Behind the scenes, Explore Edmonton Corporation, the organization that manages the EXPO Centre on behalf of the City of Edmonton, continues to collaborate with stakeholders on site improvements. As Edmonton’s destination management and marketing organization, Explore Edmonton is planning and implementing improvements to the Expo Centre site.
Approximately 40 local residents and neighbouring community league leaders attended an update at the EXPO Centre on March 1. EXPO Centre venue staff highlighted progress in their respective areas of expertise.
Arlindo Gomes, Explore Edmonton’s vice president of business development and venue management, shared several key projects in and around the EXPO Centre site. One such project is the planned rehabilitation and improvements to Klondike Park, which starts in May. A $2-million grant is earmarked for phase 1.
“First, we’ll see selective demolition of structures that are past the end of their useful lives,” said Gomes. “The goal is that Klondike Park will eventually be open on a regular basis for the community, and [with] a variety of event activities.” Gomes, who attended elementary school in the Alberta Avenue area, knows the neighbourhood well.
Jessie Radies, Explore Edmonton’s director of strategic programs and initiatives, reported on K-Days, Farmfair International, the Edmonton Urban Farm, and the new Edmonton Pro Rodeo.
“We have created a 10-year work plan called Re-Imagine with regard to K-Days,” said Radies. Some of the new or expanded programming for K-Days includes live theatre, francophone and Indigenous activities, and a Maker Faire. She added that more than 100,000 free tickets are distributed to children and youth in the community to attend K-Days.
The Edmonton Urban Farm celebrates its tenth anniversary this year. The community garden, run by Explore Edmonton’s Patty Milligan, opens during the May long weekend and continues into October. It will be open to visitors every Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm. Twenty-two community groups are partners, with up to 300 gardeners involved. Edmonton Urban Farm is involved with many events and groups over the year. Last summer, for example, Alberta Avenue seniors were given a walking tour.
EXPO Centre, under general manager Olaf Miede’s direction, also partners with many community organizations, including Arts on the Ave, Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts, Edmonton Heritage Festival, Kiwanis International, Edmonton Public Library, and Special Olympics Edmonton. “We share our chattels and assets with local groups where possible,” said Miede. Special Olympics athletes, for example, use space at EXPO Centre from Monday to Wednesday, during the weekly downtime between exhibitions and events.
In April 2021, $90-million worth of upgrades to the EXPO Centre got started. Upgrades will continue until December 2025, reported Tyson Jeffery, EXPO Centre director, facility operations.
“Part of the focus of the EXPO Centre rehabilitation is making the building more energy efficient,” said Jeffery. Repairs to roofing and cladding, installation of Canada’s largest solar array, and a complete electrical system upgrade, is in progress. Other improvements include new seating in Hall D where the Edmonton Stingers play (Flair Airlines Hangar), and a new look for the main entrance.
As an anchor for employment, Gomes added that Explore Edmonton now has an employee-led equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) council relating to how people from different backgrounds (particularly those from visible minorities and marginalized groups) experience their workplace and how this affects their working and daily lives. The group is committed to embracing and celebrating the differences and unique perspectives of all employees.
Ward Métis Coun. Ashley Salvador spoke briefly, confirming that Coliseum demolition is planned for 2025. “I wish it was sooner,” she added. For now, the area is on “the path of smaller steps so we can have big ones after 2025.” She said that a small parcel of land on the south end of the site will be put up for sale at some point this year.