Whyte Avenue is going to get a little bit taller. The Southpark on Whyte proposal passed at City Council Tuesday and will bring a major development to the city’s most walkable main street. While the buildings along Whyte will fit the scale of Old Strathcona, there will be a couple of towers that rise up behind the block, up to 20 stories in height.
City council really set this plan in motion when it approved The Mezzo last year, which is a 16-storey tower also out of scope with the neighbourhood. That came as the City began to look at whether taller buildings should be considered for Whyte Avenue and the historic district. That study, called PlanWhyte, is actually not done yet, and will probably keep Southpark out of scope with future planning for the area (The Mezzo may end up being too tall too, if PlanWhyte calls for maximum heights under 16 stories).
While some will argue Old Strathcona’s height restrictions of four-to-six stories should remain, I get that things have to get a little taller. The neighbourhood could still be built to a human-scale with buildings 8-10 stories tall though. It’s just disappointing that city council continues to approve projects well outside the zoning plans of a neighbourhood.
It also fails to bring in a mix of people when most of the new units of these towers tend to be one-bedroom (to say nothing of limited affordable housing). That checks off the “density” box on City documents but doesn’t help create a neighbourhood that can support a variety of businesses or see enough kids in classrooms to keep schools open in our older neighbourhoods.
Around the city
70 of the city’s most dangerous crosswalks and street-crossings will be upgraded with money that includes cash collected from photo radar tickets. There are another 300 crossings that also need safety improvements that will be upgraded at some future point. Maybe.
Councillor Bryan Anderson won’t be running for re-election this fall, which means Ward 9 will have a wide-open race for its council seat in October. Anderson’s been a councillor for nearly 20 years.
Anderson is the only current member of council to announce he’s not running again. The rest of the elections, including for mayor, will have an incumbent on the ballot. Ward 4’s Ed Gibbons is yet to announce his intentions.
Edmonton Police are trying to recruit more women. The EPS will hold more women-specific sessions this year, after they found success at a few last year.
In other news…
An annual charity dinner still has to feed more than 1,000 people in need.
If you have an interest in the pop culture of Mounties, a new collection at the University of Alberta will be one to check out.