Doubling a Population Without Doubling the Land

This past week at the Urban Planning Committee, we received the new City Plan that outlines how our city will continue to build as Edmonton grows and expands.

The City Plan is the roadmap for how we build and grow. It covers density, transportation, land use, and open space networks. It’s my hope that the City Plan catalyzes a significant investment shift into the core and changes the way that Edmonton grows as more people come to our great city.

The City Plan focuses on urban development and form, making a healthy city focused on environmental stewardship, local business growth, and better transit movement and planning. This City Plan is particularly unique. Rather than using a certain timespan to map out growth (i.e. 30 years), it uses population markers on the way to 2 million to determine the guidelines and targets for Edmonton’s continued growth and efficient use of space and urban development. This gives us population benchmarks to evaluate and navigate Edmonton’s growth, and allows us to measure how rapidly and effectively we build as our population increases.

Building Faster

2 million is a big number, but when you consider Edmonton’s growth rate, it’s a realistic, tangible number that we must keep in mind as we continue to build and densify our city. But in order to build our way towards that benchmark, we have to be quicker and build at a more consistently efficient pace. I made a motion at the Committee that would make the permitting process for developments a quicker process so developments can move faster, and there can be more consistency for planning.

That Administration consult with industry and provide a report detailing the strategic and resource implications of providing a 30-45 day permit approval benchmarks for industrial, commercial and larger scale residential development and building permit applications.

2 million requires us to build better and quicker, and it’s my hope that this motion will catalyze a more streamlined process for permitting. This is a cornerstone for how we make a compact, thriving city. If we’re going to double our population, we must think strategically about how to build without doubling our size, and instead build efficiently on space we already have but aren’t using well enough.

Vibrant Livability

We must focus on creating neighbourhoods that are compact, beautiful, and most importantly, livable. And at the same time, ensure that densification is built in a way that makes room for young people, local businesses, entrepreneurs, and families in vibrant communities so we can continue to use our space to grow and thrive. You can also watch my talkback with the Edmonton Journal for more on this. 

Change doesn’t happen overnight, but we need to plan for the future. This City Plan outlines positive change for compact and efficient growth over the next years as we move towards that 2 million target. We will continue to evaluate as the Plan moves forward to make sure that Edmonton is growing effectively and in a way that is appropriate for our city.

I will be speaking more on this topic, along with some of Edmonton's City Planners, at the upcoming Urban Development Institute luncheon on September 20th. Details for the event can be found here.