2017 was a captivating year for our city and as it comes to a close I can confidently say that Edmonton is THE “Big Canadian City to Watch”. We are one of the youngest, fastest-growing cities in the country with emerging economic strengths. This past year, we embraced this.
One of the key questions our kids will need an answer to is ‘where will my job come from’, and ‘what kind of economic opportunity can I count on in Edmonton?’ In 2017 we made progress on making our economy more resilient by establishing the Edmonton Metro Region Board, Edmonton Global, launching the Health City strategy, signing the Enoch MOU, and celebrating Google’s announcement to bring DeepMind to Edmonton. A new economic strategy, one that unites all the players in innovation and economic development, will be my main focus over the next term. I’m inspired on how far we’ve come and encouraged to create more pathways for traditional business to drive change and stay competitive.
The 2017 census data put our city’s population at 932,546. That is 120,000 more people than just five years ago. It may be hard to believe for those of us who have lived in Edmonton for a long time, but a million people is right around the corner. Over the past year we began work to enable the ‘missing-middle’ in our approach to infill. Building more mid-density housing means building more affordable housing for seniors, singles and families, helping to better leverage existing infrastructure, schools and services. We also celebrated the opening of the downtown bike grid (ahead of schedule and modestly under budget). Since the lanes opened, the data shows that the number of people riding into the core as significantly increased. As our city grows, it’s vital we provide people with a suite of transportation options which includes good road infrastructure, efficient public transit, safer pedestrian experiences and better options for people who bike.
2017 was also full of uplifting moments including:
- The Habitat for Humanity build with President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter
- The Edmonton Tower Opening
- Edmonton recognized as a one of the Top 7 Intelligent Communities in the world
- Winning Canada’s Most Open City award for our Open Data program (you should check out it out)
- Celebrating real, meaningful action on Canada’s National Housing Strategy
- Opening Edmonton’s stunning new Funicular, which will help make our river valley more accessible to people of all ages and abilities
- … and more.
But perhaps what meant the most to me this year was your overwhelming support. More than 72% of voters supported a clear direction for Edmonton. You voted to think, plan and build for a million people, for a new economic future for our city, to strengthen integrity at city hall, to accelerate our leadership on energy transition and climate change and to create Canada’s most family-friendly city. Thank you. The vision you voted for is clear, and I am honoured to carry forward this work with my council colleagues.
Happy holidays – I hope this season is a peaceful one for you and your loved ones.