Thoughts on Edmonton 2030

A video entitled “Edmonton 2030 – It’s Our Time” is being broadcast on Global and Citytv today. It was first shown to students at Edmonton Public and Catholic schools on May 20th, and was broadcast on Access on May 23rd. Here’s what it is about:

The video links the ideas of the leaders of our major organizations and institutions with the hopes, dreams, and imagination of Edmonton’s youth. Edmonton 2030 is a provocative teaser that challenges us to consider the many positive attributes of our city and how we might imagine them in the future. It reminds us that the decisions and plans of today are creating the Edmonton our young people will inherit tomorrow.

You can watch the video online at Access.

It’s related in some way to Edmonton Stories, though how isn’t quite clear. The video was developed independently by Doug Goss and was produced by Don Metz of Aquila Productions. Funding and other contributions came from the City of Edmonton, the University of Alberta, NAIT, MacEwan, the Province of Alberta, and Alberta Health Services. Craig Simpson narrates and hosts the 24 minute video.

Doug Goss is more than just an Edmonton-based lawyer (with Bryan and Company). He’s a passionate and extremely involved Edmontonian. Doug is Chairman of the NAIT Board of Governors, Chairman of the Edmonton Eskimos Board of Directors, Chairman of the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation Board of Directors, Co-Chair of the 2010 Grey Cup, and was Chairman of the Organizing Committee for the Heritage Hockey Classic, among other things. He clearly loves this city.

I give Doug lots of credit for getting everyone on board and for creating the video. Anything that causes Edmontonians to think about the future of the city is a good thing as far as I am concerned. I think the core message of the video – the time for us to start building the Edmonton of 2030 is now – is powerful, if somewhat obvious.

The video is far from perfect, however. Here are some of my thoughts on it:

  • There are dozens of Edmontonians who speak in the video, but none of them are members of the so-called next generation (aged 18-40). It’s the people in that demographic who will be building the Edmonton of 2030, so it’s a glaring omission.
  • On the whole, the video seems scattered. There are a few “sections” including education and health, but I think they could be more clearly defined.
  • The use of young children throughout certainly makes the video more approachable, but it also makes the video less about Edmonton specifically. Hovercraft? Holographs? Cure for cancer?
  • At the other end of the spectrum are the more senior vanguard of Edmonton’s post-secondary institutions. All of them receive some great marketing throughout the video but contribute little in the way of vision.
  • The truly provocative and futuristic ideas of the video, including a downtown entertainment complex and a boardwalk in the river valley, receive just a few seconds of screen time and should have played a more prominent role.
  • I find it extremely annoying that the video looks at 2030, while all of the Transforming Edmonton plans look at 2040 (though I recognize that ten years probably doesn’t matter much that far into the future).

I do think the video could be useful for marketing, as Doug points out, and it will get people talking and thinking. As a visionary piece however, I think it misses the mark. Watch the video for yourself – what do you think?