013: Councillor Scott Mckeen Explains Why Edmonton Needs A Clear Brand and Identity

Jason Scott talks with Scott McKeen City Councillor of Edmonton’s Ward 6.


Scott McKeen volunteer, writer, and journalist Scott McKeen is best known for his 24 years at The Edmonton Journal. The majority of his years with the Journal were spent at City Hall, reporting and commenting on city council. In 2013 Scott became the councillor of Ward 6 and continues to work today to make Edmonton a world-class city. Ward 6 includes the communities of McQueen, Grovenor, Glenora, North Glenora, Westmount, Queen Mary Park, Oliver, Downtown, Central McDougall, McCauley, Boyle Street, Riverdale, and Rossdale.

Jason and Scott talk about real estate in Ward 6, the increase in density, Alldritt Tower, the River Valley and the redevelopment of the old municipal airport.

Key Points

  • [1:55] What’s the real estate market look like in Ward 6?
  • [2:28] Increasing density not only makes the city more efficient but it also helps the environment.
  • [3:40] Neighbourhoods like Glenora, Westmount, and Belgravia are very desirable neighborhoods that even so call “skinny homes” are still selling for upwards of 700,000 dollars.
  • [4:32] What will attenable housing look like in mature neighborhoods?
  • [5:53] Row Houses, Duplexes have a precept by Edmontonians of some really bad builds that were a result of bad builds from the 1970s.
  • [8:55] Average families will not be living in single family dwellings in mature neighborhoods. They will be living in attainable housing in mature neighborhoods.
  • [11:27] Revitalisation of neighborhoods is a pretty big deal in Edmonton, what sort of desire does the city have to continue this process?
  • [13:50] In this current city budget round, the city is pledging 1 Billion dollars to fix the roads and get rid of the title of the “pot hole capital of Canada”.
  • [15:04] Edmonton has seen some major growth. How do you balance growth with trying to densify?
  • [18:40] I think if we can fix a lot of the social disorder in Mccauley that part of the city will pop.
  • [22:30] Areas like McCauley are starting to see families move in because of affordable housing. How do you think this will play out?
  • [24:30] There has been a lot of development downtown (ice district) where does downtown go from here?
  • [26:53] What I think is interesting about our downtown is the lack of head offices that cities like Calgary and Toronto have. This puts Edmonton in a unique situation where the downtown will have more residential towers which will improve the nightlife more than many other cities.
  • [29:27] Developer Brad Lamb is talking about building more towers downtown.  When a major developer makes a bet like this what does it tell you?
  • [31:14] Because we are so far from other cities Edmontonians have to be more creative.
  • [32:27] One thing that drives me crazy is the amount of institutions in this city that have no clear ties to Edmonton (The Art Gallery of Alberta, The University of Alberta, The Capital Region Board) It’s almost like we are afraid to use the name Edmonton.
  • [33:30] What effect will the Alldritt Tower have on downtown?
  • [35:10] If we breach the social contract that we have with the citizens that the river valley parkland is sacred, the benefits must outway the costs.
  • [38:50] There are 2 ways to look at the Alldritt Towers. Either it will suck up all demand in the area and nothing will develop for years or it will spur growth and investment due of the increase of population in that area.
  • [39:59] On the subject of developing parkland, there has been talk for years about the old Rossdale power plant. What do you see happening in this area?
  • [40:47] If this area is going to be work on it’s going to need major investment by all 3 levels of government.
  • [43:05] I think Edmonton should embrace and own Indigenous culture. By that I mean we should be the place in Canada that people come to learn and experience the Indigenous culture. Much like the Stampede in Calgary, Edmonton needs that one great brand, and Indigenous culture could be that for us.
  • [45:05] Why hasn’t the city marketed the River Valley?
  • [47:02] I wish more Edmontonians would seek out the River Valley because you want to feel a sense of pride for your city and this is where you will find it.
  • [47:30] Where do you see the redevelopment of the municipal airport going?
  • [50:00] To get the airport closed, a new myth had to been made. To make the best neighborhood of all time. This was a bar that was too high and the project had to be scaled back so that something resembling the original vision still gets made.