News / Edmonton

City releases strategy to make Edmonton’s winters easier to love

A new strategy for winter in Edmonton aims to get residents out of their homes all year long.

The Winter City strategy released Thursday calls for more all-season patios, increased focus on winter festivals and more heated bus shelters and benches to make transit more winter friendly.

Coun. Ben Henderson, a co-chair of the group that developed the approach, said winter isn’t going away and so Edmonton has to be prepared to embrace it.

“We have designed a city that tries to pretend that winter doesn’t exist.”

The plan was created with a 35-member think tank made up of city councillors, business owners and community groups. It is set to go to council for endorsement next week.

Henderson said the approach the city has taken to winter in the past is self-defeating.

“Somehow in winter we make all of our choices around our imagination of those four days in winter that are actually below —30,” said Henderson. “If you assume that it is going to be nasty the whole time then you go into a cocoon.”

Ian O’Donnell, president of the Downtown Edmonton Community League, said he welcomes the strategy.

“We have a city that has a ton of winter and we really just don’t seem to want to embrace,” said O’Donnell. “We tend to hibernate and it is a little unfortunate.”

O’Donnell said the notion of winter patios would be welcome especially downtown where there is lots of traffic to support it.

“I don’t know why people think that after Labour Day you can’t sit outside and enjoy a drink.”

Winter love

For the Love of Winter: Strategy to Make the Most of Winter recommends a number of initiatives centred around winter life, design and economy and is the product of year-long consultations with the public and winter experts.

Goals from the report include:

  • Make it easier to “Go Play Outside”: provide more opportunities for outdoor activity
  • Improve winter transportation for pedestrians, cyclists and public transit users
  • Design our communities for winter safety and comfort
  • Incorporate urban design elements for winter fun, activity, beauty and interest
  • Increase the capacity and sustainability of Edmonton’s winter festivals
  • Develop a four-seasons patio culture
  • Become a world leader in innovative winter–related business/industry
  • Celebrate the season and embrace daily living in a cold climate
  • Promote Edmonton’s great northern story locally, nationally and internationally
  • Kick start and lead implementation of Edmonton’s WinterCity Strategy: Apply a ‘Winter Lens’ to Our City
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