The ideas are in!

Now it's time to meet the folks who will pare down your submissions and select the top 10 Edmonton Project ideas.

A city-wide brainstorming platform, the Edmonton Project seeks to create a permanent installation somewhere in the city that will help tell Edmonton's story. Launched in August, the community-driven initiative asked the community to submit their best ideas up until October, and now the Idea Den panel is going over them.

The shortlisted submissions, which will be announced later in November, will go on to receive technical design and engineering support from industry experts before they are once again considered by the Idea Den panel during a live pitching event in January 2018.

The Idea Den panel is made up of five influential Edmontonians: former CTV news anchor Carrie Doll, radio host Ryan Jesperson, former Team Canada snowboarder Krista Ference, vice-president of urban economy at Edmonton Economic Development Corporation Cheryll Watson, and businessman and University of Alberta alumni association president Ayaz Bhanji.

Though you may have heard of them, or seen them around town, we put three questions to each panellist to get to know them a little better.

Carrie Doll

Carrie Doll is the owner and founder of Carrie Doll Consulting. She is also a professional emcee and moderator. A television journalist for 20 years, Doll began her television career in Saskatchewan and worked at numerous television stations across Alberta before making Edmonton home, where she anchored CTV News at 6 p.m. for 13 years.

Why did you want to be involved in this project?

For some 14 years, I reported nightly on what was happening in Edmonton. I can’t tell you the number of times I thought in my head “Gee, if we could only do this." Or "Why hasn’t someone thought to do that?” I’m passionate about our city and I love the passion I see in so many other Edmontonians who want to make our city great. We are experiencing growth and change in Edmonton in a way I have not seen since I moved here over 20 years ago. I can’t help but want to be a part of the development of our incredibly innovative, entrepreneurial city that believes and supports in the power of grassroots movements like The Edmonton Project.

What do you love most about Edmonton?

The passion of Edmontonians. Where else can you go and find people debating for weeks, months and even years, the tag line that should be on a welcome sign to a city? I loved listening, watching and reading about the debate that swirled around “The City of Champions” sign. It demonstrated that people care about this city — they have a vested interest in it; they want the visitors to know who we really are. There are so many examples of passion in our city. Nothing Edmontonians do is half way. We are ALL IN!

How would you make Edmonton an even better place to live?

Well, I have a couple ideas. First, I think city council should have held onto the old Walterdale Bridge just long enough to throw an exit party or two on it. Imagine a winter party on the bridge: patio lights hanging above, ice bar, bleacher seating, DJ, dance floor, and everybody partying and dancing in their parkas. It would have been a great way for Edmontonians to say goodbye to an iconic structure. As for my second idea, I’m not going to lie, I want to rip off an idea from NYC. I love how the lighting of the Rockefeller Tree is a huge event. We could do the same with our own Edmonton flare. We are a winter city. We need to find more ways to celebrate it, embrace it, and bring people together.

Ryan Jespersen

Ryan Jespersen tackles the day's issues and politics as the host of the Ryan Jespersen Show, which airs weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon on 630 CHED. He is also the in-game host for the Edmonton Oilers when they play on home ice.

Why did you want to be involved in this project?

I was excited to join the Idea Den panel because I'm all about collaborating on ambitious ideas! I love the opportunity to dream big, especially when there's a very real chance that dream could become reality. Edmontonians ooze creativity and vision, and the minute I heard about the Edmonton Project, I knew we were on to something.

What do you love most about Edmonton?

I most love Edmonton's spirit. There's a very unique element to our city, underlying nearly everything. There's a certain hardiness and defiance in the face of adversity or challenge. Edmontonians dare the world to tell them they can't be or achieve something great. There's also a sincerely beautiful relationship between Edmonton and its citizens. People choose to live here because it gives them so much, and they tend to give back in ways I've not seen in other parts of the country.

How would you make Edmonton an even better place to live?

I would make Edmonton even better by doing everything possible to ensure Accidental Beach remains a permanent fixture along the bank of the North Saskatchewan River. Fluke bestowed this gathering place upon us. It was immediately embraced by Edmontonians, many who travelled across the city several times just to feel the sand between their toes downtown. Accidental Beach beautifully (and ironically) matches nearly every priority of our city council — for free! Out of nowhere, we had an asset that drew people downtown, and allowed them to engage and interact with our river valley. Sure, it'll take some investment to make Accidental Beach more of an intentional attraction (access stairs, washroom facilities, etc.), but I think it would be a great shame (even somewhat hypocritical) for our civic leadership to let this opportunity disappear whence it came.


