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Regional Planning & Growth


Staff member
Member Bio
Sep 22, 2015
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Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Don Lowry has a certain way with metaphors.

“The big horse, energy, is not going to carry us all the way,” says the former CEO of Epcor, and current chairman of the Edmonton Metro Advisory Panel.

Translation? We have to diversify our regional economy because we can’t count on the energy sector to do all the work for us.

“We can’t just hunker down in our municipalities and milk the cows that we have.”

Translation? Cities and counties can’t just go on relying on their own local tax bases.

“You can’t have 24 quarterbacks all calling different plays in huddle. At least shave it down to nine quarterbacks.”

Translation? The 24-member Capital Region Board, created, somewhat forcibly, by then-premier Ed Stelmach back in 2008, isn’t nimble enough to give metro Edmonton the leadership it needs.

On Friday, Lowry and his panel released a scathing report about this region’s future. The report was commissioned last fall at a cost of $600,000 by a new group called the Metro Mayors Alliance. It represents nine municipalities with 95 per cent of the regional population, and 96 per cent of the regional tax assessment base: Edmonton, Strathcona County, St. Albert, Sturgeon County, Fort Saskatchewan, the City of Leduc, Leduc County, Spruce Grove and Parkland County.

“If municipalities don’t change their current trajectory,” the report warns, “as much as 87,700 additional hectares of agricultural land and 50,200 hectares of natural areas could be lost to unco-ordinated development over the next 50 years.”

Full Story (Edmonton Journal)
In my annual State of the City address this spring, I spent a good portion of my speech talking about how a more functional, balanced Edmonton Metro Region is vital to ensuring our shared prosperity.

On this theme, our City Council recently evaluated a report by an independent panel commissioned by nine of the region’s mayors (aka the Metro Mayors) who called on our municipalities to act together in building regional systems. The bottom line of the report? Unless we find a way to collaborate better, our social, economic and environmental sustainability will be in serious jeopardy. To avoid this fate, the panel makes a number of very important recommendations.

Full Post (Don Iveson's Blog)
Council goes behind closed doors to debate next move for regional development
It’s a major decision with billions of taxpayer dollars on the line, but councillors debated participation in a regional development plan behind closed doors Tuesday. And experts say to expect more in-camera sessions to come.

There are risks on every side, warned Kevin Jones with the University of Alberta’s City Region Studies Centre.

Making a regional government work takes “a huge amount of trust-building” between leaders. A snarky comment in council chambers could derail that, said Jones.

But the decision is so big, council can’t keep the doors closed too often, he warned. “There’s risk they lose the trust of the community if they’re seen to be making decisions behind closed doors.”

Nine mayors representing the majority of the capital region have been told they need to join forces on transit, economic development and growth, or risk spending an extra $8.2 billion coping with the cost of urban sprawl.

They want a master agreement by March and a common pot of money to compete globally for business. They also need a growth co-ordinator with enough power to force cities to concentrate development, preventing new construction on key farmland.

Full Story (Edmonton Journal)
Local mayors working on deal that could bring Edmonton region together
Nine local mayors have signed a plan that could have the Edmonton region working more collectively in future.

Mayors from Edmonton, Fort Saskatchewan, Leduc, Leduc County, Spruce Grove, Parkland Country, Strathcona County, Sturgeon County and St. Albert all signed a plan Monday for a legally binding agreement on regional transit, economicdevelopment and land-use planning.

Full Story (Metro Edmonton)
Edmonton Metro region approves new 30-year growth plan
A new 30-year growth plan approved Thursday by the Capital Region Board aims to kick off the infill debate in every municipality, save prime agriculture land and force new homes to cluster around existing highways and transit corridors.

It represents a major step toward increased regional collaboration, especially when compared to the infighting that dominated debate at this 24-member board even four years ago.

But it still wasn’t approved unanimously.

Leduc County council directed Mayor John Whaley to vote against the plan, saying it still didn’t value the prime agriculture land south of Edmonton highly enough.

The plan commits the Capital Region Board to creating a ranking of agriculture land to set aside for preservation within two years, and sets density targets of 35 and 45 net residential units per hectare for the land under annexation negotiations with Edmonton.

Full Story (Edmonton Journal)

Edmonton-area mayors approve growth plan
The mayors and reeves of the Capital Regional Board have voted, 22-2 to adopt a growth plan for the entire greater metro Edmonton region that calls for higher housing density targets.

The plan sees higher density as helping with improved transportation and as byproduct of that, greater economic development opportunities.

