New Edmonton developments to have predictable contributions to community: report

A look at 103 Street in downtown Edmonton.
A look at 103 Street in downtown Edmonton. Vinesh Pratap/ Global News

Edmonton City Council is expected to endorse next week a new set of guidelines that sets expectations for developers to contribute to the community in exchange for getting the right to build a new project.

The value of the amenities that will be given to the community will be set by the policy with no wiggle room for the developer to side step it, according to a report that was reviewed Tuesday by council’s Urban Planning Committee.

It sets predictable contributions that the developer must provide, and defines what those amenities can be.

“I think it’s a good policy because it’s going to have some clarity for the developer and for the community and understand what is a reasonable expectation on both sides,” said Councillor Bev Esslinger.

“We really want to be able to ensure that communities have a whole array of things that they can work with the developer on because every community is different; they’ll need different things.

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“We want to make sure there’s enough in there that they’d have choices,” Esslinger said.

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The contribution the developer will have to come up with will be set based on the square footage of what they want to build, and multiplied by a flat rate that’s based on the value of all of the contributions that have happened since 2010, indexed to inflation.

Two of the amenities councillors talked about most are both to attract families: the provision of not-for-profit daycare in the buildings and the availability of affordable three-bedroom housing units.

LISTEN BELOW: Councillor Bev Esslinger speaks with the 630 CHED Afternoon News

Councillor Scott McKeen said the three bedroom aspect has been questioned by developers in other cities because they’ve been built and then taken up by well-to-do couples who use a bedroom or two for other purposes like a den or office.

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But the daycare option he thinks will be a winner.

“I think there’s high demand and some astute developer is going to do this anyways,” he said.

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McKeen expects it to be a big win for the community.

“Maybe with a little bit of a financial incentive through a community benefits program to say: ‘Yeah, if you put that in your building, then you’re covering some community benefits’ for the entire community.”

City staff are spending this next week finalizing the language in the policy that council will vote on July 10.

“That policy will probably change over time as we get more comfortable with it, as the city grows up, as the developers become more confident. If the economy stablizes, I think that policy will probably be amended but I think it’s a good starting point,” McKeen said.

The draft policy was created by a working group made up of community leaders, developers and city staff. The goal was to let communities know what to expect at the outset of a development proposal coming to the city for rezoning.