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DebraW
26-07-2007, 07:38 AM
Too hot to handle
Contentious housing projects must await election

Susan Ruttan, With files from Anna Mehler Paperny, The Edmonton Journal
Published: July 26, 2007 3:07 am

Three contentious housing proposals have been bumped off city council's pre-election agenda and will now be heard by council after the civic election.

While councillors say the move is being made because of time constraints, the result is that council won't have to vote on the three hot issues before election day.

Bumped from public hearings in early September until later in the year are:

- Strathearn Heights Village in Strathearn, a proposal for four highrise towers plus other buildings in a large development of 1,750 housing units;

- the Vision for the Corner proposal at 142nd Street and Stony Plain Road in Glenora, with five condo towers plus townhouses with 285 units;

- a Habitat for Humanity proposal to build 23 duplexes plus one accessible bungalow in the Bergman community.

A fourth big housing proposal, for 264 seniors' apartments in five four-storey buildings in Hazeldean, may still be heard before the election, city clerk David Edey says. It's the least controversial of the four.

Allan Tchida, who is leading community opposition to the Strathearn Heights Village project, sees the delay as good news. "This will definitely buy us some time," he said Wednesday.

The community league has started work on drafting rules to guide redevelopment of the older neighbourhood. Tchida hopes the league can prepare a counterproposal to present to council when the project goes to its public hearing for rezoning.

Tchida said it's still important for voters to find out where candidates for council stand on putting highrise towers in neighbourhoods like Strathearn. "It should continue to be an election issue," he said.

Coun. Michael Phair, whose inner-city Ward 4 contains both the Strathearn and Glenora projects, defends bumping them until after the election.

Council is facing more than 80 applications for rezoning, each of which must be considered at a public hearing, he said. There isn't time to hear all of them before council breaks in mid-September for election campaigning, he said, especially the disputed ones where many people will want to speak.

Phair, who is not seeking re-election, said this barrage of applications happens before every election -- only more so this year because of the hot economy. "Every developer of consequence who's got anything in the works is trying to push it through," he said.

Armin Preiksaitis, spokesman for the Stony Plain Road highrise project, is disappointed that the project has lost its Sept. 5 hearing date.

"We were ready to go," Preiksaitis said. In a hot economy with construction workers at a premium, delays cost money, he said.

Although Glenora and Grovenor residents still oppose the project, Preiksaitis said the developers have worked through a lot of issues with city planners.

The project has been scaled back from 335 to 285 units, and one condo tower has been adjusted up from 18 to 21 storeys, while a 10-storey building will be reduced in height, he said.

The planning department has recently advised against putting a hold on the Glenora project, something recommended by a consultant hired by the city to study development issues at that intersection.

Cassandra Haraba, president of the Grovenor Community League, said the developers have taken an adversarial stand.

Whether the project goes to council before or after the election, she said, "it's going to be a full-blown trial."

The Habitat for Humanity project is in the northeast Ward 3, where Coun. Ed Gibbons is seeking re-election.

"I've been trying to be fair to both sides, to try and bring them together and try and move them forward," Gibbons said, adding that at the end of the day, he represents community residents. "If they don't want me to vote for it, I won't vote for it."

[email protected]

© The Edmonton Journal 2007

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dwells
26-07-2007, 08:09 AM
Cassandra Haraba, president of the Grovenor Community League, said the developers have taken an adversarial stand.
:lol: :lol: :lol:
Funny!!!

RichardS
26-07-2007, 09:34 AM
I love pot calling kettle statements.... :lol:

JayBee
26-07-2007, 09:49 AM
Good work Grovenor, you've stalled hundreds of homes right at the moment of greatest need. I say we put a tent city in your school yard, with no unsightly toilet facilities.

m0nkyman
26-07-2007, 09:49 AM
Sounds like council has stopped doing their job. They were elected to make decisions for their full term.

DebraW
26-07-2007, 09:54 AM
Yup, lame duck polictics benefit no one and stall (stop) the democratic process.

IKAN104
26-07-2007, 10:33 AM
They seem to have a habit of delaying controversial decisions. 23rd Ave comes to mind.

DebraW
26-07-2007, 10:37 AM
Yup...

snakes on a blog
26-07-2007, 11:59 AM
one of the main election issues will be:
do we densify older neighbourhoods or do we give in to all NIMBY activists?

