Lendrum Housing and the Alternative Approach to Community Consultation

It has always been important to me to provide affordable housing to all areas of the City. We took a big step in that direction yesterday.

What was passed yesterday

We approved new zoning for Capital Region Housing Corporation  (CRHC) to build a 126 unit affordable housing mid-rise apartment building in Lendrum on their existing site. This development will contain a variety of housing unit types and commercial space to serve the site and community, with the opportunity for a daycare and a café. The CRHC site with 48 residential units in two three storey apartments is being replaced with two one to six storey buildings. This project is only a 5-minute walk away from transit and will provide tenants with easy access to the South Campus LRT Station.

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The proposed design of the CRHC building in Lendrum

There is a distinct need for affordable housing in Edmonton

More than 100,000 Edmontonians live in poverty, and 30,000 of them are children. Poverty costs Edmonton up to $7.1 billion in healthcare, social services and opportunities lost for our children. Homelessness and poverty are usually the result of the cumulative impact of a number of factors, rather than a single cause. With 1 in 4 Edmonton households living in unaffordable housing, the lack of access to affordable homes is clearly an important avenue to help end poverty and chronic and episodic homelessness in Edmonton. The City is not alone in working through this problem. Through the Housing Council Initiative, the City has taken the lead in planning and coordinating local affordable housing investments along with the other orders of government to advocate to secure additional funding.

In order to move towards ending poverty in Edmonton, we need to effectively deal with the affordable housing crisis here in Edmonton. Together, we want to make Edmonton the best place to call home.

An alternative approach to community consultation

In the past, some community consultations regarding affordable housing have not proven effective nor productive. The Lendrum Housing Consultation Panel was established by the City of Edmonton with the intent of piloting an alternative approach for effective community consultation. This new approach allowed some flexibility and nimbleness compared to the usual consultation process by having an independent panel to guide consultations interactions with communities, focus on engaging all affected interest groups and mediate the contentious issues. For example, the need to involve younger Lendrum residents who didn’t, and historically don’t attend the public meetings were addressed by having a chilli cook-off at the Lendrum Community League. This mainly attracted young families and single parents who provided valuable feedback. The panel was empowered to use what consultation tools they found the most beneficial, like using conversation stations on each issue during the fourth and final public consultation session.

The value of this alternate approach was well reflected by the attendance in the public hearing. Thanks to all the work of the community, CRHC, and the panel the community had most of their concerns mitigated and this was reflected at the public hearing, where there were 4 speakers in favour of the development and only 1 opposed. While this consultation strategy has been largely successful, there is still room for improvement and options to further explore for how we get feedback.

Edmonton has an immense need for more affordable housing units. I am thrilled that this development is underway. With improved consultation and engagement, we can continue to work together with the public to address homelessness and poverty in Edmonton.