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View Full Version : Edmonton = Winnipeg (at it's peril)



murman
26-07-2006, 11:18 AM
OK, I’m going to roast evenly on all sides for starting this thread, by both Edmontonians and Winnipeggers, but it’s something that has to be said. (And Winnipeggers, don’t take this as a personal attack. If you don’t think that your fair burg isn’t in deep economic doo-doo, then feel free to ignore this post…)

Over the past several years, many in the business community were lamenting that Edmonton was in danger of becoming the next Winnipeg, and not in a good way.

With the most recent economic boom, this cry has decreased somewhat. And yet Edmonton’s currently getting thumped in a very big way by Calgary in almost every economic sector except academia.

I therefore have an awful feeling that the most recent boom has created an ENTIRELY false sense of security. If you look at it closely, with minor exception, this boom remains almost entirely resource-related, and mostly in the industrial sector. When that boom’s over, what’s left for Edmonton except to become another “city that time forgot” like Winnipeg, which is eerily frozen in circa-1978.

The similarities of the two cities are myriad:

Devastated main street: CHECK

Crapload of pathetic 70s architecture downtown CHECK

Crumbling residential infrastructure CHECK

Had its time in the limelight many years ago (Edmonton until the 80s, Winnipeg until 70s) CHECK

Since then, other cities have taken a commanding competitive advantage in most avenues of business CHECK

Looming sociological crisis (not going to explain that one further lest I be branded as a racist) CHECK

Left-leaning civic bureaucracy CHECK

Government-dominated office employment base CHECK

Small town mindset CHECK

Largely central/eastern European heritage (with it’s attendant "can’t do" attitude) CHECK

Low-cost mentality CHECK

Comparative lack of knowledge regarding leading-edge urban planning and development CHECK

(And that’s just a partial list. I could go on but I do have a job that I should be doing right now!)

And for those that will bombard me with a bunch of examples of why we’re not the same as Winnipeg, I acknowledge those examples but say that they are PRESENTLY insufficient to counteract what seems like a creeping inevitability.

The next observation will be “what can be done?”. I’d love to hear how Edmonton wants to recast its economic base so that it doesn’t become the next Winnipeg. And we have to get beyond the glib platitudes of “be more competitive”. We need ACTION, not words!

Let the chat begin!

Dusty Bear
26-07-2006, 12:54 PM
Wow, what to say, except some of that was really offensive.


Largely central/eastern European heritage (with it’s attendant "can’t do" attitude)

Yeah, it's a good thing you didn't go into the "looming sociological crisis" because THAT might be taken as racist.

And many of your points are simply opinions, not fact. "Low cost mentality"? By whose measure?

murman
26-07-2006, 01:17 PM
Wow, what to say, except some of that was really offensive.


Largely central/eastern European heritage (with it’s attendant "can’t do" attitude)

Yeah, it's a good thing you didn't go into the "looming sociological crisis" because THAT might be taken as racist.

And many of your points are simply opinions, not fact. "Low cost mentality"? By whose measure?

Half of my heritage is east Euro; I therefore get to diss myself. "OY-yoy-yoy-yoy-yoy"... I think you understand... :wink:

Low cost mentality? By any measure. This has been very-well documented and supported by so many people that I've lost count.

That list is far more factual than opinion. I'm rather astonished to hear you say the opposite; don't take this personally, but that sounds like another example of Edmonton's head in the sand...

IanO
26-07-2006, 01:40 PM
while points seem to agree with what you are saying murman....i think Edmonton is far far beyond Winnipeg in all regards (positive ones that is).

MylesC
26-07-2006, 02:40 PM
Good ol' murman shock treatment ;)

Let's go one by one:



Devastated main street:

How so? Jasper has been coming back to life over the past few years and is only getting better. There are people walking the streets late into the night. Some parts could use a fixer-uper and I believe that is currently before council.


Crapload of pathetic 70s architecture downtown

Did any North American city escape this bit? Proportionally Calgary probably has as much crap against it's better buildings as we do.


Crumbling residential infrastructure

Again, the infrastructure issue is one that all major cities have been facing. I do agree that Edmonton does need to do a bit more to spruce up its main areas and roads, though.


Had its time in the limelight many years ago (Edmonton until the 80s, Winnipeg until 70s)

That's a matter of opinion, perhaps. We definitely fell on our face in the 80s and 90s. The coming years will demonstrate whether we pick ourselves up or not. After all, why do we fall down Master Bruce? ;)


Since then, other cities have taken a commanding competitive advantage in most avenues of business

Granted due to Edmonton's pathetic ability to market itself aggresively. Listen up EEDC...


Looming sociological crisis (not going to explain that one further lest I be branded as a racist)

I'm not going to touch that one...


Left-leaning civic bureaucracy

The new council has completely turned that around. While the bureaucracy could be considered left-leaning...isn't that the very definition of a proper bureaucracy?


Government-dominated office employment base

Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The same could be said for Ottawa but I don't see it being compared to Winnipeg.


Small town mindset

This is another thing that is really starting to change. I think Edmontonians are starting to grow up. You can feel it in the city and the way attitudes are changing towards political issues. Yes, we still have the old timers, but the younger generation is clamouring for change and is being listened to, IMHO.


