Infill and Densification
Residents in Ward 10 must have the right to preserve the look and feel of their communities. Edmonton’s cookie-cutter approach to infill has pitted neighbour against neighbour and forced many residents to find drastic legal solutions to maintaining their community’s character. It’s time for action and real meaningful consultation.
The city must work with property owners and communities to find creative approaches to infill. Rather than homogenizing whole neighbourhoods, we need to focus on areas where density already exists, is wanted or makes developmental sense. Council should create incentives for developers to focus their attention on uplifting neighbourhoods. Great urban design adds value to communities and creates needed homes and mixed-use space for families and businesses. The City’s current strategy has created divisiveness and resentment, resulting in a ‘you can’t fight city hall, so why bother’ attitude. Currently, without an appeal process in place, the voices of homeowners in Ward 10 have been muzzled in favour of the headlong push to create density at any cost. This must change and citizens’ voices need to be heard.
Surplus School Sites
Why are we selling community green space to fulfill the City’s densification agenda? I believe that community needs should dictate the development, re-designation or sale of surplus school sites. Working with your City Councillor, Ward 10 constituents should have input on the future of their communities and what amenities are most needed in the area. Communities like Skyrattler should not have to mount prolonged, extensive ‘burden of proof’ fights to justify community input in the use of their green space. Three surplus school sites remain in the Ward; I will ensure that Bearspaw, Keheewin and Twin Brooks are heard and effectively represented on Council.
In the City’s rush to complete the Century Park LRT line, it’s obvious that the impact of congestion was not properly addressed. Before any LRT expansion can proceed, strategies must be in place to reduce the impact of wait-times and ensure that more communities are not affected. One solution to consider is trenching: building a track that runs underneath intersections rather than through them. This should be the case not only at the proposed trenching of 23 Avenue or bridging over Anthony Henday, but in other locations as well. How will the residents of Twin Brooks be affected if their entrances and exits to 111 Street aren’t trenched as well? Just drive north.
While out door-knocking, residents told me they lack faith in the City’s ability to manage the extension of the LRT south. Constituents feel frustrated that they will face the same kind of delays and wasted man-hours that currently plague the intersections of 114 Street and 82 Avenue, and 111 Street and 51 Avenue. Is the LRT the best and most cost-effective way to move people in our city? Are we focused on outdated ideas? What about the potential of BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) at a fraction of the cost?
If you build it they will come! That seems to be Edmonton’s policy for development when it comes to shiny object projects. Yet, this same policy doesn’t apply to new residential developments. Knowing that the communities of Blackburne, Richford, Blackmud Creek, Cashman, Cavanagh, Callaghan and Allard are only going to grow, why wasn’t James Mowatt Trail built to four lanes rather than having to wait for traffic to reach an arbitrary volume number before spending infrastructure dollars to widen it? Meanwhile, citizens in these neighbourhoods have to wait, idling in traffic, while the city spend taxpayers dollars on new bike lanes and sidewalk widening experiments downtown. Our roads are by far the most important and most used transportation infrastructure in the city. It is critical that City Council remains focused on maintaining and building our existing roadways.
“Consultation First” needs to become the mantra of City Hall! Having spoken to many residents of Ward 10, the common theme in each of these unique neighbourhoods is the feeling that the City doesn’t take the time to consult with residents before it develops plans. And when there has been “consultation,” residents feel that at best it’s an information session rather than a meaningful two-way exchange of ideas and information.
Residents from Ward 10 have indicated the need for council to address this issue. Citizens need to have a seat at the table when it comes to making decisions that will affect their communities and lifestyles. Their voices must be heard!