Thursday, November 23, 2017

You can't fight City Hall... but maybe you can work with it?

Over the past year and a half or so, I've had something of an education in how the Edmonton City Planning Department works. I have to admit that I'm not terribly impressed thus far, but I have hope that all shall be well, somehow.

Our neighbourhood of Holyrood has a strip of rather dilapidated two-story housing units on its southwestern edge. Regency Developments bought the land some time ago and made a development application to the city that could potentially see 1200 units sitting on a half-block wide strip of land (5 hectares) between 90th and 95th Avenue on 85th Street, north of the Bonnie Doon traffic circle.

Having spent a full day last Friday in Council Chamber listening to the pros and cons of this development, it's quite clear that the City of Edmonton Planners have been trying to bend city bylaws in order to accommodate the developer rather than expecting the developer to abide by the city's bylaws. As a result, there are so many problems with this Transit Oriented Development plan -- problems with parking, traffic, safe pedestrian routes, height of the buildings and the shadows they create, lack of affordable housing opportunites, and the list goes on. The developer's consultation with the community amounted to a few open houses where Holyroodians were given two picture boards like the boxy image above and asked, "would you prefer skyscrapers model A or skyscrapers model B?" Details were lacking, and opportunities to offer alternate ideas were ignored, making conversations around changes to the proposal one-sided at best.

On Friday last, the arguments for and against the proposal were presented during a public hearing that ran from 9:30 am to 9:30 pm -- a long day in everyone's books. This coming Monday (November 27) the public hearing continues at 3 p.m. The community is hopeful that City Council will send the proposal to the Edmonton Design Committee, a group that uses best practice principles for urban design in its considerations and recommendations for development. The Holyrood Development Committee, comprised of a group of local citizens who have been extremely dedicated to creating a better plan, is hoping to fill the council chamber with people who would like to see a Transit Oriented Development that all Edmontonians can be proud of. If you fit that category, come join us!

Holyrood Gardens Development Application Public Hearing
3 p.m. Monday November 27
City Council Chamber
1 Sir Winston Churchill Square

Come support your city's decision-making process...

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