Gauging Edmonton: A Mayor's Take
When I speak at schools it’s really neat to see kids from all over the world. The hope is that they’ll build the kind of future their parents envisioned for them here. Of course, the first generation always has it more difficult, but we have to make sure the 2nd generation has it better and the 3rd generation has it even better. We’re elated that people have chosen this city, and we have to make sure they have good opportunity here. It’s hard to believe when you think about what someone has to sacrifice to move to a new country.
There’s one young man I met, a fellow who came from East Africa. He trekked across the desert, with his family, to get to a refugee camp. Came to Winnipeg. Couldn’t get along with his family, so left home and became a street kid. And then came to Edmonton and was on the streets, but managed to get involved with an organization in Edmonton that helps street kids. He turned his life around.
He’s a marvellous artist and he came to an event we held where his art was shown. It sold out. It’s a great story about a young man who’s found himself and straightened out his life. I think there’re lots of stories about young people coming here who’ve gone through difficult times. You come to a different world. But he’s a great young man – just the nicest kid.
So to me, the people are the greatest thing about this city. Edmonton just opens its arms to newcomers. No matter who you are. If you want to meet people, you can meet people. If you want to get involved, nobody closes doors here. Doors are always open. We want people to participate. It starts with our community leagues and community-based involvement and goes right onwards.
And we did a whole bunch of research that showed Edmontonians really love their city. You know, sometimes Edmontonians are self-deprecating. That’s something we’ve got to get away from. But when it comes to the friendliness and the kindness of the people, I don’t think any city in the world can surpass us. That’s how I gauge a city – how the people are. I think that Edmonton has the warmest, nicest people in the world. It’s true.
Mayor Stephen Mandel came to Edmonton in 1972 to work in the family business and fell in love with the city and its people. He gets up at 5 AM every morning to walk his dog, and admits to being a rotten tennis player (he started playing 2 years ago), even though he loves the sport and tries to play whenever he gets the chance.