Downtown’s missing E, Welcoming Syrian refugees, Progressing big city issues

I’m trying something new, where I share some thoughts on a few topical items in one post. Less than I’d write in a full post on each, but more than I’d include in Edmonton Notes. I’ll organize them here. Have feedback? Let me know!

What happened to the colorful downtown E?

Back in May I wrote about the new “downtown for everyone” visual identity which features the E-shaped window. I didn’t really like the “E” itself, because “it doesn’t say anything about downtown nor does it say anything about construction.” I liked the color and the idea of tying the various downtown construction projects together. But as I noted at the time, “that only works if it is widely adopted.”

Now more than six months later, I think it’s pretty clear that adoption is not happening. Despite planning to incorporate the “E” window, the Oilers have not installed it or any of the design elements around Rogers Place. The Royal Alberta Museum used to have great construction hoarding of its own, but it never adopted the window and now the chainlink fence lacks the “E”‘s visual cues. Even the City’s own office tower lacks the “E” window and colors. If they aren’t even going to use it, why would anyone else? Yes there was the big metallic E around town this summer, but the only other place it has shown up is on the website.

New Civic Tower
New civic tower construction

The only construction site that has really adoped the “E” is NorQuest’s new expansion. If there were awards for construction hoarding, I think NorQuest would win hands down. It’s bright, colorful, informative, and safe.

Welcoming Syrian refugees to Edmonton

Estimates suggest that roughly 2,500 to 3,000 Syrian refugees will be coming to Alberta, part of the federal government’s pledge to accept 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year. Most of the refugees that come to Alberta will settle in Calgary and Edmonton, of course. According to Stephen Carattini, CEO of Catholic Social Services (the agency with the federal contract to settle refugees here in Edmonton), roughly 400-500 refugees would normally be settled in a year. Settling three times that many in just over a month and a half will not be easy.

There have been some horrible things written and said about refugees since the deadly attacks in Paris, but Premier Notley said we must stick to the plan to welcome Syrian refugees into Canada.

“We need to do that carefully and cautiously but we need to definitely move forward. We cannot have our decisions being driven by fear.”

The Canadian Council for Refugees issued an excellent statement in response to the attacks in Paris and Beirut. Here’s an excerpt:

“The CCR joins in the global outrage at the recent mass murders in Paris and Beirut. The loss of life and shattering of our sense of security connects us to the daily death and destruction in Syria and in other countries at war. We hope that Canadians will remember that Syrian refugees are victims of this violence and will redouble their commitment to welcome them in Canada.”

It’s too bad this unnecessary fear has impacted the United States, where the House today voted to tighten screen procedures on refugees from Syria.

Progressing big city issues

Yesterday afternoon Mayors Iveson & Nenshi met with Premier Notley at the Legislature to discuss the big city charter, policing costs, poverty reduction, and more.

“We want to have an increasingly collaborative relationship and we know that the cities do incredibly important work for the citizens of their cities and, frankly, the province in many ways,” Notley said.

Who knows how productive their meeting really was, but Premier Notley invited both mayors to present their wishlists to the Alberta NDP cabinet in January, so that’s interesting. Mayor Iveson sounded upbeat about the meeting, tweeting “appreciated the chance to explore value-enhancing partnerships around transit, housing, policing & poverty.” Mayor Nenshi tweeted simply, “thanks for the time and continuing our partnership.” For her part, Premier Notley tweeted “a very productive meeting with @DanielleLarivee, @doniveson & @nenshi as we strengthen our partnerships.”

Premier Rachel Notley meets with Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi
Photo by Premier of Alberta

Iveson and Nenshi spent the lunch hour yesterday on Alberta at Noon, taking calls from listeners. Best thing to come out of that? Probably this GIF. At least we know Nenshi liked it!

They both spoke about refugees, of course. Mayor Nenshi said:

“We have a moment now…a moment to define ourselves as a people, as who we are, and what we do, and to show the world what we are capable of. And I know that we’re going to do a great job.”

Mayor Iveson said:

“This can be another example that we look back on as Canada doing what it does best, which is being a light to the world in terms of multiculturalism, in terms of inclusion, and in terms of humanitarianism.”

Isn’t it great to have our province’s big city mayors displaying such leadership?

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