Stationlands Residential Towers | 90m | 25s | Qualico | DIALOG

What do you think of this project?


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strata

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At a time when it feels like many developers are pausing their downtown projects in favor of deploying their investment capital to projects around Oliver & Whyte Ave, I feel that the Stationlands projects has become an extremely important project to keep some momentum and investment going in this area of downtown. I am disappointed to see this.
 

EdmTrekker

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the issue was this was already decided by the previous council and is now being re-opened up...similarly with the Michael Janz wanting to re-open the Enterprise Land item.
The Trump style ... trash what politicians that were duly elected before you. The Councillor is a twit.
 

kcantor

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No complaints from me. All I want to know is where exactly was this pedway supposed to be? And was it supposed to be above-ground or below-ground?
It was always supposed to go underground and the "lid" was actually constructed prior to the RAM completing the first half of their forecourt development.

I must admit struggling with Anne’s logic on this one starting with “how it reads” which is more like an administration report on something administration is recommending against.

I also have to admit that while I have had no direct interest in Station Lands for six years, I was intimately involved in the project for a very long time and still have an emotional attachment to its success and still believe it has the potential to have a positive impact on downtown, the North Edge, the Quarters and Chinatown.

In noting that an earlier council provided direction on the pedway link, it’s also fair to note that earlier councils have provided direction not just recently but for almost two decades dating back to the projects initial rezoning to CCA in accordance with the Capital City Downtown Plan. And yes, it’s important that this decision be considered carefully, I would think that goes without saying – it’s important that all of council’s decisions be considered carefully. In reading the memo, I disagree with the conclusion that there are a number of areas where alignment is missing. A link between Station Lands that crosses 104 Avenue and 103 Avenue and connects to the NE corner of City Hall and Churchill Station has been shown on Development Permit drawings going back for two decades. During that time, it’s worth noting that overhead links crossing some of our streets including 103A Avenue and 109th Street were precluded although that was subsequently “relaxed” for Rogers Place and for Macewan’s parkade.

The first argument put forward that this investment represents a relatively low level of leverage. In response, I would start by noting that on both the capital and the operating side, a relatively miniscule portion of the city’s budget provides any leverage at all so it’s a fruits vs vegetables discussion. Even accepting the validity of the argument however, the numbers put forward in in this memo seem to be apples to oranges. This investment will have a 1:6 leverage in the city’s favour and that’s relatively easy to determine based on the included numbers. It’s also worth noting that the entire leveraged private sector component is a capital expenditure that will have an immediate and perpetual positive impact on city tax revenues. In comparing it to the Economic Recovery Grants, I believe the discussion moves from fruits vs vegetable to apples vs oranges. The Economic Recovery Grants provided individual business grants up to $2,000 to support businesses that incur expenses in the administration of the Provincial Restrictions Exemption Program and up to $25,000 to businesses and associations to fund projects that supported long-term resiliency, economic diversity and equity. All appropriate things for the city to support but (a) the required matching was only 1:1 and (b) there was no requirement for capital, taxable investment that would increase city revenues. I don’t know what kind of multipliers might have been used in analyzing the downstream effects of those grants but if one is to be compared to the other, the same multipliers should also be used on the pedway contribution. If the reference was intended to refer to the Private Construction Projects – Economic Incentive Plan, of course the multiple will be higher but that’s because the non-cash abatement of property taxes for 5 years is a relatively small portion of overall project costs noting as well that 100% of the benefit accrues directly to the individual owners, not the public or other owners. The reference to “benefitting parcels” is also a bit disingenuous when you look at the number of directly benefiting parcels here which would include all of the Station Lands components including EPCOR Tower, this phase of development, future Station Lands development all the way east to 97th Street, the CN Tower, the new RAM, along with the potential to link those parcels on the north side of 105 Avenue.

