What could Edmonton look like with a population of two million people? That's the question being asked right now, as the city develops a new Municipal Development Plan to guide urban development toward that vision.
Work is underway to replace the now 10-year-old The Way We Grow city plan, and the City is engaging with residents to help shape the Edmonton of the future, including a social media campaign asking people to complete the hashtag #EdmontonsFutureIs.
SkyriseEdmonton spoke to Kalen Anderson, Director of the City Plan and previously Senior City Planner with the City of Edmonton to learn more about the campaign and how the plan will be developed. According to Anderson, the goal is to get people interested in participating in the process, and to tap into the knowledge and experience of people who might not otherwise be interested in high-level city planning - including seniors, children, and students.
Anderson says her team wants to hear not just what people think needs to change, but also about what works and what needs to be kept, giving the example of how residents feel about the largely-undeveloped river valley. She is hoping to get the message out that participation is important at this stage, and to overcome cynicism that has become typical of civic engagement. "It's worth your time to give your opinion. It matters, it will shape our city."
Anderson says that the new plan will not be based on a specific timeframe like previous plans, but rather looks to guide the city as it grows from its current population of about one million people into a city of two million people. The goal is to make the plan resilient to external factors such unpredictable boom and bust cycles in the economy, and to keep it flexible enough to adapt to rapid changes, with regular reviews and updates to keep up with trends.
"At its apex," says Anderson, "the plan is for people, how people want to live their daily lives, how they work, how they move, and how they prosper. One of the key goals will be to tie transportation and urban planning together, to ensure both are in service of the people."
Anderson explained there are two primary types of city plans: the British style which is very heavy on written word, and the French style which takes a more physical and architectural approach. Edmonton has traditionally used the British style, but Anderson is looking to move the city into more a French-style plan, while taking influences from cities such as Portland, Auckland, and New York.
When asked about what #EdmontonsFutureIs to her, Anderson said she pictures a city that offers a lot more choice of housing types and varying modes of transportation. She would like to see more community hubs, or "communities within communities" with multifunctional places - to "stitch the city back together" to help combat urban isolation and improve mental and physical health.
The current phase of the plan ends in November with a presentation to City Council's Urban Planning Committee on the outcomes and values heard during this phase. The City Plan is expected to be completed and before Council by 2020.
Read more about the process, timeline, and upcoming public engagement opportunities at the City Plan website.
What is Edmonton's future to you? Leave a comment below, in our Forum, and be sure to share it on social media using the hashtag #EdmontonsFutureIs.