Below is our “letter to the editor” response to the Edmonton Journal article written by David Staples on November 29, 2017. You can also view our response online. Comments are welcome on the Edmonton Journal’s webpage.
On Nov. 27, the Holyrood Development Committee (HDC) and community members stood before city council at a public hearing regarding Regency Developments’ up-zoning proposal for Holyrood Gardens.
At the community’s request, council referred the proposal back to administration to “… return with a proposal that generally meets the large site guidelines for the 35-per-cent plane, the tower floor plate size, and work with the community on potential road closures to mitigate traffic cutting back into the community … .”
Council also started the process to require all future large infill sites and transit oriented developments (TOD) be referred to the Edmonton Design Committee. This landmark decision will see an independent panel of urban design experts provide best practice recommendations for all future high-density TOD projects.
The HDC would like the city to prepare a neighbourhood plan to account for more densification and development in Holyrood. Our community is expected to grow rapidly and this plan will set clear expectations for land-use alternatives.
The community league hopes this inclusive, holistic approach to planning will create spaces that welcome new families and embrace seniors who want to age in place.
We look forward to a robust and meaningful community-engagement process that includes all key stakeholders. With better collaboration, in-depth analysis and discussion, between residents, the city and Regency Developments, the Holyrood Stop will become a great transit-oriented place and a model TOD for Edmonton.
Sherri Shorten, Holyrood Development Committee
Journalist Keith Gerein wrote an article addressing the concerns of Ward 8 with respect to the Holyrood Gardens proposal. Highlights of this article include:
- Kirsten Goa, Ward 8 candidate, indicating she would like a more robust consultation process that engages residents earlier in the process and features real conversations over surveys.
- Maureen Duguay, president of the Strathcona Community League asks. “Why does density have to equal highrise?” and that the “…biggest concern has been the consultation process. We get very frustrated going against a big machine that has unlimited resources when we work with the city and developers.”
- Ben Henderson saying he is irritated at the city’s willingness to blow up its plan.
The article is available here:
Highrise developments, city consultation irk residents of Ward 8, Edmonton Journal, October 6, 2017.
Last night several members of the HDC attending the Ward 8 candidates forum. When someone asked about what candidates would do to address the power imbalance between developers and city staff on one side, and citizens on the other side, the audience broke into applause.
The Edmonton Journal published the following article late October 2, 2017: Ward 8 candidate forum: development controversies ignite passions.
We encourage all residents of neighbourhoods to raise this issue with candidates at all forums over the coming weeks. Please visit the City of Edmonton’s website to learn about the time, date and location of many forums.
Regency Developments’ proposal for Holyrood Gardens is failing citizens in three ways: policy, planning, and process.
- COE Guidelines. Regency Developments’ proposal does not meet the City of Edmonton’s Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Guidelines or Infill Guidelines for Large Sites. The towers are too tall for the site (22 and 18 storeys). Guidelines suggest housing should be low to mid-rise apartments NOT high-rises.
- Urban form/City strategy. Insufficient details are provided demonstrating the development is a quality, sustainable design that fits with its surroundings. The developer refused to share information with the Edmonton Design Committee, a panel of independent design experts that are helping bring the City’s vision to life.
- Floor plate. The floor plate of the towers is 25-60% bigger than established norms.
- Site Vision & Community Context Plan. No neighbourhood plan was created with the community to guide or assess the developer’s proposal.
- Planning. Underground parkades, retail shops, LRT Station, and 85 Street crosswalks are all located within the same half-block on 93 Ave.
- Traffic. Traffic impact assessment did not evaluate the impacts of the Valley LRT line and its predicted traffic congestion. No assessment of traffic impacts during peak school times were completed.
- Safety. No pedestrian counts were done at the school during busy times of day.
- Population and Demographics. 1200 units could double neighbourhood population in 10 years.
- The proposal will not replace the family-friendly housing of Holyrood Gardens. Only 36 family-friendly units (3 bedrooms) will be built. Of the remaining units, 204 will have 1 bedroom and 960 units will be 2-bedroom and 2-bath units. Units will be priced $450-500k with additional condo fees.
- Loss of Holyrood Gardens residents will affect the Holyrood school; of the 50 English language program students, 30 live in Holyrood Gardens. Losing these students could mean the loss of the English language program.