As to whether this is really a “misdirected investment”, I think it’s pretty big stretch to say this one would be going against our long-term city building goals. The link would extend from the NE corner of city hall under 103 Avenue, under 104 Avenue and under the RAM forecourt and connect to the Station Lands project where it will be accessible at and below grade. It will not, as far as I am aware, include an ‘inward-oriented retail environment” nor is there any potential exterior oriented retail environment that this would replace or preclude. As for the safety component of the discussion, I think dismissing the concern as simply not a valid one whether it’s referring simply to safety of person or safety from the elements cavalier.

Regarding the lack of consistency argument, Station Lands has outright CCA zoning that has been in place for two decades. Its zoning was designated in the Capital City Downtown Plan and there were no revisions or amendments granted or requested when it put in place following the removal of the railroad operations. The only exemption that was granted in the DP process was a relaxation of the maximum distance from property line to building face in order to provide better connections and amenities along the 101st Street edge while dealing with the change in grades that still exists from the city not bringing 101st Street fully up to grade. It’s interesting – and disappointing - to see that compared to the city granting substantial additional densities to other developers in exchange for relatively minor community amenity contributions.

In describing the missed opportunities for tax uplift from Station Lands when comparing it to other potential investments, I’m pretty sure that’s ignoring completely the taxes that Station Lands has paid to the city since the site was purchased and the considerable lift that has been received from EPCOR Tower for more than a decade already. As for comparing this investment to the number of homes or supportive housing units that could otherwise be provided, that’s simply another argument that’s disingenuous at best. Nobody asked how many houses or supportive housing units could be provided if the city wasn’t doing it’s current renovations to city hall or they hadn’t redone the pool or Churchill Square. Interestingly enough, nobody asked how many houses or supportive housing units could be provided if Councillor Janz’s efforts to revisit previous council decisions on Enterprise Land ultimately fail and the proceeds spent on exactly that. I actually wonder what that payback might be in terms of addressing much of what needs addressing downtown and across the city on that front. It seems to be one of those arguments that is diversionary/divisive and not constructive (as is the case with any argument that is only selectively raised).

As for stewarding CRL funds, all CRL funds were intended to be catalyst when it comes to revitalizing our downtown and building a more resilient and inclusive heart of our city. I agree that that should remain the criteria for their dispersal. Where I disagree is that none of the arguments put forward for not supporting this project used that lens as it was intended to be used.
 

Oilers99

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The Trump style ... trash what politicians that were duly elected before you. The Councillor is a twit.

Between this and the aforementioned discussion of re-opening up the greenfield Enterprise Land decision has angered many in the development industry. This council is going down a very dangerous path of creating significant additional regulatory uncertainty.
 

strata

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Anne Stevenson is just 1 vote out of 13 on City Council.

Early days, but what I am seeing out of Councilors Stevenson, Salvador, and Janz has been surprising.

All seemed to have ran on an agenda of prioritizing core redevelopment projects. The proceeds from the sale of ELD lands was all but earmarked for deployment to kickstart Rossdale, and yet Janz makes a motion to reverse the decision to hold onto the City doing suburban development. Stevenson's motion may jeopardize a large investment into downtown redevelopment at a time where there is not a surplus of those. It seems (maybe not?) that Salvador supports both.

Should these councilors assume they will have full support of their colleagues on any budget item they champion in their wards in the future? You would think the other new councilors will feel an obligation to fight for projects within their ward that will make a larger difference to their voters. These were council approved investments into/adjacent to their ward...curious strategy to try to throw them back into the pot and see where they end up?
 

Oilers99

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Early days, but what I am seeing out of Councilors Stevenson, Salvador, and Janz has been surprising.

All seemed to have ran on an agenda of prioritizing core redevelopment projects. The proceeds from the sale of ELD lands was all but earmarked for deployment to kickstart Rossdale, and yet Janz makes a motion to reverse the decision to hold onto the City doing suburban development. Stevenson's motion may jeopardize a large investment into downtown redevelopment at a time where there is not a surplus of those. It seems (maybe not?) that Salvador supports both.

