Mayor Don Iveson on Edmonton’s Innovation Community

Mayor Don Iveson

Edmonton’s technology and innovation sector is rapidly expanding.

It’s estimated there are around 21,500 tech jobs in Edmonton, and it’s only growing from there. New startups are opening every day. Jobs in fields no one would have even thought about 15 years ago are everywhere. Opportunity is around every corner. It’s become so big that even the Mayor — yes, Mr. Don Iveson himself — is talking about it.

In last year’s State of the City Address, Iveson talks very openly about technology and innovation. In fact, the entire address basically revolves around improving the tech industry in Edmonton. Innovation itself is one of the four figurative “pipelines” Iveson believes the city needs to focus on to not just survive, but prosper in this economic age.

“I want to take the burgeoning community of technology minds in our backyard and unleash them,” Iveson said in the State of the City address. “The city gets to explore new ways of addressing its challenges. Companies get a wide array of settings to test concepts and trigger innovation.”

One of Iveson’s major points, however, is that he wants to steer clear of making Edmonton the concrete jungle that San Francisco, and Silicon Valley, has become. Iveson was aboard one of the inaugural flights directly from Edmonton to San Francisco in May 2018 and spent some time in the city.

“[T]he lifestyle is jarring compared to here. The cost of housing is astronomical — out of reach for most people. In many ways, Silicon Valley is a never-ending series of light industrial campuses, with no real community between them.”

But that’s not what our Mayor wants for us.

“[I]n Edmonton, we have the potential to be one of the most family-friendly cities in North America. We already have a lot of ingredients for that: open spaces, the river valley, lots of parks and playgrounds, ski clubs, beautiful recreation centres, toboggan hills, and other outdoor amenities within our city limits — not to mention all our incredible festivals.”

Edmonton is poised to become a major player in technology and innovation around the world. With the backing of our Mayor, and a solid understanding of what we don’t want to become, Edmonton has a real chance to take over the innovation industry, while still maintain its welcoming vibe.