DebraW
26-07-2007, 12:04 PM
one of the main election issues will be:
do we densify older neighbourhoods or do we give in to all NIMBY activists?

^ Civic politics is supposed to be non-partisan and issue only dominated.

Issues like garbage, potholes, infrastructure and city taxation...

Seem to me that this municipal elections crop of candidates will have more than usual to contend with. :?

dwells
26-07-2007, 12:35 PM
one of the main election issues will be:
do we densify older neighbourhoods or do we give in to all NIMBY activists?
THE main election issue SHOULD be: Should elected council members have confidence in the long term planning abilities of experts employed by the city.

DebraW
26-07-2007, 12:45 PM
one of the main election issues will be:
do we densify older neighbourhoods or do we give in to all NIMBY activists?
THE main election issue SHOULD be: Should elected council members have confidence in the long term planning abilities of experts employed by the city.

^ This I agree with totally...If you pay someone to do a job and seemingly hire them because they have the ability (talent, skill, education and knowledge) to undertake this task then you MUST give them not only your confidence but also your support. Council must stop discounting what their own planners and consultants say, it not only undermines confidence in all parties but also as illustrated in some non-decisions they delay projects.

Agree or disagree, approve or turn down but do SOMETHING and make decisions—do not keep tabling “contentious” issues.

DanC
26-07-2007, 05:10 PM
[b]

Allan Tchida, who is leading community opposition to the Strathearn Heights Village project, sees the delay as good news. "This will definitely buy us some time," he said Wednesday.

The community league has started work on drafting rules to guide redevelopment of the older neighbourhood. Tchida hopes the league can prepare a counterproposal to present to council when the project goes to its public hearing for rezoning.

Tchida said it's still important for voters to find out where candidates for council stand on putting highrise towers in neighbourhoods like Strathearn. "It should continue to be an election issue," he said.


Great now I get to hear the lay-people of my neighborhood put forth a proposal and set of guidelines.

Dakine
26-07-2007, 05:27 PM
I say we dont pay them, take the pension everything if they dont want to do there job

lux
26-07-2007, 06:56 PM
one of the main election issues will be:
do we densify older neighbourhoods or do we give in to all NIMBY activists?

I certainly hope the NIMBY activists win.

DebraW
27-07-2007, 08:06 AM
Council decides not to

The Edmonton Journal
Published: July 27, 2007 1:36 am

What exactly are city councillors paid to do if not make decisions?

It's a reasonable question that every resident of Edmonton should be asking themselves during these days of deferral by the city's 13 council members. Delayed or pushed aside are a host of contentious issues, including west-end Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and at least three major high-density building projects.

In no particular order, they are: Strathearn Heights Village, a four highrise tower condo project that would create 1,750 new homes in the southeast; a Habitat for Humanity project for 23 new townhouses in the Bergman-Beacon Heights area of east Edmonton; and the five-tower-plus-townhouses Vision for the Corner project at the intersection of 142 Street and 102 Avenue. And lest we forget, there's the 23rd Avenue interchange that has already more than doubled in cost because of inaction.

The official explanation is that there isn't sufficient time to deal with the issues before the elections in October. What they really should have said is there isn't time to deal with all of them, and since some councillors might lose their jobs in the affected areas, it's fairer not to open any of the cans of worms until they are all safely re-elected.

Council still has three months until the election, fully eight per cent of the term of office. Do typical employees quit work 3.2 hours early on Friday simply because they can't get all work finished before the weekend?

Edmonton is not some tiny hamlet where officials convene once a month. The mayor and councillors are supposed to be full-time. Paralyzing the decision-making process using the rationale that they don't want to start what they can't finish is absurd. In the day of Britain's navy of timber and sail, captains went on half-pay in down times. If those sailing our ship of civic state were to forfeit half of their pay between now and October, a lot of streets could have their potholes filled.

The problem of chronic indecision is ubiquitous, particularly in North America where the not-in-my-backyard mentality is most ingrained. But it is also rewarded by re-election, and, over the years, it has led to a host of urban problems, not the least of which is urban sprawl. It's much easier to give zoning approval to dig up some farmer's field than to dare to venture into established-neighbourhood politics.

Councillors must accept that they were hired to make decisions, and to make sure they are implemented effectively and efficiently. Since they have chosen to delay action on these key projects, it is only fair for voters in the affected areas and across the city to turn them into hot-button election issues.

