Why not move to Edmonton?

Post ImageI’d like to take a moment to share with you some figures, statistics, and other information about the city of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. As most of you reading this are probably aware, I live in Edmonton. I was born here, moved away for most of my youth, and have been back since 1998. I love the city, and while it is not without its faults, there are much worse places to live.

  • Edmonton is the capital city of the province of Alberta.
  • Edmonton is the sixth largest metropolitan region in Canada according to the 2006 Census, with a population of 1,034,945. (Source)
  • It is also the northernmost North American city with a metropolitan population over 1 million. (Source)
  • The population density of the Edmonton region is just 109.9 persions per square km. This is half the population density of the Calgary region, 1/7 of the Vancouver region, 1/8th of the Montreal region, 1/2 the Ottawa region, and 1/8th of the Toronto region. (Source)
  • Edmonton is home to West Edmonton Mall, North America’s largest shopping mall, and the third largest in the world. (Source)
  • WEM also holds the world record for the largest car park. (Source)
  • Edmonton receives 2,289 hours of sunlight each year, making it one of Canada’s sunniest cities. (Source)
  • There are more than 60,000 full time post-secondary students studying at schools in the Edmonton area. (Source)
  • A very impressive 66,000 new jobs are projected to be created in the Edmonton region between 2006 and 2010. (Source)
  • Edmonton did not make the 2006 list of most expensive cities in which to live (the list contained 150 cities). Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal all made the list. (Source)
  • Edmonton was named the Cultural Capital of Canada for the year 2007. (Source)
  • The annual Fringe festival is the largest alternative theatre event in North America. (Source)
  • Edmonton’s 60,000-plus elm trees make up the largest concentration of disease-free elm trees in the world. (Source)
  • Alberta is North America’s only rat free area (not including the territories). (Source)
  • Edmonton has 225 kilometers of designated bikeways, and 41 off-leash parks to walk with your dog. (Source)
  • The River Valley park system is the longest urban park in North America, 21.7 times larger than New York’s Central Park. (Source)
  • Edmonton is home to five professional sports franchises, including the very successful Edmonton Oilers and Edmonton Eskimos. (Source)
  • Air quality in Edmonton is rated as good (the best level) at least 90% of the time for any given year. (Source)
  • Edmonton leads the nation in effective waste management. For example, the city’s curbside recycling program has reduced by 60% the waste sent to landfills. (Source)
  • Edmonton is down right beautiful at times, as you can see in the thousands and thousands of photos available at Flickr. (Source)

I could go on, but that’s a good start.

I look at #4, the population density, as a good thing. It may be a negative thing for hockey players and other celebrities seeking anonymity, however. One other negative that comes to mind is that we have a relatively high homicide rate, though it’s not as bad as rural regions of Alberta. Aside from that, what’s so bad about Edmonton?

Why do the wives of hockey players not want to live here? Is it just that Chris Pronger and Michael Nylander married nutcases, or is there more to it?

I don’t get it. However, unlike a lot of folks out there, I don’t think the blame falls entirely on Kevin Lowe’s shoulders. There’s got to be more to it. I’ll have more on this at SportsGuru this weekend, and I suspect my Dad might too.

What’s missing?

5 Things Edmonton Should Invest In Before a New Arena

Post ImageRumors of a new hockey arena in Edmonton have been floating around since at least November of last year. The latest news, released yesterday, is that a new “arena feasibility” committee has been struck to determine whether such a project should go ahead, and if so, where, for how much, and who should foot the bill. Jerry Bouma, president of Northlands and a member of the new committee, said:

“You have to build a world-class facility. The Oilers have already said they need a new arena.”

I’m not sure there is anyone on the committee who is against the idea of a rink. So much for the word “feasibility” – it looks like we’ve moved past that. Seems also that most of the members are convinced it should be downtown. I’m all for revitalizing our city’s downtown core, as I’ve stated before, but I am not sure if a new arena is the best idea. There are good arguments on both sides of the debate. For some good discussion, read: here, here, here, here, and here.

