home’ so-to-speak, as the umbrella organization for their efforts and enabling them to better access grants and other logistical support.

Graffiti wall by volunteers in the Alley of Light

Also, what better way to get to know your neighbour than through a social gathering! The Oliver Community League and DECL hosted a joint BBQ and Social at the Oliver Hall on September 15 for Comnunity League Day, as well as our first ‘Lawn Bowl-Off: DECL vs. Oliver‘ lawn bowling social at the Legislature Grounds on September 8. Even the fire department showed up and participated for a bit!

We also participated in the launch of the WinterCity Strategy at the first ever ‘NextGen & Friends‘ winter patio party in early December. Look for more ‘cool’ winter events in 2013!

Local firefighters learning the game

10.  Lastly, but not least, was the December 18 announcement of our new street-level space at 10042 103 Street! MP Laurie Hawn and a handful of DECL members were in attenance for a brief release to the public and media regarding the Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund (CIIF) grant for $16,264.00 that we secured to help with the renovations. This new space will give us the opportunity for connecting with residents easier by increasing our visibility. We also hope to host and support more and diverse programming and events from the multi-use space. Renovations and move-in should be complete by spring 2013. We can’t wait!

(From left to right) Member Michael Flood, and board members Jarrett Mykytiuk, Ian O’donnell, Sarah Fung, Patrick Cardinal, Chris Buyze, Lindsey Trufyn, and Thomas Rose.

2013 is going to be another great year for DECL, including moving into our new space and celebrations in honour of our 10th anniversary as a community league! Look for more exciting things happening in your downtown neighourhood. We hope you’ll join our league to volunteer, attend events, or as moral support.

We appreciate each and every member has helped us in 2012, including our many partners and sponsors, and various media that covered our events.

I heart #yegdt!