Largely central/eastern European heritage (with it’s attendant "can’t do" attitude)

I don't know about you, but my eastern European family is darn stubborn! I dare you to tell Baba she can't do something!


Low-cost mentality

Granted.


Comparative lack of knowledge regarding leading-edge urban planning and development

Another granted, but I hope this is starting to change. There are a lot of good projects being undertaken by Planning...it's just a matter of them to be implemented. Council needs to listen to Planning...we have the leading-edge stuff here! They just need to be implemented and supported!

RichardS
26-07-2006, 04:29 PM
I know what murman is saying. Yes, it is shock treatment, but it also holds a lot of truth. I can agree with him on many points that Edmonton has parallels to cities like Winnipeg in the fact that it is now our time to stand at the fork in the road and make our decision.

Do we settle for mediocre, rely on the main industry, and think everything is OK

-OR-

Do we realize that we sincerely need to kick ourselves in the pants, grab some “faith”, and drag this burg with its “damned-able” small town mentality kicking and screaming into the new world – a city of 1 million that can and should grow and diversify now! Murman is saying exactly this in my opinion.

Murman says devastated main street. Others can say that it has “come a long way”, but I would argue that it has even a longer way to go still. It does not have the life that it needs yet to be “main street Edmonton” once again. It is better, but it needs to be even more exciting again. Jasper Ave is slowly taking shape - keyword SLOWLY....
Think pre-WEM…

Calgary comparison – yes, they have wiped the floor with us over many many years. I’ll say it again, during the same hard luck economic time period, Mooville grew, Redmonton shrunk. We haven’t really learned about that battle yet, because we keep comparing ourselves to Calgary. Calgary just tried to be Calgary. As hokey as that cowboy shtick continues to be, it is a readily recognizable brand country wide. They actually marketed themselves, and bragged to the point of outright lying at times. Yes, Calgary is in the same resource-heavy boat that we are; however, they at least are taking advantage and marketing well. Edmonton seems content to rest on its laurels. Now, Calgary looks at Toronto, not at us.

I tried to work on having a Big 5 firm place its Alberta outsourcing department here – no dice. Calgary was the choice. Why? Edmonton was “too boring”.


Discountville. Every time I hear low cost this and low cost that, I freak. Discountville does NOT attract companies. Our rents were as low as $9 for A space, and still no one came here. Do you need any more proof than that????


"Comparative lack of knowledge regarding leading-edge urban planning and development" - double check

70's architecture downtown - hell yeah. I know I get slapped when I say things like that too, but there are a few explosions that I would like to see happen (old BOM, that fugly old TD building on the corner of Jasper and 100th street, the Baker Clinic, etc). Yes, other towns have their share, but their newer stuff is a definite departure from this.

Winnipeg was a major center at one time. Even as a young airline brat, Air Canada seemed to have a mantra of "nothing west of Winnipeg". However, Winnipeg lulled itself into sleep with the though that they were going to always be the defacto logistics hub of Canada. They relied on cheap prices, a "central" location, the railroads, and dreams of YWG being the gateway to Europe for the prairies. It is interesting to read from archives the excitement and the optimism of the time. However, the world changed and Winnipeg was forgotten.

Edmonton has similar parallels, but it had the benefit of examples of history to learn from. Are we Winnipeg's identical twin, I would say not completely. However, fraternal is close.

I plan to help drag this often myopic city kicking and screaming into a new world. You?

RichardS
26-07-2006, 05:50 PM
And many of your points are simply opinions, not fact. "Low cost mentality"? By whose measure?

Dealing with the low cost mentality topic, Edmonton has for years called itself a "low cost center", as if that was to magically bring businesses here. We've gone from Redmonton to Discountville in some people's eyes.

While cost is a factor in a business decision, location location location plays even bigger. Businesses tend to be in areas where they can gain synergies from each other, have access to like minded people, be in a thriving cultural city, and have access to capital.

If it was all about low cost, then people would flock from NYC and LA to Omaha and and Fargo. They aren't. At $9/sq ft loaded as a lease rate on A class space, why wasn't Edmonton the city of choice for corporate relo's in the 90's? Businesses will pay the rent to be in a place they want/need to be. ...and if they are big enough, they can negotiate a better deal anyway.

Our secret recipe is to truly get some confidence (happening), major amenities (happening) and some more cultural energy. It is happening, albeit slowly by some people's standards. I'll bet that murman and others are really trying to say "wake up before this boom passes you by."

E-Town Crusader
26-07-2006, 07:05 PM
The Downtown East has to be fast tracked. It doesn't matter what a city has for attractions or amenities, it will still be called boring if it doesn't have a vibrant downtown. I remember when Jasper ave was the place to be on a Friday or Saturday night, nobody called us Deadmonton then.

RichardS
26-07-2006, 08:18 PM
. I remember when Jasper ave was the place to be on a Friday or Saturday night, nobody called us Deadmonton then.

