HicksBiz Blog

HICKS ON BIZ: Lots more oil still to come By Graham Hicks, first published Edmonton Sun, February 28, 2020

The Aspen Oil Sands Project, Imperial Oil’s $2.6 billion, new in-situ oilsands project will eventually produce 150,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd). It is under construction. Foster Creek Oil Sands Expansion Project — Cenovus — $2 billion, adding 40,000 bpd — under construction. Lewis/Meadow Creek East/Meadow Creek West SAGD Oil Sands Projects — Suncor — $2 billion, around 200,000 bpd from different projects — proposed. Narrows Lake In Situ Oil Sands Project — Cenovus — $1.6 billion — 130,000 bpd — proposed, currently deferred. What is our problem here? Why the tears and teeth-gnashing over the indefinite postponement of the TECK Frontier open-pit bitumen mining proposal in the oilsands, when environmentally acceptable in-situ oilsands projects are lined up around the block? STORY CONTINUES BELOW A quick oilsands refresher: There are two ways of extracting heavy oil (bitumen) from the oilsands, open-pit mining a ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Japanese Dining – one good, one bad By Graham Hicks first published Edmonton Sun February 25, 2020

Veggies, shishito peppers, and braised ribs on the Gyu-kaku Edmonton table grill. Photos by GRAHAM HICKS / EDMONTON SUN Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ 10404 Jasper Ave. 587-416-0957 gyu-kaku.com 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. (Fri. and Sat. to 11:30 p.m., Sun. to 10 p.m.) Reservations, Open Table Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3.5 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns Dinner for two, excluding gratuities and beverages: Basic, $30; loaded $50 STORY CONTINUES BELOW Kobachi Japanese Cuisine #125, 200 Festival Lane, Sherwood Park 780-570-5858 kobachi.ca Dinner, Wed. to Sat. 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. (Sun. to 8:30 p.m.) Lunch, Wed. to Fri. 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Closed Monday Reservations by phone Food: 2.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns Dinner for two, excluding gratuities and beverages: Basic, $50; loaded $75 Two Japanese dining experiences, with paradoxical outcomes. One was a long-awaited treat that was disappointing at best. The other restaurant was entered with low ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Fact is it's a Goldilocks economy By Graham Hicks first published Edmonton Sun February 22, 2020

Crews walk past the polypropylene reactor and the giant crane being used to raise it into position at the Heartland Petrochemical Complex in Fort Saskatchewan on Thursday, March 7, 2019.David Bloom / Postmedia, file Do we laugh or cry over the state of Alberta’s economy? We are so swayed by the latest headlines, especially the enormous conflict between Western Canadian oil and natural gas versus the youthful/progressive/protest cry for a no-carbon-fuels world. Our bitumen, and now B.C.’s natural gas, has become symbolic of a global fight to the death between unspoiled nature and evil global capitalism. The captains of Alberta’s No. 1 industry are the baddest dudes of all. On the one hand, despair. The global energy companies, huge pension funds, and our fellow Canadians want nothing to do with our No. 1 industry, if only because they will be blocked by climate warriors and our federal government at every turn. On the other … The Alberta government has an excelle ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Pe mitso! Let's eat! By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, February 19, 2020

By GRAHAM HICKS It was the simplest of ideas, taking much work. Mackenzie Brown — a young Cree artist/musician/activist who describes herself as having a “moccasin in both worlds,” was chatting with food entrepreneur Brad Lazarenko in his Culina To Go within the lovely, fully re-invented Oliver Exchange retail/hospitality centre. Why not, she suggested, an evening of First Nations food, culture and stories here in Edmonton, introducing the wider community to a rich culture that has always been here, but usually presented within a political context rather than pure cultural enjoyment. Lazarenko, being Metis himself, thought this a splendid idea. Planning for Pe Mitso — Cree for “let’s eat” — began in earnest.  Two other indigenous chefs happily joined in, the renowned Shane Chartrand of the River Cree Resort’s SC Restaurant, and a newcomer to the Edmonton culinary scene, Scott Iserhoff of Pei Pei Chei Ow Catering. He ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Saving Edmonton, saving Alberta By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, February 14, 2020

Skyline taken from the airport control tower at the Blatchford Redevelopment in Edmonton, December 4, 2017.Ed Kaiser Ed Kaiser / Ed Kaiser/Postmedia Two interesting reports will be coming forward in the next few weeks, one to Edmonton City Council, one to the Government of Alberta. Whoa, don’t let your eyes glaze over! Don’t give up on Hicks on Biz! Reports, however dry and horrible and impossible to read, can profoundly influence the economic well-being of our city and province. And never before has Edmonton/Alberta faced such crossroads as today. If there’s not ingenuity and leadership and innovation, we are going to see a continuing decline in our real estate prices. Our children and grandchildren will reluctantly leave Alberta for career opportunities elsewhere. A slow, steady decline in entrepreneurial spirit will infect the province, to a point, where, like too many parts of Canada, the big deal will be to get a government job and never let it go. STORY CONT ... Read the rest of entry »

