I think it’s safe to say that 2014 was an exciting year for Edmonton. One measure of that? Look at all the construction cranes! There are about 18 cranes up currently in Edmonton’s core (city-wide there are 39 cranes up), and by the summer of 2015, that’s expected to grow to at least 30. There are projects big and small underway in Edmonton – everywhere you look, things are changing.
Of course, cities are about more than buildings, and it’s the people that truly made 2014 a great year for Edmonton. Whether it was coming together to tackle the incredible challenge of ending poverty in a generation, getting engaged in a community initiative or Make Something Edmonton project, or simply moving here and being counted, Edmontonians did some incredible things in 2014.
Below you’ll find monthly recaps from the past year. What I decided to do was read back through my Edmonton Notes for 2014 to pick out the highlights from each month. Below that, you’ll find links to all of the other Edmonton-related lists and reviews that have been popping up around the web. And finally, you’ll find some links to 2015 resolutions and goals for Edmonton. If I have missed a link, let me know!
There was a lot of economic news to start the year as we learned that one of every ten jobs created in Canada throughout 2013 was created in Edmonton. Potholes were also being discussed thanks to lots of snow and warm weather. Two other topics seemed to dominate the discussion in January: Premier Redford’s unwillingness to step up to the plate on LRT funding, and the ongoing lack of success for the Oilers. At the end of the month, Northlands President & CEO Richard Andersen announced his resignation.
Notes: January 5, January 12, January 19, January 26
The big announcements this month were related to the arena: the guaranteed maximum price was met enabling construction to begin, and the City and the Katz Group reached an agreement on a new civic office tower in the arena district. Ground was broken on the new Royal Alberta Museum, the Neon Sign Museum opened, the EPL Makerspace opened, and in anticipation of the High Level Bridge lights, ATB lit its downtown tower whenever Team Canada scored at the Sochi Olympics. The Mayor launched a social media campaign to build support for LRT funding called #yeg4LRT. Controversial topics discussed included the proposed Galleria, including a $40 million pedway, and bike lanes.
Notes: February 2, February 9, February 16, February 23
After lots of pressure, the Province finally agreed to commit the necessary funding for the Valley Line LRT extension. The Redford government delivered its Throne Speech, but faced increasing scrutiny over the travel expense scandal and later “penthousegate”. Just a couple of weeks later, Premier Redford resigned and Deputy Premier Dave Hancock was sworn in as interim premier. Construction on the downtown arena began on schedule, but the City announced that the opening of the Metro Line LRT to NAIT would be delayed until the end of 2014. Edmonton was named Canada’s Earth Hour Capital City for 2014. University of Alberta President Indira Samarasekera announced she would not seek a third term. Mayor Iveson hosted a Symposium on Poverty to kick off his new task force to eliminate poverty in Edmonton. The month closed with the Truth & Reconciliation Commission’s Alberta national event.
Notes: March 2, March 9, March 16, March 23, March 30
The City announced plans to bid on hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Games. The 2014 municipal census began this month, with online collection for the first time ever. Potholes were again in the news. Ryan Smyth played his final game. City Council reluctantly agreed to support the Galleria project to some extent, and the U of A made its support for the project clear. The Downtown CRL was officially approved by the Province.
Notes: April 6, April 13, April 27
Mayor Iveson called on the federal government to develop a national housing plan. Alberta NDP leader Brian Mason announced plans to step down. Work began on the Molson Brewery site, and Walterdale Hill was closed to accommodate construction of the new Walterdale Bridge. Plans to demolish the Paramount Theatre were announced and then shelved. Door-to-door collection for the municipal census took place throughout the month. The Oil Kings won the Memorial Cup. Council pushed ahead with the Blatchford redevelopment, and the U of A announced plans to create a land trust.
Notes: May 4, May 11, May 18, May 25
The federal government added another $150 million to the Valley Line LRT extension, and the new Kingsway/Royal Alex Transit Centre opened (for bus riders). The Edmonton Public Library was named the 2014 Library of the Year, the first Canadian library to receive the award. TEC Edmonton was named Incubator of the Year by Startup Canada. The City released its four-year Bike Lane Infrastructure Plan and the Blatchford redevelopment plan was approved by Council. The City broke ground on its new office tower in the arena district. Former mayor Stephen Mandel and his wife Lynn were inducted into the City of Edmonton Hall of Fame. The Oilers brought in Bob Nicholson, traded Sam Gagner, and selected Leon Draisaitl in the draft. The world’s first industrial-scale facility to produce biofuels from municipal solid waste opened in Edmonton. At the end of the month, the new Edmonton Insight Community launched.
