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Warehouse District Park

I can't find Blatchford mentioned on Perkins and Will. I wonder if that's because of this kerfuffle. https://perkinswill.com/work/

I'd love to see older designs, plans, and renders for all of Blatchford, if they exist! A cursory glance on DuckDuckGo didn't yield much.

Yes, that's exactly why if I recall correctly. They asked the city to remove their name from the Blatchford project plan because they felt that the city had altered and watered down the plans so much that it did not reflect the original Perkins and Will plan. They didn't want their name associated with something that effectively, wasn't their work anymore.
 
Can you blame them 🙄? The City hires a brilliant team to develop a futuristic, forward-thinking plan and then starts slicing and dicing the result so that it measures up to less than half of what it was proposed to be. Then the City hires a manager to remove all the candles off of the birthday cake and scrape the icing off too and (more than insulting) tout this individual as some kind of aggressive genius. This is why we need a new mayor and council and when I say "new" I mean all of the existing dead-wood should go. I think that Perkins and Will deserve HUGE credit for asking their name to be removed from the project. Every time the City starts altering a Capital Project bad things ensue. I now fear the same thing is about to happen to the potential for the warehouse district park... or worse a local incompetent (names mentioned before) will get the political plum and Edmonton will get a ho-hum result, partially copied from some other City but not understood by anyone.
 
Can you blame them 🙄? The City hires a brilliant team to develop a futuristic, forward-thinking plan and then starts slicing and dicing the result so that it measures up to less than half of what it was proposed to be. Then the City hires a manager to remove all the candles off of the birthday cake and scrape the icing off too and (more than insulting) tout this individual as some kind of aggressive genius. This is why we need a new mayor and council and when I say "new" I mean all of the existing dead-wood should go. I think that Perkins and Will deserve HUGE credit for asking their name to be removed from the project. Every time the City starts altering a Capital Project bad things ensue. I now fear the same thing is about to happen to the potential for the warehouse district park... or worse a local incompetent (names mentioned before) will get the political plum and Edmonton will get a ho-hum result, partially copied from some other City but not understood by anyone.

By extension of this, I cannot understand the city's infatuation with being in the development game on this. Even from a financial standpoint, the city could make millions by selling this land to be developed by the development market where it would more than likely be done faster and better. Likewise for Northlands. With so many millions to be made from land sales, with the potential for development to happen faster and better, why is the city managing these types of projects outside of the typical scope for a city? THIS along with many other examples perpetuates the need for a much needed change in direction at the council and management level of the city.
 
@CaptainBL here's how it goes typically and the Northlands area is a PERFECT example of this. First the City enters into a bad agreement with a developer -- they decide that they will give exclusive sports and entertainment rights to the developer of a new sports mecca (Katz and company) so that the existing coliseum becomes obsolete on any rational basis. Then they ask for proposals from the general public and a mix of developers to come up with a "new vision" for the whole area. They get several very well thought out concepts put forward and several of them even have a way to re-purpose the coliseum. The Politicoes at the City, having no idea how to evaluate any of the proposals since they do not have either the skills nor the training to do so, turn it all over to their high-minded, self-aggrandizing, egotistical Planning Department. The Planning Department comes up with several committee-room-tested, generally benign, concepts measured (in their terms) from the least costly and least engaged to the most costly and most engaged (when in fact they are all mundane, trite, and (in short) not worth the paper they are expressed upon). The Politicoes then decide in their collective unfounded "wisdom" that the public should be the arbiters of the wildly boring schemes and they put out a "call for comments", none of which (I am quite certain) are read by either the Politicoes or the Planning Department "kings and queens of nothingness". But that's not the end of the tale, oh no! The City then decides to do nothing for one or two decades while the land and the adjoining neighborhoods go through a phase of slow-rot. Now think Blatchford, Northlands, the cutely named "Touch the Water" effort and Rossdale -- those three in particular -- and try to figure out if I am right or wrong. First fix -- get rid of the Mayor and Council and pay very close attention to who is running for City Council seats and help the right people get voted in. Second fix -- task the new Council with greatly reducing the numbers and the power of the Planning Department, bringing them back to their original purpose -- policing rules put in place by City Council (one that has a head on its collective shoulders) that are factored by Planners and Architects that are in private industry and have been hired by the City to guide results (Perkins + Will for example). This effort, incidentally, will save the City a ton of money, create less angst at the helm, and -- most importantly -- see the City advance in an otherwise unimaginably positive direction.
 
