‘Community Standards’ are a tricky concept. They’re more of a moving target, rather than a set of defined rules. And this isn’t truer than in Edmonton, where our Community Standards Bylaw gives no clear direction about how the city is to deal with or name commercial properties that have been run down.
The residents of Greenfield, Royal Gardens and Aspen Gardens are facing a community standards dilemma. They lack the pedestrian friendly amenities afforded to many other neighbourhoods in the city. But in the middle of these three communities is the sad and dilapidated urban eyesore, Petrolia Mall. At one point, this mall housed shops and grocery stores. But over the years, it has become increasingly run down, in large part to the owners of the mall and the land who have let it deteriorate.
In the middle of the city, these community members have had to drive to get groceries. We have to drive for most amenities and there is no recourse we can take against the negligent owners of vacant commercial properties.
A Vacant Commercial Properties component of the bylaw could impose significant fines and increase property taxes on buildings that become vacant and fall below an acceptable standard of maintenance. It would give the communities around Petrolia Mall the teeth they need to make their community beautiful and bring viable stores to the area.
The city and its communities shouldn’t have to sit by and feel powerless to prevent the narrow economic interests of single property owners. We need to be able to make improvements to our neighbourhood that will increase our quality of life.
I’m running in Ward 10 because I want to give neighbourhoods more power.
Great neighbourhoods are the foundation of our city, and city council should be looking for ways to support them. I believe one way is through a stronger, meatier Community Standards Bylaw.
And Petrolia Mall is not the only issue in Ward 10. Other commercial shopping strips, while not as bad, are becoming underutilized and increasingly run down- such as in Blue Quill, Ermineskin, Pleasantview and Empire Park. Ward 10 neighbourhoods are some of the least pedestrian friendly in our city.
Edmonton also needs a business revitalization strategy for mature neighbourhoods in Edmonton not included in a Business Revitalization Zones. This will lead to better commercial development and increased pedestrian oriented infill housing to support these businesses.
How would you like to see your neighbourhood improved? Is your community facing a similar problem? Would a Vacant Commercial Properties bylaw help your neighbourhood?
Our neighbourhoods have teamed up and are throwing a party for a broken mall and the grocery store that is set to move in. On Sunday July 7th, we are hosting the Pop up Petrolia and grand opening for the No Frills Grocer (officially, they open on June 28th). Bring your family and join us!