HicksBiz Blog

Hicks on Biz: Many want us to think otherwise, but the world is a cleaner place By GRAHAM HICKS, first published April 5, 2018

Pipes are seen at the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain facility in Edmonton, Alta., Thursday, April 6, 2017. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says a B.C. court decision on the Trans-Mountain pipeline is a definitive victory. The federal court of appeal on Friday dismissed the B.C. government's bid to appeal a National Energy Board ruling that allowed Kinder Morgan Canada to bypass local bylaws during construction.JONATHAN HAYWARD / THE CANADIAN PRESS By Graham Hicks With little government regulation, the USA’s overall greenhouse gas emissions have been dropping. The USA is now expected to meet its Paris greenhouse gas reduction commitments – despite having torn up that agreement last year. Why?  Market forces! Utility companies can make more money converting coal-burning electricity plants to natural gas. There’s so much natural gas, it’s so easy to produce, it’s cheaper to burn than coal and it burns far cleaner than coal. In the mid-2000s, 50% of American el ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Buco Pizzeria and Vino Bars offer excellent wide-ranging fare By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN April 3, 2018

Buco-style crispy-skinned seabass , served with a light mayo sauce. Photos by GRAHAM HICKS/EDMONTON SUN Buco Pizzeria and Vino Bars bucopizzera.com Buco EPCOR Tower, 10423-101 St., main floor 780-250-2826 Mon. to Fri. 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. (1 a.m. Friday) Sat. 4 p.m.  to 1 a.m. Sun. 4 p.m. to 11 a.m. Buco Windermere, 1155 Windermere Way S.W. 780-540-2826 Tues. to Sat. 11 a.m. to midnight (1 a.m. Friday/Saturday) Sun. and Mon. 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Buco St. Albert, 130 Bellerose Dr., St. Albert 780-569-2826 Mon. to Fri. 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. (10:30 p.m. Friday) Sat. 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Sun. 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Dinner for two, not including tip, tax or beverage:  Basic, $30; loaded, $80 Food – 4.5 of 5 Suns Ambience – 4 of 5 Suns Service –  4 of 5 Suns Graham Hicks 780-707-6379 graham.hicks@hicksbiz.com Hicksbiz.com @hicksonsix Even Carmelo Rago, top dog of the family-run Sorrentino/Buco restaurant group, is surprised at the welcome the city has ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Sale of Edmonton company CCI Thermal a big deal By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN March 29, 2018

Harold Roozen is the founder of CCI Thermal Technologies. File photoLarry Wong / EDMONTON JOURNAL By Graham Hicks Historically, business in Edmonton is conducted with discretion, privacy and civility. Those qualities are in marked contrast to Calgary’s boisterous, extroverted big-money business sector – at least until the Great Humbling of 2015 and 2016. Edmontonians, no matter their wealth, don’t drive flashy cars. The most ostentatious vehicles on our roads are Range Rovers, Mercedes roadsters or Beemers. Other than Daryl Katz’s mega-mansion overlooking Hawrelak Park, fine homes in this town are inconspicuous – hidden on acreages or in cul-de-sacs, surrounded by trees. Showing off is just not part of the culture. It makes sense, therefore, that the sale of privately-owned, Edmonton-based CCI Thermal to American industrial-heating giant Thermon Heating Systems, for an eyebrow-lifting, all-cash $258 million Cdn, was barely publicized. But it is a BIG DEAL, ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Wildflower Grill good, but too conventional By GRAHAM HICKS first published EDMONTON SUN March 27, 2018

Not much happening within the Wildflower pork chop. Wildflower Grill 10009 107 St. 780-990-1938 Wildfloweredmonton.com 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. (Fridays and Saturdays, 11 p.m.) Dinner for two, not including tip, tax or beverage:  Basic, $70; loaded, $130 Food – 3.5 of 5 Suns Ambience – 3.5 of 5 Suns Service- 4 of 5 Suns By GRAHAM HICKS Expectations, you are banished. Go sulk under the kitchen table. You’ve let me down again. Off the Weekly Dish reviewing team went last week – three of us – on a mid-week expedition to the Wildflower Grill. Wildflower has been around for many years – originally the flagship of Richard Lim’s now-defunct Lazia Hospitality Group –  in the same building as the downtown Matrix Hotel but with a separate entrance and address. It was sold sometime in the past year, with a reported re-commitment to quality by the new owners, and the hiring of a young Calgary chef, J.P. Dublado. I had high ho ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: When it comes to transportation in Edmonton, stick to the tried, true and inexpensive By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, March 23, 2018

Edmonton transit buses make their way along 104 Avenue. File photoDavid Bloom / Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS Gondolas!  NO! Prototype Magnetic-Levitation LRT!  NOOOOO! Bombardier’s Advanced Rapid Transit (Vancouver’s SkyTrain)!   Maybe, but NOT NOW! BRT (Bus Rapid Transit)!  PROBABLY! Smart roads! Smaller vehicles! Cleaner vehicles! And, one day, driverless vehicles! YES !  But by then I will be mouldering in my low-density urban grave. Hasn’t Edmonton city council and its senior management learned anything from the dismal failure of our broken-down Cadillac waste management system, from the not-fully operational NAIT LRT line, from  bridges built years behind schedule, from the soon-to-be financial fiasco of Blatchford? Don’t wing it with unproven technology!!! Use reliable and cost-effective technologies … like, golly, highways and private vehicles. Like old-fashioned buses! As the public hearings on expanding ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Vietnamese contrast – An Chay, Miss Saigon, Saigon Garden by GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN March 20, 2018

