September 5, 2017 6:21 pm
Updated: September 5, 2017 9:17 pm

Travel guide angers Edmontonians over description of ‘frigidly cold’ city

WATCH ABOVE: Canada might be the Lonely Planet travel guide's 'must-visit' country for 2017 but it probably isn't sending many tourists Edmonton's way. Fletcher Kent explains.

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Canada may be Lonely Planet’s top country to visit in 2017, but the popular travel guide isn’t pushing too many of the would-be tourists to Edmonton.

The latest edition of the Lonely Planet guide describes Edmonton as “frigidly cold for much of the year.”

It calls the city a government town often used as a stopover on the way to Jasper National Park or “for explorations into the vast and empty landscape to the north.”

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The guide calls Whyte Avenue the soul of the city and that “downtown is for the moneyed or the down and out.”

The descriptions have some in the city upset.

“Whoever wrote the Lonely Planet thing hasn’t actually been here in a few years,” Mayor Don Iveson said on Tuesday. “I’d be happy – if we ever figured out who it is – to invite them here and show them around myself.”

Iveson’s anger was mostly over what wasn’t written about Edmonton.

In Calgary’s description, Lonely Planet lauded the city’s generosity in helping evacuees of the Fort McMurray wildfire.

That assessment came despite the evacuation centre on the grounds at Northlands and the fact Fort McMurray’s city council met in Edmonton during the evacuation. No mention of Edmonton’s help made it into the guide.

READ MORE: How Edmonton is helping Fort McMurray wildfire evacuees

Watch below: In May 2016, Kent Morrison filed this report as Fort McMurray residents began arriving at the Northlands evacuation centre in Edmonton. They had been forced to flee a massive wildfire.

“The only thing that really bugs me about it is the suggestion that Calgary did all the work during the Fort McMurray evacuation,” Iveson said. “I can abide by all the other mistakes but that one is a bit of an insult to the generosity of Edmontonians and northern Albertans.”

This isn’t a new problem for Edmonton.

In 1985, author Mordecai Richler famously wrote, “If Canada were not a country, however fragmented, but, instead, a house, Vancouver would be the solarium-cum-playroom, an afterthought of affluence; Toronto, the counting room, where money makes for the most glee; Montreal, the salon; and Edmonton, Edmonton the boiler room. There is hardly a tree to be seen downtown, nothing to delight the eye on Jasper Avenue.”

Back in 2001, during the World Track and Field Championships, a British newspaper reporter described the city as “Deadmonton.”

Even earlier this summer, the image that appeared when someone ‘Googled’ Edmonton was a rather unflattering picture of the Rossdale power plant.

An online campaign managed to get the Google image changed, but the city continues to struggle to shake the image so many have of it.

READ MORE: Image makeover! City officials work with Google to upgrade Edmonton’s photo

Watch below: On Aug. 9, 2017, Emily Mertz reported on how the first image that comes up when you search for Edmonton on Google has been changed.

Just east of the city’s core, on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River, six people were loading up a raft preparing to launch it onto the river on Tuesday.

They’re with the RiverWatch Institute, a non-profit group that takes students on science-based tours of the North Saskatchewan.

They see the parts of the city in ways few others do.

The rafters said they have all heard descriptions of Edmonton. They’ve heard people say Calgary is more fun because it’s close to the mountains and that Edmonton is too cold, however, they don’t agree. There’s more.

RiverWatch’s executive director, Cal Kullman, called the river “an under-utilized resource and not well known for a bunch of reasons.”

“You can’t love what you don’t know and you can’t enjoy what you don’t know,” Kullman added.

“I think people need to just get down here and experience the river and it’ll speak for itself and they’ll fall in love with the space,” Morgan McKinney said.

READ MORE: Growing popularity of downtown Edmonton’s new ‘accidental’ beach raises questions

Watch below: On Aug. 28, 2017, Vinesh Pratap filed this report about the growing popularity of downtown Edmonton’s new “accidental” beach.

Coun. Ben Henderson bristled at the Lonely Planet’s description of Edmonton, calling it “a myth” and suggesting the author has not visited the city.

However, Henderson also acknowledged the description makes it clear there’s much work left to do if the city wants to change impressions.

“Slowly but surely, you have to get that word out. You can’t change that kind of thing overnight,” Henderson said. “You keep plugging away at it and doing the kind of work that we’re doing.

“We know that people’s impression of Edmonton when they get here is always a delighted one. They’re surprised by the city that actually exists here.”

Global News contacted Lonely Planet about concerns expressed by the mayor and others in the city.

Lonely Planet said its writer visited Edmonton in June 2016.

“Lonely Planet writers visit and research every destination they write about,” the publication said in a statement. “We ask them to ‘tell it like it is’ in order to be as honest and objective as we can, and we strive to be as comprehensive in scope and depth as possible in the space provided by our guidebooks.

“There are 13 pages devoted to Edmonton (in Lonely Planet’s Canada guide) and you will find that most of it is positive.”

Lonely Planet also said it was aware of how Edmontonians helped Fort McMurray wildfire evacuees.

“We genuinely want to highlight the best of each city, and while Edmonton indeed assisted tens of thousands of Fort McMurray fire evacuees, we chose to illustrate Edmontonians’ commitment to hospitality, diversity and inclusion in other ways.”

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

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