Council narrowly approved rescinding the previous council decision to leave the Edmonton Global economic development group.
by Colin Smith
The renewed prospect of major foreign investment in the Edmonton area has prompted council to stick with a regional organization that promotes such opportunities.
At its regular meeting, on Tuesday, Sept. 13, council voted 4-3 to rescind a decision to withdraw as a shareholder of Edmonton Global made in November 24, 2020.
The decision follows a presentation made by Edmonton Global in July setting out the organization’s successes and the benefits of being a member.
The organization sees immediate opportunities for the region in food and agriculture, including plant proteins and nutraceuticals, and the health life sciences, such as artificial intelligence, pharmaceutical research and development and manufacturing, and energy artificial intelligence.
Future opportunities may lie in hydrogen, geothermal energy, circular economy, plastics manufacturing and technology such as robotics and nanotech.
Morinville’s shareholder contribution for 2022 through 2025 will be approximately $40,000 annually.
The move to rescind the withdrawal was recommended by the administration, on the basis that continued membership would give the town a better long-term understanding of investment planning in the region and leverage the town’s investment with the region to compete globally.
That rationale was accepted by most council members, although both Councillor Stephen Dafoe and Councillor Scott Richardson suggested the money would be better spent on attracting more locally-oriented businesses.
Voting on the measure was split, with Mayor Simon Boersma, Deputy Mayor Ray White and Councillors Jen Anheliger and Maurice St. Denis in favour, and Councillors Rebecca Balanko, Stephen Dafoe and Scott Richardson opposed.
Global Edmonton was created by the Capital Region Board, now the Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board, and incorporated as a non-profit company in 2017.
The shareholders along with Morinville were: Beaumont, Bon Accord, Devon, Edmonton, Fort Saskatchewan, Gibbons, the City of Leduc, Leduc County, Parkland County, St. Albert, Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Strathcona County and Sturgeon County.
Morinville joined as a shareholder on May 23 of that year.
The subsequent decision to terminate its membership was made in the context of proposed shareholder fee increases.
Other shareholders have also decided to leave, but some have returned or are considering returning.
The stated purpose of Edmonton Global is to promote the Edmonton metropolitan region globally, with a focus on attracting and retaining business investment and trade, and the aim of radically transforming and growing the economy of the region.
Its activities include on-the-ground and investment support, providing trade mission participants and facilitating meetings such as the Carbon Capture Canada convention taking place at the Edmonton Convention Centre on September 20.
At the height of the Covid pandemic Edmonton Global sought additional funding from it members for an initiative to attract business to the Edmonton International Airport.