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Urban Edmonton – A Reflection

I’ve traveled around the city a bit over the past two days, and like many large cities in cold climates, lends itself to urban living. There is a beautiful river valley with bike paths and walking trails to enjoy throughout the year, and this is close to downtown. Most of the shops you’d ever need are right downtown, I’m sitting in the office tower/mall complex sipping a maple latte at Second Cup while pondering what to buy from The Bay as a present for my daughters.

People here live mostly indoors in the winter, at the moment, mid October, its nudging zero degrees Celsius with occasional snow showers.  Would it be hard to live here in the winter, probably; as an urban dweller, there are restaurants, movie theaters, art galleries, a huge library and lots of shops to keep you sane. It’s busy, but pretty easy going, Calgary is a faster city, but Edmonton is still quite a city. Not many suits in Edmonton, not many ties, lots of jeans, are these people working?

[ad#200-left]The suburbs in parts, seem to be the difficult areas to live in, some I’m sure are close to shops, close to parks and other amenities, but many of the older areas seem difficult for winter living, a strip of shops along the main road surrounded by three and four storey condos. Other suburbs are beautiful, either older established and well maintained, or some of the newer areas, but the commute is an issue for many of these.

What is the heart of a city like Edmonton? Is it the city center, the hustle and bustle?  Is it the shopping malls, particularly the iconic Edmonton Mall? Is it the cultural strip, like Whyte Ave, where life in the city takes on another meaning altogether? Or is it the whole package, warts and all? I’m seeing the depths of the city, not just the shiny surface of downtown with its high rises, shops and cafes.  I’m hearing the words people say, the way they walk, the clothes they wear.  I’m not judging, I’m seeing families just like mine, walking downtown pushing prams through the mall, elderly people out shopping in the business district, businessmen taking a break from their day at the office. Does the city kill the spirit, on the contrary, I think the spirit thrives almost despite the city, despite the rush for money, wealth, fame, recognition, even in its smallest most insignificant ways.  The man pushing the trolley containing all his worldly possessions can enjoy the city even though it barely endures him, he has his niche in the machine of the city, can I find mine here?

Tomorrow night I head to Calgary for a few days, then home to Australia and my wife and two beautiful children.  These reflections have been good for my soul almost in preparation of the soon-to-be-a-reality move to Canada.

Apologies for the delay in this post, Internet issues!

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.