Edmonton’s Winter City Strategy aims to make winter more fun

Edmonton's WinterCity strategy
City Hall in the winter. The city hopes to make winter more lively with its Winter City strategy.

Outdoor winter patios and markets, free or low-cost skate rentals, and snow-cleared bike paths – all of these things are missing in Edmonton … for now. But once Edmonton’s Winter City strategy takes off, we can expect to see these great ideas, and more, take shape.

What’s happening this winter

Some of the strategy’s initiatives may become reality this winter already. Winter City Coordinator Susan Holdsworth shared with me some of the city’s plans to make Edmonton more fun this winter. These plans include free skate rentals at the Boyle Renaissance rink, winter patios at the Carrot and Café Bicyclette, a signature winter drink competition, and a partnership with Communities in Bloom to implement a winter yard competition.

“Many of the actions involve a number of diverse partners and we are busy working with them” notes Holdsworth. “Success of the whole strategy depends on collaborating with many partners.”

Winter City strategy planners will reveal additional ideas they plan to implement this winter at their “Premiere to Winter Event” on Nov. 14, 2013.  The event, which takes place at the Epcor tower at 5:30 p.m., will include the opening of the signature drink contest.

 How the Winter City Strategy began

Edmonton’s Winter City strategy began with city councillor Ben Henderson, who realized that Edmonton was missing out on the fun its winter season has to offer. While other northern cities remain active in the winter, many Edmontonians avoid the outdoors during the cold, dark months of the year. The purpose of the Winter City strategy is to change that pattern and have Edmontonians embrace and celebrate winter.

A diverse set of volunteers living in Edmonton, known as the Winter City Think Tank, furthered Councillor Henderson’s project with the Winter City strategy. Between January and June 2012, the Think Tank researched what other winter cities do to make their cities livable, asked other Edmontonians how we could improve our city in the winter, and wrote a report based on what they had learned. The report, titled For the Love of Winter: Strategy for Transforming Edmonton into a World-Leading Winter City, includes 10 goals with accompanying actions that together create a vision in which Edmonton identifies as a winter city, celebrates its winter climate, and is filled with activity throughout the winter season.

In October 2012 City Council approved the strategy and in September 2013 it approved the Implementation plan for the strategy. Currently, an advisory council is managing the implementation process.

Response to Edmonton’s Winter City strategy has been “overwhelmingly positive” says Holdsworth. “Some people love winter and some hate winter. However, everyone we have talked to agrees that it makes sense to make the most of a season that comes every year.”

Find out more and get involved

Information about the Winter City strategy, including the strategy itself, is available on the City of Edmonton’s website. Anyone wishing to participate in Edmonton’s Winter City strategy can contact Winter City Coordinator, Susan Holdsworth, at 780.496.3664 or susan.holdsworth@edmonton.ca.  The Winter City strategy can also be found on Facebook  and Twitter .

The Winter City Strategy began as a discussion of something that was missing in Edmonton. Want to learn more about it, or discuss your OWN ideas for what’s missing in Edmonton? Join us at our next Green Drinks event on Nov. 6, 2013, visit https://greendrinksnotinyeg.eventbrite.ca/ for more info.