Job Title: Strategic Coordinator, Urban Planning and Environment Branch, Sustainable Development, City of Edmonton
Why He’s Top 40: He’s ensuring young people have a voice in the future of this city.
What Do You Like Most About Edmonton?: “You will always find a connection. No matter who you’re talking to, you’ll know that person through other people. You don’t have that in Toronto. There, you’re a single person in a city of three million. Here, you’re connected to lots and lots of people, which makes it feel like a great community.”
Admittedly, Brian Murray misses the glitz and glamour of Toronto, where he made his home until six years ago. But trading in the flashy vibrancy of the Centre of the Universe for the earthiness of the Alberta capital is a decision Murray’s never regretted.
“With Edmonton, there’s something very true here,” says Murray. “People are always very positive and want to do something good for their city.”
As someone who works at a branch at the City of Edmonton, where he helps develop strategic plans to improve the city’s appearance, Murray doesn’t take his contributions for granted. Away from his office, he’s taken it upon himself to help benefit a whole new generation via his volunteer work with Edmonton’s NextGen, a not-for-profit initiative for adults aged 18 to 40 that contributes to the city’s well-being. With NextGen, he’s in his second year as its civic co-chair and served as co-chair for the organization’s working group involving PechaKucha Nights, where movers, shakers and everyone else network to share ideas.
“I’m most passionate about the work that I do with NextGen,” says Murray, who estimates he contributes some 300 hours annually to the cause.
“We’re providing a platform for the city’s youth to communicate their ideas and dreams to City Council through us. That work empowers me to engage with young people and the community and utilize my skills sets as an urban planner and strategic coordinator to help translate a lot of that work into what I do every day at my job. I’m always talking about the youth perspective.”
He’s also passionate about the city’s future. Whether he’s in the office or on the NextGen front lines, Murray believes everyone who has a stake in the Edmonton’s future is capable of making a difference.
“In Edmonton, you can make things happen,” he says.
“We’re a big city, but we have a very unique way of doing things; we’re very personal. In my day job, I can talk to a city councillor face-to-face. And at PechaKucha, I can talk to a company president. In Toronto, that doesn’t happen.”
This week, incoming U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to kill the Keystone XL Pipeline. What should be Alberta’s response?