From “Awful” to Great: How Edmonton Reshaped the Meaning of Winter

Apropos the launch of our Wintermission project, I started reflecting about my personal experience related to winter.

I moved to Canada during a freezing winter a few years ago, and learned to enjoy the season from a rookie perspective: all was new, fun, challenging (not that fun to go to class when it’s dark out, and you have to walk through a blizzard), but overall enjoyable. I got engaged in some solo winter activities, like walking in the park, taking lots and lots of pictures, making snowballs or snowmen with some of the kids in my suburban neighbourhood in Toronto, and enjoying mugs and mugs of hot chocolate.

I wish there were a WinterCity Strategy in place, like the one the City of Edmonton has developed and worked on to engage the community of Edmontonians of all ages and walks of life, to experience public life in the outdoors when it’s cold, dark and full of snow. I’m sure I would have enjoyed winter even more.

The WinterCity Strategy is bold and visionary. It’s a combination of efforts to turn the city into a more vibrant and inviting place, for locals and visitors. The key part of making this happen was the commitment of a group of city leaders with the vision of making the shift and changing how people perceive the season, and how can we move from staying indoors watching TV, to enjoying activities like street hockey, ice skating, outdoor bbq’s, concerts, art, and so many other fun things to do.

Bringing people together and helping them to enjoy our shared spaces despite the cold weather should be the goal of every Winter City around the world. And that’s what we’re setting out to in do in Wintermission by coaching three U.S. cities to reduce social isolation and unlock the greatness of their winter climate.

Watch For The Love of Winter video and get inspired to live the magic!

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