© The Edmonton Journal 2007

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JayBee
27-07-2007, 09:26 AM
The smart city objective of intensifying the population of the city is in no way misguided. I agree with dwells that council should trust the experts guidance and keep the wheels turning. In cases where there are problems with the concept, fine, look at the concept. But don't grind the development of the city to a halt every time someone cries "wolf".

By the way, partly on council's side, I think 3 years doesn't leave much room for election campaigns. I think we should go back to the 4 year terms we had before Klein.

snakes on a blog
27-07-2007, 09:46 AM
one of the main election issues will be:
do we densify older neighbourhoods or do we give in to all NIMBY activists?

I certainly hope the NIMBY activists win.
any particular reason?

DebraW
28-07-2007, 10:08 AM
Council wrong to stall projects

The Edmonton Journal
Published: July 28, 2007 2:07 am

Re: "Council slams door on housing projects: Controversial developments in Glenora, Strathearn will wait until after election," The Journal, July 26.

I was disappointed to see city council delay the public hearing on the Strathearn project and others until after the election. I disagree with Allan Tchida's assertion that this is an election issue. Re-zoning is a bureaucracy issue.

We fund a city planning department to deal with these issues and if we do not trust its recommendations, then why have it?

How is this city going to move forward if every contentious issue has to wait for an election? What if the Strathearn developers had tabled this re-zoning in January 2008, instead of in an election year? Would Tchida's group recommend holding up the process until the fall of 2010? Ridiculous.

This has dragged on far too long.

I would not blame the developers if they just put up a massive, 10-storey, ugly building, which they could do without a re-zoning application. The Strathearn residents opposing this development may find at the end of all of this, it could be a case of "be careful what you wish for."

Aaron Brown, Edmonton

© The Edmonton Journal 2007

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DebraW
28-07-2007, 10:10 AM
Too hot to handle

The Edmonton Journal
Published: July 28, 2007 2:07 am

The Strathearn Heights redevelopment has been in the works for some time now, so to say it was being rammed through city council is incorrect. The developers held many open houses and welcomed all input.

I want to know who has decided that providing subsidized housing is the landlord's responsibility. Mayor Stephen Mandel told me that it was the responsibility of the residents to go get their own subsidy, yet the Strathearn management has been helping residents with application forms, and keeping rental increases to a minimum.

I believe city council has tossed these projects aside as they are too hot to handle and they don't have the stomach for it.

This will be made an election issue, and will not be about the chance that Strathearn and the other communities have to work with the developers to create beautiful developments.

Strathearn is trying to jam unreasonable "affordable housing" demands down the developer's throat. Why would a developer build anything if there was no financial gain for him? In the not too distant future, Strathearn will not be livable, and 504 families will have nowhere to go at all.

Perhaps one of the special-interest groups should buy Strathearn Heights Apartments and build their social housing.

Marilee Eldridge, former manager, Strathearn Heights Apartments, Winnipeg

© The Edmonton Journal 2007

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Jeff
30-07-2007, 04:54 PM
Allan Tchida, who is leading community opposition to the Strathearn Heights Village project, sees the delay as good news. "This will definitely buy us some time," he said Wednesday.

The community league has started work on drafting rules to guide redevelopment of the older neighbourhood. Tchida hopes the league can prepare a counterproposal to present to council when the project goes to its public hearing for rezoning.

Tchida said it's still important for voters to find out where candidates for council stand on putting highrise towers in neighbourhoods like Strathearn. "It should continue to be an election issue," he said.


Great now I get to hear the lay-people of my neighborhood put forth a proposal and set of guidelines.

Huh! – I thought youse guys continually tout the DC2 process as the “lay-people’s” opportunity – apparently the uppity serfs in your Strathearn fiefdom have more to say.

Is the DC2 process really an equitable vehicle to allow so-called grassroots feedback to be incorporated? If so, why do we see the startup of something like a Mature Neighbourhoods Action Group, this Strathearn community league response to bring forward a “counter” proposal, etc.

Does the DC2 process really work – for all sides?

DanC
30-07-2007, 05:01 PM
Allan Tchida, who is leading community opposition to the Strathearn Heights Village project, sees the delay as good news. "This will definitely buy us some time," he said Wednesday.

