Bad Rezoning Plans
For many, September really marks the beginning of a new year. Some of us go back to school, some of us send the kids off, and some of us get brand-new community league memberships! It’s been an interesting and highly disrupted year for your league executive, with work changes, relationship breakdowns, disease, and death affecting a high percentage of our most active members. Personally, and on behalf of all who have had a challenging year, I want to thank everyone who has stepped forward to be active and everyone who has been a supportive neighbour.
In mid-September we were disturbed by a rezoning proposed for lands just off the Bissell Centre on 96 Street. Envision the unmaintained “City of Edmonton” building with the flotilla of Canada Post trucks parked around it. The City’s plan is to consolidate this land plus some adjacent properties and rezone from PU (Public Utility) and RA7 (medium density residential) to US (Urban Service) with the stated intent of use as a postal distribution centre. Though the lands are currently neither ideal nor very attractive, the new proposal falls far short of “highest and best use” of a large and consolidated publicly owned piece of land on the LRT line, at the north end of the armature park, and within a five minute walk of Churchill Square.
In fact, this City-driven initiative has the best-case scenario being a one-story warehouse structure with substantial surface parking, large volumes of truck traffic, a low number of onsite employees, and “appropriate landscaping and lighting.” It flies in the face of the City’s stated intentions of Downtown and Neighbourhood Revitalization as stated in policy documents such as “The Way We Green” and “The Way We Grow,” creating urban density.
Though the lands are currently neither ideal nor very attractive, the new proposal falls far short of “highest and best use” of a large and consolidated publicly owned piece of land on the LRT line, at the north end of the armature park, and within a five minute walk of Churchill Square.
Frankly, this proposal is shocking and is indicative that the City still views much of the land surrounding the downtown and along existing LRT infrastructure as worthless and undesirable. Ignoring the hideous urban, environmental, and social planning aspects of this City-driven proposal, we must still be concerned with the choice of US rather than DC (Direct Control). DC zoning is a prescriptive tool as opposed to almost all other zoning types that describe a class which includes a number of automatically or discretionarily approved uses. US zoning contains, mostly as discretionary uses, many of the uses with massive impacts that we are already overburdened with, such as shelters, soup kitchens, and prisons. Our experience is that this discretion is almost universally used to support such projects, at least locally.
On a positively exciting note, we’ve set the date for this year’s Annual General Meeting as October 26 at 7 p.m. in the basement of Sacred Heart Church (10821-96 street). Huge thanks to Fr. Jim for all his work as the League’s Recreation Director and for providing this convenient meeting venue. To participate in the AGM you will need a current McCauley Community League membership (most conveniently available on the EFCL website and, hopefully, we’ll be out canvassing the neighbourhood in late September and October).
Also of excitement is that we now have a Facebook page which you can find by searching for McCauley Community League. As time goes on this should be a very useful tool for quickly and conveniently sharing information about everything affecting our great neighbourhood.