As the city continues to consider how it deals with food and agriculture in the coming years, one small neighbourhood in northeast Edmonton finds itself caught between farmers and land developers.
"We don't have roads, we don't have water and sewer, or street lights," said Roxanne Tabler, who has lived in her home in the neighbourhood of Horse Hill for over 30 years.
Tabler says the community is ready for more residential development and the services that come with it.
Seed potato farmer Gordon Visser has another view of the area’s future. He’d like to see the city preserve 600 hectares as farmland and zone it for agricultural use. He and other farmers have started the Greater Edmonton Alliance, a campaign to get the public behind the plan.
"We'd like to see Edmontonians phone their councillors … and relay concerns to the councillors … and come to the hearings," Visser said.
Friday, the city held a meeting for public comments as it begins to craft a food and agricultural strategy for Edmonton; the vast majority of speakers at the meeting discussed preserving land in northeast Edmonton, despite the fact that the issue isn’t included in the strategy.
Many argued that the fertile farmland in the area would be difficult to replace.
Some farmers already sold land
However of the 600 hectares that Visser and others want protected, according to the committee developing the agriculture strategy, farmers only own about 30 per cent of the land.
Examination of land titles show that some people who have already sold their land to developers are now among those who are petitioning the city to make sure residential development doesn't happen.
Mayor Stephen Mandel says the strategy isn’t finalized yet, but people can’t have it both ways.
"Those who have agricultural land and they want to keep it agricultural, be my guest. Keep it as a farm for the rest of your life," he said.
"But if you decide to sell it for development, don't come back and say now we don't want it to be developed. We want to keep it as a farm. "
The conflict has been a heated one, with councillors saying they have received hundreds of calls from people on both sides.
Council has set an extra day of public hearings on the agricultural strategy for Friday.