The community league has started work on drafting rules to guide redevelopment of the older neighbourhood. Tchida hopes the league can prepare a counterproposal to present to council when the project goes to its public hearing for rezoning.

Tchida said it's still important for voters to find out where candidates for council stand on putting highrise towers in neighbourhoods like Strathearn. "It should continue to be an election issue," he said.


Great now I get to hear the lay-people of my neighborhood put forth a proposal and set of guidelines.

Huh! – I thought youse guys continually tout the DC2 process as the “lay-people’s” opportunity – apparently the uppity serfs in your Strathearn fiefdom have more to say.

Is the DC2 process really an equitable vehicle to allow so-called grassroots feedback to be incorporated? If so, why do we see the startup of something like a Mature Neighbourhoods Action Group, this Strathearn community league response to bring forward a “counter” proposal, etc.

Does the DC2 process really work – for all sides?
I welcome the input of the community, as that is also how I can show my support of the plan, but the input of a group of lay-people, trying to form a plan as a formal guideline to which developers would have to adhere makes no sense to me. Everyone should feel free to voice their opinion or have input, but not as policy.
Policy is set by the planning department based on studies and years of experience and professional advice.

I can't put my trust in the plan of a bunch of people who got together one night over coffee, or even who spent a couple months doing research over that of an entire planning department.

Jeff
30-07-2007, 05:21 PM
Allan Tchida, who is leading community opposition to the Strathearn Heights Village project, sees the delay as good news. "This will definitely buy us some time," he said Wednesday.

The community league has started work on drafting rules to guide redevelopment of the older neighbourhood. Tchida hopes the league can prepare a counterproposal to present to council when the project goes to its public hearing for rezoning.

Tchida said it's still important for voters to find out where candidates for council stand on putting highrise towers in neighbourhoods like Strathearn. "It should continue to be an election issue," he said.


Great now I get to hear the lay-people of my neighborhood put forth a proposal and set of guidelines.

Huh! – I thought youse guys continually tout the DC2 process as the “lay-people’s” opportunity – apparently the uppity serfs in your Strathearn fiefdom have more to say.

Is the DC2 process really an equitable vehicle to allow so-called grassroots feedback to be incorporated? If so, why do we see the startup of something like a Mature Neighbourhoods Action Group, this Strathearn community league response to bring forward a “counter” proposal, etc.

Does the DC2 process really work – for all sides?
I welcome the input of the community, as that is also how I can show my support of the plan, but the input of a group of lay-people, trying to form a plan as a formal guideline to which developers would have to adhere makes no sense to me. Everyone should feel free to voice their opinion or have input, but not as policy.
Policy is set by the planning department based on studies and years of experience and professional advice.

I can't put my trust in the plan of a bunch of people who got together one night over coffee, or even who spent a couple months doing research over that of an entire planning department.

Do you know if this "counter" proposal concept is unique to past DC2 processes? Living in the Strathern community as you do, can you presume on the rationale of the group fronting the alternate proposal - do they really expect it to be held up as a viable alternative or might they simply be looking for further "gains" to be incorporated?

In the summary report, "Summary of Community Consultation Activities", the developer, as to be expected, heavily promotes the actions taken. Obviously the Strathern community league group fronting the alternate proposal doesn't agree. Again, from your perspective, living in the community, do you know if this group fronting the alternate proposal was involved/engaged in the process as summarized by the developer's report?

http://www.edmonton.ca/InfraPlan/CurrentProjects/Strathern/community%20consultation.pdf

DanC
30-07-2007, 05:54 PM
Allan Tchida, who is leading community opposition to the Strathearn Heights Village project, sees the delay as good news. "This will definitely buy us some time," he said Wednesday.

The community league has started work on drafting rules to guide redevelopment of the older neighbourhood. Tchida hopes the league can prepare a counterproposal to present to council when the project goes to its public hearing for rezoning.

Tchida said it's still important for voters to find out where candidates for council stand on putting highrise towers in neighbourhoods like Strathearn. "It should continue to be an election issue," he said.


Great now I get to hear the lay-people of my neighborhood put forth a proposal and set of guidelines.

Huh! – I thought youse guys continually tout the DC2 process as the “lay-people’s” opportunity – apparently the uppity serfs in your Strathearn fiefdom have more to say.