By extension of this, I cannot understand the city's infatuation with being in the development game on this. Even from a financial standpoint, the city could make millions by selling this land to be developed by the development market where it would more than likely be done faster and better. Likewise for Northlands. With so many millions to be made from land sales, with the potential for development to happen faster and better, why is the city managing these types of projects outside of the typical scope for a city? THIS along with many other examples perpetuates the need for a much needed change in direction at the council and management level of the city.
How could Blatchford be developed better? The street design and district energy system are both quite well done in my opinion and, if developers were not forced to abide by distinct design and construction standards for the streets, they'd likely just build your typical road-boulevard-sidewalk (and not consider separated bike lanes, LID infrastructure, etc. since that costs extra cash).

For Northlands, however, the land will be sold off for developers, but they'll have to develop along the lines of a forthcoming structure plan for the site. Northlands will be tough to develop though, as there are tons of servicing pipes located throughout the site, which will require considerable utility relocation costs.
 
@CaptainBL here's how it goes typically and the Northlands area is a PERFECT example of this. First the City enters into a bad agreement with a developer -- they decide that they will give exclusive sports and entertainment rights to the developer of a new sports mecca (Katz and company) so that the existing coliseum becomes obsolete on any rational basis. Then they ask for proposals from the general public and a mix of developers to come up with a "new vision" for the whole area. They get several very well thought out concepts put forward and several of them even have a way to re-purpose the coliseum. The Politicoes at the City, having no idea how to evaluate any of the proposals since they do not have either the skills nor the training to do so, turn it all over to their high-minded, self-aggrandizing, egotistical Planning Department. The Planning Department comes up with several committee-room-tested, generally benign, concepts measured (in their terms) from the least costly and least engaged to the most costly and most engaged (when in fact they are all mundane, trite, and (in short) not worth the paper they are expressed upon). The Politicoes then decide in their collective unfounded "wisdom" that the public should be the arbiters of the wildly boring schemes and they put out a "call for comments", none of which (I am quite certain) are read by either the Politicoes or the Planning Department "kings and queens of nothingness". But that's not the end of the tale, oh no! The City then decides to do nothing for one or two decades while the land and the adjoining neighborhoods go through a phase of slow-rot. Now think Blatchford, Northlands, the cutely named "Touch the Water" effort and Rossdale -- those three in particular -- and try to figure out if I am right or wrong. First fix -- get rid of the Mayor and Council and pay very close attention to who is running for City Council seats and help the right people get voted in. Second fix -- task the new Council with greatly reducing the numbers and the power of the Planning Department, bringing them back to their original purpose -- policing rules put in place by City Council (one that has a head on its collective shoulders) that are factored by Planners and Architects that are in private industry and have been hired by the City to guide results (Perkins + Will for example). This effort, incidentally, will save the City a ton of money, create less angst at the helm, and -- most importantly -- see the City advance in an otherwise unimaginably positive direction.

Who in this 'Planning Department' hurt you, Ted?
 
They (the Planning Department) are not directly hurting me @Avenuer -- they are hurting the City of Edmonton! Show me one result from the Planning Department that has put Edmonton on the Map and I'll show you a dozen that have had zero effect or have helped sustain banality. Why hire forward thinking firms like Perkins + Will if you are not going to follow their lead -- and they did have pedestrian trails and bike trails throughout their proposal. Good Lord do you really think that the brightest end up in a municipal Planning Department. But yes, I have had several head-to-heads with the Planning Department in Edmonton over the years and I have won each encounter -- so no, they have not hurt me. In large part they are a waste of taxpayers money.
 
^^^^ All catch-ups to world trends and that is my point. Many Cities have banned parking altogether in City centres (point 1.) Don't talk to me about zoning bylaws -- Edmonton is so far behind in this area compared to other Cities (points 2. and 3.). If these types of characteristics were developed outside of the City and presented as bylaw reform it would be more comprehensive and more avant-garde. Another area where the City could reform and create opportunity would be through the use of enterprise zones. And, instead of dictating 20- or 30-year old policy and trying to micromanage stupid little going-nowhere projects (like Northlands and like "Touch the Water") they could throw these areas out to real innovation and international standards of design instead of little colloquial-minded efforts such as are coming out of the Planning Department currently. Anyway, I feel like this argument is already like beating a dead horse. Edmonton has to shed its naivety and think much much bigger if it doesn't want to continue to idle in neutral.
 
