Growth in Edmonton may have slowed due to a struggling economy and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but city hall is looking to the day when two-million people call Alberta’s capital home.
“That’s what the City Plan encapsulates is all our aspirations around lifestyle, around talent attraction, why people would come here and why would they stay,” Mayor Don Iveson told reporters Monday afternoon during a break in the public hearing process for the plan.
The planning document is the result of two years of feedback with various stakeholders, including community groups and the development industry.
The plan lays out what’s described as ambitious targets when it comes to where people in a future Edmonton will live, work and get around.
Below are some of the highlights:
- 50 per cent of net new housing units added through infill
- 50 per cent of trips made by transit and/or active transportation (i.e. cycling)
- nodes and corridors support 50 per cent of all employment in Edmonton
During a public hearing Monday, the development industry offered its overall support of the plan.
But Chris Nicholas with the Urban Development Institute – Edmonton Region said “there’s a lot more information that’s going to be needed on the cost of infill” and related costs associated with upgrading mature communities to accommodate density, with the question of who pays.
The industry is also concerned the plan stays away from developing recently annexed lands in south Edmonton.
Nicholas said he’s “very concerned” when it comes to the potential for “prohibiting opportunities and growth.”
The targets to build up instead of out also raise concerns about an uneven playing field, where the regional communities may end up having an advantage over Edmonton.
“The City Plan is important,” said Coun. Mike Nickel, adding that “it’s also important you have numbers attached to it that are actually achieveable.”
In September 2019, the city census revealed Edmonton was home to over 972,000 people.
More so now than ever, it remains unclear when the population will double, but city hall is laying its bets on a new policy framework that could define the city for the next several generations.
In the here and now, Iveson suggests it will lead to “a more affordable, more environmentally-sustainable, a more fun city with more options for people. That’s the big picture here.”