Blatchford: Reasons for Optimism? Or More Disappointment?
When I ask Edmonton residents how they feel about Blatchford, the answer I get is - disappointed.
It looks like nothing is happening. It has cost the City a lot of money. It seems like City Council is pushing hard on density and infill in mature neighborhoods but dragging its feet in Blatchford. And that’s disappointing.
I have shared that disappointment for years.
But perhaps it is now time for some guarded optimism.
On June 7, 2022, I moved a motion outlining potential new and different approaches to increase the pace of development. That motion included suggestions to examine the very things listed above. As a result, Executive Committee instructed Administration to undertake a comprehensive housing market review and explore approaches to address market affordability.
One year later, it seems that Administration is starting to get the message.
At the Oct 13, 2023 Executive Committee Meeting, City Administration agreed to examine the following:
- reduce lot sizes and sale prices;
- single storey townhomes;
- district energy cost reductions and grants;
- Sale of multiple parcels of land in one agreement;
- Sale of raw land to developers;
- a thorough review of processes and requirements to find efficiencies.
We heard other encouraging comments too.
All of the building lots coming available in the next few months are spoken for (but not actually sold yet),
Builders have waiting lists for homes (but actual numbers weren’t shared).
Land sales to two well known development companies are imminent.
And although not pertinent to development process concerns, Committee was reminded that closure of the City Centre Airport eliminated height restrictions for downtown and thereby permitted much of the development we have seen over that last 10-15 years.
There are still several of my colleagues that are stridently against single family homes in Blatchford.
One thing I consistently hear about the alder pihêsiwin neighborhoods is they consist almost entirely of single family homes, and that is bad planning. I agree. The lack of a variety of build forms means my kids and my parents cannot find smaller, more affordable homes near my house.
Well, the same can be said for Blatchford. If all we build is “missing middle” townhomes and apartment buildings, that isn’t healthy either. If we can meet our sustainability goals with net-zero single family homes then we should consider doing so. After all, 60% of the housing market still prefers a single family home.
Blatchford is not solved, not yet. I want to see actual land sales, and actual wait list numbers. I want to see actual homes on actual land purchased by actual people. Lots of them. Soon.
But maybe, just maybe, things are turning a corner.
I have pushed. Administration is adjusting. I will keep pressing until we get there.
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