A Radical Regional Transformation

Earlier this month, Edmonton was cited as the fourth-most affordable city to live in the world. As of 2021, Edmonton became Canada’s fifth-largest city and sixth-largest metropolitan area with a population of over one million.

What’s driving this growth? How do we sustain it? These questions were top-of-mind for nearly 100 land developers, consultants, and municipal representatives at the Urban Development Institute’s May luncheon, which featured Chris McLeod, Vice President of Global Marketing and Communications with Edmonton Global.

McLeod proudly stated that the region’s low housing costs and high quality of life has helped to attract people, jobs, and talent.

“Latest StatsCan numbers show how the Edmonton region is Canada’s second largest growing major metropolitan area – tied with Vancouver,” McLeod said. “It’s no accident that people are flocking to the region and calling it home. Here, people can find attainable housing and good paying jobs.”

The jobs? McLeod pointed to recent investments like Amazon’s 600,000 sq. ft. Amazon distribution facility, which estimates a creation of 1,000 jobs. A $1.3 billion net-zero hydrogen complex that will spur $2 billion in economic activity and 2,500 jobs. A $10 billion investment to Dow’s future net-zero plant in Fort Saskatchewan that will create 7,000 construction jobs.

During the conversation, McLeod highlighted how radical transformation in the region will involve five important priorities: hydrogen, logistics and global supply chain, food and agriculture, life sciences, and artificial intelligence and technology.

“These are high growth, high potential sectors that have the potential to have a huge impact on our region’s future economic prosperity.”

Hydrogen alone, McLeod predicts, could be a $100 billion per year opportunity.

“The Edmonton region is at the centre of Canada’s emerging hydrogen economy and has led to international interest in the region – from the likes of Suncor, Atco, Shell Mitsubishi, and Petronas,” said McLeod. “Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Association is predicting $30 billion in investment in hydrogen production facilities in our region by 2030.”

A global demand for hydrogen drew nearly 4,000 attendees from 19 countries, including France, Norway, and Japan, to Edmonton for the first Canadian Hydrogen Conference.

Innovation in other sectors, like advancements in treatments for diabetes and hepatitis, or the production of plant proteins and nutraceuticals, positions the region for success.

“It only takes one good idea to have a global impact,” said McLeod. “When we look at what’s happening in hydrogen, food and agriculture, life sciences, artificial intelligence and the, and global logistics and supply chain, there is good reason to be optimistic about our region’s future.”

He concluded with a call-to-action for UDI members, “We want to amplify the stories of what’s happening in our region and begin a movement where we can work together to support these activities. Will you pitch in?”

5 Key Takeaways

  • We’re young, educated and growing. The Edmonton Metropolitan Region’s success is dependent on how well it can attract people, talent, and jobs.
  • We’re globally connected. Due to its location, the region has access to 1.5 billion customers, with unparalleled trade agreements and transportation routes to Asian, North America, South America, and Europe.
  • We’re leveraging hydrogen production to support economic development. Hydrogen represents between a $2.5 to $11 trillion global economic opportunity, and the Edmonton Metropolitan Region is already producing and using hydrogen.
  • We’re open to collaboration. That’s why Edmonton Global will convene 800+ economic development organizations, Indigenous leaders, business and community leaders, academic institutions, and government partners, to discuss how we can collectively build an economically and environmentally sustainable future for our region at an annual economic summit that begins this fall. Visit forwardslashyeg.ca for details.
  • We’re creative. Innovations in bio pharma, food and agrotech, global logistics, and artificial intelligence are emerging in the region as major economic and social drivers.