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A Systems Approach to Planning and Urban Revitalization in Edmonton, Canada

The city of Edmonton’s comprehensive planning strategies aim for an "innovation ecosystem" that can compete with cities yet to be built.
July 17, 2015, 9am PDT | Molly M. Strauss | @mmstrauss
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Over the next 30 years, Edmonton—in Alberta, Canadawill rebuild each of its neighborhoods. It's also preparing a bid for the Commonwealth Games, and turning a 600-acre site into a zero-emissions community.

But City Manager Simon Farbrother stresses that this is not just a list of one-off endeavors.

"We try to bring a systems approach to our decision-making," he told The Planning Report. "We don’t do projects—we build a city."

The planning principles contained in Edmonton’s guiding document, "The Way Ahead," emphasize infill development and light-rail connectivity. Investment in transit options, in growing "up, not out," and in revitalizing the downtown core are all part of a broader strategy to create an "innovation ecosystem"—an "environment where people want to be."

Edmonton acts on this strategy through partnerships with the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation, financing mechanisms comparable to those in the US, and collaboration with the provincial government in Alberta.

A global future is at the heart of Edmonton’s vision—one that promises tools and competition still to come. Farbrother explains: "There are a hundred new cities being built over the next 20 years that don’t exist today and will have every technological advantage. For us to stay where we are, we have to jump 100 cities in the next 20 years. That’s our framework."

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Published on Monday, July 13, 2015 in The Planning Report
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