City of Edmonton offers glimpse into long-term plan for growth

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Edmonton offers sneak peek of long-term plan for growth
WATCH ABOVE: Edmonton is poised to see a significant surge in population in the next 50 years, but how will the city deal with it? Shallima Maharaj got a preview – Mar 17, 2016

EDMONTON- The City of Edmonton unveiled its Transforming Edmonton plan on Thursday, offering insight into how Alberta’s capital plans to accommodate population growth over the next half-century.

In 50 years, the city expects Edmonton’s population to nearly double from the current 878,000 to 2.1 million.

The city plans to focus on establishing higher-density developments that maximize both land use and transit along with infill development in addition to greenfield development.

To do that, the city’s plan calls for ‘building up” like as has been done in higher-density developments like Century Park, “building in” like with the proposed infill development at the site of the old City Centre Airport and “building out” by making sure new suburbs are developed in a more compact and efficient manner.

“That’s the kind of horizon you have to think on, in terms of simply your absorption rates, what you’ll need for future growth,’ chief city planner Peter Ohm said Thursday. “And if you’re thinking about how much land you’ll need over 50 years, you have to think about expanding your boundaries.”

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In the city’s Integrated Infrastructure Management Planning report, the city laid out estimated costs and revenues associated with developing areas in three priority growth areas of the city: Decoteau, Horse Hill and Riverview. The three neighbourhoods are expected to house a combined 195,000 people by 2064.

In order to get to that point, the city anticipates a cumulative investment of $10.6 billion will be required in those areas despite only expecting revenues from the development to reach $9.2 billion in the same time frame.

Ohm addressed the projected $1.4 billion shortfall and said to avoid it, further increased density or increased infrastructure efficiency would need to be planned.

“There have been a number of reports that have gone forward… pointing out the same conclusions in that the residential nature of these neighbourhoods doesn’t generate sufficient tax revenue to cover off the cost over time,” Ohm said.

The city’s plan acknowledges that even with a commitment to high-density planning, there are challenges that will require the acquisition of more land, like the deteriorating amount of land available for homes and businesses in south Edmonton.

City councillors will look at the report next week. The city plans on creating a work plan over the next 18 months before council starts making some long term decisions.

The report will be presented to the city’s executive committee on Tuesday.

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With files from Shallima Maharaj.

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