I have written before about my support for naming important pieces of civic infrastructure, in order to build a sense of place and to honour local significance. I feel that there is an opportunity to adjust the name of the new Edmonton Tower in order to make the name more significant and to tie in with the nation-wide celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday. First, allow me to digress for a moment.
The 29-storey Edmonton Tower, at the corner of 101 Street and 104 Avenue, is a beautiful addition to the downtown skyline, although it is debatable whether it needed to be constructed. Previously, many municipal employees were housed in several separate downtown buildings; now, they are consolidated. The problem with the relocation of civic offices is that significant space in other buildings has been vacated, and private-sector office landlords are now scrambling to fill those vacancies. When one sees the shiny new buildings downtown, one should also realize that many of the older buildings are now only half full.
The critical citizen should see that the Ice District has cost taxpayers much more than the initial $300,000,000+ dedicated to the arena. With LRT, the Edmonton Tower, incentives to other developers, and servicing upgrades, I predict that the total contribution of the City to the Ice District is closer to a billion dollars.
I am glad that the new Edmonton Tower does not have a corporate-sponsored name, as previously, many of the City’s offices were housed in the HSBC or CN buildings. And the simplicity of the name is special, too, but it lacks significance and is… a bit bland. Let’s be honest.
This year is Canada’s 150 birthday, and Canadians are celebrating from coast to coast. The term ‘sesquicentennial’ refers to the celebration of marking 150 years of something. The word is hard to pronounce the first time, but when broken down, one may find it easier: ‘sesqui-centennial’. Phonetically it is “sess-qwee”, meaning ‘one and a half’, plus “centennial”, meaning ‘one hundred’.
The City of Edmonton is currently looking for ways to celebrate the sesquicentennial anniversary through various events, but I have an enduring symbolic proposal. The ‘Edmonton Tower’ should be renamed to the ‘Edmonton Sesquicentennial Tower’.
Many of the current celebratory plans for Canada 150 are temporal and temporary, and memories will fade with time. Yet, when the fireworks are done and the confetti is swept, a renamed Edmonton Tower would permanently mark this important national milestone, and Edmonton’s recognition of Canadian heritage.
There is currently a convention of naming structures after anniversaries, such as Century Place, Millennium Place, and the Northern Jubilee Auditorium. My proposal will improve the current name of the Edmonton Tower. It is a win-win, and the quirky nature of the word ‘sesquicentennial’ adds some fun.
So, whether or not we needed the tower, we got it. We paid for it, so let’s own it and rename it to the Edmonton Sesquicentennial Tower!
It would be nice for it to be done and revealed on Canada Day 2017, when we all marvel at our short but impactful collective history.
Jon Dziadyk “Jon D for Ward 3”
P.S. The reason that the City built the Edmonton Tower is to prove that development would occur around the new arena, if the arena was built first. There was no business case for the City getting into the high-rise office tower construction business. The City was simply closing the loop on their own argument that if the arena is built, towers will follow.
P.P.S. I have many, many, ideas on how the City could be run for efficiently, and with honour to our heritage. I encourage you to also consider the other topics that I have written on.
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