May 20, 2014 7:01 pm

Edmonton residents fight to keep their green space

EDMONTON – A housing program developed during Edmonton’s building boom is creating a lot of anger.

The housing plan is called First Place. Set up in 2006, it gives first-time buyers a bit of a break on the purchase of town-homes built on surplus school sites.

The Tawa Landing in the city’s southeast is already sold out. But many other surplus sites are being used as parks and soccer fields – and residents want to keep it that way.

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Former Edmonton mayoral candidate, Curtis Penner, got so worked up pleading his case to council on Tuesday that security had to escort him out of the building.

Before he was kicked out, a petition was presented to stop future housing development.

He was joined by more than a dozen others in voicing his concerns, including Heather Ferguson, a resident of Twin Brooks.

“We would lose sort of the heart and soul of our community,” she said of the potential implications of losing her neighbourhood’s current green space to town-homes.

“Kids play, there are impromptu games, soccer, lacrosse, baseball…the loss, you couldn’t really measure.”

Ferguson added that when residents moved in to the area, the space was slated to be a green space, or potentially a school.

She and other residents claim there has been no consultation on the process.

Councillor Bryan Anderson voted against the program eight years ago, in part, because of the lack of community consultation.

“I would like to see every surplus school site that exists and will exist in the future have erected on it a sign that indicates what the potential future use is,” he said.

On Tuesday, the executive committee voted in favour of putting signs up in all 20 locations to better explain The First Place program, which will continue in Edmonton.

With files from Kendra Slugoski, Global News

© Shaw Media, 2014

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