Century Park: Vision, Hope and Accountability
Historic and Huge
Yesterday Council unanimously approved the Century Park redevelopment plans that would see the now largely unused site and parking lot transformed into a vibrant, dense, urban village. The President of Ermineskin Community League called the plan "historic and huge". After years of hard work on the Century Park file I am proud of the community league, the plan and the opportunities it will provide our city and residents.
Beyond the bold plans to reshape the Century Park site and to provide a range of housing options for 1000’s of Edmontonians is the fact that there was a great deal of buy-in across the board. We heard from representatives of the Ermineskin Community League yesterday who came to speak in favour although with real concerns.
In a previous blog, I outlined 4 points that I would like the City to explore going forward with the Century Park site. What the approved plan provides is a range of housing options, ample community space, room for amenities, and retains 1125 LRT park-and-ride spots. With the plan that passed yesterday, we will see 225 affordable units built, a large, European-style central square that could potentially house a farmers market, a daycare facility, climbing wall, fitness centre, and more. On top of that, there are plans for solar energy, district heating and energy and even a Nike Running Track like the one in Manila.
What We Fought For
When I campaigned for my Council seat four years ago, Century Park was among the biggest items on my agenda, something I have reaffirmed many times over the years. The site presented an ideal location for a high volume, community-oriented, and vibrant development, accessible to people of all ages and lifestyles. With the current plans, we have matched that ideal. There still are many issues to be mindful of as the Ermineskin Community League brought up yesterday, parking and traffic paramount among them.
When we set to work on the Century Park file we fought specifically for a number of things;
We championed main-street integration where the development fits into the existing community and complements it rather than acting as its own separate entity. By doing this we can create something much like the bustling streets of our downtown.
We championed a permanent parking solution because we know how important the park-and-ride is for commuters and that over the short, medium and long term we need a viable parking option at the Century Park LRT station.
Keeping pedestrians safe, especially as traffic increases was a top priority. We have focused on ensuring signalized traffic lights are available at 109th Street and 29th Avenue as well as improving crossing lights on 109th and 25th Avenue. In addition to this, we’ve looked into improving crosswalk timings and accessibility for those with limited mobility.
Together we have fought for a strong community contribution and a Good Neighbour Agreement that reflects community friendly and vibrant development. Ensuring a financial contribution from this project that goes toward enhancing community and community league amenities is necessary and reflects the higher number of residents in the Ermineskin community resulting from the development. There is still work to be done here.
The proposed development will also be subject to sunset clauses which incentivize real and timely development of the site. If 400 units are not built within 5 years the maximum number of dwellings is reduced to 3595 and if 600 are not built within 10 years then it is reduced to 3195.
Together we Make a Difference
Ultimately, this project is the culmination of four years of dedicated work in tandem with ProCura Developers, Stantec and the Ermineskin Community League. I have fought hard for rights of the neighbourhood and have long spoken of the need for smart, dense, Transit Oriented Development at the Century Park site in many past blogs and I am proud to say that the plan that passed yesterday achieves those goals.
Accountability over the long haul
15 years of construction means that this development will require heightened accountability from all stakeholders involved. With the completion of the site not expected until the early 2030’s, future Councils and Community League boards must have a way to hold the development accountable. This accountability will be created through the Good Neighbour Agreement between the developer and the community league and supported by direction we gave our administration yesterday.
That Administration collaborate with the Community League, residents and the landowner to draw up a public engagement plan in conjunction with the Good Neighbour Agreement that partners with the league and residents to monitor and respond to traffic, parking, pedestrian, and other related issues as they arise and throughout the stages stipulated in the Bylaw.
That Administration explore options to improve pedestrian connections from the west to the Century Park LRT station and physical access to the LRT Station from the Blue Quill Neighbourhood and return to Urban Planning Committee with possible recommendations.
That Administration perform a traffic safety review for pedestrians along the 23 Avenue intersections between 109 Street and 111 Street and return to Urban Planning Committee with findings and any recommendations.