"City of Champions" to be removed from welcome signs

When people drive into the city, they will be greeted with a sign that simply reads, ‘Welcome to the City of Edmonton, Alberta’s Capital City.’

Councillors to review options to replace signs entirely

Here's the "City of Champions" sign as it stands today. The slogan will be removed from the signs by the second quarter of 2015. (Scott Stevenson/CBC)

Edmonton is known as the River City, the Festival City, the oil capital of Canada. Some people may even know it as the City of Champions.

But when people arrive here, they will be greeted with a sign that simply reads, 'Welcome to the City of Edmonton, Alberta's Capital City.'

Council voted to remove Edmonton's non-official slogan "City of Champions" from all welcome signs in the city.

"We are in a post-tagline era," Mayor Don Iveson said after the 7-5 vote.

Many councillors called the slogan outdated, and said the city's brand goes far beyond what any tagline could capture. 

Coun. Michael Oshry brought the issue forward. He said removing the slogans is a small step toward sprucing up the signs.

"I'm trying to move the needle here," he said. "I think we need to refresh these signs … I think we need a blank slate."

Councillors also voted to review options for replacing the signs. 

Coun. Bev Esslinger said the public has a problem with the signs, and it's time for a change.

"I've had to defend or explain these signs more times than I can count," she said.

But Coun. Dave Loken called the discussion a waste of energy, time and money. He has been a staunch opponent of replacing the signs for years. 

"There is no public outcry to do this," he said. "Since this debate has started ... my office has received a number of comments. Most of which are, 'why are we even doing this?'"

We are not the champions

Loken said he took issue with other councillors dismissing the City of Champions slogan.

He said the phrase still means something to many people, and he doesn't want to see it go.

"We are a city of many champions," he said. "That slogan, statement, whatever you want to call it, means different things to different people."

Many people believe the old slogan was a representation of the Oilers' glory days. Others know it as a rallying cry after a tornado killed 27 people in 1987.

Coun. Ben Henderson called the tagline a part of the city's history. But said taking it off the welcome signs does not take away its significance.

"We don't need to turn our backs on city of champions," he said.

​City staff are in the process of creating a new brand for Edmonton. Loken said administration should have finished that work before the slogan was taken down. 

"At the very least, I think we should wait to see how that turns out," he said.

The slogans will be torn off by the second quarter of this year. After that, councillors we review options for replacing the signs entirely.

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