EDMONTON - Edmonton developers are working on a proposal that will eventually see 68,000 people living on what’s now mainly farmland south of Mill Woods.
It’s the city’s last unplanned corner, almost 2,000 rolling hectares dotted with hundreds of ponds, marshes and sloughs.
Engineers, urban planners, transportation experts and representatives from real estate companies spent hours at a city council hearing last week presenting their vision of a mixed-use region linked by interconnected wetlands, parks and open spaces.
“It will provide an extraordinary asset for the future residents of the Decoteau (area),” said Stantec Consulting Ltd. planner Nancy MacDonald.
“It will establish a legacy for the southeast.”
But not everyone is happy with the blueprint created over the past 2 1/2 years.
A half-dozen small landowners, who generally weren’t involved in producing the plan, complained to councillors the maps show a disproportionate number of undevelopable wetlands on their property.
They fear that will cut the value of their investment and favour the big players.
Marilyn Loh and her husband Leonard own 20 hectares of farmland near Edmonton’s southern boundary that includes a 100-year-old stand of aspen.
One field is wrongly identified as an environmentally protected wetland, she said.
“By putting environmental reserve on my land, you are signifying to a purchaser … they can buy my land without having to pay me any compensation for that wetland,” she told councillors.
“We love our land, and we agree there is a wetland there. We don’t know how much is there.”
Several councillors also want to create a more sustainable city by boosting Decoteau’s projected population density, which Coun. Michael Walters said “kind of bobs along around the minimum.”
Industry experts insisted the current blueprint is a high-level estimate, and the number of residents will likely grow slightly once plans are prepared for individual neighbourhoods.
That’s also when details about the location and number of wetlands being preserved will be worked out, they say.
But most councillors aren’t satisfied with the bylaw as it stands.
They sent it back so city staff and the proponents can consider increasing density and employment space, as well as review wetland and natural area maps.
The issue is scheduled to return to council March 16.
If councillors like the proposal, they can pass two of the three required readings, but before becoming law it needs approval by the Capital Region Board.
What is Decoteau?
Decoteau is an area structure plan for Edmonton’s southeast urban growth area.
Decoteau’s boundaries are 50th Street, Ellerslie Road-Anthony Henday Drive, Meridian Street (Strathcona County border) and 41st Avenue SW (Leduc County border).
An area structure plan lays out the framework for future development, showing where homes, shops and offices should be, proposed population density and the general location of roads and utilities.
There will be five communities in the area, with specifics laid out in the neighbourhood plans.
Seven companies are behind the proposal, including Brookfield Residential and Rohit Land Development. They own about 25 per cent of the land.
Source: Edmonton Journal