Success Stories

On the grow: How Edmonton came together to revitalize its core

Night Skyline
March 27, 2019

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Edmonton's downtown of 2019 is nearly unrecognizable compared to its downtown of 2011.

The reason why started with a conversation about hockey, a popular topic in this city.

With their old arena aging, Edmonton’s professional team and their ownership group were looking to build a new place to play. The idea to build a new arena venue soon spawned another, bolder vision: use the new arena as the anchor for a transformational downtown development and renewal project. This project, which came to be known as Edmonton’s ICE District, was built on-time and under budget with the participation of many levels of business and community leaders.

A mastery of public-private partnership and cooperative city building, the ICE District revitalization effort showcased one of Edmonton’s very best qualities: our city’s rare ability to work collaboratively to accomplish big, important things in incommensurately small amounts of time.

ICE District was an ambitious dream that became an impressive reality through an unprecedented model of partnership. In six short years over 5 billion dollars of investment has gone into 29 acres of prime downtown land. This has rejuvenated the area, providing a spark of energy to a city that is eager to showcase itself as one of the youngest, fastest growing cities in Canada.

Alberta’s capital is no longer a boom-and-bust boiler room of a town. Now, venture downtown and you will find lively tree-filled streets, crisp, glistening thoroughfares, and neon art installations. You will see a changing skyline with soaring testaments to modernity – including the 66-story Stantec tower which is the tallest skyscraper in Canada outside of Toronto.

Together, our citizens and civil leaders alike have spurred on a limitless re-imagining of what Edmonton can be. Architectural flourishes and artistic ink blots of culture, commerce, and innovation dot the blue canvas skyline of our emerging city. Art galleries, museums, farmer’s markets, ice rinks, universities, theatres, and parks can be found in the heart of it all. Entertainment, fine dining, retail, high-end hotels, fashion, and fun abound.

More than anything else, however, the legacy of the ICE District project is not the massive infrastructure and investment, the shining new buildings, or the reinvigorated city core. All those are there, yes. But they stand first and foremost as proofs to the unique spirit of Edmonton; the collaborative ethos and get-it-done attitude, the big vision, and the willing cooperation that enabled such a model of public-private partnership to proceed so quickly and so successfully despite the challenges along the way.

ICE District today stands as an immense achievement, proof of what happens when audacious will is met with relentless collaboration. In Edmonton, there is no dream too outlandish to consider; no project too big to be accomplished.

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