It’s a cold winter morning in Alberta’s capital city, Edmonton. The prairies are known for their friendly residents and their inhospitable winters. However, lately Alberta has become the epicenter of Canada’s economic woes.
With oil slumping to below$35 dollars a barrel and a fluctuating Loonie, Alberta has faced the brunt of the economic turmoil that has plagued Canada over the last 12 months. However, despite the precarious position of Canada’s transitioningeconomy, Albertans have exhibited a strong resilience and an ability to look toward the future.
Edmonton seems to be more optimistic than other Alberta cities — and for good reason. Edmonton’s progressive city council is supporting a proposal that would infuse more than $5 billion dollars of private and public investment in reshaping Edmonton’s downtown core into a state of the art entertainment destination and arts and culture hub.
“Together, as a community, we are building a downtown for everyone, one that is economically strong, vibrant, global and inclusive,” reads the city’s downtown revitalizationmandate. “The visual style is bold, optimistic and confident. Everything our downtown, and Edmonton, truly embodies.”
One of those projects aimed at bringing the city’s residents together is the downtown Galleria, an arts-inspired hub proposed by well-known city philanthropists Irv and Dianne Kipnes. The Galleria will not only house commercial and retail space, four theatres and a promenade, the University of Alberta will also have a large presence in the new space.
“The first phase calls for new classrooms and offices for up to 5,000 U of A students and faculty in the music school and the art and design department, which would be funded by the province, as well as a 200-seat recital hall and 650-seat concert hall,” notes theEdmonton Journal.
Edmonton City council approved a memorandum of understanding with the group behind the proposal last November.The report lays out the terms for a $58-million contribution to the project, which includes selling the former ReUse Centre on 103A Avenue to raise capital.
Edmonton resident and president of Symmetry Asset Management, Dan White, sees the new project as a much needed step toward the bright future he envisions for the city. Dan White is responsible for transforming two of downtown Edmonton’s most iconic heritage buildings into modern mixed-use spaces that still embody their historic charm.
Edmonton’s Dan White comments how downtown Edmonton has always been full of potential. The city has just struggled to find the right investors to see the possibilities that are here. White adds that the city needs the private and public sector to come together and invest in the next phase of Edmonton’s growth.
As Edmonton’s Dan White pointed out, there is no shortage of ideas in Edmonton. There is, however, a lack of capital. The massive Galleria project has been in the works since 2013 and project facilitators had hoped to have the project finished by 2017, in time for the Canada’s 150th birthday festivities.
“Most of the city money will come from a community revitalization levy, using property taxes on downtown growth spurred largely by the new arena,” writes Edmonton-based reporter Gordon Kent. “Proponents are also talking to Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi about $50 million in federal funding.”
There is also plenty of opportunities for private investors looking to invest in what is sure to be a go-to destination in the prairie city.
Edmonton’s mayor Don Iveson will no doubt be soliciting funds from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau when the PM’s cross-country city tour rolls through Edmonton. The Prime Minister has been meeting with the mayors and officials of the country’s major cities to see how Ottawa can facilitate the growth and prosperity of Canadian cities.