Holyrood Gardens update from city councillor Ben Henderson

Councillor Henderson send the following email on the afternoon of December 14, 2017 to update people who messaged him about the Holyrood Gardens proposal.

===start of email===

Thank you all for emailing me abut the Holyrood Gardens proposal and once again an apology for the group email but there were once again too many to reply individually.

I wanted to let you know what had happened at the public hearing about this proposal and what I believe will happen next.

We ended up taking two days to do the public hearing and I wanted to thank the many people who came out and made presentations to Council. In large part we heard that although people were supportive of a development on the land there were concerns about the details of this particular proposal and a strong feeling that it could be done better. The particular concerns were about the height of the buildings and the way they interfaced with the neighbouring single family properties and worries about traffic spill over and its impacts on the local roads within the community. There were also many who felt strongly that to ensure a quality development the project should go through the Edmonton Design Committee for their response.

Based on this I put forward a motion to refer the project back to our administration with some very specific parameters for improvement. The precise motion is as follows:

That the September 11, 2017, Urban Form and Corporate Strategic Development report CR_5108 be referred back to Administration to return with a proposal that generally meets the large site guidelines for the 35 percent plane, the tower floor plate size, and work with the community on potential road closures to mitigate traffic cutting back into the community including concerns about ramp design and pedestrian access on 93 Avenue and refer the revised proposal to the Edmonton Design Committee.

In simple terms this means that the height of the buildings will have to adjust to make sure that they are no higher than what would be captured from a 35 degree angle from the edge of the neighbouring properties. This angle was worked out as part of our existing city policy to protect the neighbours access to sunlight and sky. The smaller floor plates (basic size of every floor) also means that tall buildings are narrower also allowing for sun and view penetration. The points on the traffic are self explanatory.

The motion passed 8 to 5.

The applicant now has two choices. They can either walk away from the project or they can go back to work on it to come back with something that fits within these parameters. My understanding is that they are interested in doing the latter and that conversations with our planning department and the community should start up again soon. My hope is that at the end of the process we will have a development that can move forward, that will be something the majority will be happy with, can see the site get developed and working as a good transit oriented development, will mitigate the negative effects on the neighbourhood,  and can be a real benefit to the community.

Please let me know if any of you have any questions.


===end of email===



“Holyrood decision bodes well for future”, Edmonton Journal, Dec. 2, 201

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

We did it! Holyrood Gardens proposal referred back to developer for rework.

At the Public Hearing on November 27, 2017, City Council made a motion to refer the Holyrood Gardens proposal back to the developer and City Administration for rework. This is a fantastic accomplishment. We are pleased to have created time and opportunities to work with the City and developer to come up with a transit oriented development solution that is a best practice model in mature neighbourhoods. We are also pleased to report that City Council passed a motion to refer all future transit oriented development proposals to the Edmonton Design Committee.

For additional background, please refer to these two media stories:

Thank you to everyone in the community who helped amplify awareness about the many variances from guidelines that were associated with this project. The Holyrood Development Committee estimates about 3,000 hours were invested in this work since April 2017.

We still need your help. We’re seeking to reach our fundraising goal of $2500. Please donate to the Holyrood Professional Advisors Fund to help us offset costs and help us prepare for engagement opportunities associated with creating a new development proposal.


Sun shadows impacts of proposed Holyrood Gardens

Many people have asked for information about the sun shadow impacts of Regency Developments proposed development at Holyrood Gardens which will be discussed on November 27, 2017 at the extension of the November 17 public hearing. We made an animation to share our interpretation of the data provided on the City of Edmonton’s website.

The images supplied to the City do not show the full view of the neighbourhoods, but we know that the shadows cast by the buildings reach farther into Strathearn and Holyrood than shown. Why? There are even longer shadows before 9:30 in the morning and after 4:30 in the afternoon. Our requests for the missing data were unanswered, so this is the best information we can provide.


December Sun Shadow Impacts


March to September Sun Shadow Impacts


Below are the sun rise and sunset times, as well as the length of the daylight hours on key calendar dates. How many hours of sun does your neighbour lose?

Mar. 21 – Sunrise (7:33 AM), Sunset (6:50 PM), Daylight Hours (12 hours, 17 minutes)

June 21 – Sunrise (5:04 AM), Sunset (10:07 PM), Daylight Hours (17 hours, 3 minutes)

Sep 21 – Sunrise (7:18 AM), Sunset (7:34 PM), Daylight Hours (12 hours, 16 minutes)

Dec. 21 – Sunrise (8:48 AM), Sunset (4:16 PM), Daylight Hours (7 hours, 28 minutes)


Public Hearing extended to Nov. 27

To the many people who registered to speak at the November 17 Public Hearing about Holyrood Gardens, and the many people who attended to support the speakers, we extend our THANKS.

