The three-day Trudeau Conference came to an end around 2:30 pm on November 24, on the second level of the Westin Hotel, where engaged professors and students listened to Mayor Mandel speak about his view of the “common good.” Following a hearty lunch of soup, veggie and chicken wraps, sandwiches and fruit – all of which was free throughout the weekend – conference attendees grabbed a cup of coffee and sat down for the mayor’s concluding statements. Alternating between English and a broken, nearly-incomprehensible French, Mandel spoke about the city’s many accomplishments over the last several years, with neighbourhood revitalization being among his priorities.
For students and professors looking to learn more about the City of Edmonton, Mandel’s speech was just what they needed, for he provided a basic overview of some of the ongoing projects. He noted that Edmonton was the first city in the province to build Light Rail Transit, but that we simply stopped doing it many years ago. By 2040, he desires a comprehensive LRT system for the city that can take one from the southeast part of town, Millwoods, all the way to NAIT on the north end. It was clear that Mandel is thinking well beyond his time as major, investing in a project that will benefit Edmontonians that are yet to be born. Moreover, Mandel elaborated on the 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness, where the city is gradually reducing the number of city-dwellers living on the street. He noted that there have already been several individuals that have moved from the streets to become contributing, tax-paying citizens. Additionally, Mandel spoke in the length about revitalization of the downtown sector, where the city requires increased density, as opposed to Edmontonians moving from the heart of the city toward the edges of town. As Mandel noted, every city is judged considerably on the quality of its downtown, and Edmonton still has significant room for growth in this area.
Overall, Mandel’s speech was both motivational and a basic crash-course on what that the City of Champions is currently accomplishing. On a more general note, the Trudeau Conference was a tremendous experience, bringing together some of the smartest politicians, scholars, media members, etc. from across the country. The fact that the conference was free to all attendees is remarkable. Any Edmontonian looking to hear from the likes of Preston Manning, Stephane Dion, Linda Duncan and more could do so – in the same hotel lobby. The accessibility that the Trudeau Conference provided to these Canadian leaders was an opportunity that doesn’t come around very often, and the quality of debate amongst panelists and the questions by delegates consistently stimulated the mind. Yes, the 2012 Trudeau Conference in Edmonton was an A+ job on the part of the organizers, and one of the highlights of this hectic month.