May 9, 2017 10:46 pm
Updated: May 9, 2017 10:51 pm

Oilers playoff run ‘purely coincidental’ when it comes to efforts to bring back ‘City of Champions’ moniker

WATCH ABOVE: The play of the Edmonton Oilers and the behaviour of the team's fans has some wondering if Alberta's capital should readopt its former nickname, City of Champions. Quinn Ohler reports.

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The push is on to bring back the “City of Champions” slogan for Edmonton.

But for the group trying to bring the name back to life, the fact the Edmonton Oilers are in the playoffs is merely a happy coincidence.

In April 2015, city council voted to remove the “City of Champions” slogan from the city’s “Welcome to Edmonton” signs as a way to refresh the city’s brand.

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“It means something to us,” said Wilf Brooks, one of the owners at United Cycle. The company is selling T-shirts, banners and stickers with the “City of Champions” slogan, proceeds of which go to Sport Central.

READ MORE: ‘City of Champions’ being removed from Edmonton welcome signs

Brooks is also a part of a group made up of influential Edmontonians that wants the moniker to be brought back.  The committee includes several Order of Canada recipients, including entrepreneur Lyle Best, former senator Tommy Banks, news veteran Bruce Hogle and Running Room founder John Stanton. Brooks says at first, the creators felt they had to “play down” the successes of sports teams in the Capital Region as a way to show that it means so much more to them.

READ MORE: Edmonton group pushes to have ‘City of Champions’ slogan resurrected

“It’s about the medicine at the university, it’s about the music,” Brooks said, giving examples of what makes Edmonton a city of champions.

“It’s about the culture. It’s about who we are,” he said.

READ MORE: ‘City of Champions’ being removed from Edmonton welcome signs

The unofficial “city of champions” slogan was originally coined in 1984 to promote the city. When the Black Friday tornado hit in 1987, then mayor Laurence Decore made it Edmonton’s official slogan after seeing the community’s response to the disaster.

On Tuesday, Ward 3 Coun. Tony Caterina told city council he will once again ask councillors and the mayor to debate the slogan.

“There’s a number of groups now that would like it to come back with an explanation for what it means,” said Caterina, who cited Black Friday and more recently how the community responded to the Fort McMurray wildfires as a reason the slogan should be embraced.

“It’s about every single person in the city of Edmonton,” he said. “It’s not about hockey players, it’s not about football players, it’s certainly not about politicians – it’s about each and every person that works to move our city forward.”

READ MORE: Welcome to Edmonton signs targeted by vandals 

When asked if it had anything to do with the playoff success of Edmonton’s NHL team, Caterina said, “This has absolutely nothing to do with the Oilers’ success.”

Mayor Don Iveson weighed in on the debate Tuesday. He said that Edmonton should let the city’s name speak for itself.

“I’ve always felt cities grow beyond slogans and tag lines and just become what they’re about and I think our city is coming into its own that way,” Iveson said. “The fact it became so much driven by sports, really runs the risk of making the story of Edmonton one-dimensional and linking our civic fortunes to the performance of our sports teams.”

When asked where the signs are, neither Iveson nor Caterina was able to answer. However, they both assumed they were in storage.

The issue will be back before city council at the end of May.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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