- Developer. The developer is failing citizens by:
- Ignoring community requests to lower building heights; instead they propose taller buildings.
- Inadequate community compensation compared to other communities.
- Not informing Holyrood Gardens tenants about their activities or future impacts.
- City of Edmonton. City Administration is failing citizens by:
- Lack of details. The community has not been able to provide valuable feedback that could be included in the design.
- Sidestepping TOD guidelines and infill controls. Why is Planning not guiding developers to follow the city’s current guidelines and policies?
- Ineffective public engagement process, with fast-tracked timeline and limited community collaboration.
September 13, 2017
The City of Edmonton has signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Regency Developments, owner of the lands at 8310 – 93 Avenue and 8311 – 93 Avenue.
The MOU allows Regency to proceed with construction of underground infrastructure at this location. Given the current construction of the Valley Line LRT along the 83 Street / 85 Street corridor, this will allow Regency to install necessary utilities in coordination with the LRT, minimizing disruption to neighbourhood residents and both projects.
The MOU does not extend beyond the construction of infrastructure. Utilities infrastructure improvements are required for any redevelopment at this site, and are not specific to a particular development proposal.
Regency Developments has proposed to redevelop this land into a mixed use, high density, transit oriented development that contains a mixture of middle and high-rise housing. City Council has deferred the public hearing and subsequent decisions on this proposed Holyrood Gardens redevelopment project until the new Council convenes in November of this year.
The Valley Line is scheduled to open in December 2020.
For more information:
September 13, 2017 Council Meeting – Holyrood Utility Corridor
City Council’s public hearing started at 1:30 p.m. on September 11. Council raised concerns early about there being insufficient time to address Regency Developments’ application because 45 people registered to speak to the proposal. These presentations could have taken up to 7 hours. Sixteen people registered to speak in support of the proposal and 29 against.
The Holyrood Gardens proposal, the last item on the agenda, came forward near the close of the meeting at 9:30 p.m. Council extended the meeting and eventually voted to delay the public hearing until November. Council also voted to allow developers to work with city administrators to address water and sewer connections issues that must be completed before the LRT comes through.
Below are a few stories from media covering the evening:
Edmonton city council runs out of time for 1,200-unit Holyrood apartment debate, Global News, September 12, 2017.
Public hearing into Holyrood development delayed until November, Edmonton Journal, September 12, 2017.
Edmonton city councillor seeks postponement of Holyrood Gardens, Global News, September 11, 2017.
Holyrood development decision delayed until after Edmonton city election, CBC News, September 11, 2017.
Join HDC on August 29, 2017 at the Holyrood Community League Hall to learn more about how to share your concerns with City Council.
The Holyrood Development Committee continues to serve as an advocate for Holyrood Residents on the rezoning proposal being prepared by Regency Developments for Holyrood Gardens. The public hearing for Regency Developments – Holyrood Gardens rezoning proposal is tentatively scheduled for September 11, 2017.
HDC will register an objection to the application and will suggest actions that could be taken to address the objection. Actions will include amendments to the proposal and ensuring that planning conditions for appropriate community engagement be included (something that has been abandoned through this rezoning application process).
Holyrood needs you! Join HDC on August 29, 2017 at the Holyrood Community League Hall at 7 p.m. to learn more about about our findings on the development proposal. We will also give you information about how to register and speak to City Council. UPDATED: Town Hall is cancelled. Please come to the Open House on September 6, 2017, 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at SEESA.
Below is a list of the activities HDC has been working on since the last update:
a) HDC asked Regency Developments to postpone the Public Hearing until both the HDC and the community had opportunity to negotiate and resolve concerns. The HDC has received no reply.
b) HDC wrote a letter (with appendices) on August 13, 2017 to the Mayor, Council and senior city officials outlining community concerns received from survey feedback at the Open House.
c) HDC has reviewed Regency Developments zone text and drawings based on materials released August 1. Note that Regency Developments may be change this material before the public hearing.
d) HDC has summarized the evolution of tower heights in a table.
e) HDC has compared the proposed community contribution for Holyrood Gardens with Regency Developments community contribution for the Emerald Tower on Jasper Avenue.