Character :: Business and Jobs :: Best Places to Live :: Climate :: Education :: Transport :: Recreation :: Summary and Pros and Cons
Edmonton is located in Alberta, Canada’s low tax province. Its residents pay significantly lower taxes than residents of other Canadian provinces.
Most people who move to Edmonton are impressed by the friendliness of Edmontonians. Money Sense magazine ranks Edmonton as the 31st most livable location in Canada in terms of its economy, amenities, real estate market, weather, and attractions. While this figure is hardly flattering, Edmonton enjoys its status as a “green city”.
The landscape around Edmonton is flat.
The Rocky mountains, although available for recreation, are too far away to see. The town of Jasper, in Jasper National Park, is a four hour drive from Edmonton. Edmonton’s river valley is home to the longest stretch of connected urban parkland anywhere in North America. There is over ninety-seven kilometres (61 miles) of biking, hiking, skiing, walking and snow-shoeing trails.
Edmonton’s “Ribbon of Green” is reinforced by neighbourhood parks throughout the city yielding 27,400 acres of parkland. Edmonton has Canada’s highest area of parkland per resident.
The city has an advanced bus network and light rail system that stops frequently in major central and downtown points of interest.
Edmonton is a major oil and gas centre, attracting many migrant workers. As a result of this, the city is ethnically diverse with about one-quarter of the local population belonging to a “visible minority” – mainly Chinese and other Asian ethnicities.
First Nations aboriginal people account for just over 5% of the population.
Nearly 85% of residents report that English is their primary language and 91% of the immigrant population report conversational knowledge of the English language.
Business and Jobs
Edmonton boasts a favourable jobs market relative to most other Canadian cities, with labour shortages. In the last 12 months Edmonton has added almost 25,000 jobs and Edmonton’s unemployment rate moving into 2013 was 4.3 percent.
The city hopes to fill its vacancies by advertising the city’s appeal to foreign migrants and skilled workers.
The largest major industry is petrochemicals. The region is rich in oil and natural gas, which has given Edmonton the title of “Oil Capital of Canada”. The potential oil supply from the region’s tar sands is second only to Saudi Arabia’s. However, recruiting skilled workers in these fields has been difficult.
Local colleges offer a wide syllabus of courses related to the oil and gas fields, but Edmonton still experiences a shortage of professional and skilled workers in these sectors.
Edmonton benefits from a wide range of other employment sectors. There are significant opportunities in information technology, banking and biotechnology; employers include Afexa Life Sciences, BioWare, IBM, Intuit Canada, Canadian Western Bank, Telus, General Electric, Stantec and TD Canada Trust.
New arrivals in Edmonton frequently report that they spend very little time in job hunting and usually receive offers of employment very quickly.
Employment vacancies tend to be offered on a “first come, first served” basis due to the lack of available workers in the city. This is especially true in the retail sector where prospective workers can apply in-person with their resumes and can receive offers of employment immediately.
Best Places to Live in Edmonton
The city of Edmonton has experienced a decline in real estate prices since they peaked in May 2007. Home prices in late 2012 averaged $329,000, up 4.4 percent from $316,000 a year earlier.
Edmonton is relatively stable in economic downturns, but the global economy’s recent plunge has been a driving force in the reduction in real estate valuations.
Regarding the best places to live in Edmonton, we’ll consider family-friendly neighbourhoods offering a good quality of life with low crime rates. (These might not necessarily be your choice if you’re a young single person looking for inner city nightlife and entertainment.)
Edmonton’s residents often identify the city’s south western neighbourhoods as some of the most desirable and affluent.
Neighbourhoods such as Haddow, Henderson Estates, and Ogilvie Ridge have very low crime rates and their residents are very affluent compared with most others.
Neighbourhoods such as Blackburne and Falconer Heights are affluent areas with similarly low crime rates.
Neighbourhoods such as Lendrum Place and Steinhauer are more middling for affluence levels and, although they suffer a little more crime than the neighbourhoods mentioned previously, still have low crime rates.
In South Edmonton, Windsor Place and Bearspaw are good neighbourhoods, while in the South East Wild Rose, Cloverdale and Larkspur are great places to live.
In the South East, parts of Mill Woods have a reputation for higher levels of crime; some residents of Edmonton warn people not to live in Mill Woods.
This is rather unfair, given the size of the area – over 100,000 people live there. A minority of Mill Woods areas do have problems, while other neighbourhoods offer a high quality of life with low crime. The best places to live include Jackson Heights, Greenview and Menisa.
Sherwood Park, on the Eastern boundary of Edmonton, with a population of slightly over 60,000, has a very low crime rate and is also favoured by many people seeking an improved quality of life.
There are plenty of excellent, family friendly areas in West Edmonton. (Some of these have only been built in recent years as the city expands.)
Some of the best you could consider are Dechene, Gariepy, Glastonbury, Jamieson Place, Laurier Heights, Potter Greens, Quesnell Heights, Rio Terrace, Wedgewood Heights, and Westridge.
In North West Edmonton, Cumberland and Oxford are great choices, while in North Edmonton, consider Canossa, Elinsore and Klarvatten.
