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The Missing Chapter in Edmonton’s Growth Story

By Gemma Dunn

Growth. That was the theme of Mayor Amarjeet Sohi’s State of the City Address last month.

“Our story is about growth,” began Mayor Sohi, “and all of the reasons people choose to move or stay here: like affordability, access to quality services, community, opportunity, and a good quality of life.”

Leaders from the business community, all levels of government, and the non-profit sector packed the room at the Edmonton Convention Centre – all intently listening to how they have supported the influx of roughly 100,000 new Edmontonians over the last two years.

But something was missing in his story.

There was little mention of the non-profit sector.

Let me give you some numbers

“I know the people in this room see the value of economic indicators in our story,” said Mayor Sohi. “Let me give you some numbers.”

He outlined the latest statistics on jobs, new business start-ups, GDP, tourism, municipal operations, and capital expenditures.

Still, there was no mention of the non-profit sector in his story, so let me give you some numbers to highlight the impact of our sector in our economy.

The non-profit sector contributes $5.5 billion in GDP contributions to Alberta’s economy, employs over 285,000 Albertans, and accumulates over 227 million volunteer hours annually. Although these are provincial statistics, they highlight the immense impact our sector has on our local economy.

We are an essential part of the socio-economic fabric of Edmonton. We play a vital role in building healthy communities by providing critical services that contribute to economic stability and mobility. Our contributions not only bolster economic growth but also enhance community well-being and social cohesion through a wide range of vital services and programs. 

As Mayor Sohi noted, “The people in this room and beyond are capable of tackling the challenges that growth brings,” and he was right, but do this well the nonprofit sector must be a crucial part of this future story for Edmonton.

Uplifting Edmonton

Mayor Sohi spoke about services that “help us live well” as Edmontonians, how the city has “taken significant strides towards advancing anti-racism and reconciliation work,” and how the city is “tackling the housing and houselessness crisis.”

He is correct when saying we are moving forward and in the right direction, but I would like to point out that the city has not done this in a silo. In addition to the three levels of government and the business community, our sector, the non-profit sector, has uplifted the City’s initiatives through our partnerships, collaboration, and wrap around service delivery.

We are the feet on the ground – the heartbeat of the city.

We are the community leagues, preschools, festivals, seniors groups, parent groups, sports leagues, religious and cultural groups, social services, health and welfare organizations, animal welfare and environment groups.  

We are the over 6,300 non-profit organizations that work in collaboration with the City and community to build a resilient, vibrant, future-focused Edmonton, making this city an Edmonton for all of us.