In a vote of 8-5, Edmonton city council approved another high-rise apartment for Oliver, despite complaints from the community.
The 36-storey tower will sit atop a mixed-use podium covering three current lots on 100 Avenue at 112 Street, a short walk from the Grandin LRT Station.
Many complaints, including from the Oliver Community League, are that the area is growing too quickly without other amenities being added to support the added population.
Scott McKeen was one of five councillors to vote against the development.
“I’m just getting really sort of concerned about the number of towers we’re wedging into Oliver. And I’m using that term ‘wedging in,’ I mean, we’re giving up-zonings on each one of those it seems like and we’re putting them on fairly small plots of land.”
“We’ve got to look at some of the amenities in Oliver,” he told Global News. “And whether or not then, given the amount of people living in Oliver — and we’ll be pushing well past 20,000 — it’s below average on park space for example.
“Yes, it’s right by the river valley but people don’t realize you don’t get to the river valley easily from Oliver. It’s a long hike down Victoria Park Hill generally.”
“This is the downtown. You’ve asked for density,” Councillor Mike Nickel countered. “You’ve asked for LRT. You’ve asked for bike lanes. We even shut down an airport so we could have taller towers.”
Councillor Tony Caterina said it will fit the new vision of Edmonton.
“The removal of the overlay for the airport opened this up and everybody was extremely happy that Edmonton now would grow up and wouldn’t be squat.”
McKeen thinks the city could have got more out of the deal.
“What I’ve never seen council be good at is drive a little harder bargain. It just seems like, ‘Oh, it’s a tower’ and too many of my colleagues I think are like, ‘It’s a tower, it’s Oliver – yes.’
“And I don’t think we’re discriminating enough and I don’t think we hold some of these to account. ‘You want that big up-zoning? What are you doing for the community?’ is my ask.”
“If I was a councillor representing some of the areas outside the core that are going to have transit-oriented development, I’d be a little concerned with all of the towers going into Oliver that will eat up all of the demand for years to come.
“So what about your LRT site? Is there going to be towers around there if all of the supply for that demand is going to be in Oliver and downtown?”
Since the more development is happening for 100 Avenue, McKeen asked for a corridor analysis. It falls well short of a more costly re-examination of the Area Redevelopment Plan for Oliver.
“I think the original ARP didn’t see this road having quite this role or this level of intensity for a variety of historical reasons,” Mayor Don Iveson said.
“Just as we did in the North Edge, ultimately with Columbia Avenue and other areas where we don’t have CRLs, is say: If we’re going to put all of these people here, council needs to commit to put some infrastructure in to support that.”
“In a perfect world, you’d put that larger question on 100 Avenue on hold because I don’t think necessarily saying that a building like this shouldn’t go there is the right answer,” said Councillor Ben Henderson.
“The problem is not with this building; it’s with how it all fits together in a larger plan.”
Henderson asked for a report on how the city can recover compensation for the loss of mature trees that are being lost in redevelopment projects in Oliver.