:lol:

Yeah, then we were the "city of the 3 b's"

I agree about downtown east, but also the bridge/realignment/beautification of Gateway, the Art Gallery and RAM, a decision on the zoo, and getting our air service up quickly - even if that includes terminal expansion.

lux
26-07-2006, 08:30 PM
Have any of you been to Winnipeg lately? It seemed to be doing just fine thank you.

I really think the same people who bash Winnipeg will never really be able to contribute anything to Edmonton's renaissance. It is just a lot of the same point-and-blame self-pity nonsense.

I can tell you Calgary never did that when I lived there and to be blunt, Calgary never compared itself to Edmonton. Nobody even gave Edmonton a passing thought when they considered their vision for Calgary's future. They weren't hostile to it because they were so deeply indifferent.

You know what, Toronto didn't even register. If Calgary has had some successes, it is because they focussed on doing what they do well to a degree that either makes them the best in the world at it, or has them striving to become best in the world.

That is how you build a city, and a bunch of hand-wringing worrying and tearing down other Canadian cities will not make this a better place to live.

DanC
26-07-2006, 08:32 PM
I read this and looked around and realized that there is alot of truth in this. There is so much on the horizon, but are we getting any closer to it? There have been some good examples and years of stagnation we all want change and we all want it now. Unfortunatly for all of us, the City moves at a pace far too slow to be seen from day to day. I really don't think of this site as a bunch of dreames, but more a group of visionaries who see the potential and what can be accomplished.

Now, can the City follow that path...can the ideas that we seem so certain about actual come to fruition? Yes, but its not going to be easy and its not going to be cheap. The City has to be willing to take the lead on alot of projects and block out the boo-birds that whine about having a suburban paradise. When a project is undertaken, its not an expense, it is an investment in the City and an investment back upon the Citizens. We are a private group stepping up with the ideas, now I want to see the City step up with implementation.

Don't forget the little things, but don't have you head buried so far down on the paper that you can't see the big picture.

RichardS
26-07-2006, 08:35 PM
I can tell you Calgary never did that when I lived there and to be blunt, Calgary never compared itself to Edmonton. Nobody even gave Edmonton a passing thought when they considered their vision for Calgary's future. They weren't hostile to it because they were so deeply indifferent.

You know what, Toronto didn't even register.

I agree with this statement, except the last sentence. Calgary always had Toronto envy when I lived there in the mid 90's (compared head office counts, flights, influence, universities, etc.) ...but it is true, they didn't give a crap about Edmonton, still don't, unless they can take economic opportunity from us.

BTW - I've been to Winnipeg lately and speak to a lot of Winnipeggers on other forums and in person. Yes, it is doing OK, but they know it could be doing so much better, and they know opportunity and prestigue lost. It is NOT the only city in the world that we can learn a lesson from, just the one murman chose.

murman
27-07-2006, 09:03 AM
Have any of you been to Winnipeg lately? It seemed to be doing just fine thank you.

Yes. Many times, for both personal and professional reasons.

No. It's a shadow of its former self. See Richard's explanation above. Winnipeg used to be THE place west of Toronto. Now it's almost the last place west of Toronto.

glamphier
27-07-2006, 02:53 PM
C'mon guys, let's stop comparing Edmonton to other cities, whether it's the 'Peg or Calgary or whatever. It's an unhealthy fixation, and a big waste of energy. Edmonton is Edmonton, Calgary is Calgary, Vancouver is Vancouver. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Let's move on, shall we?

If we're ever going to move forward and make Edmonton what it CAN be, let's celebrate the positives - of which there are many - while taking a frank, hard-nosed, much broader look at where we're screwing up, and why. No holds barred.

On the business and economic side of the ledger, we've got a hundred things to celebrate here. The oilsands will be the big driver here for a generation to come, obviously. We've got the wind at our backs. Question is, how do we leverage off that resource strength to develop a more diverse, richer regional economy with opportunities for people far beyond oil and gas.

A lot of this evolution will happen naturally. Money begets more money. Some examples. Edmonton is now home to a dozen national or regional retail chains. More than any Cdn city outside Toronto. Retail spending growth rates here are two to three times the national average. Several of these companies have gone public on the TSX. More will follow.

Construction and engineering is another hot sector. PCL expects to generate $5 billion in revenues this year, a lot of that outside Alberta. North American Energy just announced plans for an IPO on the TSX. Churchill is again back on track and its stock is near all-time highs. Stantec's market cap has grown to $1 billion, and it does business as far away as the Caribbean.

In all, there's now nearly 80 publicly traded co's in Edmonton, with a total market cap of well over $10 billion. Maybe $12 billion. It's growing so fast I can't keep up, roughly tripling in value over the last 3-4 years. And there's a lot more to come. If even half the big private co's here -- Katz Group, Lockerbie & Hole, Lilydale, etc -- went public, their total market value would double or triple overnight.

I could go on. The local biotech sector is already the 4th biggest in Cda, behind Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. In the next couple of years, I'm expecting one of the local players to hit a homerun. That will help put Edmonton on the map as a biotech hotbed. We're already gaining a lot of attention due to CV Tech and Cold FX.

In terms of sports and culture, Edmonton is first-class. The Champ Car race and the Oilers' cup run are but two recent examples.

