Reviving 'Deadmonton'

<p>Despite a booming oil economy and a population of almost a million people, Alberta's capital city of Edmonton finds "place branding" a struggle.</p>
June 19, 2007, 7am PDT | Michael Dudley
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"Edmonton can't seem to grab any of that spotlight and shake its image as a Prairie backwater. Calgary to the south, and even Fort McMurray to its north, home of the mammoth oil sands projects, seem to be capturing all the attention."

"The city recently hired Media Profile, a well-known Toronto public-relations firm run by Patrick Gossage, a press secretary to former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, to help raise its profile."

"Leaders from many of the city's organizations and institutions, such as the University of Alberta, have also been tapped to help get the message out about Edmonton's numerous offerings. While many know the West Edmonton Mall is the world's largest, the city is home to much more, including more than 35 annual festivals, North America's largest urban green space and parks system, two professional sports teams and the country's fastest-growing property market."

"Edmonton is also spending millions to spruce itself up. The Art Gallery of Alberta is being completely renovated with the goal of making it a world-class attraction. There are plans to make over rundown downtown neighbourhoods and streets such as 118th Avenue, which is currently an infamous hub for drug dealers and prostitutes."

"There is even a proposal to place new markers at Edmonton's eastern and western entrances to welcome visitors to Canada's sixth-largest city."

"Reaction to all the changes has been mixed."

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Published on Saturday, June 16, 2007 in The Globe & Mail
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