Mayor Amarjeet Sohi
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Mixed reactions to Mayor Sohi’s first State of the City Speech

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Mayor Amarjeet Sohi shared his vision for the city yesterday at a corporate event sponsored by EPCOR.

Sohi said the warmth he has received from the city unlocked his potential. When he landed in Edmonton, 41 years ago, he never imagined that life would take him to where he is today. He called Edmonton a city of possibilities adding that “when we work together, when we support each other and lift each other up, we make the impossible possible”. 

He thanked his wife and children as his ‘biggest champions. Without them, he would not be where is is today’. He also thanked all his colleagues for their commitment to the city.

Optimistically, he spoke about the city we can become. Looking back ‘at some of the most painful time in our history, just being here is a win’.

“We have an opportunity to reimagine the city we want to live behind. We can build a city where no one will be left behind”.

He alluded to the fact that we are not a perfect city.

“The pandemic has revealed that we are also a city of systemic inequalities. Indigenous, Black and Muslim women, members of the other racialized communities, continue to experience hate, stigma and racism in our city”.

We are a city with a record number of houseless people doubling in since 2019.

“Businesses—particularly those in downtown, Chinatown and other business districts—are still struggling to make ends meet”.

“We have all lost loved ones—family members, friends and coworkers—to this pandemic”.

“As it raged on, this past year was our deadliest for drug poisoning deaths. And climate change is only increasing in intensity.”

Mayor Sohi infused hope, asking us “how do I still believe we can build an Edmonton—let alone an economy—for all of us?”

He emphasised his accomplishments in his first six months:

“My first six months as your mayor have been both beautiful and challenging. Your city council has shown up as promised”.

“Together, we have approved a number of infrastructure projects that will make your life better while creating 4000 well–paying middle class jobs”. 

“Our city is now ranked second best in the country for permits, licensing and project approval timelines. Some of the biggest logistics companies in the world are looking at Edmonton to invest but our industrial vacancy is at a five-year low, and rental rates are increasing. 

 “Edmonton is on its way to becoming a business friendly city where doing business is easy, convenient and affordable.  We are breaking down the barriers for underrepresented businesses through a series of programs and grants that will help them succeed.  The Edmonton Chamber of Commerce’s Trade Accelerator Program is helping small and medium-sized businesses reach global markets sooner. 

He recognised the work of Innovate Edmonton and Explore Edmonton.  

“Innovate Edmonton is positioning our city as a global innovation capital. Explore Edmonton is working hard in promoting Edmonton as a destination for national and international tourism. We all know that global capital can be invested anywhere. But people are choosing Edmonton. Air Products’ $1.3B investment in hydrogen, HCL Technologies choosing Edmonton for its western Canada expansion are just a few examples”. 

He talked about healing “the wounds of our colonial past.”

“That is why your city council has directed city Administration to fast track a plan to respond to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls calls to action and to advance our work to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission”. 

To help women disproportionately affected by the pandemic: ”

“That is why we are looking into how we can develop a child care strategy that makes getting back to work easier”. 

He had strong words for the provincial government:

“We need our provincial government to step up because tackling houselessness, mental health, addictions and trauma is their responsibility. They need to show up for our most vulnerable. People’s human dignity and our economic recovery depends on it”. 

He highlighted the inequities Edmonton has suffered under the UCP government:

“From 2007 to 2021, Edmonton has received $1.1B less compared to Calgary under the MSI and Basic Municipal Transportation funding”. 

“Edmonton is a regional hub for social services. We carry a disproportionate burden providing servicing to Alberta’s most vulnerable for which we receive no recognition or financial support”. 

“Every year, Edmonton loses $14M in tax revenue because our provincial government is not paying its fair share of property taxes on the buildings they occupy.”

“In the past 3 years, our world-renowned University of Alberta has faced the largest budget cuts of any post-secondary in the province. Now totaling $222 million, stifling innovation and hurting students”.

He noted that he would be convening a “symposium of community leaders to find ways to end these challenges and explore how provincial economic development and tourism agencies can increase their presence in Edmonton, helping us grow our economy.”

LCCMEDIA spoke to some people who attended the event at the Shaw Conference Centre. They said “the speech felt more like a campaign speech.” They added that the speech was devoid of the traditional standing ovation which “these speeches are best known for”.



Read this:

Eight Edmonton Mayoral Candidates Take Part in First Public Forum | Edmonton Journal



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