By Séamus Smyth

What is the only good thing about Edmonton? Calgary Trail.

I have heard this quip a half a dozen times from excessively proud Calgarians who love to remind anybody visiting from three hours north just how greener the grass really is in cow town.

The worst part is that unfortunately for us northern folk, these pretentious southerners have every right to feel this way. Calgary’s proximity to the mountains makes it the envy of not just Edmonton but every major city in Canada (with the exception of Vancouver). Calgary’s downtown core make Edmonton’s look like an abandoned chicken coop and their weather is usually slightly, but noticeably warmer.

However, the recent news of a downtown arena finally being approved for construction in Alberta’s capital city has the Chinook winds reeking of envy.

Edmonton will soon be home to an advanced, state of the art, multi-faceted facility smack dab in the middle of its downtown. Calgarians have been pining for something similar, yet for once Edmonton has taken the Alberta ram by the horns and is leading the revamped-facility charge.

Although a new arena would certainly alter Calgary and make it an even more enviable city, the benefits it delivers Edmonton are overwhelming.

Firstly, the downtown complex will leave builders no choice but to demolish the behemoth parking lots, the vacant former mom and pop shops and hopefully eliminate the excessive drunken rift raft. Calgarians contend with its fair share of homelessness, but nowhere near the legions of piss heads roaming around Edmonton like thirsty vampires.

Secondly, it converts Edmonton’s downtown from a mosaic of out of date architecture and beat-up bars, to a central foyer; what Calgary’s downtown has provided for ages. Edmontonians, similar to every other city dweller, want an excuse to visit their downtown and boy will they have one now. This facility will not only be the home of the resurgent Oilers, but will host concerts, house pubs and restaurants and will become a global-leader in architecture. The idea of a sparkling new rink being built just in time for the upcoming Edmonton Oiler Stanley Cup haul has myself and fellow Edmontonians gleaming with a rare optimism.

Thirdly and most importantly, Edmonton will have one up on arch-nemesis Calgary. E-town has been Calgary’s favourite piñata anytime the toast of the country’s wealthiest province is debated, and it’s overdue that Edmonton begins to claw back.

Calgarians will now visit Edmonton and talk about how much dirtier and colder it is, but then, somewhat apprehensively whisper, “But that new arena is sure something.” Calgary will still have plenty of ammo and comedic material to turn to, but you know what my favourite provincial joke has always been?

What’s the difference between Calgary and a bra? A bra has 2 cups.
Now there’s one that never gets old.