The negatives? We all know what they are. The city needs a makeover, big time. Parts of it are butt ugly. We lack a grand entrance to downtown. There are too many dusty parking lots rimming the core. I also think we need to fast-track the redevelopment of Downtown East and capitalize a lot more effectively on our river valley.

There are 100 ways we could do this, and we each have our own opinions. But we desperately need some leadership and vision on this from city hall. If they lay out a compelling vision and a timeline to get the ball rolling, I'm convinced that residents and developers alike will be more than ready to fall into line and give the city support. There will always be disagreements and squabbles. That's natural. But I think most of us, after due deliberation and debate, can get behind a plan that makes this city more sophisticated, attractive, hip and dynamic.

Anyone read Liane Faulder's Sunday Reader feature piece in the Journal this past weekend on how Vancouver revolutionized the way they conducted urban planning in the 1990s, thus setting the stage for the incredible changes there in the last decade? I recommend it. It offers an instructive lesson in how to do things right, and what we as a city need to do to modernize our own planning and development processes. This is a big city now, but we still think too often like a small town. Enough of that already.

One other point. The whole Discountville mindset in Edmonton is dying. It may not be dying fast enough for us, but it's dying nonetheless. Give this place another 5-10 years. If we start focusing on the things that can make us better rather than worrying about the things that have held us back for the last 25 years, we'll find that people in other cities will start noticing that Edmonton has got its act together. Even more people will move here. Success will beget more success. Just watch.

RichardS
27-07-2006, 02:59 PM
Welcome and thanks for your comments.

While I think that there are some definite opportunities, patience is a virtue that many are running out of. We've heard for years now, "Patience Grasshopper, things will get better", and nothing changes.

No International flight at YEG.

No movement on Gateway and DT enterance.

Little change in our national media perception (hello stamp debacle).

No movement in regional co-operation that is meaningful.

LRT to nowhere - 30 years for wLRT?????

Travel Alberta still doesn't care.

No significant construction downtown since Commerce Place combined with the project that forever is proposed - Stationlands.

Cries for Venture Capital are still being heard and not fulfilled...unless you are in O&G.

People are running out of patience.

Yes, we have momentum. Yes, we've improved. We do have infristructure from the oilsands, and we COULD diversify.

Your comment on leadership is the most important one. We need this desperately. Mandel and company are doing a good job, but we need a strong BUSINESS leader too. Leadership is all of it!

IanO
27-07-2006, 03:06 PM
well said GL

murman
27-07-2006, 03:11 PM
well said GL

Yes. Your comments and insight are greatly appreciated.

Now we just need to convince the 999,999 other (Greater) Edmontonians that aren't as impassioned as those on this forum! :wink:

Edmonton, if you no longer think you're on the Winnipeg path, then congratulations. After years and years of listening to business people lament along the lines I laid out at the beginning of this thread, I would be amongst the first to breathe a huge sigh of relief.

ChrisD
27-07-2006, 03:13 PM
Excellent post Lamphier.

Edmonton has achieved alot over the past decade. Moreso over the past 5 years and I think we should pat ourselves on the back for these accomplishments. However, I think that it is a good sign that we are demanding more. It proves that we are still not content and we want to raise the bar.

Whether we are satisfied, content or discontent with Edmonton as it is today, there is no doubt that this city has come a loooong ways and it's only going to get better.

Edmonton is just waking up.....

IanO
27-07-2006, 03:34 PM
and it wont take much honestly....5 things that would change this city 180....


1. A new tallest office tower - pride and symbolic

2. An international yr round flight to LHR or FRA

3. a new downtown bridge

4. east jasper redevelopment

5. some better marketing


.....big, realistic or not....those 5 lines would truly make a world of diff to this city.

RichardS
27-07-2006, 03:48 PM
(...), I think that it is a good sign that we are demanding more. It proves that we are still not content and we want to raise the bar.

(...)

Edmonton is just waking up.....

I agree with the first statement...wholeheartedly.

Waking up - we need to quickly change that to awake.

RichardS
27-07-2006, 03:50 PM
.....big, realistic or not....those 5 lines would truly make a world of diff to this city.

These are big, and they have to be realistic....

You could also add Rossdale/enterance to the 3rd point.

glamphier
27-07-2006, 04:32 PM
Cities are like supertankers, Richard. Tough for them to change direction in a hurry. It takes time. Too much time for most of us, but that's a fact. That's as true of Toronto and Vancouver as it is of Edmonton.

Vancouver didn't become L.A. North overnight. It took vision, years and years of heavy lifting, some smart decision making at city hall, and the active support of key biz leaders like Jimmy Pattison. Expo 86 was the start of Vancouver's transformation. The 2010 Olympics is the catalyst for the next stage.

That's why I proposed a World's Fair for Edmonton in 2017. We need to think bigger. A whole lot bigger. We need a catalyst to serve as a focal point for urban redevelopment. If not a world's fair, then something else of similar magnitude. Otherwise, it will be tough to marshall the political will needed to transform the city. Easier to fix potholes than face the political heat that goes along with transforming the city.

But despite all that, Edmonton is changing. Not fast enough for us, as I say. But it's just undeniable.

