Behind-the-Scenes with City Staff on The Amazing Race

When Erika Droessler, Education Programs Coordinator for the Edmonton Waste Management Centre was asked to give a tour to two people who wanted to shoot a tourism video, she wasn’t too surprised. After all, giving tours to the public is a big part of her job.

However, she was surprised by some of their peculiar questions as they all walked around the state-of-the-art facility.

“They asked some strange questions: very specific things about operations and how we measured the employees work,” she recalls.

In hindsight, Erika realizes that the “tourists” had realized their questions were oddly specific, so “eventually one of them said ‘Should we get her to sign a nondisclosure agreement?”

That’s when they revealed that they were producers for CTV’s The Amazing Race Canada and were looking for tasks they could assign the racers. “They told me, ‘We want to make our racers as tired, as sweaty and as uncomfortable as we can,’ so my role was to help them figure what would be a good challenge,” says Erika.

On Thursday night, The Amazing Race aired its penultimate episode with the final four teams of racers taking on Edmonton.

The popular competitive reality show features teams of two from across Canada, that compete in a scavenger hunt-style race in various cities around the country, with the winners taking home $250,000.

The first stop in Edmonton was our iconic City Hall, where the racers had to interrupt and mock wedding ceremony to get a clue that sent them to the Waste Management Centre.

There, they had to complete one of the two tasks that Erika and the facility’s Contract Administrator, Clayton Sampson, helped the producers develop.

Waste Management’s Andrea Soler, Connie Boyce and Erika Droessler looking in the Amazing Race Canada clue box.
Waste Management’s Andrea Soler, Connie Boyce and Erika Droessler looking in the Amazing Race Canada clue box.

The “paper” task consisted of sorting garbage and non-recyclable materials from a conveyor belt and the “plastic” task was taking apart television sets.

Both tasks were challenging for the racers, especially the paper one according to Clayton, who says motion sickness can be a problem for newbies. “You’re picking things off a moving conveyor belt that’s going at a pretty good clip, so the natural tendency is to follow one item with your eyes, which can make some people feel nauseous.”

But he says the racers watched the actual employees, who were still working in the background during the the shoot. and “figured it out pretty quickly.”

Clayton was also drafted to hand out an envelope on camera. “I drew the short straw,” he quipped.

The racers had to complete several other challenges in and around Edmonton, including curling, extreme shopping at a gas station in Saint Albert and some play-acting at and old-time saloon in Fort Edmonton Park.

The Muttart Conservatory was the show’s “pit stop” and also hosted the cast and crew of about 100 for lunch and dinner with catering from the on-site Culina Café.

They also did their post-race interviews in and around our park area,” says Heather Seutter, Director of the Muttart Conservatory, River Valley & Horticulture Community and Recreation Facilities. “As you know there are beautiful views of the downtown skyline from Gallagher Hill that made it onto the show.”

She says the hardest part about the experience was keeping the secret for so long since the show actually filmed this episode in May. We were really proud to be able to show-off our great city and its facilities. It’s a high profile show that really showcases Edmonton on a national stage.”