“When I came here, I was 18 years old and had little to my name,” said Mayor Amarjeet Sohi. “But I was lucky. I wasn’t in just any city. I was in Edmonton.”
On June 16, Mayor Sohi, in front of an audience of 150 land developers, community builders, and city dreamers, shared his journey from a civil servant to city councillor to Member of Parliament, and his aspirations for Edmonton now and into the future.
Mayor Sohi credits the performing arts and robust public services to his sense of civic belonging; and how they are important pillars of his mandate as the 36th Mayor of Edmonton.
“Edmonton creates inclusive spaces for so many people – regardless of their race, gender, age, and ability,” said Mayor Sohi. “It’s a city that has afforded many opportunities for me and my family.”
He said that as Edmonton anticipates an additional one million people over the next forty-years, Council and administration will need to contemplate the types of urban spaces and places that are needed to help people live prosperous lives.
Mayor Sohi pointed to several key strategies underway to accommodate a growing and thriving Edmonton.
“Edmonton is becoming a globally-recognized city thanks to our destination festivals, award-winning food scene, amazing green spaces, and flagship tech companies.”
“More work can be done,” he said. “UDI and its members are our partners in cultivating Edmonton’s economic future, and in driving new investment, innovation, and placemaking.”
During a fireside chat, Susan Keating, Chair of UDI’s Board of Directors, voiced her appreciation to the Mayor for continuing to cultivate a business-friendly environment in the City of Edmonton.
“Cities are continually competing for talent, jobs, and investment,” said Keating. “The City has made tangible progress to create a clear and predictable picture of requirements, timelines, best practices, and costs.”
As Canada struggles with adequate supply and speed-to-market for housing, Keating added, “Edmonton has a unique opportunity to leverage its advantages and excel to meet the needs of residents and businesses to ensure that our city remains a competitive and welcoming place that supports affordability and economic development.”
A sentiment Mayor Sohi echoed.
He highlighted three planning projects underway – Zoning Bylaw Renewal Initiative, District Planning, and Growth Management Framework – as critical to creating new development opportunities, to managing population growth, to responding to changing economic and cultural housing needs, and to maximizing the city’s existing and future infrastructure investments.
“Maintaining neighbourhood vibrancy and providing accessible, diverse, and affordable housing city-wide is going to require everyone to pitch in,” said Mayor Sohi.
“I’m excited to work with UDI and its members to continue to build a city we can all be proud of – a city for all of us.”
5 Key Takeaways
- Catalyze The City Plan. Public and private sector collaboration is key to implementing The City Plan. We need to work together for high impact, transformative change.
- Diversity is our strength. By harnessing our city’s diversity of perspectives and interests, we can create a welcoming city that offers opportunity for everyone.
- Maintain our affordability advantage. Red-tape reduction, permissive zoning, infrastructure investments, and more predictability in permitting processes and timelines are key to unlocking development opportunities city-wide, and in enabling housing and growth.
- Downtown matters. Downtown is an important economic and cultural driver. In the short term, we need a safe, secure, and clean downtown. In the mid and long-term, we need to create a clear path to attract economic investment and growth downtown.
- Get to business. The City should tap into the insights and expertise of the land development industry. We have serious economic challenges ahead of us – and we need to tackle them together.