One of Edmonton’s defining features is its forward-thinking populace. Innovation is everywhere in Edmonton – whether it’s bold new findings by the University of Alberta or one of Edmonton’s other great campuses, or something as behind the scenes as garbage collection, new ideas are always at work.
In 2011, Edmonton was one of 24 cities to win the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge, thanks to the support the city shows for information technology innovation. This came with an award of $400 000 that is going towards making Edmonton’s transportation network safer. Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) or “Smart Roads” are one aspect of this – these roads use systems to monitor traffic, predicting traffic flow, improving response times during accidents, and providing route guidance when traffic is detoured. There are plans to implement the ITS along the Yellowhead Corridor. When it comes to public transit, Edmonton also shows its fair share of innovation – the ETS Stealth Project is bringing in electric engine technology for buses, allowing Edmontonians to get around emission-free with lower operational costs.
It might not seem flashy, but there’s exciting work being done in garbage collection and waste management as well. When most people put their garbage out in the morning, they don’t tend to think about where it’s going to end up. In Edmonton, thanks to some modern facilities, a lot of that garbage is recycled or diverted from landfills. Through its recycling centers, up to 60% of Edmonton’s waste is now being recycled or composted. We’re not stopping there – a 'Waste to Biofuels' Facility opened in June of 2014, which converts waste into useful products like ethanol and methanol. The goal is to have 90% of Edmonton’s waste diverted from landfills by 2016.
It’s not just waste that’s getting an environmental makeover in Edmonton – the Roots for Trees initiative is looking to plant 16 000 trees throughout public and private spaces. This includes opportunities like Have Shovel Will Travel, in which groups can receive trees and planting spaces from the city to plant whenever they like. There’s also the Roots for Trees Festival, which takes place in June. Plant trees, listen to live bluegrass music, and enjoy the kid’s Tree-athlon, where kids race to plant and water trees! Thanks to festivals like this and other Roots for Trees events, Edmonton is creating more green spaces while bringing communities together.
Edmontonians are always willing to get behind new ideas, especially those that improve the city in the long run. In a city of innovative people, there’s always new ideas coming to the forefront, making Edmonton a safer, greener, and more exciting place to live. From roads to trees, Edmonton is making progress through innovation today and for years to come.