Alberta’s capital is campaigning to be an NHL hub city for the revised playoffs, and Premier Jason Kenney is pulling out all the stops to promote Edmonton.
First the premier advocated to the federal government to make pro hockey players “essential workers,” and on Monday he released a promotional video highlighting everything Edmonton has to offer as a possible NHL hub.
The city is known for its stunning glaciers, panoramic mountain views, chilly snow-covered chalets and — oh, wait, that’s not actually Edmonton?
The video actually has nothing to do with Edmonton at all. Or hockey, for that matter. It’s a video promoting the Rocky Mountains — a multi-hour drive west of the city.
The video opens with a two-second clip of Edmonton’s skyline at night, notably filmed before the current arena that ice district NHL players would live and play in was even built. That’s followed by a full minute of tourism advertising for Banff, Jasper and Lake Louise, popular tourist destinations nowhere near Edmonton.
“Play in the Rockies,” the video encourages, over dramatic drone footage of glaciers, chalet wine-drinking and waterfalls — all things definitely not in Edmonton. At one point, a drone zooms dramatically over Chateau Lake Louise, which is a solid five-hour drive from the city limits of the place otherwise known as “Deadmonton.”
That’s like showing a video of Algonquin Park to promote Toronto. Or Montreal’s old city to promote Ottawa tourism. Seattle’s Pike Place Market as incentive to visit Vancouver. In fact, Banff is over 400 km from Edmonton — roughly the same distance as the International Space Station when directly overhead.
Simply put, they are definitely not the same thing.
Don’t get me wrong, Edmonton has its sights. When I was kid growing up in Red Deer, my family would journey to West Edmonton Mall a few times a year to go to the waterpark and finish with a luxurious dinner at the Southgate Red Lobster. And as an adult, I’ve spent many a prairie sunset walking the river valley listening to the Dixie Chicks. Whyte Avenue has plenty of good restaurants and of course Edmonton’s going to be the first place in Canada to get the infamous Popeye’s chicken sandwich.
The city grows on you. But it is very much not the mountains, as Kenney’s video suggests.
Twitter users were quick to point out the discrepancy, wondering why Alberta’s capital city wasn’t good enough for the promo video. Many shared their favourite images of Edmonton that are definitely, for sure, 100 per cent Edmonton and definitely not different places altogether.
While others shared actual images of Edmonton to highlight that things may not be as advertised.
Kenney’s issues management manager Matt Wolf defended the video on Twitter, arguing that it was targeted at the families of NHL staff and players. Wolf suggested that families would want to see the sights of the province while the abridged season took place.
However, it’s unclear how that will fit in with social distancing and quarantine measures. Wolf suggested that after undergoing the mandatory 14-day quarantine, players’ families would be free to explore the province.
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Smaller mountain communities like Banff and Lake Louise have discouraged outside visitors — especially international visitors — to prevent the spread of the disease. Several American tourists have actually been fined in recent weeks for sneaking into the area to go hiking.
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Edmonton Oilers vice-president of communications Tim Shipton said the organization would work with the NHL to create safe opportunities for families to visit other parts of Alberta while players are playing hockey.
“We’ll be working with Travel Alberta and tour operators in Jasper and Banff if the families might want to spend some time at a place like the Jasper Park Lodge or the Banff Springs,” Shipton told TSN.
Edmonton’s local tourism department came back with a bit of shade Tuesday in their own promotional video on Twitter.
The video’s targeted at local residents looking to get out and explore this summer and highlights many of the city’s best spots from the river valley to local bars: Actual good things the city has to offer that don’t require a five-hour drive to the mountains!
It may have just been coincidental timing, but many folks were here for the subtle clapback.
On Tuesday, Edmonton was announced as one of six possible host cities, along with Toronto, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Chicago and Las Vegas.
So the dream of seeing the rocky mountains — sorry, the mountain of silver balls on the side of a highway — is still very much alive.