Get ready to welcome 300,000 people to Edmonton. They are not all coming tomorrow of course. But over the next 20-30 years, they’ll move to our city at a steady rate thanks to Alberta’s economy, which is leading the country in job growth.
To prepare for this, Edmonton must have strong leadership on city council; a council committed to ensuring infill development that will help Edmonton become a more compact city, while at the same time recognizing the continued necessity of affordable and well-planned suburban communities.
I often joke that many Edmontonians love to hate the suburbs and love to hate infill projects too. It’s obviously an unrealistic approach, given our city’s rate of growth.
Infill is met with opposition for different reasons. People often fear change because they don`t have all the information they need to understand it fully. Or perhaps they’ve seen or lived with poor design done by builders who weren’t concerned with a neighborhood’s character. These and other concerns can and should be addressed as we continue to move forward with infill development. We have some and need more examples of smart, well designed infill that can regenerate mature neighbourhoods.
Our suburbs provide greater density, more amenities and housing choice than most of our mature neighbourhoods. But they need to become smarter: fewer and smaller roads, more transit oriented and pedestrian friendly. They should also include urban agricultural components, and more homes should be powered and heated by renewable energy sources such as solar or geothermal.
City council just yesterday created a new zoning classification for new subdivisions. It can also be applied to mature communities. It’s very promising.
The way we build and rebuild our neighbourhoods and how we pay to service them are very important issues. We need more public transit, and pedestrian friendly design and planning in all of Edmonton’s developments. And I firmly believe that building strong partnerships with communities, planners, developers, environmental organizations and financial institutions will help us achieve affordable and well-designed infill and modern suburban development.
Edmonton’s 2009 Municipal Development Plan, The Way We Grow, targets 75% of our new development to be suburban and 25% to be infill. The Way We Grow has resulted in several key policy documents related specifically to suburban growth and infill.
The Residential Infill Guidelines, and the subsequent zoning bylaw passed early this year, aim to provide the necessary tools to increase infill in mature neighbourhoods.
The new Suburban Design Guidelines approved this year, along with the Complete Streets Guidelines, direct our development in the suburbs toward higher density, transit oriented, and pedestrian friendly communities.
I am committed to implementation of these guidelines and policies. The Way We Grow will continue to be the guiding city planning document for Edmonton’s new mayor and next council.
Cities are perpetually unfinished. Each of us, no matter if we live in mature neighbourhoods or in the suburbs, must bear and welcome the changes that come with growth and permutation.
Michael has been a leader in community supported infill development projects across Edmonton through his work on the revitalization of 118th Avenue, Bellweather Heights, Strathearn Heights and Petrolia Mall.
Michael also led the charge to include the City Wide Food and Agriculture Strategy within the Way We Grow as a way to ensure urban agriculture was included in new developments.