Should these councilors assume they will have full support of their colleagues on any budget item they champion in their wards in the future? You would think the other new councilors will feel an obligation to fight for projects within their ward that will make a larger difference to their voters. These were council approved investments into/adjacent to their ward...curious strategy to try to throw them back into the pot and see where they end up?

Councilors Stevenson, Salvador, Janz and a few others will continue to vote in a voting block IMO on many different things.
 

itom987

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I thought the reason for the pedway was for the Galeria project that has been cancelled. The pedway was needed for students to get to and from the LRT to get to the UofA which wanted to expand to Stationlands.
 

Friendmonton

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As much as I'd like to see the project finally move forward, I do agree with Councillor Stevenson -- and this is coming from someone in her ward who voted for her.

The City is still recovering financially from covid. A recession could be on the horizon. The social issues downtown are deplorable.

Is this the time to spend tens of millions of dollars on a pedway that will benefit one new development with some spillover to the RAM, CN Tower and the torpid redevelopment of north downtown? At a time when people don't feel safe in the current LRT pedway system?

Sure we can't be shortsighted, but the City can do a lot with that money as the Councillor detailed: supportive housing, specifically. But what about improved streetscaping and activation? More police patrols? More community outreach?

It's too bad we have to think in 'either/or' choices, and reopen a mostly (but not completely) settled issue from last council. But again, the ROI on this specific project just doesn't make sense right now and it's prudent (although unpopular) to revisit the agreement.
 

TAS

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Councilors Stevenson, Salvador, Janz and a few others will continue to vote in a voting block IMO on many different things.

You can definitely add Rutherford into that mix - and the people behind these candidates were certainly major backers of Sohi, not that I'm putting him in that camp yet, but something to watch.

I was a bit alarmed to see Janz's instagram post where he said "forget about the gondola" project, in favour of high level line. Not sure why it can't be both.

I am glad for this group for their expected advocacy of more active transportation options though.
 

strata

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For what it is worth, Rutherford seems firmly against reversing the ELD decision based on her comments at the last council.
 

kcantor

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As much as I'd like to see the project finally move forward, I do agree with Councillor Stevenson -- and this is coming from someone in her ward who voted for her.

The City is still recovering financially from covid. A recession could be on the horizon. The social issues downtown are deplorable.

Is this the time to spend tens of millions of dollars on a pedway that will benefit one new development with some spillover to the RAM, CN Tower and the torpid redevelopment of north downtown? At a time when people don't feel safe in the current LRT pedway system?

Sure we can't be shortsighted, but the City can do a lot with that money as the Councillor detailed: supportive housing, specifically. But what about improved streetscaping and activation? More police patrols? More community outreach?

It's too bad we have to think in 'either/or' choices, and reopen a mostly (but not completely) settled issue from last council. But again, the ROI on this specific project just doesn't make sense right now and it's prudent (although unpopular) to revisit the agreement.
”Sure we can't be shortsighted, but the City can do a lot with that money as the Councillor detailed: supportive housing, specifically. But what about improved streetscaping and activation? More police patrols? More community outreach?“

in fact, the city can’t do a lot with that money. it is available “on loan” from the province for specific catalyst projects specified under both provincial and municipal legislation. it can’t be diverted to operating expenses like activation or police patrols or community outreach as it’s not “general revenue” monies.
 

jason403

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I think the trouble with all these types of projects is that there is generally a net positive benefit, but those in leadership need to evaluate opportunity cost. The question is not simply if money spent is good for the city, but is this the best use of spending when there is a budget constraining project funding. (Not to say I agree or disagree with the current pedway, but it is important to question these projects. Whether to question them after previous administrations have approved something is another can of worms)
 

itom987

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One thing is very important to mention we do need people living in that area to make it safer for all. I don't know how far along the pedway was roughed in but it may be worthwhile competing it depending on how much work was already done. If the pedway is scrapped it is only fair that something else should take its place weather that is increased patrols or big brother cameras with emergency buttons installed throughout the area. A bone should be given so insure that the residential portion of Stationlands gets built.
 

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