They (the Planning Department) are not directly hurting me @Avenuer -- they are hurting the City of Edmonton! Show me one result from the Planning Department that has put Edmonton on the Map and I'll show you a dozen that have had zero effect or have helped sustain banality. Why hire forward thinking firms like Perkins + Will if you are not going to follow their lead -- and they did have pedestrian trails and bike trails throughout their proposal. Good Lord do you really think that the brightest end up in a municipal Planning Department. But yes, I have had several head-to-heads with the Planning Department in Edmonton over the years and I have won each encounter -- so no, they have not hurt me. In large part they are a waste of taxpayers money.

I take offence to this. 😂
 
@CplKlinger Calgary and Edmonton are two quite different cities so it is hard to compare them; it would be like trying to compare Houston with Austin or Los Angeles with San Francisco. Calgary as a head-office City has a much better integrated core, but with the slow (but ever-quickening) demise of the oil industry (unless it -- the oil industry -- learns quickly and gets on board with alternative energy systems and with a "hydrogen economy") is now going to feel greater growth pain than does Edmonton. Calgary's core area is much more integrated and has in general better core architecture (a function primarily of "big bucks" spent in the head office realm and the large paychecks that are borne of that white-collar realm). Edmonton on the other hand has advantages that may -- if the hand is played correctly -- lead to a healthier more ethnically integrated City. Calgary has the near proximity of the Rockies; Edmonton has the deep and well-preserved North Saskatchewan river valley. Both Cities live too much "in the moment", not seeing the clear potential that exists within their boundaries. Edmonton's summer festival image is starting to gain tourist-draw power; Calgary of course has the Stampede and the "cowboy image" that tags along with that moniker.
Several general points that should guide the growth of both Cities:
1. The consolidated office market is dying at an ever-quickening rate so don't expect to see many more new office buildings being proposed in either City.
2. The bricks-and-mortar retail and small-scale hospitality industry is already dead and won't be brought back until technological innovation and use-integration is revived and main-streamed.
3. Residential living will become even more dissociated. Small towns will grow in size and character for those who are looking to move away from congestion and "big-City" living, especially as it becomes easier to work from home; in Edmonton this will benefit satellite towns as far away as Westlock, Smoky Lake, Vegreville, Camrose, Ponoka, and Drayton Valley -- this in the near term (and even farther afield in the long term). This will create the "neo-suburb" (take note @Platinum107) and may see (if Edmonton is forward-thinking enough) new transportation platforms (VTOL passenger drones; maglev and LSM rail; automated electric vehicle culture).
4. In the City, expect the new projects to be mainly centered around core nodes and be larger in scale and better integrated into the community -- it will blow all existing Planning standards out of the water (mercifully). Expect to see intense villages within the City landscape that are are more differentiated by theme (no more anonymous collectives -- e.g. Blatchford (although that enclave may yet be saved).
5. As wealth disparity wanes (implemented social programs and better health and wellness solutions), the population will become more transient and a new market for temporary, but highly innovated, housing will arise (we are starting to see that happen now with the co-housing movement).
Oops.. I am starting to write book chapters again -- sorry.
 
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I think Edmonton's biggest weakness is in the downtown core, although there are some surprisingly vibrant neighbourhoods nearby. It has been an ongoing issue for years, but when you are stereotyped as being a blue collar city with a cold climate that doesn't seem to attract many of the large corporate offices that typically fill empty downtown spaces. However, although Calgary has managed to carefully avoid this image until now, their core seems a bit sterile and dead. It looks like a big city with appropriate big buildings, but minus much of the street level retail and bustle.

I agree there is an opportunity for Edmonton in the future, perhaps more so than in Calgary, if we are smart. Some people still do want to live in more central locations for various reasons and I think that will come back after COVID. Over the years a number of vacant lots downtown have been filled by residential development and I think that will continue. If we are smart, we should try to ensure there is a good mix of development that accommodates different types of families and income levels, and good access to nearby amenities, not just the vertical gated communities that dominate some city centres.

I don't think the city planning department here is particularly forward thinking. There is a conservatism often innate in the bureaucracy and unfortunately I don't think our municipal government attracts or encourages forward thinking either. Lastly there isn't much leadership by our current city council, who govern more as administrators than leaders. The last one can be changed, but I think as always it is up to citizens to take the initiative at times and put the pressure on the city to do more.
 

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