In the 4 years I've lived here, I've seen a ton of change. A new City Centre mall. Completion of Sir Winston Churchill Square. Plans to move the U of A to the old Bay building downtown, which is being gutted at this very moment. Dozens of new condo towers. More coming out of the ground as we speak. Huge expansions at the U of A and MacEwan. Concordia is putting up a new tower too.

Northlands is undergoing a makeover. Capital Health has moved hundreds of people downtown. The Royal Alex is expanding. There's talk of a new arena to replace Rexall. There's (finally) serious talk of a makeover of the legislature grounds. The LRT continues to expand south as we speak. The expanded and vastly improved International Airport will top 5 million passengers for the first time. The Anthony Henday is driving huge suburban development on the edges of the city. The new YMCA is coming out of the ground across from City Centre.

Change is freaking everywhere. Wait until the new Icon condo towers on 104 Street are completed. They'll have a big impact on the city skyline. Massive new residential and mixed use developments are proposed just north of downtown and in the Strathearn area. So I don't think it's fair to say that it's not only talk, talk, talk. Change is here. The ball is already rolling downhill. The mentality here is changing.

So let's not beat ourselves up too much. It took a lot of heavy lifting to get to this point, and it will take a lot more to keep the momentum going. But momentum we have.

onishenko
27-07-2006, 04:44 PM
/\ This is the kind of rah-rah speech needed at times like this. We're gaining momentum... but like you said... it doesn't seem fast enough for us. Thanks for the post Gary.

E-Town Crusader
27-07-2006, 05:56 PM
On the business and economic side of the ledger, we've got a hundred things to celebrate here. The oilsands will be the big driver here for a generation to come, obviously. We've got the wind at our backs. Question is, how do we leverage off that resource strength to develop a more diverse, richer regional economy with opportunities for people far beyond oil and gas.


Edmonton is starting to become a leader in Nanotech and Biotech, Technologies that will drive the 21st Century economy. Wouldn't it be awesome if Edmonton could become home to the head offices of these future multi-billion dollar companies. Calgary who? :)

ChrisD
27-07-2006, 11:23 PM
On the business and economic side of the ledger, we've got a hundred things to celebrate here. The oilsands will be the big driver here for a generation to come, obviously. We've got the wind at our backs. Question is, how do we leverage off that resource strength to develop a more diverse, richer regional economy with opportunities for people far beyond oil and gas.


Edmonton is starting to become a leader in Nanotech and Biotech, Technologies that will drive the 21st Century economy. Wouldn't it be awesome if Edmonton could become home to the head offices of these future multi-billion dollar companies. Calgary who? :)
Yes, and these are two industry sectors that Edmonton needs to continue to develop and nuture.

MylesC
28-07-2006, 09:26 AM
Edmonton is starting to become a leader in Nanotech and Biotech, Technologies that will drive the 21st Century economy. Wouldn't it be awesome if Edmonton could become home to the head offices of these future multi-billion dollar companies. Calgary who? :)

This is our key opportunity. The city should be spending a LOT of money marketing this aspect and grabbing the attention of the technology sector. We have some great success stories like BioWare!

...on a side, if you haven't, check out the E3 footage of BioWare's latest game, Mass Effect here (http://masseffect.bioware.com/downloads.html). That's pure Edmonton that's getting the attention ;)

RichardS
28-07-2006, 10:52 AM
Cities are like supertankers, Richard. Tough for them to change direction in a hurry. It takes time.

:lol: :lol: :lol:

I use the analogy all the time in IT for large corporations – you can’t turn the Queen Mary on a dime!

However, it seems our Queen Mary has had the wheelhouse locked, and the helm stuck at hard starboard for 30 years now. Quick research in the Milner and other libraries/archives proves that our forefathers were more visionary that we sometimes give them credit for. We in Edmonton have been talking in circles for years now, and that is the source of my and many other people’s frustration. The solutions have been there (with minor revisions) to the airports issue, access to downtown, downtown revitalization, river valley fun, promotion and marketing, LRT routes, overall city transportation, art, regional co-operation, etc etc etc. I’ve been watching my old hometown for years when I was away living in other cities and countries, and the same discussions keep coming up. So, after all this time, please forgive my impatience, but being told to wait and see seems redundant. ;) :D


Vancouver didn't become L.A. North overnight. It took vision, years and years of heavy lifting, some smart decision making at city hall, and the active support of key biz leaders like Jimmy Pattison. Expo 86 was the start of Vancouver's transformation. The 2010 Olympics is the catalyst for the next stage.

That's why I proposed a World's Fair for Edmonton in 2017. We need to think bigger. A whole lot bigger. We need a catalyst to serve as a focal point for urban redevelopment. If not a world's fair, then something else of similar magnitude. Otherwise, it will be tough to marshall the political will needed to transform the city. Easier to fix potholes than face the political heat that goes along with transforming the city.

Expo 86 WAS the big thing for Vancouver. I agree wholeheartedly – you could see it during the fair and the atmosphere of “we’re HEEEERE” was undeniable.

Yes, Edmonton does need this. We also have the site (read Muni solution) to make this happen. We need that business/political leader that can galvanize this city too.


