A new social housing proposal in northeast Edmonton is being met with some resistance from those who think that part of the city is already overpopulated with this type of development.
Homeward Trust is planning a mixed-use development in the area of 66 Street and Fort Road that will see both social and market-rate housing. The organization, which focuses on ending homelessness, plans to include 42 supportive housing units, affordable family townhouses to buy or rent and 156 apartment units that will be rented out at market rates.
“We’ve looked at that neighbourhood,” Susan McGee, with Homeward Trust, said. “We think that it’s a great opportunity with the additional development that’s planned for the rest of the site.”
Ward 4 councillor Ed Gibbons, who learned of the proposal for the first time last week, said the area already has quite a bit of social housing. While he believes Homeward Trust will do a good job, Gibbons wants to make sure the project is done right.
“We’ve got to be careful. Northeast Edmonton has lots of different pockets of social housing. We’re not afraid of that. I raised my family there, I’ve lived there for the last 40 years. I’m not afraid of good housing building and people of all kinds can live in any place,” Gibbons said. “But I just want to be a little bit more upright of knowing what’s going on.
“We’ll be watching how they do their community consultation and I’ll be out there listening to them.”
Affordable and social housing in Edmonton has been met with resistance in the past. A proposed project in Terwillegar in 2013 planned to provide housing to homeless people, in hopes of moving them out of the shelter system. However, the proposal caused an uproar by some area residents who worried about the safety of their families.
Mayor Don Iveson, who will be in Toronto later this week to discuss plans for a national housing strategy, said communities across Edmonton have to do their part when it comes to social housing. And if more funding comes through from higher levels of government, the city said Edmontonians can expect to see more supportive housing projects pop up in the city in the coming years.
“It’s going to be spread out. It’s going to be well designed. There’s going to be engagement with communities,” Iveson said. “The people who will benefit from this housing will have lives of dignity, which right now they don’t. So I think Edmontonians can get behind that.”
Watch below: Where should social housing in Edmonton go?
The land in question will be sold to Homeward Trust for $2 million. Once the sale is complete, Homeward Trust can move forward with more detailed planning of the site, and McGee said community consultation will follow.
“We’ve always planned on meeting with community and talking about the project and getting input on the project,” she said. “There’s this chicken and egg; we really need to actually have a site to meet with the community about.”
With files from Vinesh Pratap, Global News.