PDA

View Full Version : City races to put sustainable planning into place



DebraW
22-01-2007, 10:52 AM
City races to put sustainable planning into place

Smart Choices program aims to curb urban sprawl, encourage public transit

Susan Ruttan, The Edmonton Journal
Published: Monday, January 22, 2007.18

Greg Barker is in a race against time.

As head of the city's Smart Choices program, he's racing to put in place new planning rules that will restrain suburban sprawl and change Edmonton's car culture to a more pedestrian- and transit-friendly one.

His challenge? The city is being deluged with building applications from developers eager to be part of Edmonton's booming economy.
521.88

The planning department last year issued 12,400 building permits worth a total of $2.3 billion, a new record far outstripping anything in the past decade.

Forty-four permits for new office buildings were approved last year, nearly four times the number of a decade ago. More than 9,000 housing units -- apartment units, houses and row houses -- were approved, nearly five times the 1996 number.

Ideally, Edmonton would have put its environmentally friendly Smart Choices rules in place before the current boom hit. It didn't. Now it's scrambling.

"We came into the boom with a planning deficit," Barker said in an interview. "Now we're playing catch-up." The irony, planners say, is that Edmonton had great sustainable growth plans back in 1980. Then the economy collapsed and everything got shelved.

Developers today, understandably, want to get their projects approved before the tougher rules come into force. Barker wants the rules in place before all the smart growth opportunities are lost.

One battle zone is a proposed five-tower condo project at Stony Plain Road and 142nd Street, a project opposed by neighbouring homeowners.

The developer applied just before Christmas for zoning changes to build the project. Meanwhile, Barker has a consultant drawing up a Smart Choices plan for the area, with a March 15 deadline for his first report.

In Clareview, a developer wants to build a group of apartment blocks and townhouses just north of the LRT station. City planners oppose the project, saying it fails the Smart Choices test.

That test is a five-star system, introduced Nov. 1, that planners use to rate projects on assets like being pedestrian-friendly. The Clareview project got only two stars, which is a thumbs-down rating. Council, which will decide on the project today, is free to ignore the rating.

Barker sees the Clareview LRT site as a lost opportunity. Clareview Town Centre, the area around the station, was supposed to become a little community with housing and shops, all focused on the LRT station. Instead, it has been developed helter-skelter over the years.

Developers are now looking at rebuilding the area around the Stadium LRT station, Barker said. He's trying to get a Smart Choices plan in place for the area that will shape what the developers do, so there won't be a repeat of the Clareview Town Centre mess.

Ultimately, the Smart Choices concept will be embedded in the city's zoning bylaw and the new city master plan, so it doesn't have to be fought development by development.

Phair predicts "huge battles" from developers before that happens. He feels the city hasn't done enough to promote Smart Choices among developers and the public. And he wonders how the concept will succeed in a city surrounded by bedroom communities and with little provincial support.

Barker knows creating a denser, transit-focused Edmonton is going to take years. "I call it turning around the Exxon Edmonton," he said, referring to the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil tanker spill. "Most of the development in this town since the Second World War has been hugely automobile-dependent, and we're trying to change that."

[email protected]

PROGRAM CHECKLIST

- Does the project mean reinvestment in an older neighbourhood?

- Does it provide residential infill -- more housing in an older neighbourhood, through duplexes, granny suites and apartment blocks under five storeys?

- Is it transit-oriented development within easy walking distance of an LRT station?

- Does it encourage walking to work, shops, schools and community facilities?

- Is the building design compatible with the neighbourhood, encouraging public life on the street?

- Does the project redevelop under-utilized commercial or industrial areas?

--30--

grish
22-01-2007, 12:13 PM
There was some dicussion previously about this one:

One battle zone is a proposed five-tower condo project at Stony Plain Road and 142nd Street, a project opposed by neighbouring homeowners.

Here is the checklist:

- Does the project mean reinvestment in an older neighbourhood?

YES


- Does it provide residential infill -- more housing in an older neighbourhood, through duplexes, granny suites and apartment blocks under five storeys?

No. I think they proposed towers mostly. However, other types of dwellings could be incorporated. Is the height of the towers so bad for the neighbourhood?


- Is it transit-oriented development within easy walking distance of an LRT station?

No. This one is CITY's fault. It is time they put an LRT to west end going past this proposed development.


- Does it encourage walking to work, shops, schools and community facilities?

Yes. There are shops nearby. Trails too. Museum. Schools.


- Is the building design compatible with the neighbourhood, encouraging public life on the street?

? the answer to the question should be left for consultation. can be accomodated. Shouldn't the sticking point.


- Does the project redevelop under-utilized commercial or industrial areas?

Yes. I think so.

I am not familiar with the one at Clareview. Can someone describe which of the points it passes/ fails. Is the claim in the story true?

CSR
22-01-2007, 07:19 PM
As I understand it, the Clareview development intends to put a thousand units of medium density residential within walking distance of the LRT station.

The problem is the land is zoned for commercial retail, and according to the city there is a shortage of that land availible in the NE, while there is plenty of low density single family land.

Now to me, and I admit I only know what I got from a tiny article in the journal, the planners are missing the point. You need a drugstore and a grocery store nearby in walking distance, maybe a few other things but the people living here are going to be right at an LRT station! They do not need bars, retail, office space, doctors offices in walking distance. Because anywhere along the LRT line will be in walking distance! If they want they can go to the Uof A hospital for a doctor, downtown or even southgate for shops, downtown for a lawyer.

That is the whole point of LRT and having dense residential.

Brentk
22-01-2007, 07:29 PM
I wish Edmonton developers/management firms that run the capilano and bonnie doon malls would close them. These are two malls that are not nessasary and could be used for greater retail/housing developments that would rejuvanate the regions. It would also help boost the other area malls like the City Centre and Southgate.

edmowl
25-01-2007, 11:33 PM
I wish Edmonton developers/management firms that run the capilano and bonnie doon malls would close them. These are two malls that are not nessasary and could be used for greater retail/housing developments that would rejuvanate the regions. It would also help boost the other area malls like the City Centre and Southgate.

How so?

The 2 malls have retail (obviously) and plenty of residential around them. They are localized shopping centres. If they closed then you force the people living near them to have to travel significant distances to shop.

As for Smart Choices - why is the city "racing" to get this in place? Surely if the planning dept did planning properly, programs like Smart Choices would have been put in place years ago.

DanC
26-01-2007, 12:12 AM
I wish Edmonton developers/management firms that run the capilano and bonnie doon malls would close them. These are two malls that are not nessasary and could be used for greater retail/housing developments that would rejuvanate the regions. It would also help boost the other area malls like the City Centre and Southgate.

How so?

The 2 malls have retail (obviously) and plenty of residential around them. They are localized shopping centres. If they closed then you force the people living near them to have to travel significant distances to shop.

As for Smart Choices - why is the city "racing" to get this in place? Surely if the planning dept did planning properly, programs like Smart Choices would have been put in place years ago.
Because closing the malls doesn't necessarily mean losing the retail in the area. It would be better to see the acres or parking lots closed and the retail house in the bottom podiums of higher density residential complex's, with parking minimally at store front and more so underground.
The focus would be on transit orientation and pedestrian retail. Somewhat like the Strathearn proposal but with at a larger scale.

onishenko
26-01-2007, 06:43 AM
or even not. More retail, less residential is an option as well.

I'd say we see this happen at Capilano before Bonnie Doon. Just look at the health of both malls. Bonnie Doon is almost becoming a Medowlark (in a sense), and the closer of one would force some tenants over.