Omar Mouallem explores what makes Edmonton a great city.
Brooking the great divide
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If you had friends come to visit you, what would you show them that's uniquely Edmonton? What would you show them that illustrates our creative and innovative nature?
The river valley is not in the running. We didn't create the river valley. The credit there must go to mother nature.
The Fringe is out of the running; we copied that.
The same is true for the folk festival and every other festival we have.
How about our art gallery? Well, there are lots of art galleries in the world. The same is true for our current museum.
Even what was once the world's largest shopping mall has been eclipsed by other monuments to consumerism. So think hard. There must be something.
Well, there is something and we are in danger of losing it - the Great Divide waterfall. When it began functioning in 1980, it brought our city national and international attention. But better than that, it gave pleasure to the thousands of Edmontonians who went to look at it each time it was in operation.
So why are we in danger of losing it? Because we have an administration and city council that are completely lacking in imagination and who wouldn't recognize innovation and creativity if it jumped up and bit them in the behind.
Oh, there are reasons why the tap has been turned off.
One is that it uses potable water that puts chlorine into the river. Another is that it is expensive to run and maintain. But let's look at those two issues.
We have thousands of talented engineers in this city. Are we to believe that it's impossible for them to come up with a solution? I think that's an insult to every man and woman who wears an iron ring.
What about the expense issue?
It would cost $700,000 to repair and about $40,000 to run it on holidays during the summer.
But remember, this is the same city that has sunk millions into a car race. This is the same city that is sinking millions and millions into an arena.
So why won't we spend money on this unique attraction?
Is it because no one has to pay to see it?
Is it because it serves no function except to give pleasure to those who view it?
Or is it simply that when it comes to our administration and council, fun is the F-word?