Here’s what’s new and noteworthy in our city right now!
Transformations have been ongoing in Edmonton’s ICE District, continuing its quest to be Canada’s largest sports and entertainment district. The luxury JW Marriott hotel opened in 2019 and includes a spa, fitness centre, banquet rooms, and restaurants. The district also includes Rogers Place— the state-of-the-art arena and home to the Edmonton Oilers—as well as the Grand Villa Casino, premium condos and office towers, and a giant public plaza featuring oversize art installations. Upcoming additions include a skating rink (scheduled winter 2020) and new dining options that will include an ice room with in-house vodka expert and Edmonton’s largest rooftop patio (scheduled 2021).
Canadian Icons Bob & Doug
Immortalized in bronze near the Rogers Place arena is a piece of Edmonton’s pop culture history. The sketch comedy show, SCTV, included the beloved fictional duo, Bob and Doug McKenzie—beer-drinking, tuque-wearing brothers who played up many Canadian stereotypes. The show aired on and off from 1976 to 1984 on various networks in Canada and the U.S., and was filmed for much of that time in Edmonton. Local sculptor Ritchie Velthuis collaborated with comedians Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas (who played Bob and Doug) to capture their likeness. The life-like statues sit on a bench at 103 St. & 103 Ave.
Queen Elizabeth II Planetarium
The first planetarium in Canada is set to reopen in 2020, after its designation as a Municipal Historic Resource in 2017 and a $7-million restoration. Operating from 1960 to 1983, it was first built to commemorate the Edmonton visit of Queen Elizabeth II. Modern upgrades include LED lights, new mechanical systems, and a new accessible washroom. Located in Coronation Park (114 Ave. & 142 St.), it will support public programs and events for the TELUS World of Science.
Stanley A. Milner Library
The revitalization of the Edmonton Public Library’s downtown branch has been ongoing since January 2017, and everyone is ready for the grand opening in spring 2020. Nicknamed the Think Tank, the new Stanley A. Milner Library includes a multi-storey interactive simulation wall; hands-on STEM activities for children; Indigenous Gathering Space; dedicated culinary centre; and a Makerspace area suitable for 3D printing, robotics, and other fabrication projects. There will also be over 28,000 square feet of community space, with some overlooking Churchill Square.
Edmontonia Trading Cards
Edmonton scenes and landmarks—like the Walterdale Bridge, West Edmonton Mall, Accidental Beach, and urban wildlife—are available in trading-card form. The all-ages set of collectible trading cards, created by Michael Hingston and designed by Justine Ma, feature illustrations and photography of various local artists. Celebrate all things Edmonton, trade with your friends, and try to collect all 60! Available online and in local shops like Audreys Books, Parcel + Paper, and Glass Bookshop.
Poetic Solar Energy
The new solar installation at the Edmonton Convention Centre is the largest of its kind in Canada. The ECC’s iconic multi-level atrium slopes down towards the river valley from downtown’s Jasper Avenue, and a modernization project replaced the 35-year-old skylight panels with new photovoltaic (solar cell) glass units. An added touch is the pattern of the cells, which spell out the excerpt of “Gifts of a River” in Morse code. The poem was written by E.D. Blodgett, a former Edmonton Poet Laureate—and more of his works can be found etched onto poetry rings in the nearby Louise McKinney Park. Enjoy the artistic sustainability project from within the Edmonton Convention Centre (9797 Jasper Ave.) or from the river valley itself.
Edmonton’s Mechanized River Valley Access won the 2020 National Urban Design Award of Excellence in Civic Design! Its award-winning allure comes from a combination of built structures, open spaces, and public art—as well as how it makes the river valley more accessible for everyone. The multi-million-dollar project connects the top of 100 Street in downtown Edmonton (near the Hotel Macdonald, 10065-100 St.) to Louise McKinney Park. Inside a fully enclosed glass funicular, up to 20 riders can ride down to a lookout point where they can enjoy breathtaking views of the expansive parkland. From there, riders have the option to take either the stairs or an elevator down to the park. Whether you’re just joyriding or need a fast way down that will accommodate a mobility aid, stroller, or bicycle, the funicular is a great way to get around and is free to everyone, at just the push of a button.