Mammoth development could add thousands of homes to Bonnie Doon neighbourhood

A proposed development for Edmonton's Bonnie Doon neighbourhood could bring thousands of new homes and people to the area.

Project has been proposed to sit on Bonnie Doon mall site

A conceptual rendering of a proposed garden district, looking west, in Bonnie Doon. (Morguard Investments)

A proposed development for Edmonton's Bonnie Doon neighbourhood could bring thousands of new homes and people to the area.

Morguard Investments has proposed to rezone the land Bonnie Doon Centre sits on, transforming it into a mixed-use development that features housing, offices and retail space. The city is reviewing the rezoning application for the mammoth project, which could take up to 30 years to complete.

If approved, the area would see the development of more than 4,000 residential units on the 12-hectare site. The units would be part of row housing, mid-rise, and high-rise buildings.

The goal is to provide housing for people at various stages of life, said Margaret Knowles, senior vice president of development for Morguard.

"We're looking at 55 plus, assisted living, as well as independent living, all the way down to having homes for millennials who are, you know, moving out of the basement of their parents' home," she said at a public engagement session Wednesday evening.

"Our approach is to be as inclusive as possible. Bonnie Doon belongs to the community."

They seem very interested in keeping the retailers that are there.- Martin Van Keimpema, Bonnie Doon Bowling Lanes manager

Some community members are the tenants occupying Bonnie Doon mall, like Martin Van Keimpema. He has been managing Bonnie Doon Bowling Lanes since 1995, and is thrilled about what the project could do for the business.

"We're going to go from drawing from hundreds of people to thousands of people in a very captive market," he said.

It's likely the bowling lanes would be modernized and relocated to one of the new buildings in the development, Van Keimpema said.

"It would be very easy [for Morguard] to say 'okay, we're going to bulldoze this space down and in five years we're going to open it up.' But they haven't expressed that at all," he said.

"They seem very interested in keeping the retailers that are there."

Residents concerns

The new development proposal that includes Bonnie Doon mall includes this transit plaza. (Morguard Investments)

Randy Hirsch has been living in the area for 27 years, and isn't as thrilled about the proposed development. He's worried the increased density of homes and residents will make the neighbourhood less pedestrian friendly.

"If you put a bunch more people in there, it's just going to feel clogged, and blocked up," he said.

"As we become less mobile, it's going to make it more of a challenge, I think, to even move around the neighbourhood."

The project is what the city calls a transit-oriented development, meaning residents should have quick access to transit via walkable and bikeable streets.

The development would also involve major road and sidewalk improvements on 85th Avenue, with the intention of making it more walkable, Knowles said.

She noted another area of concern has been the potential for increased traffic and parking problems in the area.

"Obviously the city is going to hold our feet to the fire in making sure that we meet all the requirements for parking. Most of our parking will be underground or ... in structures above grade," she said, noting street parking would also be an option.

Knowles said her team is working on its first development application for the project. She hopes to start on the first development by fall of next year.

About the Author

Anna McMillan

Journalist

Anna McMillan is a reporter, web writer and associate TV producer at CBC Edmonton. anna.mcmillan@cbc.ca