Home Month and Year September 2023 It’s Time to Maximize Edmonton’s Hosting Potential

It’s Time to Maximize Edmonton’s Hosting Potential

Catherine Brownlee

After an incredibly successful summer festival season, it’s clear that Alberta is on the map as a go-to destination for entertainment experiences. Edmonton hosted the Junos earlier this year, bringing in more than $12 million in economic impact. Calgary hosted another incredibly successful Stampede in July, seeing a record turnaround, only topped by the 100th anniversary Stampede in 2012. K-Days was attended by 557,000 this year.

However, it isn’t just festivals and entertainment events bringing people to our province. We’re seeing more and more professional conferences and conventions drawing people to Wildrose Country. In April, the 2023 Canadian Hydrogen Convention welcomed 8,000 attendees from more than 70 countries to Edmonton, doubling last year’s numbers. Attendance is expected to double again for the 2024 convention. The event didn’t only showcase our burgeoning hydrogen sector but generated a staggering $10 million in economic impact for the city. Edmonton is also hosting Carbon Capture Canada 2023 this month, not to mention the provincial conferences that bring people to the capital, like the Alberta Municipalities Convention and Trade Show.

These types of professional and industry gatherings are becoming more common in our city, and their economic impacts are felt across nearly every sector – hospitality, entertainment, restaurants and retail, arts and culture and, importantly, small business. It also brings vibrancy to our downtown core that, after a challenging few years, benefits greatly from the energy boost.

This boost will continue into the fall as Edmonton prepares to host Canada’s premier commercial real estate conference, BOMEX 2023, at the world-class ICE District. The conference is hosted by BOMA Edmonton and will welcome 450 commercial property owners, managers and service providers from across the country, Mexico, the United States and China to Edmonton’s downtown core this month to experience the city for themselves. This event showcasing Edmonton’s dynamic commercial real estate industry will bring an estimated $1.5 million to Edmonton and Jasper’s economies over the four-day occasion.

What’s more, this event sold out two months in advance as the excitement grows for the opportunity to visit and explore Canada’s northernmost major city. Organizers never expected such enthusiasm but this event broke records for the 33-year-old conference. Naysayers will tell you that Alberta isn’t an ideal destination for events or conferences of significant size and that professional gatherings held in Edmonton do not have the same allure as conferences held in St. John’s, Vancouver or Montreal, but the evidence clearly demonstrates otherwise.

The question is now whether we want to continue this trend. With the numerous benefits to the city, the answer is a no-brainer. To make that happen, we need to make sure we have the infrastructure to support these events – more hotel rooms, more networking and event spaces, bigger and more modern convention centres, direct flights, rail transit from the airport to downtown and to our best tourism assets, like the Rocky Mountains.

The world wants to come here, and it’s time we developed the infrastructure to host them properly. The good news? We happen to have 450 commercial real estate professionals here this month who can make it happen.