I have been meaning to write about this for a couple of weeks. The Edmonton International Airport recently launched a semi-guerilla marketing campaign to convince Edmontonians and northern Albertans to "Stop the Calgary Habit." The campaign is geared towards stopping travellers from flying on departing flights from the Calgary International Airport (where there are many more connecting flights) and depart from the Edmonton International.
In recent conversations with some friends, the question was raised: "Why would we want to compare ourselves to Calgary?"
A big deal was made in the mid-1990s by political groups like The Edmonton Stickmen and politicians like Mayor Bill Smith about the lack of corporate headquarters in Edmonton and businesses being lost to Calgary. The hockey rivalry does not interest me and now that Premier Ralph Klein has retired to become a gameshow host, the political rivalry feels practically inexistent and pointless. From the amount of cranes in its downtown skyline, it appears that Calgary is continuing its dream of becoming the Toronto of the West. As a proud Edmontonian, I say: "they can have it."
As Calgary charts its own course, Edmonton is charting one that will be shaped by its own unique identity, strengths, and opportunities. Outsiders might be shocked to learn about the vibrant and engaged communities that our city has (last week's GalaGuru event at the packed Latitude 53 Studio was a great example of these vibrant communities). I used to believe that I would need to move to bigger cities like Vancouver or Toronto (or even Calgary) in order to find a great job and quality of life, but I share the perspective of a growing number of younger city-dwellers who believe that Edmonton is a place to be. There is a new confidence in a younger generation that perhaps was not there when the Edmonton-Calgary rivalry was at its hottest twenty or thirty years ago.
When I fly to other cities, I fly from the Edmonton International Airport, not because of loyalty or rivalry, but because it is the closest. If Calgary International Airport is attracting important international flights and airlines, I say: "good for them. It is good for Calgary, good for Alberta, and good for Edmonton."