Just over a year ago I was on the homestretch of my campaign for City Council. By the time the campaign ended, I had knocked on over 15,000 doors over 8 months. At each door that opened for me, I spoke about my vision for the city, and about my commitment to fairness for mature neighbourhoods.
In the past two decades, significant financial and creative investment has been poured into the design and construction of our new suburban neighbourhoods, and into a renaissance of our downtown. I am a supporter of our vision for downtown, and our remarkable growth has created huge demand for newer more dense communities to develop outward.
At the same time, we’ve seen mature neighbourhoods live through a period of decline. The number of young families has decreased, and logically, in some cases, school closures occur. Our commercial centres have shrunk, closed, and in some cases, sit vacant, which further exacerbates the neighbourhood’s decline. We have a growing number of seniors, but virtually no new seniors housing being built.
On the doors, I spoke to you about the importance of adding density and diversity to our mature neighbourhoods as a major first step in obtaining and retaining vitality, vibrancy and fairness in our mature neighbourhoods.
Most mature neighbourhoods in Edmonton are among our lowest density communities. Some are nearly half the density of the new suburban developments. The reason the densities within our mature neighbourhoods are so low is due to the fact that most are predominantly zone for one use -- single family homes.
We haven’t planned single-use neighbourhoods like that since the 1970’s as we have recognized the challenges described above, and we’ve learned that these predominantly single-use neighbourhoods, for the most part, are not sustainable.
If our goal is to create long term sustainability and vibrancy within older communities, we must begin by increasing the density and diversity within these communities, and our zoning bylaws need to change to facilitate this process; this is what city council appears poised to do.
In fact, since 2009 there has been a long standing conversation about how we shift some of Edmonton’s tremendous growth into existing neighbourhoods and away from new suburbs that expand out, and impact other valued resources like farmland or land that can be used for industrial uses.
I have blogged about this topic on numerous occasions. It is a question that needs to be addressed from a citywide point of view. What kind of city do we want - a more compact urban city, or one that continues to see suburban communities spread far and wide in all directions while our mature neighbourhoods continue their decline? It is also a question that asks if it is a more compact city that we are after, how can our established neighbourhoods contribute to this?
I will be asking these questions in many neighbourhoods in Ward 10 throughout October and November. Please see the list below to find out when an Infill Community Conversation is coming to your community. I hope you can join this important conversation.
Greenfield and Royal Gardens
- September 16 from 7-9pm
- Greenfield Community Hall
- October 16 from 7-9pm
- Grandview Community Hall
- October 29 from 7-9pm
- Westbrook Elementary school
- November 6 from 7-9pm
- Pleasantview Community Hall
- November 18 from 7-9pm
- Lansdowne Community Hall
Lendrum Place and Malmo Plains
- November 20 from 7-9pm
- Malmo Community Hall
- November 26 from 7-9pm
- Parkallen Community Hall