But despite all that, Edmonton is changing. Not fast enough for us, as I say. But it's just undeniable.

Total agreement here.


In the 4 years I've lived here, I've seen a ton of change. A new City Centre mall. Completion of Sir Winston Churchill Square. Plans to move the U of A to the old Bay building downtown, which is being gutted at this very moment. Dozens of new condo towers. More coming out of the ground as we speak. Huge expansions at the U of A and MacEwan. Concordia is putting up a new tower too.

Northlands is undergoing a makeover. Capital Health has moved hundreds of people downtown. The Royal Alex is expanding. There's talk of a new arena to replace Rexall. There's (finally) serious talk of a makeover of the legislature grounds. The LRT continues to expand south as we speak. The expanded and vastly improved International Airport will top 5 million passengers for the first time. The Anthony Henday is driving huge suburban development on the edges of the city. The new YMCA is coming out of the ground across from City Centre.

Yes, these are all GREAT GREAT GREAT things for those who’ve followed Edmonton closely; however, these are normal and needed changes and I could say that they are more a natural evolution and hardly noticed by the casual observer (i.e. Rough Guides reporters etc). Currently, there is no WOW to brag about yet (aka what would we put on a stamp that screams EDMONTON)! The leg makeover, the RAM, and the DT entrance way are our chances. Please please please folks who control this, DON’T BLOW THIS OPPORTUNITY FOR US by burying it under committee-itis and designers that think it is “good enough”. The AGA did it right with their very public design competition. If people thought the Hall D vitriol was intense…screw these up. I dare you.


Change is freaking everywhere. Wait until the new Icon condo towers on 104 Street are completed. They'll have a big impact on the city skyline. Massive new residential and mixed use developments are proposed just north of downtown and in the Strathearn area. So I don't think it's fair to say that it's not only talk, talk, talk. Change is here. The ball is already rolling downhill. The mentality here is changing.

So let's not beat ourselves up too much. It took a lot of heavy lifting to get to this point, and it will take a lot more to keep the momentum going. But momentum we have.

I agree. I know what murman was saying in the original post – city comparisons aside. I’ve met him and he too is tired of the patience line, and he sees this amazing economic boom all around Edmonton and fears that outside the odd condo, fitness center, or lecture hall, this boom could pass Edmonton by without this city moving forward on old issues or key projects. We have made good strides, but we stand on the precipice of getting that keystone project that screams we’ve arrived, or staying in the quagmire of good enough.

However, what a nice problem to have. What other city can say, “We’re debating just how cool we want to be!”

MylesC
28-07-2006, 11:01 AM
Quick research in the Milner and other libraries/archives proves that our forefathers were more visionary that we sometimes give them credit for.

*cough*

I should do a tour some day ;)

RichardS
28-07-2006, 12:04 PM
once again... :P

What MylesC, did you have to turn left too?

Fell
28-07-2006, 02:44 PM
while points seem to agree with what you are saying murman....i think Edmonton is far far beyond Winnipeg in all regards (positive ones that is).
We are. We don't have internationally recognized bands writing laments about how much we suck. Winnipeg does:

http://radio3.cbc.ca/play/band/THE-WEAKERTHANS/One-Great-City/

While some of the coolest people I've met are from Winnipeg, but the overall city must be doing something wrong for their darling musicians to be cutting it for all to hear. And that is mostly the responsibility of the citizens, who I fear are perhaps overly too conservative.

Those who defend otherwise may want to inquire about what others see as the problems, like here in Edmonton, instead of just consistently defending it. It can always be better. Whoever complains still loves the city enough to do so. It's when people stop that you have to start worrying.

The people singing its praise do little to define the problems. I hate to sound like a thorn in the side, but a cheery attitude rarely creates successes.

And whoever earlier suggest more "aggressive" marketing for Edmonton is off. Aggressive marketing is annoying to those in the know, to those we want to be appealing to. By marketing aggressively, you create a conundrum in the market: If Edmonton is "so great," why the hell don't I already know about it. You're implying I am in the wrong. And if I am and I check it out, compared to truly great cities, then you're lying to me cuz I could've spent my time looking at Vancouver, San Francisco, New York, Berlin. Do something unique and worthy of my attention, then I'll pay attention. Don't try to trick me. And if you believe your own schlock, then pity for you. And sure, you're cheap, and I care like I care about shopping at Wal-Mart over Holt's.

We need to truly create a new way of being a city. We need innovative dialogue between the City and its citizens. We need to be genuine. We need criteria, and those who are currently supplying our needs locally that aren't on par nationally — or internationally — need to be replaced. We need to be brought up to speed. We require international consultants to help get our lingo and practice up to par. We need to admit our shortcomings and use our strengths to help propel the entirety of the city into the future.

RichardS
28-07-2006, 03:12 PM
We need to admit our shortcomings and use our strengths to help propel the entirety of the city into the future.

...and that is why a full-blown Winter festival is so needed here. We do awesome in the summer and fall, and nada for the winter.

