The University of Alberta is located in Edmonton, a vibrant, livable city of one million people that is among the strongest economies in North America. Edmonton offers stunning geography, an outstanding quality of life, and is one of the fastest growing cities in Canada. National and international publications consistently rank the greater Edmonton area high for its quality of life. In fact, the surrounding communities of St. Albert and Strathcona County, and Edmonton itself, were recently ranked as the #1, #3 and #8 best places to live in Canada by Moneysense magazine.2 The basis for this success is a combination of low unemployment rates, high wages, low taxes, quality health care, and an abundance of culture, recreation and amenities:
Alberta has among the lowest rates of unemployment in North America, with the current rate of 5.4 per cent sitting well below the Canadian average.
Cost of living
Edmonton combines the highest per capita income in Canada with an affordable cost of living. Taxes are lower than elsewhere in Canada and there is no provincial sales tax. As a result, Edmontonians have more disposable income than other 2 http://www.moneysense.ca/property/canadas-best-places-to-live-2014-time-to-think-small 4 Canadians, who have already surpassed Americans as the world’s richest middle class.3 Relatively stable housing prices over the past several years make Edmonton very affordable compared to other major centres, with prices lower than they are in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto. 4
The province of Alberta has a publicly administered and funded health care system that guarantees that all residents of Alberta receive universal access to medically necessary hospital and medical services. Coverage is offered free of charge through the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan.
Edmonton’s publicly funded K-12 school system is one of the best in North America, and offers a curriculum that has been modelled around the world. 5 Alberta students continue to achieve excellent results on international tests, sharing the highest scores in the world in reading, mathematics, science and problem solving.6 Parents of students in Edmonton's K-12 system can choose schools they feel are best for their children, without being limited by districts or boundaries. Edmonton also has 10 post-secondary institutions, five of them degree-granting.
Edmonton was one of the first cities in Canada to create a waste management system focused on sustainability. The Edmonton Waste Management Centre is North America’s largest collection of modern, sustainable waste procession and research facilities. For three years in a row, Corporate Knights Magazine ranked Edmonton in the top three of Canada’s most sustainable large cities. The University of Alberta is also a recognized leader in sustainability and in 2012 was rated second among 16 Canadian institutions for sustainability performance.7 And for the past six years UAlberta has been named one of Canada’s greenest employers.8
Edmonton’s river valley, the largest stretch of urban parkland in North America, is 22 times the size of New York’s Central Park, and has more than 160 km of maintained multi-use trails. The abundance of parkland and ravines is one of the first thing visitors notice about Edmonton. An hour outside the city is Elk Island National Park, where wildlife like bison and elk can be seen in their natural habitat. Edmonton offers several nearby ski hills, including Rabbit Hill Snow Resort, Snow Valley, Sunridge Ski Area and the Edmonton Ski Club. The majestic Rocky Mountains and Jasper and Banff National Parks are only a three-hour drive away. With 71 golf courses in and around Edmonton, and sunshine lasting 17 hours at the peak of summer, golfers are in heaven. 3 Personal Disposable Income, Conference Board of Canada – Dec 2013; http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/23/upshot/theamerican-middle-class-is-no-longer-the-worlds-richest.html 4 RBC Economics research 5 http://education.alberta.ca/department/newsroom/news/archive/2004/december/20041209.aspx 6 http://www.cmec.ca/252/Programs-and-Initiatives/Assessment/Programme-for-International-Student-Assessment-(PISA)/PISA- 2012/index.html 7 Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education 8 http://www.canadastop100.com/environmental/ 5
Edmontonians enjoy dozens of fitness and sport-training facilities, and the city is well known for its professional sports, including five-time NHL Stanley Cup champions the Edmonton Oilers and thirteen-time CFL Grey Cup champions the Edmonton Eskimos. Along with the Oilers and Eskimos, Edmonton has professional basketball, baseball, lacrosse and soccer franchises. The public also enjoys cheering on the University of Alberta Golden Bears and Pandas athletic teams. UAlberta’s athletics program is one of the most successful in Canada, winning national collegiate championships in all 11 sports—the most of any Canadian university.
Edmonton offers a wide variety of arts and culture opportunities. The downtown Arts District features the architecturally stunning Art Gallery of Alberta, the Winspear Centre for Music (home of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra), and the Citadel Theatre Complex, one of the top three regional theatres in Canada. Edmonton is known as “Canada’s Festival City” with over 30 major cultural and arts events featured throughout the year, including the second-largest Fringe Theatre Festival in the world, a worldrenowned Folk Music Festival, and a multitude of winter events. The Heritage Festival, held every summer, celebrates Edmonton’s diverse blend of cultures and features food and performances from 85 cultures around the world. With over 1600 restaurants to choose from in the city, Edmontonians enjoy a first-class, world-influenced cuisine.
Edmonton’s downtown is undergoing a transformation into a sophisticated and creative urban centre. In addition to its cluster of world-class art, music and theatre venues, the city has begun construction on a brand new downtown hockey arena and entertainment complex. Many heritage buildings in the area have been transformed into lofts, and there are Saturday farmer’s markets as well as several coffee shops, restaurants and boutiques to explore. Shopping opportunities abound in Edmonton, from the world-famous West Edmonton Mall, to trendy Whyte Avenue, to the upscale 124th Street area.
No matter one’s transportation of choice, Edmontonians enjoy shorter than average daily work commutes.9 Edmonton’s subway system, the Light Rail Transit (LRT) is powered by electricity and carries over 92,000 passengers on an average day. The LRT currently runs two north-south lines, stopping at 15 stations, with planned expansion for an additional three lines along other major corridors within the next few years. Edmonton has over 275 km of shared bike paths and multi-use trails, as well as 117 km of bike lanes and on-street routes to help protect cyclists on the road.
The recently expanded Edmonton International Airport offers non-stop flights to several major hubs including London-Heathrow, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, Dallas, Houston, Minneapolis, Phoenix and Denver, as well as 20 popular resort destinations. On all flights from Edmonton to Europe, Iceland Air offers an extended stopover in Iceland at no additional fare. 9 Statistics Canada, 2005 General Social Survey 6
With about 2,300 hours of bright sunshine per year, Edmonton is one of Canada's sunniest cities.10 The summer sun seems to never set with daylight stretching as long as 17 hours. Even in winter with snow on the ground, Edmonton’s skies are big, blue and bright. The average winter temperature is -15 C but winters are dry, with annual snowfall less than that of Montreal and Toronto. Edmontonians embrace the winter months with many outdoor activities including skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, skating and tobogganing, and celebrate with a variety of winter festivals. The fall and spring are mild (average temperatures of 5-6 C) with moderate precipitation. Summers in Edmonton are perfect for outdoor activities with temperatures averaging around 20 C and often reaching into the high 30s.