Edmonton

No longer needed: Edmonton looks to repeal nearly 80 community development plans

Nearly 80 neighbourhood-specific roadmaps, created to guide development in Edmonton, are at risk of becoming dust collectors if the city succeeds in repealing the plans. 

Parkallen community league says its plan is still relevant 25 years later

Some of Edmonton's neighbourhood development and structure blueprints date back to the 1970s. (David Bajer/CBC)

Nearly 80 neighbourhood-specific roadmaps created to guide development in Edmonton are at risk of becoming collectors' items if the city succeeds in repealing the plans.

The city is proposing to repeal 77 plans —  including area structure plans, area redevelopment plans and neighbourhood structure plans — through a land development application. All repeals would be subject to city council's approval.

"The plans have fulfilled their intended purpose," the city says on its website. They're no longer relevant in guiding new infrastructure and the city's needs and direction have evolved over time, the website says.

Some of the plans date back to the 1970s and others were approved in the early 2000s. The Mill Woods Development Concept Plan was approved in 1971, the Northlands Area Redevelopment Plan in 1990 and the MacEwan Neighbourhood Area Structure Plan dates back to 2001. 

Anne Huizinga, a city planner, said after reviewing 200 plans, staff decided it's time to reevaluate when to shelve them.

"What are the kind of key characteristics that say. 'This is a plan that's done its duty and can now be celebrated and let go,'" Huizinga said in an interview Monday. 

The new direction is part of the City Plan, approved in December, which aims for denser neighbourhoods near transit centres and amenities to accommodate an estimated population of two million people in 50 years. 

Parkallen plan

The Parkallen community league is protesting the city's process, which it says is last-minute and insufficient for meaningful feedback. 

Jan Hardstaff, the league's civics director, posted a notice on its website to encourage residents to write in with feedback. 

"It took seven years and countless volunteer hours to create," Hardstaff wrote about the community plan, updated in 2013.

Parkallen got notice of the proposed repeals at the beginning of March. Hardstaff said that's not enough time for the league to submit a list of concerns or requests by the April 5 deadline. 

"This is not a good planning process," Hardstaff said of the city's approach. "Good planning results in great communities, I don't see how this is going to result in a great community."  

The Parkallen development plan aims to maintain a relatively low residential density while allowing for responsible higher density infill housing. 

It outlines the need to preserve the area's village atmosphere and maintain or improve local parks and playgrounds — all areas that are still relevant, Hardstaff said. 

The plan dates back to 1994 and was approved again in 2013 when city council agreed to remove the Belgravia and McKernan neighbourhoods from the document.

In response to criticism about the feedback deadline, Huizinga noted that the timeline reflects the standard land development application process.

"The Engaged Edmonton survey closes on April 5 but that doesn't mean we stop talking to people on that date," she added. 

"Now we're looking forward to discussing Parkallen's concerns with them and addressing other issues that have been identified through the survey."

Infill risks

Hardstaff wants the city to be more responsible about infill developments. Over the years, some have damaged adjacent properties, she said.

"We've also had a couple of pretty catastrophic infill developments that have gone awry," she said. "And there needs to be a risk mitigation plan.

"What we want to see is a risk mitigation plan for communities of citizens that protect them, protect adjacent private and public property from impact and damage," Hardstaff said.

Staff will compile the comments and suggestions into a report to be presented at an upcoming public hearing at city hall. 

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