The neighbourhood of Edgemont has seen a number of rezoning applications recently and my office has received a lot of correspondence from the community, so I would like to take this opportunity to help shed a little bit of light on the rezoning process and the concept of responsible land use. While I am not going to address the specifics of each notice, I do want to share some of the background and information that goes into my decisions on applications.
For a new neighbourhood development such as Edgemont, it's important to understand exactly where in the planning process these projects are at. New neighbourhood development starts what the creation of a Neighbourhood Area Structure Plan (NASP) that establishes a framework for the neighbourhood to address things like land use, density, and transportation. These plans are themselves approved by Council and any amendments must also be approved. For reference, the Edgemont NASP can be found here.
The basic zoning is already established with an NASP, but as neighbourhoods are built, developers will sometimes see a need to make changes, which is where rezoning comes in. These projects are still mainly conceptual and in newer neighbourhoods can be anywhere from 10-20 years away from actual construction. Sometimes rezoning is only applied for to allow for flexibility and adaptation as the community matures. In one recent instance, a rezoning application was applied for on a property already zoned for both residential and commercial, but the developer wanted to integrate both together and there is no current zoning available for that integration.
There are also additional steps for approval that developers must undertake to bring projects to fruition such as public meetings/community engagement and Council approval at Public Hearings. If a project does ultimately advance to the Public Hearing stage and concerns have not been addressed, residents are welcomed and encouraged to register to speak or provide a statement to Council either in support or opposition of the project.
One of the key strategies outlined in the most recent Edmonton Metropolitan Growth Plan is “Compact and Contiguous Development”. The aim is responsible growth for communities that helps to create desirable neighbourhoods that are walkable and vibrant with good amenities. This usually means a mix of uses, including the higher density development of smaller lots, attached homes, apartments and multi-storey commercial developments that are sometimes mixed with residential. I hear feedback from residents that are worried rezoning and development will lower property values, but I believe that creating a community that aligns with our Growth Plan will actually have the opposite effect in the longer term.
It is also important to understand that all neighbourhoods within the City are governed by the Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board Agreement which stipulates a specific density that neighbourhoods must achieve. The traditional outward spread of low-density residential housing is unfortunately a model that is unsustainable for municipalities to maintain over time and eventually leads to poorer service for those communities. Increasingly, I hear from those newer communities that services are important to them — growth plans will help us get to a place where we can sustainably provide those services.
I hope I have helped to address some of your concerns about new community growth in the Ward and I do encourage you to share your thoughts on this and any other city matters with my office. If you would like to reach out directly, you can connect with me by phone at 780-496-8120, email at email@example.com or via twitter @sjlhamilton.