Council rejects commercial building proposed for Glenora

A controversial commercial development will not be going up in the Edmonton neighbourhood of Glenora after fierce opposition from residents.

‘This is a green jewel of a neighbourhood and we can’t lose it’

Marie Gordon is part of a group of Glenora residents opposing a proposal to turn a lot that currently has one house on it, into a commercial space. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

A controversial commercial development will not be going up in the Edmonton neighbourhood of Glenora after fierce opposition from residents.

City council voted down the controversial development late Monday in a 7-2 vote. 

Residents for and fiercely against the proposed small-scale commercial building that would sit across from a future LRT stop made their cases to councillors.

If approved, it would have turned a one-storey home into a two-storey commercial development on 134th Street and 104th Avenue.

The development is not what homeowners signed up for, said opponents, who filled council chambers wearing green stickers with the words "family-oriented development" written on them.

'Completely changes the vibe'

Joel Gotlib, who lives next door to the proposed development said it would dwarf his home and the narrow space in between would leave him with a brick wall to look at.

The development "completely changes the vibe and functionality of our neighbourhood," Gotlib said. "The site in question was never intended for a commercial building." 

Gotlib, who has three small children, was also concerned about a liquor store, brewery, wine distillery or restaurant with a sidewalk patio ending up next to his house.

Jon Dziadyk and Aaron Paquette were the only councillors who voted in favour of the rezoning.  

"As much as it impacts the neighbourhood of Glenora, we have to be thinking city-wide with our LRT infrastructure and what was proposed to me seemed quite modest and in no way was offensive," Dziadyk said. 

Glenora resident Johannas Lang, who grew up in the area, said the development is a great opportunity to expand on existing commercial offerings in the area, including diner Vi's For Pies and The Colombian Coffee Bar & Roastery.

"We already lack walkable, nice places to go," Lang said.

"This is just a great, walkable small development that I feel is a great opportunity for this community."

Louis Pereira said the development would increase the use of existing businesses and create "an exemplary urban enclave of retail facing green space adjacent to what will be a very active and animated LRT stop." 

"For Glenora residents, it allows us to be within minimal walking distance to an eclectic mix of shops," Pereira said.  

"The campaign against this development is a rouse to create exclusion and to profess the concept of a gated community. That's not the Glenora I want," he said.

"The proposed development together with the Glenora LRT stop can be viewed as a doorstop and an entryway into our community and I would want every opportunity to encourage  acceptance of visitors entering our neighbourhood."

Opposition group

A group of residents met Sunday to discuss their plan to convince council to oppose the project. The group, Family Oriented Development, is concerned the design doesn't fit the neighbourhood's character.

"This is the only residential, mature neighbourhood stop on the entire West Valley Line. All the rest of them are commercial," said organizer Marie Gordon, a Glenora resident for more than three decades.

A community group called Family Oriented Development plans to speak to city council Monday in opposition of a commerical development proposed for Glenora. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

The project is part of what the city calls transit-oriented development, meaning it should offer retail services like food and drink or offices, close to the LRT stop.

"If you had to ever think of a neighbourhood where there should be an exception to a rule about transit-oriented development, this is exactly it," Gordon said. "This is a green jewel of a neighbourhood and we can't lose it."

The group worries the neighbourhood doesn't have enough parking to accommodate more commercial space.

With the LRT line set to run down Stony Plain Road nearby, Gordon said she worries there will be more proposals for commercial spaces in the future.

"All of a sudden, we've hollowed out and we've lost what actually makes this place feel special, which is green, which is families, which is kids," Gordon said.

"This is just not the right fit for those of us who live here and those of us who could live here."

The commercial building proposed for 134th Street and 104th Avenue would sit across from an LRT station. (City of Edmonton)

In council chambers Monday, another Glenora resident said approving the bylaw would be like the start of "a cancerous growth," leading to more and more commercial development in the historic neighbourhood. 

"It's a slippery slope and I'm scared of what would happen to the rest of our block if that happened," resident Carla Lemaire said. "Glenora is a beautiful neighbourhood … it is the jewel of the city. Please let's keep it that way and keep our residential area residential." 

Despite the creation of a community group opposing the project, the developer, Otto Capital, said many residents have offered their support.

Company founder Dan Belostotsky, who lives in Glenora, said he spent a lot of time making sure the design aligned with the community feel.

Otto Capital founder Dan Belostotsky says he's working to make sure the building would house suitable tenants. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

Blueprints were adjusted to address some community concerns, dropping the height from three storeys to two, and banning bars and cannabis stores, he said.

"We're going to work as hard as we can to make sure the right tenants are there and the building looks as best as possible," he said.

Belostotsky said the proposed development site was unique.

"This property is literally across the street from an LRT stop," he said. "People don't want to live right in front of the LRT stop. And since this is the only property that's actually right in front of the LRT stop, I think it's a very appropriate use."

The proposed development site. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)


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