As Edmontonians we are fortunate to have an exceptionally well-organized and extensive network of community leagues focused on creating liveable, inclusive, and connected neighbourhoods. Today we have close to 160 leagues in operation, so it is safe to assume that your life has been improved by the work of a community league.
Our first community league was formed in 1917 by George M. Hall with the goal of providing civic advocacy on behalf of the community as well as developing social and recreational opportunities and infrastructure. The guidelines of this league were to be inclusive, regardless of class or ethnicity, to be open to men and women, and to operate without affiliation to any political party or religious order. These values still guide all of our leagues to this day.
Over the next several years, nine additional community leagues would form and begin to contemplate the ways in which they might provide better representation for each of their neighbourhoods if they worked together through one cohesive body. By 1921, the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues was formed and mandated to provide a united civic voice in common interest issues. ECFL was the first federation of its kind in Canada and has served to put Edmonton on the map as a leader on this type of municipal organizational framework.
Community leagues are responsible for providing thousands of youth opportunities to participate in sports each year including fastball, baseball and hockey. They also maintain outdoor skating rinks, provide volunteers for playschools and coordinate a massive range of programming for children of all ages to participate in. For many newcomers to Edmonton, community leagues are a vital first point of contact for families getting to know their neighbours.
As community leagues have grown in number, so too has their capacity to advocate on behalf of citizens on important city planning, zoning, and growth-related decisions. In the late 1970s the City of Edmonton officially recognized ECFL as an important partner in our local government.
Community leagues enable organized grass-roots participation in our municipal government. Your community league is a place where individuals have a direct impact on their community and on the strategic growth of our city. Not only have our community leagues offered countless hours of recreation and cultural opportunities to our city’s youth, they have laid the groundwork for future leaders to engage with advocacy, volunteerism and civic participation.
To this day, our community leagues are living up to the mandate set out for them nearly 100 years ago: to build better, stronger communities through inclusion and social action, to provide recreational and cultural development, and to act as a united voice for their community in the development of their neighbourhoods.