View Full Version : An interesting post from Babiak's Blog

Sonic Death Monkey
16-06-2006, 08:27 PM

SUBJECT: A citizen's manifesto (this is a bit longer than a standard blog but worth thinking about. It was sent in by Jacques Sirois... tb)

Don Statsny, the architect hired to deal with the Downtown East side, encouraged me to articulate a serious, bold, creative and freewheeling vision. My mindset is that of a cyclist and pedestrian who has lived in and visited Edmonton and countless big and small cities over the last few decades.

Despite our lesser natural assets (e.g. distant Rocky Mountains), I would like to see the “Big E” become a city of choice for young and educated people just like Calgary. Let’s seek inspiration in Calgary, where serious resources are about to be spent to upgrade the Stampede Grounds and to build one massive Arctic marine exhibit at the zoo. I am told that Calgary has thoroughly discussed how to get more bang and urban sex appeal for its $100 mil bucks by spending it on centrally-located, recreo-touristic facilities and infrastructure rather than on asphalt “out there”. In Edmonton, we need a critical mass of remarkable facilities in or near (within walking distance) our city centre that are open year-round, daily and during our long and bright summer evenings. Facilities that will affirm and reveal our identity and heritage and that will register on the radar screens of all Albertans (including Calgarians), Canadians and foreigners.

For example:

1) EDMONTON HOCKEY CENTRAL. A cool downtown arena with the world’s most comprehensive hockey museum, replete with hockey-related art, including the Gretzky bronze statue in front of the current arena and Andy Warhol’s Wayne Gretzky 99 painting, for example; and possibly with a wing for the Edmonton Sports Hall of Fame.

2) EDMONTON ENERGY CITY. A comprehensive, museum-style facility about the Albertan and Canadian energy scene (oil, gas, coal, wind, solar, hydro, tidal, etc.) and its history, in a smart building that is a showcase of energy conservation in a cold climate. This facility would be a western, updated and improved version of the Cité de l’Énergie, a surprisingly large, popular and interesting educational facility built years ago in a recycled industrial complex in Shawinigan (Guess who made this one happen?), Québec. It would complement and be a link to the poorly-located and low-profile Canadian Petroleum Interpretive Centre in Devon.

3) EDMONTON ABORIGINAL VILLAGE. The best such facility in Canada with the help of the Cree, Blackfoot and Métis (and others?) nations, on the riverfront, replete with art and with a wild-food restaurant, and an entire wing dedicated to bison and its pivotal role in Edmonton’s history (with a link to nearby Elk Island National Park). Use Saskatoon’s smart, excellent, must-visit Wanuskewin Heritage Park for inspiration.

4) FORT EDMONTON NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE. Invite Parks Canada to develop this site on the riverfront; a site replete with maps and models of all Edmonton forts and staffed with professional historians. This site would be open year-round and complement Fort Edmonton Park, which is closed most of the time. Parks Canada has built numerous, excellent such facilities across Canada.

5) JOHN JANZEN DOWNTOWN NATURE AND RIVER CENTRE. Relocate this underused and wrongly-located facility to the downtown riverfront and tell the story of the Saskatchewan River, from the Rocky Mountains to Hudson Bay, from the last glaciation until now, replete with aquariums displaying sturgeons and other aquatic life from the watershed, with exhibits of life under the ice and water conservation and education programmes.

6) WATERFRONT BISTROS OR TEA HOUSES in Louise McKinney Park and below the Provincial Museum, and VALLEYVIEW, “SUNSHINE”, GLASS BISTROS OR CAFÉS on the edge of the bluff in Ezzo Faraone Park, across from the Legislative Assembly, and in Grant Notley Park, next to Le Marchand Mansion.

7) GATEWAY TO THE NORTH PARK. Centrally located and featuring the world’s largest collection of innukshuit (built with the help of the Inuit), all pointing north, and commemorating our countless, pivotal, historic links to northern Canada in general and the Canadian Arctic in particular.

8) EDMONTONSAURUS SKATEBOARD PARK AND EDMONTONIA BMX/MOUNTAIN BIKE PARK. Attract children, teenagers and adults downtown by creating the best and most challenging such parks in Canada in very central locations. Put attractive, life-size models of these two dinosaur species in these parks, with the help of the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology.