Is the DC2 process really an equitable vehicle to allow so-called grassroots feedback to be incorporated? If so, why do we see the startup of something like a Mature Neighbourhoods Action Group, this Strathearn community league response to bring forward a “counter” proposal, etc.

Does the DC2 process really work – for all sides?
I welcome the input of the community, as that is also how I can show my support of the plan, but the input of a group of lay-people, trying to form a plan as a formal guideline to which developers would have to adhere makes no sense to me. Everyone should feel free to voice their opinion or have input, but not as policy.
Policy is set by the planning department based on studies and years of experience and professional advice.

I can't put my trust in the plan of a bunch of people who got together one night over coffee, or even who spent a couple months doing research over that of an entire planning department.

Do you know if this "counter" proposal concept is unique to past DC2 processes? Living in the Strathern community as you do, can you presume on the rationale of the group fronting the alternate proposal - do they really expect it to be held up as a viable alternative or might they simply be looking for further "gains" to be incorporated?

In the summary report, "Summary of Community Consultation Activities", the developer, as to be expected, heavily promotes the actions taken. Obviously the Strathern community league group fronting the alternate proposal doesn't agree. Again, from your perspective, living in the community, do you know if this group fronting the alternate proposal was involved/engaged in the process as summarized by the developer's report?

http://www.edmonton.ca/InfraPlan/CurrentProjects/Strathern/community%20consultation.pdf
The fellow heading up the alternate proposal has been involved in the process from the beginning is my understanding. I believe he is on the Strathearn Community League. He conducted the "impartial" door to door survey of Strathearn residents for the community league. He is also one of the most vocal opponents of the project.

kcantor
30-07-2007, 06:33 PM
Allan Tchida, who is leading community opposition to the Strathearn Heights Village project, sees the delay as good news. "This will definitely buy us some time," he said Wednesday.

The community league has started work on drafting rules to guide redevelopment of the older neighbourhood. Tchida hopes the league can prepare a counterproposal to present to council when the project goes to its public hearing for rezoning.

Tchida said it's still important for voters to find out where candidates for council stand on putting highrise towers in neighbourhoods like Strathearn. "It should continue to be an election issue," he said.


Great now I get to hear the lay-people of my neighborhood put forth a proposal and set of guidelines.

Huh! – I thought youse guys continually tout the DC2 process as the “lay-people’s” opportunity – apparently the uppity serfs in your Strathearn fiefdom have more to say.

Is the DC2 process really an equitable vehicle to allow so-called grassroots feedback to be incorporated? If so, why do we see the startup of something like a Mature Neighbourhoods Action Group, this Strathearn community league response to bring forward a “counter” proposal, etc.

Does the DC2 process really work – for all sides?
Would that be the same DC2 process that gave us the Baccarat Casino that you are enquiring about? or the west half of Edmonton Centre? Need I go on? Ok, I'll stop with the examples but I will go on anyway...

From my perspective, the DC2 process certainly does not work for the neighborhood, particularly when it is used as often as it has been in Edmonton. When that happens no neighborhood can rely on the city's zoning bylaws and designations in the manner in which they should be able to. I don't mean this just in the sense of knowing the existing zoning and assuming it will never change as much as that when change is under discussion, there is no sense of precedent or ability to rely on the city wide consistency of an outright zoning designation rather than site specific zoning.

I don't mean to belittle joe public but it is much easier to understand "this will allow the same thing that happened here and here and here and here to happen on this site as well". As it stands now, there is no really good basis of comparison. It will eliminate the fearmongering that results from the complete flexibility in negotiating a DC2 that can come back time and time and time again before all parties are prepared to accept it - to the point where poor planning is accepted by the community and the developer and the city just to bring the process to an end and get on with life - you can only negotiate the size of a window or the colour of the south half of the east elevation or the types of trees adjacent to the parking entry so many times before you realize all of your time is being spent on things that hide or avoid rather than resolve any real issues there might be and this happens because it is too easy to cloud the real issues with things that are easier to relate to.

The city should have a set of available bylaws to cover the appropriate types of development that will occur throughout the city and residents everywhere should be able to rely on them as representative of the kind of development that will be approved under them anywhere in the city. If there are going to be minor relaxations within a know framework, then all sides can focus on them instead of spending all their time negotiating 12 floors instead of 14 or 14 trees instead of 12 or 12 units instead of 14 or 14 foot side yards instead of 12 when none of that makes any real difference at all (even if it might feel good) to what will work well or not.

