The “City of Champions” slogan could be removed from Edmonton’s welcome signs as early as this summer, if several council members have their way.
Coun. Michael Oshry floated the idea Monday to get rid of the unofficial slogan as soon as possible, while the city works on a long-term re-branding strategy.
Plans to replace the signs entirely will likely have to wait until the city makes a final decision on a new brand and logo, which could take more than a year.
“Right now [the signs] show the city in a poor light, I think, and that’s why I think it’s time to change it,” Oshry said.
He called the signs ugly, old and outdated. He said removing the slogan would be an inexpensive and easy way to update the signs while the city works toward creating a whole new image and brand.
“It really just shows that we are going to be doing something about moving this forward," he said.
Coun Scott Mckeen said he would love to see the slogan removed from the welcome signs “sooner rather than later.”
It would still leave the city with signs that look outdated, he said, but that would be fine for now.
Other councillors think the signs should be left in place.
Coun. Dave Loken said it would be premature to remove the slogan. The words “City of Champions” mean different things to different people, he said.
“I haven’t heard anyone driving into the city say this is a terrible sign,” Loken said.
He has heard from members of the public who think the city is wasting its time, and should instead be focusing on much bigger priorities.
Debate on welcome signs decade in the making
Coun. Ben Henderson cautioned his colleagues about repeating the mistakes made in 2007, when council held an open design competition to replace the signs.
The winning design, from local architect Gene Dub, was chosen from among about a dozen competing concepts. In the end, the cost of the new signs ballooned to $2.6 million and the project was cancelled.
Henderson said in the end the city replaced the existing signs with identical designs, which cost $200,000.
This time around, he wants to see a budget in place before any further steps are taken to replace those signs.
“If we want to do something, and we want to do something distinct, then there’s going to be an expense to it,” Henderson said. “And I just think we need to be aware of that before we walk down this road.”
Trish Webb, the city’s chief communications officer, said it’s time for an update.
“Our brand doesn’t represent who are now,” she said. “It represents who we were in the ‘70s and ‘80s.”
Webb and her team are working toward a new logo, which would appear on everything from signs to city vehicles, from brochures to advertisements.
The current logo was likely hand-drawn in 1978. Webb said her team is taking an inventory of all the places it appears before consulting the public on what the new one should look like.
Right now, 74 different brand images are used by different city departments and city owned entities.
Council should approve a single look and feel for all the city’s images, she said, before designs for the new welcome signs are approved, in order to maintain a consistent brand.
If council waits until the re-brand is complete, the signs would be replaced in 2017 at the earliest.
Council will consider the future of the welcome signs and the “City of Champions” slogan at the end of March
Later this month, council will debate the future of what some members see as a relic from the past, the "City of Champions" slogans on the seven "Welcome to Edmonton" signs along major access routes into Alberta's capital city.
On Monday, he and other councillors said they think the slogans should be taken down as soon as possible, long before the city completes its re-branding strategy.
We asked for your suggestions for what the new slogan should be, if the city does ever adopts a new one.
Below, we've listed some of the best and most commonly submitted ideas.