A good choice in the north could be St. Albert, a town with about 60,000 residents, just outside Edmonton.
Crimes in Edmonton tend to be concentrated in some north eastern neighbourhoods and these are overwhelmingly drug related.
Some areas with a reputation for higher crime levels in the north east are Abbotsfield, Beverly, Hermitage and Norwood. (The downtown area also has problems after dark – particularly in the east – Chinatown and McCauley.)
Good choices in the North East include Matt Berry and Hollick-Kenyon.
Crime rates in Edmonton are above average for Canadian cities – although slightly lower than Vancouver, it is approximately 50% higher than Calgary and Montreal and has over double the crime rate of Toronto.
The neighbourhoods we’ve identified all have much lower than average crime rates and should offer an excellent starting point for families relocating to Edmonton.
Edmonton’s climate is continental, with large seasonal temperature variations. Snowfall is extremely common and can occur between September and May.
The snowiest months are December and January, which see monthly average snowfalls of over 20 centimetres (8 inches). December, January and February can be bitterly cold.
Average daily maximum temperatures exceed 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit) in June, July, and August.
The combination of summertime heat and precipitation tends to create violent thunderstorms, which have occasionally led to tornadoes. While rare, an F4 tornado struck Edmonton on July 31, 1987, killing 27 people.
More common summertime storms tend to include hail.
An extreme summer storm struck in 2004 with over 100 millimetres (4 inches) of recorded rainfall within one hour. This storm caused extensive damage to the West Edmonton Mall and led to mass flooding throughout critical intersections in the city.
Education in Edmonton
Residents in the city of Edmonton have a selection of three major school boards for kindergarten through to twelfth grade education.
The majority of schools are a part of the Edmonton Public Schools board, which provides a standard non- denominational education.
There also exists the Edmonton Catholic School District and a Francophone school board providing immersion education for primarily French speaking children.
Placement in K-12 (i.e. primary and secondary) education is dependent on personal preferences, available space, and location.
School placements are based on “catchment areas” with students placed according to their home address.
It is usually best to avoid neighbourhoods which are perceived as underachieving.
The city of Edmonton is home to more than ten post-secondary institutions.
The university provides education for over 36,000 students each year. It has approximately 3,500 academic staff and about 10,500 support staff.
Edmonton is also the site of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, offering applied technical courses in a variety of undergraduate programs and certificate or diploma based study. Like the University of Alberta, the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology is a large campus with over 48,500 students enrolled per academic year.
Environment and Getting Around Edmonton
Residents of Edmonton enjoy the lowest gasoline and diesel prices in Canada.
Cars are the primary mode of transportation for the great majority of residents.
Edmonton also has a well-connected system of public transportation.
The Edmonton Transit System incorporates a light rail network that joins major central and downtown points of interest and a bus system that connects the entire city.
However, residents don’t usually regard the local bus network as a viable option for work related transportation as a journey that connects the downtown core to a more remote western location can take up to 92 minutes with three transfers on a one-way trip.
Edmonton is not routinely seen as a bike friendly city for work.
Its expansive network of bike paths is seen as more recreational, taking in some scenic locations such as a riverside journey throughout Edmonton’s parks.
Recreation and What to Do in Edmonton
Most teenage to young adult residents see the West Edmonton Mall as the city’s premier social hub.
The mall offers an extraordinary number of activities, which include an indoor amusement park with one of the largest indoor roller coasters in the world, a swimming pool with water park, marine life shows, mini golf, bowling, a skating rink, and laser tag.
The city also offers standard western attractions for this age category including numerous multi-screen movie theatres, youth clubs, and restaurants.
Edmonton has recently experienced complaints from its residents about the lack of activities in the downtown. This has prompted city officials to encourage more permanent social gathering places and businesses.
If you prefer outdoor activities, you may find yourself enjoying the city’s extensive and well-connected park system.
Edmonton has Canada’s highest area of parkland per resident.
Edmonton’s river valley is home to the longest stretch of connected urban parkland anywhere in North America.
There is over ninety-seven kilometres of biking, hiking, skiing, walking and snow-shoeing trails.
Edmonton’s “Ribbon of Green” is reinforced by neighbourhood parks throughout the city yielding 27,400 acres of parkland.
Most parks are safe, but an isolated few, such as Borden Park, are locally perceived as being dangerous after sunset due to the high levels of unreported crime and questionable individuals in the area.
The “Edmonton Eskimos” are the city’s Canadian Football League team, attracting many local residents into the Commonwealth Stadium to watch home field games.
Commonwealth Stadium also hosts many concerts and other stage acts that require a high capacity crowd, which can meet or exceed 60,000 seated patrons.
Edmonton also hosts an annual “Capital Ex” carnival and festival with several outdoor midway rides, live performances, concerts, and games.
It has been estimated that Edmonton’s Capital Ex earns over $10 billion gross per year and is a considerable force in the city’s local economy.
Edmonton is predominantly a working city, with friendly residents, where people come to earn a living or be educated. It can offer excellent opportunities to those who seek them, and it’s likely that new arrivals will settle into their new home quickly and with relative ease.