The plan was always controversial, and there was talk prior to the vote that some of the smaller communities would vote as a block to scuttle it.

“I believed it always had the potential of going off the rails,” St. Albert Mayor Nolan Crouse, and board chair, said.

“There were things that, it didn’t matter whether it was density, or ag (agriculture) preservation, whether it was the importance of the small community, 5,000 population. Any one of those had the potential of having it go sideways. But at the end of the day, it’s a 22-2 vote which you need 17, you need 75 per cent, so it’s passed.”

Full Story (Global Edmonton)
Gibbons, Bruderheim, Bon Accord and other small towns will no longer have a seat at the region’s sometimes-fractious governing board if a new provincial plan goes ahead.

Municipal Affairs Minister Danielle Larivee made the announcement at the Capital Region Board meeting Thursday, saying it will make the region more competitive. It drops to 13 municipalities from 24. The villages have until Jan. 31 to protest.

“There needed to be a tighter, more nimble team,” said Larivee, adding the board will also expand its mandate to include economic development.

For years, the board struggled to find consensus on key votes. It failed to pass a budget in November. Motions needed two-thirds majority to pass, and a block of eight rural centres frequently clash with Edmonton.
Politicians, planners and environmentalists have set out numerous best practices to avoid the nastiest impacts of urban sprawl.

For instance, according to their rule book, thou shalt not develop distant suburbs on thy neighbour’s prime farmland. Thou shalt not surround and hem in a city with low-density acreages. And thou shalt not leapfrog, which means jumping over undeveloped land and building a new community far from the urban core.

The plan for the new city of Bremner, which is to have 54,000 people in 50 years, is for the community to be relatively dense, so if it actually follows that plan, it will avoid one major pitfall. But it breaks two other commandments.

First, it’s a leapfrog city to an already existing leapfrog city — it’s planned to be built east of Highway 21 and north of Highway 16, a good distance from Sherwood Park, which is already a good distance from Edmonton.

Second, it’s going to be built on some of the best soil that Alberta has, chernozemic soil rich in humus and nutrients, excellent for growing crops.
The area around Edmonton once referred to as the Capital Region has a new name: the Edmonton Metropolitan Region — or Edmonton Metro.

“We’ve united our region around a confident brand: Edmonton, please strike ‘Capital Region’ from your lexicon. We are #YEGmetro,” Mayor Don Iveson wrote in a message on Twitter Wednesday.

The board says it has been granted provincial approval for its Edmonton Metropolitan Regional Growth Plan.
New regional board will put pressure to stop sprawl: Mayor


Mayor Don Iveson said the newly-branded Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board will help the 13 members plan for projects such as interconnected transit.

A newly-branded regional board where municipalities will meet to plan growth will help limit urban sprawl and save farmland, Mayor Don Iveson said.

It also signals a shift in Edmonton’s identity, the mayor said.

The Capital Region Board has been rebranded the Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board and has shrunk from 24 members to only 13.

In addition to the name change, the new board introduces higher density targets for Edmonton and its neighbours for residential development, and the board is now tasked with creating a regional metro servicing plan for projects such as transit, fire services and storm water control.

Iveson said the rebranding effort is a symbolic change, but an important one.

“No one ever actually ever used the name (Capital Region Board),” he said. “It was a political construct, frankly, at a time when people at the province and in the region didn’t want to talk about Edmonton … We’ve overcome that over the last several years.

“There’s a higher level of civic pride among Edmontonians.”

But it’s more than just a name change. The new board introduces higher and minimum density targets for the member municipalities.

For example, while St. Albert was previously required to meet 35 dwelling units per net residential hectare (du/NRha), they’re now sitting at 40.

Leduc previously had a range between 25-30 du/NRha, but now has a minimum target of 35. Edmonton has gone up from 35 to 45. In many cases, the city is already meeting or exceeding those targets, Iveson said.
^ @archited So many plans! I finally had some time to go through the city plan you posted. I think it's decent but also found out that it's only part 2 of a 6 segmented 'overall' plan.
I really want a better understanding of the planning concepts regarding some of the very important issues we've been discussing on Skyrise, from social issues to transportation and the notion of a population doubling over the coming decades.
Below is part 1 of 6 - ConnectEdmonton


I find it easier to study the bones of a plan in PDF, If anyone is interested this is ConnectEdmonton Pdf (24 page download)
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Sturgeon County is contemplating departure from Edmonton Metropolitan Regional Board

City of Edmonton updated its growth analysis reports for 2022