The Week in Review February 12 - 16

This week in City Hall: Knees, ankles, ugly parking lots, and smart transit cards.

Churchill Square Redevelopment

The area around Churchill Square will be getting a complete redesign over the 2018 season. Part of the redesign, approved by Council this week, was changing the wading pool from 40 cm to a 15 cm deep. Here is a brief summary of what happened:

  • The infrastructure around Churchill Square is 25 years old and falling apart so a redesign was badly needed.
  • The old pool was created before the Province changed health codes and safety regulations on outdoor pools. Old infrastructure was grandfathered in but all renovations or construction must follow the new rules, so we can’t build the new pool the same way.
  • Three options were brought to Council:
    • The original plan - a 15 cm deep pool, drained each night
    • A 40 cm deep pool with 24/7 security
    • A 40 cm deep pool surrounded by a large metal fence
  • The option with the least implementation problems and the best overall design, given our restrictions, was the 15 cm design, which has been shown in other municipalities to be fairly successful.
  • It was passed 8-4 to continue with the shallow pool design and the area will reopen in time for the 2019 festival season.

I understand why many people are upset by this change and that was reflected in the tense debates we had at Council this week. While many feel like the reduction in depth will result in fewer people coming to this attraction, the truth is I expect thousands will continue to flock to this beautiful amenity. This plan has an alluring design and I believe that Churchill Square will continue to be a central location where families can come year round for fun and free activities. As well, given Council’s approval on February 21st for free access to city-owned outdoor pools in the summer, we will see a reduced need for a free place to swim.


Guelph Market Square, Guelph, Ontario |

Calgary Trail North Parking Lot Development

Calgary Trail is often the first road visitors to Edmonton see as they drive to the downtown core from the airport. Along this gateway to the city, the unwanted parking lot south of the Superstore on Calgary Trail has been sitting undeveloped for the last 7 years and plans for development have stalled.

In the interest of coming up with the best land use for this area we passed a temporary bylaw that will allow this parking lot to exist for the next 3 years provided they screen and landscape the area. We are granting these 3 years to give time for the landowners to redesign the entire development concept as the current plans are 10 years old and no longer reflect the best land use around North Calgary Trail. After the 3 years, they will be back at Council to get approval for their development and I hope to see a plan that reflects our ambition for how the area should look and operate.

The Regional Smart Fare System

The Transit Smart Fare system is coming and will be providing a single smart card to provide you with access to all of your public transportation needs across the region. As highlighted in the report released this week, we will be seeing a plethora of features not possible with our old system. Here is the rundown on how it will work:

  • Fares will be pay as you go with a fare cap - there’s a limit to how much you can spend in a day, week and month and you will always get the best deal
  • Distance-based pricing
  • An account-based system - you can pay by credit, debit, mobile, at vending machines or at a retail station and if you lose your card, you can get a replacement without losing your pass
  • Fares will be integrated with public transport services with our regional neighbours like St. Albert Transit and Strathcona County Transit

The final system design is scheduled for June 2018, the first testing pilots will launch in late 2019 and by mid 2020 we hope to see full implementation of this truly intelligent approach to fare collection.

A small update regarding playground zones: Our discussion has been postponed to April 18th at the Community and Public Services Committee to line up with our discussion on residential speed limits with this Committee on April 17th.