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December 16, 2017
July 11, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Lots of planning approvals

Written by Jeff Samsonow

Mill Woods Town Centre as it currently is. photo: RioCan

Edmonton’s city councillors are trying to clear the decks for summer vacation, so this week’s council meeting is busier than usual. The public hearing portion of the meeting tends to kick things off, and there’s plenty to get to. (And a few items I’m going to miss in this roundup too, I bet.) While there are plenty of smaller items on the agenda, there’s also quite a bit that helps build our city in better ways.

One of the larger changes is to allow more options for laneway housing, that is, garage and garden suites that are built at the rear of a property and face the back lane. This has been a housing option for Edmonton for a little while, with many garages already converted or new homes built. The changes should make the homes more flexible, with a lot more options on how they can look and how big they may be and how they could be laid out. The goal here is to create more housing in mature neighbourhoods without having to clear out old houses.

The more I hear about laneway housing, the more I want to live in one! If you’re interested in learning more, especially if you want to build a garage or garden suite, there’s a local group that’s been holding information sessions on how to get going.

Speaking of mature neighbourhoods, the new zoning rules for those have already been altered. The change here is to limit front driveways in our older neighbourhoods. It makes sense if we want to keep these communities as walkable as possible, particularly if they are of the tree-lined variety.

On a bigger scale, city council also passed the zoning changes to completely change Mill Woods Town Centre into a large mix of residential and commercial space. This is great because it’s going to be right beside the LRT station once the train connects to Mill Woods and could make for a transit-oriented neighbourhood. Yes, a neighbourhood. This plan calls for a mix of uses, and adding some streets and lanes across what’s mostly mall and parking lot today. (Although, the mall could remain in some form too.)

A couple of dormant redevelopments were back in front of councillors too. A tower featuring seniors housing in its six-story podium on High Street is attempting a re-start. And the developer of a project at the old Camsell Hospital is now promising to have it all done next year, with some zoning changes approved this week. That’s a bold promise, since the hospital has been sitting empty 20 years.

Down in southeast Edmonton, a strip mall is going to be transformed into two new apartment towers with main street commercial. And we could see something bigger, or at least different, built at the downtown BMO building, at the corner of 101 Street and 102 Avenue.

Whew!


Street checks continued

We keep updating our item on street checks in Edmonton as new stories come in and new information is added to the discussion.

This week, Desmond Cole is here to talk about the issue. The Toronto journalist and activist is also speaking in Calgary and Lethbridge. Here in Edmonton, Cole will be joined by Stolen Sisters founder April Eve Wiberg to talk about the racial profiling of street checks and why the practice needs to stop. Tickets are free.

Even though Edmonton’s police union is blaming all the coverage and conversation on “special interest groups” this is an issue that spans the political spectrum. Case in point, the Edmonton Sun’s Lorne Gunter gets that street checks are wrong.

While all of this discussion is happening, the mayor has an op-ed in the Globe and Mail about our city’s fight against racism. We’ll see where council candidates stand on the issue through the campaign, I am sure. Some are already weighing in on street checks. (This particular kind of systemic racism is not mentioned by the mayor in his article.)


Around the city

The World Indigenous Games have wrapped up on Treaty 6. No word yet on where the next games, which will be the third, are going to be held.

Jasper Avenue begins to test-out some more neighbourhood-friendly options. Expect a few weeks of people grumbling about “traffic” and then happy people actually walking around our city’s main street and spending more time at the businesses along the road. In a couple of years, it’s expected that Jasper will have its traffic lanes more permanently reduced to allow more people to walk around the Oliver stretches of the street.

Bombardier is promising Edmonton it won’t be stuck waiting for LRT trains like Toronto was left waiting for new subway cars (that deal is still being finished after years of delays). Bombardier says everything will be fine, so I’m sure everything will be fine!

We didn’t get into the wave of coverage around the Omar Khadr apology and settlement, but since he has been making a home in Edmonton we’ll mention it. And if there’s any kind of authority and trusted source on child soldiers in Canada, it’s got to be Romeo Dallaire. That is about all we need to say, we think.

Yes, the city is smoky because of the wildfires in British Columbia.

Longread: An Edmonton man is heading to Turkey to try and bring his family back here, after he fled the regime in charge of that country. He’s hoping that applications to the Canadian government can be approved before his visa to Turkey expires and leaves the family separated again.


Public engagement

The action continues down at city hall with the last big city council meeting before summer break (and probably before the election, really). The agenda is online. The meeting will also stream live from Council Chambers.

There’s a pre-construction meeting for the Mill Creek Pedestrian Bridges tonight, 5 – 8 p.m. at the King Edward Park Community League Hall. The bridges are getting all kinds of work done over the next year.

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