Notes: June 1, June 8, June 15, June 22, June 29
On Canada Day, the High Level Bridge was lit. Alongside the excitement of that project, there was lots of downtown-related news in July! Stantec announced it would stay downtown, Brad Lamb announced the Jasper House and North condo projects, and Earth’s General Store opened on 104 Street. The 102 Avenue Bridge over Groat Road closed, and Walterdale Hill reopened. The City announced plans to move ahead with electronic parking meters, replacing all 3,000 existing ones. The idea of an outer ring road resurfaced. The Province launched new license plate options and encouraged Albertans to vote online. They also announced support for Edmonton’s Commonwealth Games bid. Council approved a pilot project for urban beekeeping.
Notes: July 6, July 13, July 20, July 27
The census results were released, revealing Edmonton’s population has grown to 877,926. Stantec unveiled its new 62-storey tower in the heart of the arena district. The Art Gallery of Alberta celebrated its 90th anniversary. Alison Redford resigned as MLA for Calgary-Elbow. United Airlines announced it would end its flight from Edmonton to New York. Mosquitoes attacked Edmontonians. The Oilers got on board the analytics trend hiring blogger and stats guru Tyler Dellow. The 2014 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup took place in our city, and the Fringe Festival celebrated another record-breaking year. Uber met with the City, Smart Bus technology expanded to another four bus routes, and the Province rejected a proposal to fund a regional transit smart card. Council approved a backyard hen pilot project.
Notes: August 10, August 17, August 24, August 31
Jim Prentice won the leadership of the PC party, and interim premier Dave Hancock announced his retirement. The Alberta Legislature was prorogued after the new lineup of cabinet ministers was unveiled. The license plate redesign was cancelled. Slower speed limits around elementary schools took effect. The upcoming park at 105 Street and 102 Avenue was officially named after Alex Decoteau, Canada’s first aboriginal police officer. The City announced it aims to acquire 40 acres of land from Sturgeon County. We got our first taste of snow this month, but it didn’t last.
At the end of the month, I married my best friend!
Notes: September 7, September 14, September 21
The Oilers hosted a 30th anniversary celebration of the 1984 championship team. Avenue Edmonton unveiled its latest Top 40 Under 40. Three new independent coffee shops opened in the core, including Burrow in the Central LRT Station. Council approved a full smoking ban on Churchill Square. Former mayor Stephen Mandel easily won his seat in the Edmonton-Whitemud by-election. The RFP for the Valley Line LRT was released and ETS launched a brand new Control Centre. The proposed 2015 operating and capital budgets were released. Edmonton Public Library CEO Linda Cook announced she would retire in mid-2015 after 18 years leading the organization.
I was away most of the month in Asia on my honeymoon!
Photo by Jeff Wallace
Notes: October 26
Northlands kicked off its Arena Strategy Committee, tasked with making a recommendation on the future of Rexall Place. The City became the first municipality to receive the Most Admired Corporate Culture award. KLM added a new route between Edmonton and Amsterdam, with service beginning in May 2015. David Turpin was named the new president of the University of Alberta. Mayor Iveson hosted a City Building Summit, to put pressure on the Province to better support Edmonton’s rapid growth. NorQuest launched its largest fundraising initiative ever. Janet Riopel was named incoming President & CEO of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, and Johanna Ko became the first ever student trustee on the Edmonton Public School Board. The month closed with our first big snowfall of the season.
Notes: November 2, November 9, November 16, November 23, November 30
The other big political story of the year took place just a couple of weeks ago: Danielle Smith and eight other Wildrose MLAs crossed the floor to join the PCs. At the municipal level, Council approved a 5.7% tax increase in approving both the 2015 Operating and 2015-2018 Capital budgets. City of Edmonton CFO Lorna Rosen announced she would be leaving her position to become Alberta’s deputy minister of education. After saying no changes were on the horizon, the Oilers fired head coach Dallas Eakins. The team finished 2014 dead last. The new Meadows recreation centre and public library opened in the south east. Uber launched in Edmonton, and was immediately branded “bandit taxis” by the City.
Notes: December 7, December 14, December 21
Other 2014 Recaps
Here are a collection of other year-in-review articles and posts. I’ll keep adding to the list as I find more:
The Mayor did a series of year-end reviews with the local media. He told the Edmonton Sun he is “pleased” with how the effort to end poverty in Edmonton has come together. He talked about the property tax debate, arena district, transportation, and more with Global Edmonton. He told CBC Edmonton that being called “your worship” is awkward.
If you’re looking for lists beyond YEG, check out Gawker’s List of Year-End Lists or BuzzFeed’s Best of 2014.
Looking ahead to 2015
Here are some resolutions and other lists for Edmonton in 2015:
I would like for Edmonton in 2015 to capitalize on the energy and momentum that we all can sense in our city. Maybe it needs a bit of structure, maybe it needs a bit of shepherding, or maybe we simply need to better define what “it” is, but whatever approach we take, we cannot let this opportunity pass us by!
Have I missed anything? Let me know and I’ll add a link! You can take a look at my 2013 recap here.