May 2, 2014

I'm Trying to Love You Edmonton, But You're Making it Really Hard.

A zombie starves to (double) death in downtown Edmonton...
Every city I've traveled to, I'm impressed by two things. 1) The vibrancy of their downtown and 2) the preservation and re-imagining of historical buildings. This is a pretty pathetic list - trust me, in my travels in Calgary and New York in the last few years, I'm impressed by a lot of things, but the above mentioned should be a given in a city with a million or so people living in it. Right?

Downtown Edmonton has always felt like the day after a zombie apocalypse. To be fair, that's changing. The Mercer Building has been an impressive re-purpose, 104th street is blossoming with web designers, local shops and urbanites with dogs, and Remedy Cafe is open until midnight - so you can't really say downtown dies after 6pm anymore.

I'm excited that more people are choosing to live downtown. Councilor Scott McKeen's article in the journal about urban experiences was inspiring. But can we inject a little more culture into our dwelling spaces and stop tearing down the old stuff?

I was contemplating this today, thinking that all these new developments popping up around us look like uninspired fortresses of sadness. Not at all reflective of the exciting artistic people and forward-thinking entrepreneurial spirit this town has within.

Developments like "Railtown" make me want to shoot myself in the face. Can't we do better? I'm sure they're all luxury inside, but it looks like a boring-ass box from the outside and I have to drive by it everyday. Is it too much to ask to inject some creativity into your design? So I tweeted this:

Moments later, journalist Jeff Samsonow shared an article announcing the demolition of the Paramount Theatre in Edmonton and I wonder if I'm being punked. This is giving me the "Red Wedding" sads. This news follows the traumatic experience of walking past my favourite brick mansion, the Arthur Davies house, crumbled to bits and riddled with graffiti. I don't care that it's being moved, it has been taken away from me (and others in the neighbourhood) and will surly be replaced with an ugly piece of crap.

I wish Edmonton would be known for more than tearing down its history. Because you can put these residental spaces up, but no one wants to live in them. And then we'll be known as a city where zombies will starve, because there's no one around to eat. Tragic.

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