Resurrecting the City of Champions slogan: the debate returns to city hall

Coun. Tony Caterina is on a mission to resurrect Edmonton’s City of Champions slogan.

City hall is preparing to wade back into the great slogan debate

The "City of Champions" sign before the slogan was removed in 2014. (Scott Stevenson/CBC)

Coun. Tony Caterina is on a mission to resurrect Edmonton's City of Champions slogan.

The moniker was scrapped in 2014, and the signature catchphrase was scraped off weather-worn welcome signs at highways entering the city.

But Caterina would like to see the catchphrase adorn the city once again. He's calling for the slogan to be reinstated and be restored to its former glory.

'Edmontonians are champions' 

"I think, in general, Edmontonians are champions are in their own right," Caterina said in an interview Wednesday with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.

"All of us have a reason to consider ourselves champions for something or other … and making life better for all Edmontonians is the end result. I see no reason we shouldn't be proud of that fact and say it out loud."

The slogan, first adopted in the 1980s, was the city's rallying cry for decades. Though many still believe it was adopted as an ode the Oilers and Edmonton Eskimos, the slogan was actually created as a tribute to the city's resilience after the tornado of 1987 that killed 27 people.

Identity crisis?

Caterina contends that the catchphrase was "never about sports," but a recognition of every citizen's ability to make Edmonton better.

His motion to reinstate the slogan will be up for debate in council chambers May 30.

As for those old wooden signs? Caterina isn't sure where they ended up. He wouldn't be opposed to seeing them salvaged and spruced up, or replaced with something more modern.

'This is about a mindset'

Other city councilors are not so keen to bring the motto out of retirement.

There was little fanfare and little grumbling when the City of Champions signs were taken off Edmonton's welcome billboards.

The demise of the slogan was welcomed by many Edmontonians, including Mayor Don Iveson, who said the city was in a "post tag-line era."

Coun. Michael Oshry described the old wooden signs as old, ugly and outdated.

However, Caterina maintains that resurrecting the catchphrase could solve the city's ongoing identity crisis.

"All of us have a reason to consider ourselves champions of something or other," he said. 

"This is about a mindset. This is a culture that I think Edmontonians deserve and embrace in what they do for the city."