And DC2 doesn't work any better for the developer either because if the neighborhood has no certainty, neither does the developer. It becomes too easy not to do things that should be done and continue to do things that shouldn't because that's what can get written into the DC2 and accepted by the neighborhood and the city. It also means that there is not a level playing field from neighborhood to neighborhood in how the rules are applied and we all pay the price for that - good planning principles should not be applied haphazardly based on any particular community's ability and resources to fight change. If you say a site can be RF3 or 4 or 5 or 6 or 7 or 8 or 9, the developer as well as the residents know what will be permitted, not only initially but over time. Your rezoning is then based on known entities and quantities etc. for both sides and does not become an antagonistic negotiation where the city is nothing but a no-win mediator where administration goes so far in getting both sides to disagree with them following which council will be always be in the same position regardless of what they decide. If DC2 is the prevalent zoning vehicle, then there is something wrong with the rest of the available zoning schedules and/or their administration because the need to use DC2 should be VERY rare occurance.

The other side benefit for the city - and for all of us in turn - is the tremendous amount of time and energy and resources that is consumed for very little return from administration, from council and from proponents or those opposed that could more productively be devoted elsewhere instead of trying to write zoning schedule after zoning schedule after zoning schedule after zoning schedule which is all a DC2 designation is at the end of the day and they are just as inflexible after they are approved as they are flexible prior to their being approved. That is often touted as one of their benefits while I see them - and any real need for them - as one of their tragic flaws.

Jeff
31-07-2007, 06:08 PM
Allan Tchida, who is leading community opposition to the Strathearn Heights Village project, sees the delay as good news. "This will definitely buy us some time," he said Wednesday.

The community league has started work on drafting rules to guide redevelopment of the older neighbourhood. Tchida hopes the league can prepare a counterproposal to present to council when the project goes to its public hearing for rezoning.

Tchida said it's still important for voters to find out where candidates for council stand on putting highrise towers in neighbourhoods like Strathearn. "It should continue to be an election issue," he said.
Great now I get to hear the lay-people of my neighborhood put forth a proposal and set of guidelines.

Huh! – I thought youse guys continually tout the DC2 process as the “lay-people’s” opportunity – apparently the uppity serfs in your Strathearn fiefdom have more to say.

Is the DC2 process really an equitable vehicle to allow so-called grassroots feedback to be incorporated? If so, why do we see the startup of something like a Mature Neighbourhoods Action Group, this Strathearn community league response to bring forward a “counter” proposal, etc.

Does the DC2 process really work – for all sides?
Would that be the same DC2 process that gave us the Baccarat Casino that you are enquiring about? or the west half of Edmonton Centre? Need I go on? Ok, I'll stop with the examples but I will go on anyway...

From my perspective, the DC2 process certainly does not work for the neighborhood, particularly when it is used as often as it has been in Edmonton.

The city should have a set of available bylaws to cover the appropriate types of development that will occur throughout the city and residents everywhere should be able to rely on them as representative of the kind of development that will be approved under them anywhere in the city. If there are going to be minor relaxations within a know framework, then all sides can focus on them instead of spending all their time negotiating 12 floors instead of 14 or 14 trees instead of 12 or 12 units instead of 14 or 14 foot side yards instead of 12 when none of that makes any real difference at all (even if it might feel good) to what will work well or not.
Conceptually – yes; but could bylaws (with “minor relaxations”) be encompassing enough to cover the variables being encountered within the current case-by-case DC2 submissions? For example, as you see it, would this bylaw approach dictate that new developments within “areaX” could only be built to a maximum of “xx” floors?


If DC2 is the prevalent zoning vehicle, then there is something wrong with the rest of the available zoning schedules and/or their administration because the need to use DC2 should be VERY rare occurrence.
From the outside looking in, to me, it’s apparent the current DC2 process isn’t working (well) when I read the examples of significant community resistance, the startup of a body like the Mature Neighbourhoods Action Group, community league participants fronting alternative proposals, etc.