Either way, I don’t think taxpayers should foot the entire bill. Certainly the city should contribute something if a new arena is built, but I think it should be the Oilers that pick up the bulk of the expenses. In my opinion, there are better things that Edmonton should be investing in (these are in no particular order):

  1. South Edmonton Common. Talk about congestion! Seriously, we need an overpass/underpass at 23rd avenue and Gateway Blvd. Especially once the new business park just to the south of SEC is built.
  2. LRT. Finish it faster! Or keep it on track, and add a West Edmonton Mall to Downtown line. I think an East-West line would be great for the city, especially if it were to go to WEM.
  3. Potholes. There are far too many of them around the city. What happened to that research with rubber/asphalt roads? Did it work or not? Let’s get the roads fixed!
  4. Startups. Alberta just isn’t the best place to start a company, oil & gas related or not. Everything I have learned suggests that Ontario, B.C., and other provinces ofter much better incentives for entrepreneurs. Certainly this is a provincial issue, but there’s no reason that Edmonton can’t get the ball rolling. Let’s help individuals take advantage of the hot economy.
  5. Housing. Speaking of our hot economy, how about more money for housing? You can’t turn on the news these days without hearing about the housing crunch in our city.

Or how about making our city cleaner? Five Canadian cities made this Forbes list, Edmonton was not one of them. And don’t forget about the ring-road project that continues. Obviously you could add new schools, hospitals, and other “usual suspects” to the list. I am tempted to mention city-wide wifi too, because I think it would have a positive impact.

The point is that a new arena benefits the Oilers first, and Edmonton second. Funding should follow that order. I’m not against a new arena (I have to admit I am a bit excited about the prospect) but I am against it being funded entirely (or even mostly) by taxpayers.

Oilers lose ten straight

Post ImageJust got back from the Oilers game. The Blues were in town tonight, complete with a bunch of ex-Oilers like Dvorak and Brewer (both of whom got points tonight). The Oil came into the game having lost their last nine games, and I was hoping my presence would stop the streak from going to ten. It didn’t.

You can read a game recap here. Dickson scored the tickets from a friend, and they were excellent – section 136, row 3. I don’t think I have ever sat that close before. We were right near the attacking zone blue line. It’s quite different seeing someone get crunched on the boards when you’re that close, let me tell you!

We also had club access, which is basically a mini-concourse downstairs. The club access is really nice because the bathrooms and bars are far less busy than those on the main concourse. We didn’t see any food vendors though, so maybe you still have to go back upstairs for that.

Anyway, we lost in overtime (I was hoping to see a shootout). That makes ten straight, just one away from matching the franchise record. The only positives now are seeing the young guys get some experience (and goals).

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Smyth – Heavyweight Champion of Puck Tipping

Post ImageI’m still sad that Ryan Smyth is no longer an Oiler. I was happy to read about him in an article on NHL.com though. Author Evan Grossman calls Smyth the “heavyweight champion of puck tipping,” and has some excellent quotes from Smyth and Brodeur:

“That guy is unbelievable,” Brodeur said. “You can count all his goals over the season and I don’t think you could add them up to the blue line.”

Smyth says it’s all about practice:

“It’s the old cliché, practice makes perfect,” said Smyth, who was traded to the Isles from Edmonton at the trade deadline. “I do it every game day, at every morning skate, just tip pucks.”

After losing their fifth straight game last night, I think it’s safe to say the Oilers are definitely missing Ryan right now.

Read: NHL.com

More on the trade

I just got the Edmonton Oilers Pipeline email regarding the trade, which includes comments from Kevin Lowe and Patrick LaForge. Lowe says:

I want to be very clear that making this trade today is a hockey decision. It was not financial.

I want everyone to know that our decision was much more to do with a plan than a reaction.

