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Where Edmonton Goes Next

The city that hosted this year’s Habitat for Humanity build also wants to create a downtown that attracts people to stay around after the Alberta oil boom has faded.
A streetlevel view of Manulife Place (center) the second tallest building in Edmonton after the Epcor Tower was built in 2011.
A streetlevel view of Manulife Place (center) the second tallest building in Edmonton after the Epcor Tower was built in 2011.Andrew Small/CityLab

EDMONTON, ALBERTA—Edmonton does not need a slogan. Despite efforts to revive the “city of champions” tag touting the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, the Canadian city’s latest rebrand is instead a simple wordmark that caused much chatter locally: Edmonton in an all-caps typeface, punctuated by the Canadian maple leaf. The logo presents the city as an “inventive, open, courageous and cooperative” place, according to an Edmonton Economic Development Corporation study asking city residents about the city.

I recently found myself here in Canada’s fifth largest metropolis to help facilitate a Skype conversation between CityLab’s Richard Florida and former President Jimmy Carter, who was in town with his Atlanta-based housing nonprofit Habitat for Humanity. Edmonton was one of the sites for this year’s Carter Work Project—an annual homebuilding blitz that Carter and his wife Rosalynn have headlined for 34 years. The group spent the week building 75 homes total in the city’s southeast section as well as in nearby Fort Saskatchewan. Habitat built over 150 homes across Canada—including in cities such as Winnipeg, Manitoba—drawing volunteers from across North America to mark the nation’s 150th anniversary this July.