Edmonton is the capital of Alberta and the second largest city in the province by population. It lies on the North Saskatchewan River and is the centre of the Edmonton Capital Region, which is located in Central Alberta.
Statistics Canada shows that in 2006 people in Edmonton were mostly of European ethnicities – of English, German, Scottish, Irish, Ukrainian and French origin. Most of the immigrants in Edmonton used to come to Alberta from other Canadian provinces; however, over the past decade the number of international migrants is increasing.
According to the 2012 municipal census on April 1, 2012, Edmonton’s population was 817,498. The city’s annual growth has averaged 12,000 since the previous municipal census in 2009. This growth can be explained with the good employment opportunities and the quality of life that attract immigrants to Edmonton. Employment rates are high both for skilled and unskilled labour. A large proportion (31%) of Edmonton’s population comprises people between 25 and 45 years of age – in their prime working, consuming and spending years. With this age profile Edmonton can expect further outstanding economic growth.
Edmonton is proud of being the fastest growing economy among the large Canadian cities. It also has the fourth-highest GDP of all Canadian cities. Since 96% of Canada’s oil reserves are in Alberta, Edmonton’s economy naturally focuses on the petrochemical industries. Oil supply and services, research and developing of new technologies ensure Edmonton’s prosperity even during global economic storms.
The city also experiences growth in the technology and biotech sectors. There is a strong presence of major employers like IBM, General Electric, BioWare, Telus and Afexa Life Sciences Inc. and others. Technology and biotech sectors are closely tied to Edmonton’s research and education centres. Leaders in research are University of Alberta, Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures and the National Institute for Nanotechnology.
As the population of Edmonton is growing, more homes are being built and neighbourhoods developed. To choose the location for their new homes, homebuyers and tenants can read the information the City of Edmonton provides on its website about the neighbourhoods in Alberta’s capital. Furthermore, Edmonton Police Service provides information online about the neighbourhoods’ safety.
According to the Royal LePage House Price Survey released in June2012, the average price of a detached bungalow in Edmonton in the second quarter of 2012 was $327,857, a standard two storey home was about $353,764, and a standard condominium home was $201,000.
For information on the current average, minimum and maximum rental rates based on Condominium rental listings posted by Edmonton property owners/managers click here. Newcomers who want to receive advice and information about their rights and obligations as tenants under the Residential Tenancies Act can call the Landlord and Tenant Advisory Board. The number is 780-469-5959.
Most medically necessary health services in Edmonton are covered by the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP). For prescription drugs and medical services not covered by AHCIP Albertans are advised to obtain supplementary health insurance.
For a list of hospitals in Edmonton, click here.
Edmontonians, like most Canadians, experience long wait times to have a non-emergency visits to a specialists or to have surgeries – patients have to wait for weeks or for months. For wait time information on medical procedures and diagnostic tests click here.
In emergency situations call 911 or General Emergency Services, 780-496-3800. On its website Alberta Health Services posts real-time estimated wait times for the emergency departments in the Edmonton zone.
Kindergarten and grades 1-12 in Edmonton are provided by three publicly funded school boards (districts).
The largest one is Edmonton Public Schools, which operates 195 schools. It is one of the few Alberta jurisdictions that require all students to study a second language for six years – between Grade 4 and 9. It offers bilingual programs in Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), German, Hebrew, Spanish and Ukrainian. It also offers courses in Cree, French, Japanese, Punjabi and American Sign Language. Information about registration, student transportation, schools and programs can be found in the Edmonton Public Schools Quick Guide.
The Edmonton Catholic School District operates 84 schools. To children of immigrants and to international students it offers ESL (English as a Second Language) programs as well as bilingual programs – French, Polish, Spanish and Ukrainian. Students involved in the bilingual programs receive 50% of their instruction in the chosen language in kindergarten or Grade One and 35% at the secondary level. The Edmonton Catholic School District also offers French Immersion Programs and French as a Second Language courses. For information on the registration process, click here.
The Greater North Central Francophone Education Region No.2 is the largest French language school board in Alberta.
Edmonton has highly respected universities, technical institutes and colleges. The University of Alberta / (known colloquially as U of A) is the largest research institution in the province. Its more than 38,000 students are enrolled in over 200 undergraduate and 170 graduate programs. Other universities in Edmonton are Athabasca University, Taylor University College and Seminary, Concordia University College of Alberta, The King’s University College and the Edmonton campus of the University of Lethbridge. The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) / offers more than 200 credit programs. Other post-secondary institutions include NorQuest College and Yellowhead Tribal College.
Edmonton is often called “The Festival City” because of the 40 festivals that take place in it, most of them in Sir Winston Churchill Square in the Downtown Art District. Also located in the Art District are the Citadel Theatre, the Art Gallery of Alberta, the Stanley Milner Public Library, the City Hall and the Francis Winspear Centre for Music, home of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. One of the biggest theatre events in North America, the Fringe Theatre Festival takes place in Edmonton.
The largest living history museum in Canada is Fort Edmonton Park. Costumed interpreters bring visitors back in time, showing them original and rebuilt historical structures.
The West Edmonton Mall is the biggest shopping mall in North America and until 2004 it was the biggest mall in the world. It is a great place for indoor activities in the cold winter months. Some of the attractions of the Mall are Galaxyland, the world’s largest indoor amusement park, which features more than 24 spectacular rides; World Waterpark, which boast the world’s largest indoor wave pool, the tallest indoor permanent bungee tower and more than 17 waterslides; Marine Life, an underground aquarium; Putt ‘n’glow, a glow-in-the-dark miniature golf course illuminated with neon flowers; and the Ice Palace.