Fell
28-07-2006, 03:19 PM
...and that is why a full-blown Winter festival is so needed here. We do awesome in the summer and fall, and nada for the winter.
That is a really good call, Richard. I would be 100% behind a well orchestrated winter fest here. Makes sense. Is there a thread for that yet, or did you just drop that idea now?

MylesC
28-07-2006, 03:29 PM
And whoever earlier suggest more "aggressive" marketing for Edmonton is off. Aggressive marketing is annoying to those in the know, to those we want to be appealing to. By marketing aggressively, you create a conundrum in the market: If Edmonton is "so great," why the hell don't I already know about it. You're implying I am in the wrong. And if I am and I check it out, compared to truly great cities, then you're lying to me cuz I could've spent my time looking at Vancouver, San Francisco, New York, Berlin. Do something unique and worthy of my attention, then I'll pay attention. Don't try to trick me. And if you believe your own schlock, then pity for you. And sure, you're cheap, and I care like I care about shopping at Wal-Mart over Holt's.

I completely disagree and real life case studies would demonstrate that marketing is a huge factor. When we have companies like Safeway setting up logistics in Calgary b/c the EEDC didn't even send them a glossy brochure whilst the Cow-town Corps gave them the full tour, ya know there's something amiss.

Fell
28-07-2006, 03:44 PM
Without getting into a huge debate over this, I would be more than happy to sit down over a pint and go more into detail about EEDC marketing. I happen to know a thing or two.

:)

But I doubt it had anything to do with glossy folder packages.

The City's take on marketing, as well as it's mockery of an attempt create a dialogue with the youth via the Next Gen Task Force, is horribly antiquated and lacks the proper semantics and practice to attract business and cultural innovators outside of a few fields. (Sorry for the run-on sentence.)

I am working on an article for the frontpage dealing with brand concepts and how the City could make a guaranteed run for innovative success. I should have it done in the next week or two. Problem is, the self-serving initiatives of the City that keep it running the way it does will need to be audited for effectiveness and restructuring will be necessary to get a gain or even boost on the growing national and international competition. Already, cities have begun hiring designthinkers and consultants to make the necessary recommendations to restructure to compete more effectively.

Sacrifices will have to be made to create a competitive City, and unfortunately that goes against the natural grain of governments in general.

PS — The above contradictions are actually proven fact in contemporary marketing. Most branding conflicts with marketing practices of the '90s because it does not include the client/citizen as an active, if not the most important, element in the brand equation. Anything that the City does that doesn't jive with the penultimate desires of the citizen will mark the word-of-mouth. And WOM is the most potent form of communication, which can render a whole billion-dollar marketing campaign worthless at best, and actually invert it as a corporate lie at worst. More on this later…

MylesC
28-07-2006, 03:46 PM
The City's take on marketing, as well as it's mockery of an attempt create a dialogue with the youth via the Next Gen Task Force, is horribly antiquated and lacks the proper semantics and practice to attract business and cultural innovators outside of a few fields. (Sorry for the run-on sentence.)

...the self-serving initiatives of the City that keep it running the way it does will need to be audited for effectiveness and restructuring will be necessary to get a gain or even boost on the growing national and international competition. Already, cities have begun hiring designthinkers and consultants to make the necessary recommendations to restructure to compete more effectively.

Sacrifices will have to be made to create a competitive City, and unfortunately that goes against the natural grain of governments in general.

Now THAT I can agree on! I'd love to chat anytime, just send me a PM :D

Fell
28-07-2006, 03:50 PM
Now THAT I can agree on! I'd love to chat anytime, just send me a PM :D
Will do, in the next few weeks. I gotta move this weekend, so things are hectic!

E-Town Crusader
28-07-2006, 04:11 PM
...and that is why a full-blown Winter festival is so needed here. We do awesome in the summer and fall, and nada for the winter.
Edmonton almost completely shuts down when winter comes, even though our average temperatures are not a massive amount colder than most Canadian cities. I have been guilty myself of staying indoors on weekends in the winter, not because it's too cold, but because outside of skating and skiing there is jack all to do. I think we need as many festivals in the winter and spring as we have the other seasons. Edmontonians need to embrace the fact that we are a winter city.

ShermanT
28-07-2006, 04:42 PM
That is a really good call, Richard. I would be 100% behind a well orchestrated winter fest here. Makes sense. Is there a thread for that yet, or did you just drop that idea now?

Yup there is a thread for this:

http://www.connect2edmonton.ca/forum/viewtopic.php?t=595

Hop in and give it some support... hopefully that idea can gain momentum as winter comes nearer (too early to think about snow now :)). Would it be too much to hope that something like this could actually be pulled off this winter? A poorly planned festival is probably worse than no festival at all...

ChrisD
29-07-2006, 12:29 PM
Yep. Edmonton really, really, really needs to have a winter festival. I mean, winter is part of what Edmonton and Canadians are all about.