We especially thank those who stepped in to read materials prepared by other members of our community who were unable to present. We were also impressed with the public members who spoke as well. Clearly you did your homework and reached similar conclusions as the Holyrood Development Committee. Each and every one of you help ensure perspectives from the community and neighbouring communities were heard.

Approximately 42 people registered to speak against the proposal. Thirteen people registered to speak in support of the proposal; half of these were contractors hired by the developer. The speakers and question periods were very respectful.

City Council has received a fulsome explanation of the many challenges and issues associated with this proposal. We believe the collection of issues is sufficient to return the proposal to the City Administration and the developer for rework.

It will be City Council’s challenge on November 27 at 3:30 pm to receive new information, debate the issue deeply, and come to a conclusion on whether or not to support the proposal. We will be there and we hope to see many of you there as well.

The extension of the public hearing means we need additional funds for a professional advisor. If you can help our small community league with a donation we would very much appreciate it. You can donate at: http://tinyurl.com/fundhdc


Watch your mailbox!

NovFlyerThis weekend Holyrood Development Committee members and community volunteers will deliver this flyer to your mailbox. You will also receive a letter that you can use or customize to share your feedback on the proposed rezoning of Holyrood Gardens with City Council.

The purpose of a Public Hearing is to allow citizens the chance to voice opinions and concerns over a decision facing City Council. Public Hearings are a critical forum for sharing your voice. It is also the LAST opportunity you have to offer comments to city officials.

The September Public Hearing was postponed to November 17, 2017. At that hearing 69 letters were on hand speaking against the proposal and 29 people registered to speak against the proposal.

After people speak for or against the proposal at the Public Hearing:

  • City Council will pass the bylaw as presented; or
  • City Council will make amendments to the bylaw it deems necessary and proceed to pass it; or
  • City Council may defeat the bylaw.


Write your letter to City Council in advance of the Public Hearing, Nov. 17

The Holyrood Development Committee is inviting residents to send a letter to City Council expressing your perspectives on the Holyrood Rezoning proposal. These letters will be made available at the Public Hearing on November 17, 2017. Anyone affected by upcoming transit oriented development in mature neighbourhoods is also invited to weigh in on this proposal.

You may cut and paste the following text into your own desktop publishing software. Downloads are available in the following formats: Microsoft Word | PDF


Office of the Mayor and Office of the Councillors
Care of the Office of the City Clerk
2nd Floor, City Hall, 1 Sir Winston Churchill Square
Edmonton, AB, T5J 2R7

I am writing to share my perspective on Bylaw 18178 – Holyrood Gardens which is being brought to a Public Hearing on November 17, 2017. I trust you will scrutinize all letters and information presented regarding this re-development proposal.

On October 26, 2017, the City Administration, Regency Developments and the Holyrood Development Committee met to share their experiences leading up to the first Public Hearing. All parties agreed this project was fraught with problems including: poor communication, disrespectful engagement, swift pace and lack of support for community volunteers. Foundational relationships were not built. All perspectives were not secured. As a result this project was not informed by the best available information. This evidence should be enough for City Council to send the project back for additional rework.

Densification and precedent-setting large site developments require good urban design principles and exceptional public engagement. This project departs from the intent of City guidelines, policies, and plans. There are numerous variances in the DC2 application. While the technical background on variances will be presented by the Holyrood Development Committee at the Public Hearing, as a resident of Holyrood, I am concerned about:

  • Lack of a site vision/context plan developed with an educational and participatory planning process
  • Transparency of financial analysis, community contribution and affordable housing
  • Sustainability goals and integration with City strategies (e.g., Energy Transition, Winter Cities)
  • Site permeability, mobility and safety for young/old and community access to facilities for bicycles
  • Best practices & guidelines that recommend 2-7 storey development at neighbourhood stops
  • Fulsome exploration of approaches to meet density targets without highrises
  • Engagement on built form, green space, commercial activities, missing middle and height transitions
  • Need for an independent peer review by urban design specialists

My letter to adds to 69 letters City Council received opposing the Holyrood Gardens rezoning application prior to the September 11, 2017 Public Hearing. Many residents of my community support redevelopment and densification, however many residents also feel the current proposal represents overdevelopment of the site. In order for Edmontonians to embrace infill and densification, it is critical to model exceptional urban design principles.  

For these reasons, please return the proposal to the developer to ensure meaningful community engagement and exploration of new building forms for densification and traffic management. After community engagement, an independent review by the Edmonton Design Committee is necessary to create a well-informed urban design that ensures livability and integration with my community.

There is a better solution for Holyrood, one that is an inspirational model for future developments. Please support Holyrood by offering an opportunity to co-create this vision and be an advocate for high density transit oriented development development in the City of Edmonton.


Linda Cochrane, City Manager
Carolyn Campbell, Public Engagement