A lot has changed since election day in October of 2013.
Back then, the Oilers were hoping to make the playoffs after a seven year drought, the price of oil was just over $109/barrel and President Obama was in his second term in the Oval Office. In that relatively short time, we’ve seen wild swings in oil prices, escalating real estate values, and our city become the fastest growing large city in Canada with one of its youngest populations.
These changes have put tremendous pressure on Edmonton, and our response will, no doubt, affect our trajectory from here.
But rather than be intimidated by the changes, I see this moment as Edmonton’s chance to innovate, to transform – and to take the best of our city and export it around the world.
We have a tremendous opportunity to reshape Edmonton’s economy by building on our reputation as a global hub for artificial intelligence, to help Edmonton companies aggressively embrace new technologies, move from start-up to scale up, and export their innovations to global markets. Fresh thinking and a modernized economic development plan that capitalizes on the disruption caused by this downturn will ensure Edmonton thrives in a world of $50 a barrel oil.
And to build a more competitive city, we must work to attract and keep the kind of people who’ll ensure Edmonton doesn’t stand still. Edmonton is one of the youngest cities in Canada with the highest percentage of millennials. Their expectations of a successful city are different from their parents which means we must not only invest in roads, but also in the quality of transit, bike and pedestrian networks. We can either change — together — or risk losing the chance to attract and retain young people, just when they’re deciding where to build a career, and a life.
We have to take further steps to densify our core neighbourhoods in order to keep our city financially sustainable and our communities vibrant. We need to build what’s been called the “missing middle” — more affordable townhouses in more locations, more family-friendly row housing, and much higher densities around our LRT stations.
As I said in my State of the City address today, Edmonton is on the verge of something extraordinary and I’m inspired by the opportunity to make change ours. This is exciting to me – and our work together is only just beginning. That’s why I’m running for a second term as your Mayor.
In 2013, I described Edmonton as the most underestimated city in North America. But something has shifted in the hearts and minds of Edmontonians.
We know that there’s something special about this city. We collaborate in ways that don’t come naturally to other cities. We celebrate the arrival of new creators and invite them to pitch in. And we know how to find opportunity in change.
This is why I love Edmonton — and I can’t wait to see what it looks like four years from now.