Developers in Edmonton Eager to Get Approvals and Projects StartedPosted by Yoofi Gerard Hagan on Thursday, November 22nd, 2012 at 6:19pm.
The developers are asking council to give approval for more agricultural land to be rezoned for housing. Cameron Communities’ Vice President Laurie Scott noted that there is a shortage of available land at the moment. Louise Gibson from Brookfield Residential, agreed, noting that the process of approving new land through the actual building starts takes an average of five years. Add to that the time of the actual construction and you can see how long it takes to add to housing inventory in Edmonton.
During the previous municipal development plan, council ordered a Growth Coordination Strategy. The idea was to finish this plan before looking at Edmonton’s southwest, southeast and northeast, the three areas with largely undeveloped lands.
In May a draft version of the plan was causing controversy. In it there was a suggestion that it would cost Edmonton roughly $1.2 billion to develop the neighbourhoods that had already been approved. This caused adverse reaction from residents in the older parts of Edmonton, fearful that city funds would go towards the new areas while neglecting the infrastructure in the mature neighbourhoods and the city core.
The information, both the estimate and the assessment, have been taken out of the report, as has information about items concerning mature neighbourhoods. Groups in those communities were upset, noting that they did not receive enough time to vet the document.
The NextGen council, formed to represent Edmontonians under the age of 40, requested via a letter to council that the discussion on the subject be postponed, since their report copy only arrived this past Thursday. NextGen wants to see more concentration on how to improve the downtown core and increase density there before building out extensively. After all, they noted, the under 40 crowd will be the ones footing the bill.
Peter Ohm, who is the planning department’s branch manager, noted that the strategy was changed due to the public reactions. Some of the councilors weren’t pleased that the report now lacked the details and figures that existed before. It was explained that the $1.2 billion figure was deleted because no one could agree on how the numbers added up. Instead, administration would advise councilors on each neighbourhood approval plan as they were submitted.
Stephen Mandel, the Mayor, noted this method was a waste of time. Edmonton attracts people who want single family homes, not smaller inner city properties. Mandel noted that if the wanted type of housing is not available, people will simply not move to Edmonton. Then there would be no need for development of any kind.
Councilors were also advised that it is the industrial areas of the city that provide the bulk of the city’s income, not the neighbourhoods. The ideal answer is to provide housing close to where people work. Since places of employment are all over the city, building within the core or on the outskirts should not matter. Edmonton’s growth and development just has to be balanced.
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