A controversial redevelopment site is setting the stage to return to City Council again; a new rezoning plan has been submitted to City Administration for the site of the former St. John's School - located on 120 Street just north of 102 Avenue in the Oliver neighbourhood - this time targeting a standard Medium Rise Apartment Zone (RA8).

St. John's School before demolition in June 2015, image via Google Street View

Redevelopment of the site was first discussed in summer of 2016, when Limak Investments proposed rezoning to allow a building up to 16 storeys with 155 residential units. In order to compensate for the shadow the new building would cast over the Peace Garden Park located just north of the site, Limak proposed a land swap that would see a new community garden park built on the south end of the site, and the building pushed north over the existing park land.

Limak sold the site to Abbey Lane Homes in 2017, and that company took over and continued to move ahead with the proposal.

Proposed building by Abbey Lane Homes, image via City of Edmonton

Community concerns were not appeased by the land swap proposal, however, and that plan was scrapped.

In its stead, new proposal was put forward in January of 2018 that would see the company swap the land for another parcel entirely - the northeastern-most portion of Oliver Park at 118 Street and 104 Avenue.

Land swap notice mailed to residents, image via City of Edmonton

The new proposal would have seen the St. John's School site turned to parkland, and the swapped portion of Oliver Park would have seen a much larger development, with a tower up to 23 storeys on the north end of the site and an 10-storey mid-rise on the south portion, with up to 280 residential units along with some street-level commercial space fronting 104 Avenue.

Oliver Park proposal, image via Stantec

The community was divided on this latest proposal as well, however, and the Oliver Community League opposed the development on the grounds that Oliver Park should remain a large contiguous parcel, with the existing parkland and trees preserved.

Community opposition to the land swap, photo by Forum contributor KyleBlanchett

When the proposal went to City Council in April of 2019, much the discussion centered around the legal complexities of the fact that the city-owned land would first need to be upzoned, with the intention of essentially selling it to a private company without opening it up to other bids. As a result, Council defeated the rezoning in a 10-3 vote.

This latest rezoning proposal does away with any land swap, and proposes to use a standard RA8 zone rather than a Direct Control (DC2) as with previous proposals. The RA8 zone would allow a building of up to 6 stories and some limited commercial uses.

Aerial view of the site, photo by Forum contributor Grandinite

A Public Hearing for this latest rezoning proposal has not been scheduled, and seems unlikely to occur until later this year at the earliest, under the current circumstances surrounding COVID-19.

SkyriseEdmonton will continue to follow this proposal as it progresses, however. What do you think of the latest proposal to rezone the site to a standard RA8 Medium Rise Apartment Zone? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, or join the conversation in our discussion Forum.