It’s a municipal election year in Edmonton and that brings out the best and worst in candidates and incumbents. The best is actually sometimes the worst because as we all know politicians have great track records for keeping promises.
One of the more annoying, humorous, embarrassing issues that has come up in the last couple of years and resurfaced recently is the hotly debated and contested removal of the “City of Champions” signs from the entrances to the city.
The motion to remove them was brought forth by rookie councillor Michael Oshry in his first and only term. (He has announced he will not run again.) He cited that the signs looked dated and didn’t reflect the city. Other councillors jumped in to say that the slogan itself was dated. As if being a champion is somehow a dated concept. Keep in mind that Oshry voted this year against flying the Metis Nation and Treaty 6 flags at City Hall. Our city is on Treaty 6 and Metis Nation land, we have the second largest municipal indigenous population and we are less than two years out from the conclusion of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission but hey this guy knows what best reflects our city. The sign debate was resurrected by an impassioned group of individuals steeped in tradition who just gosh darn loved those signs, bless their hearts. The motion to put the signs back up was brought to council again recently by councillor Tony Caterina who was not even present when council voted to remove them but it is an election year and he should probably do something for somebody or something. The latest motion was defeated amid chuckles and eye rolling by councillors.
This council is in favour of pushing the slogans “Make Something Edmonton” and “Edmonton Made.” These better represent who we are as a city and city council has spent a pretty penny rebranding and marketing them so I can see why they push it.
Edmontonian’s ARE making things, opening businesses, creating non-profits, developing unique projects. We were doing these things prior to these slogans and we continue to do them now. We are doing these things with the help of the ever supportive network that is just naturally Edmonton. Business owners are eager to help other business owners navigate the myriad of red tape and administration that is thrown at entrepreneurs by the city. Most citizens are genuinely interested in what other Edmontonians are doing and offer help or advice without a second thought. This is a phenomenon that many people who come to Edmonton from other large centres recognize. People aren’t interested in what you’re doing so they know what kind of competition their up against. Everyone is genuinely interested in helping everyone succeed. Except it seems City Council, Management and Administration. The government has made making something in Edmonton a difficult endeavour. Strange considering our new slogans. You would think that through the course of a rebrand you would look at the policies and procedures that affect what you’re trying to achieve but I guess that part got overlooked.
Someone on twitter recently compared the salary of a politician (specifically municipal) to that of middle management . The conversation was around how many hours they dedicate for the salary they are paid. I have little to no opinion on that but what did strike me is that if this council makes the money of middle management then it is equal to their decision making abilities. They make middle management decisions and lead with little to no actionable vision even after creating a brand and slogan that better reflects Edmonton.
So while this council squabbles over sign removals and slogan relevance; Edmontonian’s build, make and do in spite and despite of them. This is a city of champions who champion Edmonton. We don’t need signs to remind us of that we are living it. What would be nice is a council with the guts to lead and walk their newly minted talk.