Updates on Petrolia Mall and on Mature Trees

While it may still look pretty quiet at the Petrolia Mall site, things are cooking.

You probably noticed that a Medicentre and drugstore recently opened in the mall, and it has been welcomed with open arms by the community. The No-Frills store continues to thrive. No-Frills has really been a boon to the communities around Petrolia, and those communities have really turned out to support the store. It’s long lines rival the opening night of Star Wars, showing overwhelming community support. 

Here at Council, we passed a Facade Improvement Program expansion last year that helps support updating aging commercial centres and the businesses that move into them. Petrolia was specifically identified as a commercial centre that would receive benefit from the program. This is in addition to the development incentive grants we have to support interior commercial construction and the support from the University of Alberta School of Business and their provision of consumer retail data. This is all part of the new Corner Store Program designed to help revitalize commercial centres in mature neighbourhoods

These programs will help help businesses like Mimi’s restaurant, which is coming to the former gas station space at Petrolia. They hopefully will be starting construction this summer. The design sketches look fantastic; I think the place has the potential to be a significant community hub for the area. I’ve been working with the owners over the past few months on the project, and I’m so excited to see Petrolia become a perfect integration of vibrant communities and new businesses.

Of course, the complete vision for Petrolia is full leasing in the complex, and and I know that is still a ways off from happening. But with each new business that moves into the complex and receives the support of the community, it will demonstrate to more business owners that moving to Petrolia is a wise decision. This restaurant will help to further snowball the momentum that Petrolia is developing into a desirable community commercial hub greater than the sum of its parts.

Urban Trees

In other news, today’s Executive Committee meeting examined regulations surrounding tree retention in mature neighbourhoods. In the 2014 conversations around infill, many residents identified the retention of mature trees as one of their big concerns when infill construction is taking place. In response, I put forward a motion to examine mechanisms for incenting homeowners and builders to keep mature trees. It is my view that in trying to define the character of mature neighbourhoods, old, large (private and public) trees are integral.

The result of that motion is today’s report, which offered a variety of options for ensuring that our urban canopy stays full and leafy. We recommended to City Council that we put in place a requirement for two trees (and four shrubs) on each single family lot. This means existing trees count toward these requirements.

Our urban canopy is extremely important to our well-being as a city. Large mature trees can cause problems at times; they can have impacts on soil quality, roofs, and on drainage infrastructure, and people will not be limited from dealing with those problems trees. But in terms of the mental health benefits, the air quality, the biodiversity, increases to property values, aiding with natural drainage processes, and cooling that our urban forest provides, you simply can’t get more bang for your buck.