Though Alberta’s capital city may have flown under your radar in the past, it’s recently been making big waves in the environmental community — in fact, Edmonton has just been named the most sustainable large Canadian city of 2018 due to its low environmental footprint, economic security, infrastructure, and social well-being. And this is only the beginning.

Visit the city’s website, and you’ll learn about Goal Six, which outlines Edmonton’s commitment to sustainability. Key goals of this plan include maintaining a low unemployment rate, supporting high economic security, encouraging water conservation, and promoting initiatives like public transit, curbside recycling, and composting. In addition, the city has targets in place to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 20 percent by the year 2020. To do this, they’ve devised a series of outreach and education programs that target residents and commercial interests within the city.

Looking to learn more about Edmonton’s initiatives and partake in the city’s sustainability efforts? Read on.

Sustainable Food

There’s no better way to support a community than to eat locally. Fortunately for Edmontonians, there’s a host of farms and markets that offer fresh food and locally made goods, in addition to organizations that are doing their part to promote locally grown food and minimize food waste within the city.

If this piques your interest, consider a visit to Prairie Gardens, a 35-acre farm chock-full of family-oriented activities, including a corn maze, strawberry picking, and a seasonal pumpkin patch. The farm puts on a number of special events throughout the year and is set on a property with landscaped gardens and an incredible atmosphere, so be sure to bring your camera along.

If you can’t make the trek to the farm itself, let the farmers bring their goods to you! Edmonton plays host to plenty of well-stocked and popular markets. Between May and October, you can head to 124th street for the city’s twice-weekly Grand Market and delight in the multitude of things to buy, see, and eat — there are several different rotations of food trucks, not to mention 50-plus vendors at each week’s event. The market is held outdoors in all weather, so dress accordingly and don’t forget to bring your four-footed friend along, as the event is dog-friendly! After you peruse the offerings, continue on to Helen Nolan Park for live entertainment. The market is open between 4 and 8 p.m. on Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.

For a shopping experience that doesn’t wax and wane with the seasons, visit the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market, Edmonton’s only year-round indoor market, where you can explore the offerings of 130 food producers, artisans, and farmers. The locale first opened in 1983 in the parking lot on the corner of 83rd and 103rd Avenue, but it has since expanded. Today, the market sells a mix of agricultural goods and handcrafted products and attracts nearly 10,000 visitors between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. each Saturday. In the spirit of community, the market is almost entirely operated by volunteers.

And if that’s not enough, head to the aptly named City Market, located just under the glass pyramid on the main floor of Edmonton’s City Hall. The location hosts a number of vendors selling all-natural products, groceries, and handmade goods, and you’ll discover activities for families and children, in addition to live, local entertainment. The market, which runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays, also partners with local community groups to enact events and projects to benefit Edmontonians

Outdoor Activities

Given Edmonton’s abundance of outdoor opportunities, it’s no surprise that the city is committed to sustainability. So while there, why not celebrate these natural areas by getting out and about and visiting the city’s local green spaces?

Edmontonians and visitors looking to enjoy some fresh air should head to River Valley Parks, the largest urban park system in all of Canada. With more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) of walking and biking trails, 20 satellite locations, canoe and kayak rentals, designated fishing zones, and opportunities for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and paddle-boarding, there’s no shortage of fun to be had in the River Valley. And at 22 times the size of New York’s Central Park, the River Valley rivals any urban park that you’ve visited before. So get out and enjoy some fresh air!

Getting Around

In 2009, Edmonton’s City Council approved an extensive Bicycle Transportation Plan, which envisioned the metropolis as a more sustainable and bike-friendly city.

Over the past 10 years, as the city has increased its commitment to sustainability, city residents and local councils have witnessed an impressive whirlwind of support around these bikes. Today, Edmonton boasts Downtown, Southside, and West Central bike routes that are open year-round, providing more than 10 miles (16 kilometers) of safe, protected paths for those biking to work or for leisure. City officials and bike-sharing companies are even working to enact an inexpensive and effective widespread public bike system in the coming months.

Luckily, those visiting Edmonton rarely require a car, as the city is extremely well connected by its public transportation system. The train takes visitors throughout various neighborhoods and through Edmonton’s downtown area, and the light rail is extremely affordable and reliable, providing over 80 million rides each year to those looking to explore within the city.

Shopping

Buying locally is one of the best ways to support a community. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to do in Edmonton, as the city is a hotbed of creativity and awash with local makers.

In an effort to support the work of local creatives, Edmonton Made was created as an entity that serves to increase community exposure to local businesses by sharing stories about them. Visitors interested in learning more about shopping locally in Edmonton while on the ground should check out the initiative’s extensive business directory.

Edmonton Made also provides a handy gift catalog for those wishing to gift locally produced goods to friends and family.

Housing

Edmontonians are also at the forefront of the sustainability movement when it comes to housing and land use. To combat urban sprawl and inefficient building practices, the city has conceptualized Blachford, a 563-acre site that is currently being transformed into one of the world’s largest and most sustainable mixed-use communities.

The hive is being built on City Centre Airport land, which previously serviced only upper-class residents, and is expected to house nearly 30,000 residents on the east and west sides of the plot with a nearly 80-acre park and civics center gracing the land in between. While the project is still underway, officials estimate that construction on one of the wings may be complete by early 2019.

Have you experienced the eco-friendly atmosphere in Edmonton firsthand? Let us know in the comments below!

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Camille Danielich
Camille is a writer, traveler, and visual storyteller from New Jersey. She has lived in the Czech Republic, Thailand and in New York. She's always looking forward to her next adventure and probably won't stop instagramming her food anytime soon. Follow along on instagram