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Oliver residents voice concern over proposed development

EDMONTON- Many Oliver residents have voiced their concerns over a proposed development in their neighbourhood.

The development would sit on the old Molson Brewery site, on the northeast corner of 104th Avenue and 121st Street. Plans for the project were presented to the Oliver Community League earlier this week and many residents don’t approve.

“We had a very strong response, probably a much stronger response than we’ve had for any other development before,” explained Jarrett Campbell, an Oliver Community League board member.

The development consists of mostly commercial retail space, with the possibility that residential towers will be built in the future. Campbell says the main concerns he’s heard from residents is that it’s catered to drivers and isn’t pedestrian friendly enough.

“If you look at the rendering, there’s big parking lots in the middle and that was far and away the biggest issue everyone had,” Campbell explained. “Generally, people want to see something that’s less car-oriented, less big box, more mixed use.”

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Residents say they don’t need another strip mall in the area, and would prefer a development that is easily accessible to pedestrians.

“This is definitely reminiscent of Oliver Square, and grossly outdated (also one of my least favourite things about the neighbourhood),” Varina Crisfield wrote on the community league’s website.

“Basically, Oliver Square part two. We don’t need that much parking by any stretch of the imagination. Developers don’t seem to understand that Oliver is one of the densest parts of town, where many people prefer to walk or bike places, and this kind of development is not welcoming to pedestrians or cyclists. Not to mention that it’s located at a future LRT stop. I’m not impressed,” wrote Kathy Drouin-Carey.

Others wonder why there is a need for so many parking spots, when the LRT will eventually run past the proposed development.

“I have had an opportunity to see some schematics that they’re doing, and what I see is they’re phasing the project in so the actual transit-oriented development pieces of that project aren’t going to happen until later on, which makes sense because the LRT running down 104th Avenue won’t be happening for a number of years,” said Ward 6 City Councillor Jane Batty.

Batty says developments of this size are always a challenge, but hopes a resolution can be found.

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“There are always better ways to make things connect, and so if there are some issues, I’m hoping that the developer and the community can work together to resolve them.”

But, while many residents are opposed, some believe a new development would be a welcome change for the neighbourhood.

“Any additional development around here, I think, is good for the neighbourhood, and whether it’s residential or commercial I think it revitalizes downtown an awful lot,” said Larry Siemens.

The developer- First Capital Realty- declined to comment, saying it would need to discuss the issue with stakeholders. The developer did say, however, it is focusing on vehicles because tenants demand parking space.

Concerned residents hope the developer will take the current renderings back to the drawing board.

“A park with nice walkways, sitting areas, fountains and art would be a nice addition to the area. Some unique stores and restaurants would be perfect. Minimize the parking from this plan,” said Megan Davis.

“It is a bit of a power centre,” Campbell said. “I don’t think people have a desire to see that in central Edmonton.”

The project is still in its early stages and would require city approval. The developer hopes construction can begin next year.

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The full concept is posted below:

Crosstown Concept

With files from Laurel Clark. 

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