9) EDMONTON BICYCLE HUB. Build Capital City Kilometre Zero Park on soon-to-be remodelled 105 Ave., near City Hall, a park that celebrates and promotes active, urban transportation. Also a park with air pumps, toilets, a biker-friendly snack bar and possibly a sate-of-the-art Bike Mechanic Shop. A park connecting trails built with regional and provincial partners and leading to St. Albert, Sherwood Park, Fort Saskatchewan, Devon, Pigeon Lake, Lac St. Anne, Jasper and Calgary. Also DOUBLE the trail network in the city centre. Use Québec’s Green Road and Véloasis (Bike Oasis) Network for inspiration.

10) RAPID URBAN AND REGIONAL TRANSIT SYSTEM. Like in many cities around the world with rapid transit, we should be able to go from downtown Edmonton to, for example, West Edmonton Mall and downtown St. Albert in less than 10 minutes, to the International Airport in less than 20 minutes and perhaps to Calgary in less than 100 minutes, with train cars that can accommodate bicycles.

11) DOWNTOWN FARMERS’ MARKET. Again, like many other cities we should have a serious market with local products open daily and year-round, particularly in light of our advantageous position in central Alberta, in the heart of a substantial agricultural community.

12) THOUSANDS OF SOLAR ROOFS. With Epcor’s help, reduce our ecological footprint and dependency on fossil fuels (coal and gas) by installing solar panels on 1,000 roofs in five years, 5,000 roofs in 10 years, and 10,000 roofs in 20 years, for example. I herewith volunteer my house for the first installation.


A) Deal fairly and offer real, acceptable options to the poor living in the city centre.

B) These new facilities should feature smart, cool, beautiful and “green” (Net Zero Energy) designs and architecture. Ideally they could produce energy for other facilities.

C) Our river valley must remain as big, wild and undisturbed as possible. New facilities should blend in and be built only where habitat is already degraded or altered. Ideally, our remarkable and extraordinary, wild, river valley park system should be expanded wherever possible.

D) Move on with the planned and long-overdue renovations at the Art Gallery, Provincial Museum, Valley Zoo and Hudson Bay downtown building, of course. Encourage a prompt completion of the Chinese garden in Louise McKinney Park. Also help renovate the aviation museum at Blatchford Field, where much of Edmonton’s soul and history reside, and link it to the “Gateway to the North” park.

E) Do not build facilities that block the view of our river valley in our otherwise flat city. All remaining sites with a view in the city centre are strategic and priceless.

F) Let’s continue to clean-up our city: litter is not cool, to say the least.

I can already smell the coffee in Ezzo Faraone Park and the grilled bison on a wood fire in the aboriginal village, hear the jazz on Jasper Ave., see lots of beautiful people on the riverfront and feel the buzz in Churchill Square.

Posted by Todd Babiak on 6/15/2006 5:49:23 PM


16-06-2006, 09:30 PM
I rarely read his articles in the journal....but his ideas in this one are exactly the type of stuff needed.

22-08-2006, 06:43 AM
The solar panel idea is a good one - Albertans need to showcase themselves as being conservationists or the rest of Canada will find a way to bring back the NEP.

22-08-2006, 07:18 AM
This are some very well voiced ideas. I really like the historical parks ideas.

22-08-2006, 09:04 AM
I have been lurking for a long time on this forum, but this article is by far the best thing I have read. I love the idea of using downtown as a meeting place (museums, art galleries, restaurants). If there is one thing that is common in the great cities of the world is that their streets are alive with people. Edmonton's downtown is dead after 6 o'clock and while I have never felt unsafe after dark, the empty streets must be quite intimidating to visitors who are staying in downtown hotels.

But... the best part of his ideas are incorporating Net Zero designs and low income housing into the plan. This is a great opportunity to showcase our world class engineering companies in a way that positions us to lead the world in something that is actually good for the planet. You can tell a lot about a city by the way it treats its residents and the planet...and don't worry, the big oil companies won't be mad at us for caring :)

22-08-2006, 09:20 AM
Great ideas and so true...we near this critical mass to happen!

22-08-2006, 09:28 AM
I have been lurking for a long time on this forum...

Welcome to a great forum bankboy!

22-08-2006, 11:25 AM
So so many good ideas. Most are pretty obvious, and I think all of us here have probably either thought of them or they have actually been discussed on this board.
Now its time to DO IT! 8)

22-08-2006, 05:37 PM
Excellent ideas Todd Babiak!