A hockey decision?! Trading your top player who you can clearly afford is not a good hockey decision in my book. And LaForge had this to say:

We can afford to spend the money necessary to have the kind of elite players expected.

Is that right? Then why not spend the money to keep Ryan Smyth?

I also think the headline on EdmontonOilers.com proves just how bad a deal this is.

Oilers obtain Nilsson and O’Marra

Nuh uh. “Oilers fuck up and trade Ryan Smyth” should be the headline.

Oilers trade Smyth

Post ImageMegan just sent me a text message, asking if I had heard that the Edmonton Oilers traded Ryan Smyth. No, I had not heard. But now that I have, I am upset. As my Dad said on MSN just now:

as a fan I am hurt

That about sums it up. Smyth was traded to the New York Islanders for Ryan O’Marra, Robert Nilsson, and a first round pick in 2007. My Dad points out that “Robert Nilsson is the son of ex-Oiler and ex-Flame Kent Nilsson.” What a shitty deal. They might be good prospects, but I think this will be regarded as a bad trade for Kevin Lowe and the Oilers.

When my Dad and my brother were in town this past week, we talked about the trade deadline approaching. We agreed that it didn’t matter who the Oilers traded, as long as it wasn’t Smyth, Moreau, Stoll, or Hemsky. Anyone else would have been fine, even Roloson.

TSN and the Oilers site are horribly slow, and I haven’t found a link for this yet, but my Dad is listening to the guys on TSN and says:

It appears that there are lots of GMs pissed at Kevin. they didn’t think Ryan was available and if he was they would definitely have made good offers. it appears this was rushed together when Ryan didn’t sign today

You’ll have to check out my Dad’s blog later tonight, he’s got some good comments. We are chatting as I type this, and he just made a good point: wasn’t the new CBA supposed to prevent something like this from happening?

Evidently not. I guess the Oilers have given up on the season. It’ll be interesting to see how the crowd reacts tonight, given that it is Mark Messier night.

Read: TSN

NHL schedule change failed by one vote

Post ImageTurns out the proposed NHL schedule change failed today, receiving 19 of 30 votes (a two-thirds majority would have been required for it to pass). Edmonton Oilers chairman Cal Nicols wasn’t happy with the decision:

“The politics seem to always enter into it,” Nichols said after the meeting. “I think we should be more concerned about the future of the game than specific interests or it’s going to cost me a few more thousand dollars to travel a few extra miles. This shouldn’t be about that. It’s about the game.”

According to the TSN article, Montreal is believed to have been the only Canadian team to vote against the change.

I think the board of governors made a mistake today. Hopefully they change their minds for the 2008-09 season.

Read: TSN

The Downtown Rink Saga Continues

Post ImageThis is the story that just won’t go away! While perusing the headlines tonight I came across this article at CBC.ca that says Oilers President Patrick LaForge is looking for an upgrade. An upgraded hockey rink, that is. For a few seconds I considered looking for the previous articles to see what has changed, then I realized that Andy Grabia probably beat me to it. And indeed he did:

It’s no longer an anonymous plan, but one the Oilers and the Mayor both support. There is now a timeline, where before there was none. Cost has gone from $0 to $250 million to $300 or $400 million, to maybe even $1 billion if it includes hotels and such. Rexall has gone from functional to run down.

All that and more, as Andy explains, in the two short months since the original editorial ran in the Edmonton Journal. Andy’s lengthly post also includes some interesting discussion, so check it out.

I’m generally in favor of anything that could have a positive impact on Edmonton’s downtown, so I like the idea of a new complex that would include a state of the art hockey rink. Of course, I also like the idea of a high speed train to Calgary and an East-West addition to the LRT, but thus far those projects have been seen as too expensive to attempt. And that’s what it will come down to with the new rink. Who pays, and how much?