Krista Ference

A former professional athlete, Krista Ference was a member of the Canadian National Snowboard Team. She has competed in the World Cup circuit, as well as four X-Games. Currently, Ferrence sits on the board of directors of the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation and co-chairs the Harvest Celebration Gala for the Lois Hole Hospital for Women.

Why did you want to be involved in this project?

I immediately was drawn to this idea of a large-scale brainstorm by anyone and everyone. It is forward-thinking and inclusive, and, with very little constraints, truly allows people to shoot for the stars! I love that I get to read all the ideas submitted and really see how much people’s passion for Edmonton shines through.

What do you love most about Edmonton?

Edmonton is not a huge city and yet it has a lot of doers — people who envision a project and actually make it happen. Edmonton also has a lot of dreamers and in general is a city that places importance on goodwill towards others. People here want to see great things and experience great things. They want a level of excellence for this city that we call home. There is so much pride in people when they talk about our home of Edmonton.

How would you make Edmonton a better place to live?

Once upon a time, I was a professional snowboarder. My relatively short career, lasting only 10 years on the pro circuit, was only realized because I had moved to Whistler to access the best training facilities. This is not an option for most. Since then, Calgary Olympic Park has added an Olympic-size superpipe (halfpipe for snowboarding and skiing) that is beautifully maintained, using top of the line equipment, and is open day and night with the use of lights. This superpipe is a draw for countless competitions including World Cup, Grand Prix and Red Bull events. I would love to see a superpipe in Edmonton to give freestyle skiers and snowboarders access to a world-class training facility in their backyard instead of having to either commute or move to Calgary, or further. Imagine our city as the backdrop for a world-class competition!

Cheryll Watson

Cheryll Watson is the vice-president of urban economy at Edmonton Economic Development Corporation. Through this role, she helps grow and enable Edmonton's entrepreneurial community and add to the economic vitality of our city. Prior to joining EEDC, Cheryll spent 15 years with financial software company Intuit.

Why did you want to be involved in this project?

I saw two big benefits of being involved in the Edmonton Project. The most obvious is that I will have the opportunity to lend my experience in global brand building and construction project management to help narrow our selections to the most impactful, yet also feasible, shortlist. The second reason I wanted to be involved was purely selfish. I have been and continue to be inspired by the ideas that have been submitted, and awed by the visions of what Edmonton is and can be.

What do you love most about Edmonton?

I love our people and our collective spirit. We are a city of contributors, risk takers, and history makers. We don’t wait for things to happen; we make them happen. I was born and raised here, and as an adult I’ve had the chance to travel and work around the world, but I’ll always be more than proud to choose to make Edmonton my home.

How would you make Edmonton an even better place to live?

I love to take photos to mark great experiences (just ask my family), so I’d love a large and interesting Edmonton-inspired art piece in our city centre that would grow to be the place to snap a pic when you visit our city.

Ayaz Bhanji

Ayaz Bhanji is currently the president of the alumni association of the University of Alberta, where he is the voice for more than 125,000 alumni in the Edmonton area, and more than 275,000 worldwide. He is also a successful entrepreneur with various businesses, including the largest RE/MAX office in Edmonton.

Why did you want to be involved in this project?

I looked at this as a tremendous opportunity to be involved with something truly unique. The fact that we are engaging the creativity of the community through an open submission process really appeals to me, because I believe it will bring out some amazing ideas that we can, hopefully, take to the next level.

What do you love most about Edmonton?

I have lived in Edmonton for 40 years and I love the vibrancy, diversity and community spirit of this city. Edmontonians are friendly people. We are engaged in volunteering and we rally around important causes, like poverty and homelessness, to work together in making a difference in the lives of others. We are a big city with a big heart.

How would you make Edmonton an even better place to live?

For me, the ideal Edmonton project propels our values into action. That could mean anything from enhancing quality of life to promoting diversity to sustaining our environment, etc. The project embodies our values as Edmontonians and makes a statement. It may or may not be a physical space or monument, but could also be a dream, a goal or a philosophy that the community takes ownership of.