Five people behind the biggest shifts in our city.
By Omar Mouallem | February 11, 2010
The city’s transportation manager came from Toronto in 2007 with promises to return Edmonton to its days as a national leader of light rail transit, or at least he said he’d get people to use it again. So far, more than $1 billion for LRT has resulted in record-high usage, a train going as far south as Century Park and construction for north and west lines is on the go.
A margin of 463 votes is all it took to show it could be done – a non-Tory MP candidate from Alberta could win. After drying herself behind the ears, the NDP representative for Edmonton-Strathcona won her second term by more than 6,000 votes. She did it with unwavering environmental platforms, a vision shared by the district’s young residents, and by spending a lot of time on her turf, listening and representing it like a traditional MP.
When billionaire Daryl “Can’t Be Reached For Comment” Katz bought the Oilers in 2008, nobody suspected he’d become as contentious as Peter Pocklington. But, then again, Pocklington didn’t twist arms for a mostly tax-funded new arena, all the while remaining quiet about his intentions.
Hired in 2005, the U of A’s first female president has pledged to make it among the top 20 in the world by 2020. It’s getting there: QS World University Rankings puts it at No. 78 (from 133 in 2005; it peaked at 59 in 2009), and it now gets the third-most research funding in Canada. But the 30,000-plus students might argue these achievements are not worth annual tuition hikes, which for some last year were more than $3,000 each.
After beating three-term mayor Bill Smith in 2005, Stephen Mandel promised to rekindle Edmonton’s capital city spirit. Closing the municipal airport lands, increasing cultural funding and rallying for downtown rejuvenation has won him two more elections. He also inspired a new drinking game: Take a shot every time he says “world class.”