Read: Battle of Alberta

The NHL needs to fire McGeough

Post ImageWhenever Michael McGeough is assigned to officiate an Oiler game, I cringe. Tonight he proved exactly why. The Oilers just lost to the Dallas Stars by a final score of 3-2, but the Stars were helped immensely by the officials in this one.

The first Stars goal should not have been allowed. Roloson was in his crease and was interfered with, which according to NHL rule #78 should have been immediately disallowed. Neither official on the ice made a peep, and the goal was allowed to stand.

Late in the third period, with the score 3-1 for the Stars, the Oilers pulled Roloson and managed to get to within one. Then, with less than half a minute to go, Hemsky scored. This time though, McGeough immediately waved it off, very emphatically I might add. He claimed that Horcoff made a glove pass off the draw. First of all, it’s really not hard to distinguish between a glove and a stick, and Horcoff clearly used his stick. The play was entirely legal. Secondly, McGeough was horribly out of position and could not possibly have had a good look at the draw. Which leads to the question – why did he wave it off?

Because he’s a fucking idiot, that’s why. The play could not be reviewed apparently, and the Oilers were robbed of one, possibly two points by the sheer stupidity of McGeough. I don’t blame the fans for throwing anything and everything on the ice.

Seriously, the NHL needs to review this game and make sure McGeough never officiates again in the league. This kind of atrocious stupidity cannot be tolerated.

The Age of Digital Rumors

Post ImageI have to admit I feel kind of bad for Christie Chorley. She’s a sports anchor for CityTV here in Edmonton, and was subject to rumors recently that she was carrying Chris Pronger’s baby (he’s married with kids in case you didn’t know), and hence, was the reason he requested a trade. Turns out that was completely false:

OFFICIAL STATEMENT FROM CHRISTIE CHORLEY
JUNE 29, 2006

ANY RUMORS AND/OR SPECULATION ABOUT MY INVOLVEMENT WITH THE CURRENT CHRIS PRONGER SITUATION IS COMPLETELY, ONE-HUNDRED PERCENT FALSE.

I would appreciate your help in putting an end to my name being linked to this situation, as it is completely WITHOUT ANY MERIT OR FACTUAL BASIS.

Any further slander or defamation can and will result in swift legal action.

Thank you.

What’s interesting about this to me, is how fast and far the rumor spread, thanks in large part to the Internet. I received an email about it, as did Megan (she posted about it here). In addition to the email, a quick search on Technorati reveals a number of posts about the rumor. Christie’s site was down most of the week, no doubt because of huge amounts of traffic.

The Oilers have also felt the power of the Internet with regards to this rumor, posting a message that threatens to ban anyone who continues the discussion on the Oiler forums:

There will be no more speculation or rumours on this board regarding Chris Pronger’s situation.

Any attempt to do so will result in an immediate ban.

If it continues, we will be forced to remove the message board due to the threat of legal action against the Oilers. The legal action is NOT by Pronger himself but by outside parties implicated by rumours on the message board.

You can discuss trade rumours, etc. but leave his (or any other player’s for that matter) personal life out of it.

I agree with Megan, Chris Pronger himself needs to make a statement to put an end to all of this madness.

Things just aren’t like they used to be. Remember in high school, if someone started a rumor, a few dozen people might here about it, and then they’d get bored and move on to something else. There was rarely a record of the rumor. That’s different now. Even for high school students, I imagine MySpace has become a haven for rumors and slander. Welcome to the age of digital rumors I guess!

And Christie, if you’re reading this, you can take one positive from the whole situation. Most of the comments I heard related to the rumor said something to the effect that “I can’t blame him if he did.” Not the way in which you want to receive a compliment, but if you’re going to look for the positives here (aside from your name becoming much more widely known), that’s one.

[As an aside, I was kind of surprised that I still got an email about this. One of those “forward it on to everyone you know” kind of emails. I guess blogging hasn’t quite taken hold as firmly as I had thought, despite the number of worldwide bloggers inching towards 100 million (or maybe even beyond that already).]

Read: Christie Chorley