So – what’s the impetus required to move beyond the current DC2 process? Frankly, I don’t see city council having the foresight and/or capability to initiate this – I keep reading C2E references to “city council’s vision” and I ask, what “vision” is that? How can we expect some of these councilor’s, in some cases one-term wonders, in most cases simply well meaning individuals learning on the job for a couple of sessions, to foster a vision and carry it forward. Can someone tell me what the current, ahem… city council vision… exactly is? What’s that you say – council relies on experts within various city departments… ok – is that where the impetus to fix the current, apparently failing, DC2 process will come from. If so, what’s holding those so-called experts back? :-D

m0nkyman
31-07-2007, 06:31 PM
From the outside looking in, to me, it’s apparent the current DC2 process isn’t working (well) when I read the examples of significant community resistance, the startup of a body like the Mature Neighbourhoods Action Group, community league participants fronting alternative proposals, etc.

That is the very nature of municipal politics. A city that does not have a mechanism for overriding neighbourhoods in favour of developments does not exist. Developers moan that if they reduce the size of their project by a single unit it will put them and their progeny into debt for three generations, scare off all future development in the city, and put the cities economy into a perpetual downwards spiral. The neighbourhood gnashes and wails that anything over a single storey tall will put their neighbourhood into perpetual darkness, make their tree lined streets into highways, turn their sons into bullet riddled targets of gang violence, and their daughters into prostitutes.

City Hall then weighs the performances of each side and makes a decision.

kcantor
31-07-2007, 06:44 PM
Conceptually – yes; but could bylaws (with “minor relaxations”) be encompassing enough to cover the variables being encountered within the current case-by-case DC2 submissions? For example, as you see it, would this bylaw approach dictate that new developments within “areaX” could only be built to a maximum of “xx” floors?
i think so. the thing to remember is that if a DC2 calls for 12 stories, it can't be 14 but it can't be 10 either without rewriting it (ergo my earlier comment about too flexible to write but not flexible enough after being written). If you have a zoning schedule for mid-rise buildings that is written to accommodate development up to 16 stories, the developer isn't forced to build 16, he can build 14 or 12 or 10 if he chooses as long as the other criteria in the zoning bylaw are being met (and sometimes they will vary by height or by density but on a predetermined basis). the city has certainty in what COULD be built, the neighborhood has certainty in what COULD be built and the developer knows what COULD be built. anything up to that can be applied for and approved without having to write a new bylaw that has to go to council for three readings and public hearings EVERY TIME. what you describe is exactly the situation for building downtown in cca (core commercial arts) or for building anywhere else where a zoning change is not required (from single family lots in RF1 to industrial plants in IM).


From the outside looking in, to me, it’s apparent the current DC2 process isn’t working (well) when I read the examples of significant community resistance, the startup of a body like the Mature Neighbourhoods Action Group, community league participants fronting alternative proposals, etc.
it's working less well than a simple rezoning application. if a site is RF3 and a developer wants to rezone it to RF8, that's pretty easy to review - including by the neighborhood - on the merits of RF8 for that location. to use a DC2 instead because it might be "somewhere between RF7 and RF8 or between RF8 or RF9", an entirely new bylaw has to negotiated and written THAT WILL ONLY EVER APPLY TO THAT PARTICULAR SITE prior to being able to even discuss its merits (or problems). that's where things get so terribly bogged down and i just don't happen to believe that there are so many "unique sites" and "unique development proposals" that this is really a useful tool for other than very rare exceptions.


So – what’s the impetus required to move beyond the current DC2 process? Frankly, I don’t see city council having the foresight and/or capability to initiate this – I keep reading C2E references to “city council’s vision” and I ask, what “vision” is that? How can we expect some of these councilor’s, in some cases one-term wonders, in most cases simply well meaning individuals learning on the job for a couple of sessions, to foster a vision and carry it forward. Can someone tell me what the current, ahem… city council vision… exactly is? What’s that you say – council relies on experts within various city departments… ok – is that where the impetus to fix the current, apparently failing, DC2 process will come from. If so, what’s holding those so-called experts back? :-D
there was a vision. it called for the lessening of urban sprawl and making better use of the city's existing serviced footprint. it was correctly identified as edmonton's "urban intensification strategy". i think it was a terrible mistake to rename that same initiative as "smart choices". the debates and the support or lack of support for the glenora or strathearn projects as an example would be much different if they had to be phrased around complying with an "urban intensification strategy" for the city instead of being distorted into a localized "smart choice" debate for an individual neighborhood. they say "a rose by any other name" but they are wrong - in many cases (as our "cooperative municipal partnership" so recently demonstrated), sometimes the name is everything and in this case we are all paying a big price for the wrong one.

