Another one million people are going to want to live in Edmonton in the coming years. When and where are we going to put them all?
City council’s Urban Planning Committee set the stage Tuesday for the next two years of public engagement for the so-called City Plan. But instead of focusing on specific time frames like previous plans did, this one will look at population thresholds.
Senior Planner Kalen Anderson said they’ll consider what an Edmonton with a population of 1.1 million will look like, then 1.2 million, 1.3 million and so on.
“Growth will happen rapidly, quickly,” she told the committee. “Sometimes, it might stall entirely.
“The point is if you always know where you’re going and you’re able to plan for a certain threshold, you can make that work more nimbly over time.”
The initial phase will see surveys and other forms of feedback to get public input on what planners and city council should consider in employment areas, residential neighborhoods and in terms of transportation.
The committee was told the City Plan will also consider options, like the status quo, that will see our boundaries expand through annexation, and the other extreme where we’ll add one million people within the existing boundaries.
“A question like: are we going to double our population without changing our boundaries is a fundamental one to the outcome of the City Plan and that is one that we are not going to presuppose yet. We’re going to leave it open,” Anderson said.
“It’s coming together,” Mayor Don Iveson said of the long-term economic vision that he wants to see get away from the boom and bust of resource development.
“So we can drive that long-term prosperity, have jobs here, have reasons for people to come here and build a life for themselves and build a city together.”
Early projections see another 50,000 living downtown, 30,000 in Blatchford, and tens of thousands others in places like Rossdale and the Exhibition lands. Yet Councillor Andrew Knack said that might only be a total of half a million. Where is everyone else supposed to go?
WATCH: With Edmonton annexing land in Leduc County, the police service is looking for more police officers to help cover the new area. Quinn Ohler reports.
“Do we just expand further out? Then we have an annexation conversation. I don’t know if that’s the right approach.
“A far more likely scenario is you have to bring those 500,000 people into our existing boundaries.”
Building on the edges is lot different than doing infill, said Michael Walters. He thinks the key to this is helping developers accomplish what they want without red tape.
“How do we deal with servicing costs that are more complicated in infill than they are in the suburbs? How do we make sure that people are getting permits in a timely manner like they do in the suburbs as opposed to today in brown-field situations where it takes sometimes what feels like an eternity?”
While this is happening, Edmonton’s surrounding communities are also making plans and the goal is to have the metro plan align by 2020.