RichardS
29-07-2006, 12:35 PM
I keep hearing about something planned - for about 5 years now. Methinks it is time that "they" make it a reality...

proud to be manitoban
13-10-2006, 03:56 PM
I'm sick to death of other places (especially Alberta) always comparing themselves to my city, describing "what went wrong with Winnipeg". I am about to tell you fools why Edmonton may be better in some regards in comparison to Winnipeg, so listen up folks: ALBERTA HAS OIL, WHICH IS THE ONLY REASON YOU HAVE ANY MONEY AT ALL! THIS IS THE ONLY REASON YOU CAN SAY YOU HAVE IT BETTER; NOTHING ELSE. If you didn't have all the money to worry about how you compare to other major centers, then maybe you wouldn't be as critical as you are. Alberta atvantage? More like Alberta Arrogance to me! Winnipeg is getting better, believe me, it's just that we don't have all the money you people do to throw around and make yourselve look good, so it takes us a little longer to get things done. THAT'S ALL. GET OVER YOURSELVES. Compare yourselves to yourselves and no one else. I've been to Edmonton, and it is nothing spectacular. 20 years ago, Alberta was a respectable place where people were welcoming to others and not as judgemental; not anymore. Money equals greed, and Alberta is a prime example of this. Quite disgusting. Plus, all your oil boom crap is spewing pollution our way; even more 'hot air' that the rest of Canada has to put up with from Alberta. Your province is destroying it's own natural beauty and will soon end up looking like one giant moonscape. And when the oil runs out, and it will, all you people will have to go crawling back to where you came from because then it won't be as "cool" to live in Alberta. I can single handedly pick Edmonton and Alberta apart for all it's flaws, but then again, I don't want to sink to the level of Albertans. Don't judge others unless you want to be judged in return. I hope Winnipeggers, and Manitobans for that matter, never become like you people. I would rather be dead than to sound like an arrogant Albertan. I hope that province will one day wake up and realize we are a country, and we should all be proud to be Canadians and quite critisizing others.

Citysource
13-10-2006, 04:13 PM
Comparative lack of knowledge regarding leading-edge urban planning and development CHECK



NOT TRUE (anymore)
The retirement wave has hit the public and private sectors and both have significantly raised their qualifaction requirements since the previous crop of planners, urban designers, architects et al. were hired.

I was required to have a Master's degree in Urban Planning by my current employer, and most of my contemporaries have the same.

I attended the premier respected graduate school in the east and offers for my services from Edmonton were consistently the highest paid, come with the best bonuses and benefits. No other region in the nation could compete, not TO, not VAN and certainly not MTL even though I am bilingual and schooled there. Offers from Calgary were identical to those from Edmonton.

BUT we could do better if we had a local architecture and planning school - we are the only City of our size in the nation without one.

ThomasH
13-10-2006, 08:18 PM
The penny pincher contrubutes the most towards Edmonton's poor architecture, great project keep getting scaled back to save money, resulting in bland architecture. Examples are Hall D, YMCA, Victoria Composite High School.

proud to be manitoban
13-10-2006, 08:39 PM
BTW:

The Mall of America in Minneapolis is 10x nicer than West Edmonton Mall. They take care of their promonent tourist feature.

ChrisD
13-10-2006, 08:50 PM
BTW:

The Mall of America in Minneapolis is 10x nicer than West Edmonton Mall. They take care of their promonent tourist feature.
I agree that MOA is nicer than WEM. Although you do know that the Ghermezian family (owners of West Ed) owns part of MOA.

murman
13-10-2006, 09:51 PM
Comparative lack of knowledge regarding leading-edge urban planning and development CHECK



NOT TRUE (anymore)
The retirement wave has hit the public and private sectors and both have significantly raised their qualifaction requirements since the previous crop of planners, urban designers, architects et al. were hired.

I was required to have a Master's degree in Urban Planning by my current employer, and most of my contemporaries have the same.

I attended the premier respected graduate school in the east and offers for my services from Edmonton were consistently the highest paid, come with the best bonuses and benefits. No other region in the nation could compete, not TO, not VAN and certainly not MTL even though I am bilingual and schooled there. Offers from Calgary were identical to those from Edmonton.

BUT we could do better if we had a local architecture and planning school - we are the only City of our size in the nation without one.

Don't take this as a shot across your bow, but proof's in the pudding. I've heard so much hot air about how things are changing in Edmonton, but let's be honest. This change that everyone keeps championing has yet to manifest itself.

Enough talk, not enough action.

PS: I wish you all the luck in the world with your job. Honest. I bailed on a Masters of Planning back in the late 80s because, as you might have noticed, I have a knack for voicing my opinion, and that just won't do if you have to deal with the public day in, day out!

RichardS
13-10-2006, 11:47 PM
PTBM - you made your point in another thread. Issue closed. Period.

The title of this thread is old. Maybe it is time to split this one off. I will speak w/other mods to see an appropriate place to do so.

Citysource - I will agree w/murman. I too have heard of change change change, yet I see it all around Edmonton and not IN Edmonton as much as it is heralded. I've heard change for a long long long time now - and my patience is wearing thin. This is so not directed at you personally, just my observation of this city over the past 30 or so years...and to be honest, some of the plans from the 1970's are kick a** and could still be put in place today w/subtle modifications. So, I guess you can see where my impatience is coming from. I wish you well and hope to see the changes SOON! :)

ChrisD - doesn't the G-fam now own the vast majority of MOA?