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What If We Used Social Innovation to Improve Edmonton's Urban Wellness?

Over the last year, the City of Edmonton has been working with residents, businesses and government to develop Recover, Edmonton's Urban Wellness Plan. 

Read about our progress in our Community Report.

In Edmonton, we value wellness, which means ensuring the right systems are in place to promote and sustain the conditions for people and neighbourhoods to thrive. 

Starting in the 5 core neighbourhoods (Boyle Street, Central McDougall, Downtown, McCauley and Queen Mary Park) we are using a social innovation framework, testing, learning and adapting solutions while considering their cumulative impact.

We're Not Starting With a Blank Canvas

Most innovative ideas include elements of solutions that have come before, combining them in unexpected and powerful ways. This isn’t about replacing existing strategies, policies, programs or services that are already in place in these neighbourhoods. It’s about testing small solutions to improve urban wellness and find ways to align and better collaborate across different orders of government, social agencies, local businesses and the community.

Following a social innovation approach, and using systems thinking (mapping and design) to create and test possible solutions, takes strong collaboration, trust, and a willingness to suspend individual agendas to move forward as a collective. There was a clear need for more coordinated efforts to address the real impacts of initiatives, both existing and emerging, in the downtown core communities of Edmonton.

We’ve gone through a process of research, testing out solutions and collecting feedback to refine ideas to improve the core neighbourhoods. Our research is multifaceted, including qualitative and quantitative information. Based on the research, we generated over 200 opportunity areas that asked "What if...?". Out of these ideas, we acted on a series of small solutions. Read the Project Welcome Mat and Empty Storefront Program blog posts to learn more about these solutions.

Community Wellness Services Plan

One phase in Recover has a focus on the very vulnerable population, many of whom live in the downtown core. The work in this phase is called Community Wellness Services Plan.

Committees and Reporting Back

Community Advisory Committee

This committee is mandated to advise, guide and shape the development and implementation of Recover by:

  • Reviewing and validating the findings from the public engagement process
  • Participating in gap and opportunity meetings with community stakeholders
  • Supporting the design of a robust public engagement plan
  • Acting as ambassadors for the wellness plan in the 5 communities
  • Collaborating with other members of the committee to find collective impact solutions that will improve the well-being of people living in the 5 core neighbourhoods

Terms of Reference


External Partners Committee

This committee is mandated to guide, advise and provide input to the development and implementation of Recover by:

  • Coordinating information gathering in the critical first phase of systems mapping
  • Collaborating with other members of the committee to find collective impact solutions and coordinate programs and services across jurisdictional boundaries to improve the well-being of people living in the 5 core neighbourhoods
  • Taking part in collaborative discussions about social investment infrastructure, which may include investment in expanded outreach services by community organizations
  • Endorsing the final urban wellness plan that goes to City Council for approval

Terms of Reference


Reporting Back

April 2018

Tabletop Prototype Workshop Summary

February 2018

Introduction to Prototyping Workshop

January 2018

Research Recap Workshop

December 2017

Government Mapping Workshop
Community Mapping Workshop

October 2017

Vision Workshop

September 2017

What We Heard - Community Advisory Committee
September 26, 2017
Feedback​ ​from​ ​the​ ​Community​ ​Advisory​ ​Committee and actions that need to be taken.

What We Heard - External Partners Committee
September 28, 2017
Feedback from the External Partners Committee.

For More Information


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