Edmonton is at an interesting crossroads right now, Mayor Stephen Mandel told a packed house at his annual State of the City address at the Shaw Conference Centre yesterday.
The mayor’s 20-minute speech covered the events of the past year and looked ahead to the city’s future.
“Over the past year so many efforts have come together, and we are now at the point where we will shift focus — moving key projects from design into action,” Mandel said.
“We have reached a point of transition. In other words, the real work is about to begin.”
The mayor touched on plans for an extensive LRT network that’s in the financing stage. The city is looking to negotiate with provincial and federal partners to see 30 kilometres of new network built by 2017.
He talked about the redevelopment of the City Centre Airport being the most significant in the city’s history and the challenges of looking at long-term issues like community safety and homelessness.
“We have new plans in place for our community safety committee and we are one year into our 10-year plan to end homelessness,” Mandel said.
“We committed to fixing things that have proven to be bigger challenges than we anticipated.”
Cities are often measured by the dynamic character of their downtown, the mayor acknowledged. He said Edmonton, in the past, has had some challenges with its core.
“We have seen many positive steps over the past few years,” he said. “But we are a long way from where we need to be.”
The scope of the proposed downtown arena and entertainment complex is starting to come to light and the mayor said the due diligence on this project will be very big, and very transparent.
“It must be done in the spirit of deciding what is best for Edmonton,” Mandel said. “It’s time to forge ahead. I am ready, we are ready to take the first steps towards building the future we have imagined.”