Ward 9 neighbourhoods are categorized as either established or developing neighbourhoods.
Most of our established neighbourhoods are very low density, large single-family homes, with very few pockets of multi-unit housing. Many of our developing areas are much higher density with a higher proportion of multi-unit developments.
The City of Edmonton is emphasizing in-fill development, including repurposing surplus schools sites into multi-unit residential developments, and lot-splitting, alley suites and garden suites to increase the density of mature and established neighbourhoods.
In Ward 9, we also have a very low proportion of affordable housing (defined as “rental or ownership housing that requires government money to build or operate” – City of Edmonton website) or short term housing (“shelter spaces” and “transitional accommodation”).
The City of Edmonton has a goal of increasing affordable housing in each ward to 10%. Ward 9 currently has 0.4%.
Spectrum of Housing Options
I am firmly against any “one size fits all” solution to community re-development. I believe that any re-development proposal must be examined in the context of the community within which it will be constructed.
This DOES NOT mean I am against infill. I have seen may examples of split lots and garage suites that are very well constructed, complementary to the other properties in the neighbourhood, and achieving the general goal of increasing density and leveraging our existing infrastructure to its maximum potential.
I believe that healthy neighbourhoods have a spectrum of housing choices. As people’s personal situations and special needs change, they should have the opportunity to move within their neighbourhood to meet their changing situations. A family that no longer qualifies for subsidized housing should not be compelled to vacate an affordable housing unit, uprooting their children from school and forced to find available and appropriate market housing in the process in a different neighbourhood, particularly if they are a socially-vulnerable family where this kind of change can have devastating impacts on children.
Similarly, empty-nesters looking to downsize should be able to find appropriate housing choices within the community where they have raised their family, if they so choose.
Unbalanced neighborhoods, with disproportionate emphasis on either high or low density, are not sustainable in the long term.
Surplus school-site re-development must be done in clear consultation with the surrounding neighbourhood, and City administration must come prepared to adjust the development to best suit the school site under consideration.
Henderson Park is a relatively small park serving two neighbourhoods. I am not in favour of any development in this park. However, if development proceeds, then I believe it should be shifted towards and accessed from Riverbend Road. If this means additional cost to move services to a different location, we should make that investment to support the right development that will have a 75-100 year life expectancy.
Affordable & Supportive Housing
We need to look at best practices and move away from affordable housing developments where the entire complex consists of affordable housing units. This often leads to stigmatization of not just the development but of its residents. I believe in a supportive housing model where supportive funding follows the individual or family, and results in a mix of supportive and market housing within a particular complex or on a particular block.
Where we do build supportive housing complexes with a higher service level including 24-hour wrap-around services, those developments must be managed by a City of Edmonton associated organization. Too often where a private operator develops such a complex, the operating imperative gets lost as the development is bought and sold to successive owners. With the loss of operational direction comes the degradation of services offered, leading to more complex problems within the neighbourhood.
This presents a distinct concern for Ward 9. Our ward will need to incorporate a significantly higher proportion of affordable housing into its future development and re-development projects, to bring it into balance with other wards. As noted earlier, the City of Edmonton has a goal of 10% affordable housing in each Ward and we are currently at 0.4%.
This is an incredibly important topic for our Ward. If you have an idea or concern not addressed here, or if you simply want to talk more about how we can build better communities, please let me know.