Jeff
03-08-2007, 04:17 AM
So – what’s the impetus required to move beyond the current DC2 process? Frankly, I don’t see city council having the foresight and/or capability to initiate this – I keep reading C2E references to “city council’s vision” and I ask, what “vision” is that? How can we expect some of these councilor’s, in some cases one-term wonders, in most cases simply well meaning individuals learning on the job for a couple of sessions, to foster a vision and carry it forward. Can someone tell me what the current, ahem… city council vision… exactly is? What’s that you say – council relies on experts within various city departments… ok – is that where the impetus to fix the current, apparently failing, DC2 process will come from. If so, what’s holding those so-called experts back? :-D
there was a vision. it called for the lessening of urban sprawl and making better use of the city's existing serviced footprint. it was correctly identified as edmonton's "urban intensification strategy". i think it was a terrible mistake to rename that same initiative as "smart choices". the debates and the support or lack of support for the glenora or strathearn projects as an example would be much different if they had to be phrased around complying with an "urban intensification strategy" for the city instead of being distorted into a localized "smart choice" debate for an individual neighborhood. they say "a rose by any other name" but they are wrong - in many cases (as our "cooperative municipal partnership" so recently demonstrated), sometimes the name is everything and in this case we are all paying a big price for the wrong one.

Well, again – I am (definitely) on the outside looking in – but google is my friend :-D

I, err – somewhat inferred a lack of vision by asking for someone to “define the city council vision” – sort of implying that one doesn’t exist (yeesh, colour me red-faced). As I attempt to “piece it together”, I believe that vision framework is stated within “Edmonton’s Municipal Development Plan (MDF or Plan Edmonton) http://www.edmonton.ca/InfraPlan/Plan%20Edmonton/Amended%20MDP%20FINAL%20PLAN%20Jan%202007.pdf

As to be expected in the context of a visionary or strategy statement, the MDF/Plan Edmonton doesn’t have a lot of actual “teeth” – lots of “encourage”, “support”, “promote” type phrasing. However, it does appear to be active – in the form of a bylaw, no less (bylaw 11777, still viable with amendments as recent to January, 2007)… the “urban intensification strategy” you speak of appears to be an implementation facet of the MDF/Plan Edmonton aimed to “prepare a strategy for the intensification of land” that in itself is phased and hasn’t been supplanted by “Smart Choices”. Rather, it would appear that the “urban intensification strategy” (EULIS – Edmonton’s Urban Land Intensification Strategy) includes “Smart Choices”. I believe the phased progression of the implementation of EULIS is:
- phase 1 (completed 2002): an audit aimed to, as defined, “establish benchmarks for Edmonton's intensification situation, to provide a common information base for further discussion on intensification in Edmonton and to provide input to Phase Two, Smart Choices for Developing Our Community. Executive Summary: http://www.edmonton.ca/infraplan/smartchoices/audit/Final%20Executive%20Summary.pdf
- phase 2 (completed 2003): publication of the Smart Choices Catalogue of Ideas http://www.edmonton.ca/portal/server.pt/gateway/PTARGS_0_0_270_0_0_35/http%3B/CMSServer/COEWeb/infrastructure+planning+and+building/planning/smart+choices/on+line+showcase.htm
- phase 3 (city council approval 2004): publication of a report and recommendations document, “Smart Choices for Developing Our Community – Recommendations.” http://www.edmonton.ca/InfraPlan/SmartChoices/Documents/Recommendations%202004.pdf

and now??? - what’s next???

I read references to “checklists” having been developed – checklists that are currently in place and being used by “staff in the City’s development review process to evaluate the compliance of plans, rezoning applications, and subdivisions with Smart Choices principles.” Further suggestion that the checklists are under review towards further refinements…

But, but, but – my cursory review of the checklists sees them as, overall, quite “high-level” bullet point items of consideration. To me, it doesn’t appear that these checklists move the (smart) bar any further towards definitive standards of compliance. I see them as simply more refined guidelines that will help the review process but not eliminate the need for case-by-case review of each developer submission, nor eliminate the case-by-case challenges by communities affected. What am I missing? What am I not seeing, not appreciating out of this total “Smart Choices” initiative?