From potholes to taxes, there are issues Edmontonians expect to be raised every municipal election.
As the 2021 municipal race gets closer, cryptocurrency is becoming a talking point in at least one ward.
Lana Palmer is running for a council seat in Ward Dene.
As she knocks on doors, she’s promising voters to make Edmonton a cryptocurrency-friendly city.
“I think most people are interested in that discussion,” Palmer told Global News.
“They want to know more about it, especially if it doesn’t cost us anything.”
Palmer’s first step would see the city declare itself as a municipality that embraces the high-tech currency.
Adam O’Brien believes that would go a long way in boosting the industry in Edmonton.
O’Brien is the founder and CEO of Bitcoin Well. The Edmonton-based company is the world’s first publicly traded Bitcoin ATM machine.
He thinks having a city publicly support the industry would break down some of the stigmas around it.
“We call them FUD in the industry. Fear, uncertainty and doubt. I think there’s a lot of FUD around Bitcoin,” O’Brien said.
Edmonton would not be the first in Canada to do so.
In 2019, Innisfil Ontario became the first municipality in the country to accept cryptocurrency as a form of payment for property taxes.
O’Brien explained that could save the city the processing and transaction fees it currently pays every time a citizen submits a credit card payment online.
He believes Edmonton could benefit by using Bitcoin to pay for projects.
“The provinces and the federal governments don’t quite get hit with inflation as hard because they’re the ones who print money. They can go into a surplus if they want, but local communities can’t,” he said.
El Salvador has gone further, voting to make Bitcoin a legal tender. Similar to bilingualism, stores and businesses will have to accept cryptocurrency as a form of payment.
In April, governor of the Bank of Canada Tiff Macklem told reporters the pandemic has accelerated the digital economy and “the case for a digital currency becomes more compelling.”
Palmer agrees. She said cryptocurrency is already quickly gaining popularity around the world and Edmonton should jump in as soon as possible.
“I think it is volatile, but at the same time, we don’t need to make any radical investments. We don’t need to go all in,” she said.
Edmonton does have interest if Bitcoin Well is any indication.
The company, which started in 2014, is about to go through a major expansion, going from an estimated 60 employees to about 200.
It has 160 Bitcoin ATMs across the country and is getting into the United Kingdom.
Whether that sort of success will translate to the election will be determined when Edmontonians go to the polls on Oct. 18.