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November 20, 2017
August 30, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Accidental success

Written by Jeff Samsonow

Google Maps knows where it’s at.

It’s a little ironic that, at the same time the City of Edmonton admits it squandered its chance to build a major riverside attraction, we have a beach appear out of nowhere to great acclaim. Talk about falling backwards into amazing urban design.

Because of delays securing land, some contamination of sites and delays of the definitely-going-to-open-this-time Walterdale Bridge II, the City is scrapping its plans for a “Touch the Water” Promenade around Rossdale and the downtown river valley. Money from the plan will likely be spent on other river projects, or just not used at all (some money from higher levels of government will be in flux/peril). This is after five years of trying to get something done. (What happened is also going to be reviewed by the City’s auditor.)

Then… construction of the Valley Line Southeast LRT just happens to create enough of a disturbance in the flow of the North Saskatchewan River to create a sandy oasis beside Cloverdale.

The surprise appearance of “Accidental Beach” has been the talk of the town for a couple of weeks now and Edmonton’s city council officially asked administration to look at what it might take to keep the beach around once construction berms are removed, instead of allowing the river to return to previous flow and depth.

It definitely proves the idea behind Touch the Water was the right one (as was a beach planned on the other side of the river, in Louise McKinney Park). Now, we’ll just have to see how long it takes the City to figure out how to keep the beach they didn’t build around. Surely we can’t screw this up twice?

A post shared by Arne Kang (@arnjotk) on

Oh, in the meantime, while we do have access to the beach that’s not run by the City, please be mindful of Cloverdale neighbours. The community isn’t set up for this kind of influx of people, so don’t poop on their lawns and don’t leave garbage everywhere.

Somewhat related, The Edmonton Project launched at the same time we discovered our new beach. This is a sort of business-driven version of “Make Something Edmonton”, looking for ideas about a new Edmonton attraction. I think I have an idea of a river-based place that people will really love…


Around the city

It’s amazingly nice to hear about an affordable housing project that is facing zero opposition (at least at the final approval stage). That just doesn’t happen enough. Serious kudos to the developer here, but also the community for staying engaged and keeping eyes on the big picture. I love that design of the building was the most important thing for neighbours!

The man behind the long-dormant Camsell Hospital redevelopment says this time things are really moving forward. (A lot of that in major Edmonton projects these days…) Some zoning changes at city council this summer may have helped get the project going after two decades of neighbours staring at an abandoned site. The new plans also include an Indigenous garden, which will help pay respects to the many people who spent lonely and terrible days at the site when it was a hospital with a troubled history.

City council needs to do their work in public. Gee, that sounds pretty obvious when you say it like that. But councillors have done quite a bit of work in private, with very little detail coming out of those meetings after the discussion behind closed doors. An outgoing councillor is asking the next council to do a better job of communicating these decisions to the public. Again, it sounds so obvious.

And a tip of the hat to city hall reporter Elise Stolte, who keeps pushing for more information, reports and communication to be made public.

Also at city council…

The newly elected council in October will have slightly different salaries, and a chance at taking parental leave. Edmonton’s new Breathe policy, about green space and other healthy outcomes, passed and will start to shape neighbourhood planning and design.

Bike lanes are like so many other things, in that, if you get out there and experience them you might find you like them and they’re good for the city. Please make sure to share this story, and the work of Paths for People, with any bike lane haters in your life (or at your local newspaper).

We are beginning the conversation about Frank Oliver’s place in Edmonton’s current history, and it’s a discussion we’re going to need to have and – for us settlers – one that we’re going to need to listen to. Oliver, of course, won’t be the only person from Edmonton’s past with their public praise and commemoration challenged as we think about the kinds of people we want to represent the best of Edmonton’s spirit.

Kind of related to that, the Alberta government is consulting on new policies to combat racism, and there’s a survey you can fill out to help guide the plans. (Make sure to let them know that police carding is a pretty big example of racial profiling that’s not fair to BIPOC Edmontonians.)


Business news

Ahead of legalized marijuana, businesses are starting to flourish in the Edmonton region. Strathcona County looking is also looking at changing its land use bylaw to reflect this new type of business growth.

Simons seems to be bucking a lot of downward trends in retail, and the Canadian company’s new location at Londonderry Mall also has one of the few solar panel parking lots around. That’s excellent use of dead space!

A local company is speeding things up for truck traffic around North America.

Your wait will soon be over, north Edmonton, as you’ll be getting your own cat cafe.

It’s a mainstay on Jasper Avenue, and the Commodore is celebrating it 75th anniversary this year, and remains Edmonton’s longest-serving restaurant.


Public engagement

The Utility Committee meets Wednesday afternoon, at 1:30 p.m. You can see the agenda online. Items of note include an update on new flood mitigation plans and setting customer rates for EPCOR for the next five years (at the same time it takes over city drainage operations). This meeting will stream live from the River Valley Room.

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