Weekly Dish: My word, Ma chef offers tasty food By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, February 11, 2020

Ma chef Korean Restaurant's "Rocky Mountain" bulgogi is a sight to behold! Photos by GRAHAM HICKS / EDMONTON SUN Ma chef Korean Restaurant 5818 111 St. NW (Lendrum Place Shopping Centre) 780-757-8889 Mon. to Thurs. 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Fri + Sat to 9:30 p.m., Sun to 8:30 p.m.) Dinner for two, excluding beverages, tip and taxes: Basic, $30, loaded, $60 Food: 5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3.5 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns No, that is not a typo. The Weekly Dish’s food rating for Ma chef Korean Restaurant is a perfect five Suns out of five. STORY CONTINUES BELOW From this clean, cheerful Korean restaurant,  in the Lendrum Place strip mall just up 111 Street from Southgate,  you’d expect comfort food for sharing with family and friends. Ma chef is that … and waaaaaay more. All six diners in our party were flabbergasted at the superb quality of the dishes coming out of chef/owner Jung Ho (Jacky) Lee’s open kitchen. ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Patience is a virtue By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, February 7, 2020

After 27 years, Dr. Robert Foster's drug developed at the U of A, Voclosporin, has been approved as a treatment for lupus kidney disease. GRAHAM HICKS/EDMONTON SUNEdmonton In the modest south Edmonton office of his latest drug-development company, Dr. Robert Foster can now chuckle about the day in 2007 when his net worth crashed from $30 million to $250,000. The pharmaceutical scientist, businessperson and professor lost his fortune with the collapse of Edmonton-based drug company Isotechnica. The company had been formed to commercialize Voclosporin, an immunosuppression drug Foster had created with a team of University of Alberta scientists and medical researchers. Isotechnica was as good as gone, but Foster never lost faith in Voclosporin’s medical potential. Today, after an incredible 26-year tale involving the cold-hearted realities of the international drug-development world, politics, betrayal, drug regulation and a never-ending search for investment cash, Dr. Foster has been vindicat ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: May Bistro Praha go on forever By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, February 4, 2020

The best steak tartare in Edmonton, at Bistro Praha. Photos by GRAHAM HICKS / EDMONTON SUN Bistro Praha 10117-101 St. 780-424-4218 bistropraha.com No delivery service listed Parking in Scotia Place Parkade Mon. to Thurs. 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fri. 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., Sat. noon to 1 a.m. Sun. 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Dinner for two, excluding beverages, tip and taxes: Basic, $30, loaded, $100 Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Many restaurants in this town have been around since the 1970s. There’s a list below. STORY CONTINUES BELOW But none wear the years so well as the downtown’s Bistro Praha – 32 years in its original location in Rice-Howard Way until the Kelly Ramsay Building burned in 2009, re-opening two years later in the Empire Building, on 101 Street north of Jasper. When Bistro Praha re-opened, it was an exact copy of the original with better washrooms: The same sturdy wooden tables and chairs, the same giant European count ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Metro Edmonton is a political mess By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, January 31, 2020

Edmonton's downtown skyline is seen from the Blatchford project site on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019.Ian Kucerak / Postmedia A new regional report is urging the 13 towns, counties and cities of Greater Edmonton to get their acts together and set up a regional public transit service. Yes, a regional public transit system is way overdue, and, overall, is a good thing. Except, being government-driven and involving 13 municipalities, it will happen years later than planned, will cost twice as much as anticipated, will have far fewer riders than projected, and will not reduce the number of cars on the road. (Always unacknowledged in these reports is human nature. When it’s super cold outside half the year, anybody with the means will use a warm, comfortable, door-to-door car, not public transit.) I digress. The reason regional transit will take so long and be so inefficient is that — as with anything to do with Greater (or Metropolitan) Edmonton — 13 municipalities debate and mus ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Back to basics at Century Mile’s Derby Restaurant By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, January 28, 2020

One delicious plate of liver 'n' onions, smothered in gravy at the Century Mile Casino's Derby Restaurant. Photos by GRAHAM HICKS / EDMONTON SUN Derby Restaurant, Century Mile Racetrack and Casino 4711 Airport Road, Nisku 587-416-6453 cnty.com No delivery service listed Restricted to 18 years or older Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 3 a.m., closed only on Christmas Day Dinner for two, excluding beverages, tip and taxes: Basic, $28, loaded, $40 STORY CONTINUES BELOW Food: 3.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 2.5 of 5 Suns Service: 4.5 of 5 Suns When the super-friendly waitress plopped her elbows down on the (raised booth) table to tell us about the specials of the day, the flashback happened. When I was a kid, on any special occasion, the family would pile into the station wagon to head to the local mom ‘n’ pop restaurant. The middle-aged waitress (we didn’t know what a server was) was boisterous and welcoming. She always had a pencil tucked behind her ear. She’d been t ... Read the rest of entry »