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

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.”

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.

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.”

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