An Chay's vegetarian vermicelli special at $13 is excellent value. An Chay 11203 Jasper Ave. Facebook 780-752-2203 Weekdays, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Weekends, noon to 8 p.m. Closed Tuesdays Dinner for two, not including tip, tax or beverage:  Basic, $25; loaded, $50 Food – 4.5 of 5 Suns Ambience – 4.5 of 5 Suns Service- 4 of 5 Suns Miss Saigon 10375 78 Ave. misssaigonyeg.com 780-249-2220 Hours: Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 a.m. Dinner for two, basic $30; loaded, $45 Food – 3.5 of 5 Suns Ambience – 3.5 of 5 Suns Service – 3.5 of 5 Suns *** Saigon Garden 9711 107 Ave. 780-428-8833 saigongarden.ca Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Closed Tuesdays Dinner for two, basic $30; loaded $45 Food – 3.5 of 5 Suns Ambience – 2.5 of 5 Suns Service – 4 of 5 Suns Three Vietnamese eateries today, each worthy, but certainly illustrating the breadth and ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Edmonton’s broken-down Cadillac waste management system by GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN March 16, 2018

A contract worker sorts paper at the Edmonton recycling facility.Ed Kaiser / Postmedia By Graham Hicks Rarely has a city felt so betrayed, so let down, by one of its own departments. City Auditor David Wiun’s recently released audit of the Waste Services Branch is one of the most damning City of Edmonton public reports ever released. The once world-famous City of Edmonton Waste Services Branch had been fudging its reports, its numbers were not to be believed, its management culture had become “independent” (i.e. gone rogue), equipment and facilities were (and are) falling apart …   Waste Services has hopelessly failed in its long-touted goal of diverting 90% of waste from landfill. The best the city had done was diverting 49.5% of residential garbage in 2013, and had since been getting worse, down to 35.7% in 2016. Most of our garbage continues to be hauled to a landfill site near Ryley, 80 kilometres away. Nobody knows how much – or where &nda ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Downtown Dining Week offers a taste of Edmonton's core By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN March 13, 2018

Despite downtown parking regulations more complex than a Rubik’s Cube, I still recommend lunch or dinner this week at just about all (decent) downtown restaurants through Sunday, March 18. It’s the 15th annual Downtown Dining Week, produced by the Downtown Business Association. Cheap eats! Champagne at beer prices! At the very least, you’ll save 10% to 20% over regular a-la-carte prices, often more. After 15 years, most of the bugs have been worked out on this special offer. It’s designed to entice you back to the downtown to experience Edmonton’s terrific restaurant renaissance, a renaissance that is being recognized across Canada. Too bad downtown parking is so expensive and so sparse – see below. Each of the 37 participating restaurants can mix and match from three categories — $18 mostly two-course lunches, $30 for mostly-three course dinners, or $45 “executive dinners” on offer at the top-end eateries such as The Harvest Room, Hardware ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Alberta doesn't need wind farms by GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN March 9, 2018

By GRAHAM HICKS I have been to a wind farm, watched the blades on 80-metre-tall wind turbines turn lazily in the late-February sun. In a very gentle 5.4 km/h wind, 16 megawatts (MW) of electricity were being generated — wind converted to electricity at each tower, fed through underground cables to a substation, then fed into the provincial power grid. In that lazy wind at Capital Power’s Halkirk Wind Farm about 30 kilometres east of Stettler, 83 towers each generated 230 kilowatts (kW) of power ‑ enough to perhaps power my neighbourhood at that very moment. Halkirk is impressive — the 83 wind turbines scattered across 60 square kilometres of working farmland are so quiet (at least in low winds), so grey, so clean against the blue sky — dotting the landscape around the village of Halkirk like ghostly sentinels. The technology and know-how are all imported. The global wind-farm company Vestas Wind Systems, headquartered in Denmark, manufactures, assembles, maintains and ... Read the rest of entry »

Undercover at the Citadel Theatre, a comedic whodunit with more twists than a lemon in a martini: Review by GRAHAM HICKS

Undercover A Spontaneous Theatre production presented by the Citadel Theatre The Citadel Theatre Club space, April 4 to 29, 2018 Tickets Review by GRAHAM HICKS,  HicksBiz.com In a theatrical age dominated by ultra-serious political correctness, what a relief that Rebecca Northan knows how to have fun in a thoroughly professional way. Her touring show Undercover, on the Citadel’s cabaret stage through April 29, 2018, is a good old-fashioned murder mystery, a whodunit, complete with an old mansion, a dark and stormy night and black-outs in which the bereaved very suddenly, with much shrieking, becomes the bereaved. But it’s a whodunit with a fantastically fun twist. Every night, the show's assistant detective is an audience member, drawn at random to play the part. The script is cleverly written to let the latest and ever-changing member of the cast control the plot. As Northan says in thanking the audience/cast member at the end of the show, the second half of the show has never ev ... Read the rest of entry »