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Edmonton divided on whether to keep developing in suburbia: report

Is Edmonton progressing on aim of increasing urban density?
WATCH ABOVE: Census statistics show Metro Edmonton loves its single family homes. Vinesh Pratap filed this story in 2017 looking at how Edmonton's density compares to other Canadian cities.

More than one observer is expecting some fireworks Monday afternoon, when city council’s executive committee debates Edmonton’s Land Governance Strategy.

The question is, should the city still be in the business of developing untouched greenfield land in the outskirts, or should they flip that to developers to handle?

Areas like Goodridge Corners are up for grabs along Anthony Henday Drive in northwest Edmonton.

Councillor Michael Walters made a motion in April suggesting the land be sold to developers, and the revenue used for infill work in Rossdale, the River Crossing, the Exhibition Lands and the Quarters.

The report that’s come back differs from that proposal, and in a text to Global News, Walters was not happy.

“Admin thinks suburban Goodridge Corners is more important than Rossdale,” Walters wrote. “We need to get clear about our priorities.”

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Walters is out of the city, and not available for further comment during this week-long council break.

READ MORE: Developer tells Edmonton council why infill is so expensive

The strategy report identifies 504 acres of greenfield available throughout the city.

Administration asked the Real Estate Advisory Committee to weigh in on what to do and REAC suggested selling, saying “after completion of lots sales in Laurel 22, the city should no longer develop greenfield serviced lots,” the report reads.

“Instead the city should invest in the planning stages of greenfield land development and sell larger parcels to the private sector to subdivide and develop.

READ MORE: Edmonton prepares for population growth in City Plan

“Other than acquisitions that are needed to support orderly development of existing holdings, the city should not acquire more greenfield land for the purposes of residential lot development,” the report said.

Counter that with city staff wanting to stay involved.

“Land development activities generate revenue and provide an annual dividend return to the city.”

Councillors on executive committee Monday will debate the two sides to the financial return for the city corporation, and whether the time involved and the risk are worth it.

After Monday’s committee debate, the report will go to the full city council on Nov. 26.

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