Edmonton election 2017: How do the mayoral candidates plan to improve mature neighbourhoods and reduce urban sprawl?

Mayoral candidates are seen at a forum at the Italian Cultural Centre on Oct. 11, 2017. Wes Rosa/ Global News

Edmonton grew faster than almost every other Canadian city in the past five years.

The 2016 Census showed that Alberta’s capital city was the second-fastest growing city in Canada in that time period, with much of the growth happening in suburbs.

With the growth that’s happening, politicians have had to balance the need for new developments against reducing the costs of urban sprawl on taxpayers. Infrastructure in new neighbourhoods, for instance, can cost a pretty penny.

READ MORE: New Edmonton neighbourhoods will cost $1.4 billion more than they will bring in

Late last month, the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues (EFCL) sent a survey to city council and mayoral candidates who had contact information listed on the Open Data Candidate List. Here’s how mayoral candidates reached by the EFCL when they were asked “what strategy will you support to protect the livability of mature neighbourhoods while preventing sprawl?”

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CARLA FROST: Protection of overdevelopment is my platform as we have so much development and we need to preserve and fill what is in place first.

DON IVESON: Density is the only answer to slowing the overall consumption of agricultural land – higher density for both new growth and for the redevelopment of the existing footprint of the city over time. High level strategy and policy consistent with this can be found in the new Regional Growth Plan, which I helped to create. In my opinion, density supports livability in several direct ways: to support school populations in mature areas; to sustain mom n’ pop local businesses that add vibrancy to neighbourhoods; to ensure housing choice that supports expanded diversity of income and age in neighbourhoods; land and construction efficiency to support home affordability. In addition to those outcomes, density also makes the city more fiscally efficient when it comes to infrastructure costs and service delivery. These are all desirable outcomes. However, the next push for density should be focused on delivering the ‘missing middle’ in key nodes and along key corridors.

FAHAD MUGHAL: I think we should start the conversation with the leagues and citizens of what their priority is. Do they prefer to pay for urban sprawl or infill? And what changes would they like to see in infill?

NEIL STEPHENS: I prefer smaller scale densification so as not to disrupt and destroy communities but to enhance the look and entice new residents to help keep the community healthy and vibrant.

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The EFCL asked many more questions of mayoral candidates and others vying for seats at city council. To read the results of the entire survey, click here.

Edmontonians head to the polls on Monday to elect their new city council. A mayoral forum was held at the Italian Cultural Centre on Wednesday night.

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