Public hearing on proposed high-rises in Strathcona extended into April

Edmonton city council extended Monday's public hearing on the rezoning proposal of two tall towers in Strathcona until April 9th, allowing more time to hear resident concerns.

Towers will 'detract from the quality of life,' says president of Strathcona Community League

Aerial view of proposed rezoning area in Strathcona at 89th Avenue at 99th Street. (City of Edmonton)

Edmonton city council extended Monday's public hearing on the rezoning proposal of two tall towers in Strathcona until April 9th, allowing more time to hear resident concerns.

Bateman Properties and ONE Properties are proposing to build 15 and 18-storey towers at 89th Avenue at 99th Street. Currently, that area is zoned for medium-high rises — most buildings are no taller than six storeys.

The developers have been moulding their proposal with public feedback from consultations that started in November 2016.

Tom Burr with ONE Properties said he wants to manage growth "in a sustainable way" for the community.

Strathcona residents addressed city council on Monday, expressing their frustrations over walkability, increased traffic, parking problems, and the building's height.

Maureen Duguay, president of the Strathcona Community league, said the towers will overshadow the rest of the neighbourhood.

"The fact that it's just this big tower — as well-designed as they say it is — it's a big tower that's going to cause shade onto the street," she said. "It also it takes away from that welcoming low-scale dynamic that you get in our neighbourhood and it's just going to tower over 99th Street."

Rendering of two proposed high-rises in Strathcona neighbourhood at 89th Avenue at 99th Street. (City of Edmonton)

Duguay said the tall buildings will "detract from the quality of life," citing the "loomingness of high-rises" that will divide the community.

"The key stumbling block is height," Duguay said, adding that few proposed aspects are "palatable."

Over 400 people signed a survey opposing the development, Duguay said.

"They're very upset," she said. "They feel there's no need for this type of height, that it's not in consideration of our community, the historic nature of the community, the walkability, the low-rise feel of our community and they're very concerned about that."

More traffic, less heritage

Leslie Main Johnson has lived two blocks from the development site in Strathcona for 18 years and feels strongly about preserving her neighbourhood's heritage.

"It would very much change the low-key comfortable sense of what our community is at present," she said.

Johnson is concerned with the density increase in the area.

"It means lots more traffic," she said. "It means a lot of people who aren't really neighbours because they're living in a high-rise tower. Those are the main issues for me — it's just the transformation of the nature of our neighbourhood."

"And the whole concern about the 99th Street corridor," she added. "Are we going to see high-rises popping up down the whole thing?"

Johnson said for her, the Oliver neighbourhood is a cautionary tale.

"If you go drive Jasper Ave. over there — that's not, for me," she said.

"A walkable, friendly neighbourhood and they destroyed many heritage homes with the development of Oliver."

With files from Natasha Riebe