#City & Town Planning
Edmonton City Council

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We, the undersigned residents of Edmonton, ask City Council to do two things:

Firstly, we the undersigned ask Edmonton City Council to change the May 2nd 2011 date of the Public Hearing regarding Bylaw 15737 (changing the Zoning Bylaw from CNC to DC2 to allow a four story apartment housing development @ 95 Street and 113 Avenue), and an associated amendment to the Norwood Neighbourhood Improvement Plan.

Secondly,We the undersigned, also ask City Council to not approve this Bylaw change, and therefore this development due to plentiful and serious issues and deficiencies in the Community Consultation Process. We the undersigne believe this shows an seriously appalling lack of democracy in our fair city of Edmonton, Alberta.


Since the date of this hearing coincides with that of the Federal Election, employed residents of the neighborhood will have to choose between voting and attending the hearing sometime in the afternoon of May 2nd.

Therefore we the undersigned would like to respectfully request that the hearing be held at a later date.

Local news outlets reported that the Scona Road closure has been delayed to allow voters to access the polling station at the Pioneer's Cabin.

Out of respect for the democratic process, give residents of Norwood similar consideration, and not place them in the position of having to choose whether to vote or attend this public hearing. This is not a fair choice for people to have to make.


We the undersigned want to express the concerns surrounding rezoning to accommodate a proposed project planned to be built in the distressed community of Norwood. The project, Norwood Village, planned for the entire east block frontage on 95 Street between 113 and 114 Avenues proposes to install a massively oversized subsidized housing development comprised of 155 units of mixed income undersized apartments which are allegedly geared towards families.

The method that has been used thus far to bring this project forward seems to be contradictory to the stated intent to consult with and include the community in the plans for the future of our Norwood.

Further, the sheer scale of this project will require that our Neighbourhood Improvement Plan NIP will require amendments that contradict the intent of the plan.

There are a number of concerns we have with project itself which are not limited to but include:



The Consultation Process

There were two meetings organized by the Planning and Development department about this project. The second was asked for by a number of residents who were able to attend due to the issues with the first and usually only meeting for this size of project in the community.

Meeting 1
February 1, 2011 - Approximately 100 people in attendance.
The nature of this meeting was presented to the attendees as an information/consultation session with the community to provide information and receive feedback from concerned citizens. The purpose of the process was to start the dialogue necessary to work towards the end goal of having the subject property rezoned from Community Neighborhood Convenience (CNC) to Direct Control provision (DC2).

To describe this meeting as an utter failure would be kind. The meeting was so poorly organized and executed that those in attendance left with little to no information. Further, the notion of receiving input on this development was lost in the commentary about the farcical way the meeting itself was conducted.

While the community came together in the spirit of providing input to the process, we left the meeting being insulted by the distinct lack of respect for our time and our contribution. Some specific shortcomings of this meeting are as follows in no particular order:

The advertised meeting start time was different in various publications.

Neither the proponent nor the city presenter came to the meeting with functioning equipment to give a prepared presentation. This result was that important information regarding the specifics of the development was not freely and widely available to those in attendance.

There were no prepared agenda, display boards, drawings or indeed any specific information available about this project either physically or verbally.

The takeaway handouts provided were missing important attachments referenced in the handouts making them useless. These included proposed drafting of the building.

The response to the majority of the questions asked of the presenters began with the words, “we don’t know”.

The purpose of the meeting was supposed to be to discuss the rezoning application but there was little conversation about the rationale behind the necessity to locate this particular project on this particular property and therefore why the rezoning should be supported. There was also little conversation on how this project would impact the Community Statutory plan and therefore little indication just how this project would integrate into the broader community.

The only conversation that seem to be free flowing was a high level conceptual discussion about the merits of the building itself rather than how the project would fit well into the community. Again this was a rezoning application, not a Development Permit application so discussion about finishes, colours and possible design was really not the point of the meeting and therefore served only to draw the focus of the meeting away from its intended goal.

Feed back from concerned citizens were blunted by this meeting. Comment forms were provided to allow the attendees to provide feedback even though there were no pencils or pens provided to complete these forms to leave behind.

The city presenters provided a fax number so that residents could instead fax their commentary to the city presenters after the meeting. Unfortunately, the fax number provided was indeed not a fax number, but rather a regular land line.
There is an issue that the community response relied on the participants having access to a fax machine.

Giving the wrong number made faxing in community feedback impossible or best extremely onerous upon the participant.

The repeated requests by those in attendance to have another meeting when the city or proponent were sufficiently prepared to meet with the community, could utilize a working computer, provide all of the relevant documents and useful information, were refused.

This refusal suggested to the attendees that the purpose of this meeting was not so much to inform the public, but rather to placate the minimal requirements of the consultation process.

In fact the attendees were informed that the next step would be to bring the rezoning application to council and thus no additional forum to receive community input would be entertained.

Neither the city staff nor the developer were well versed or indeed even familiar with the conditions within Norwood or the surrounding core communities.

For example, items like the quality of life index which used by the City of Edmonton in other policy decisions, should play a major role in deciding where projects of this nature would be situated in the city.

This was clearly not a document that either parties were familiar with. Surely the issue of the extreme concentration of subsidized housing and poverty in the core communities that have been widely publicized over the past two years would be an issue that would be germane to this development.

However when asked about the issue, the city staffers seemed to have a very skewed opinion of how that issue would be relevant in this situation and therefore dismissed the questions on this issue as not being pertinent to Norwood.

The point that this project is to be located only 2 blocks away from McCauley with a 61% concentration of Subsidized Housing was not considered relevant.
There was nondisclosure of important information at both of the meetings.

No revelation to the attendees was made that the development was to be a “city demonstration project” that had already been granted a significant inclusion in the Cornerstones funding plans for the 2011 budget.

When directly asked whether or not the proponents of this project had applied for funding, the accurate yet misleading answer was that “no, a funding application had not been made” even though the proponents would have known, and the city presenters ought to have known, that 2 million dollars had already been earmarked for this project via Cornerstones.

Meeting 2
February 28, 2011 – Open house.
As the nature of this type of come and go meeting suggests, there was no formal presentation made and therefore the attendees had to rely on their own initiative to come up with probing questions to illicit a response from the officials in attendance.

The way it was set up, three widely spread tables manned variously by the proponent and three city staff was not conducive to open conversation. The benefit of any intelligent questions that may have been asked by the attendees was therefore not shared by anyone beyond those in ear shot of the individual conversation; provided of course the questions were adequately answered.

Attendees did have the opportunity to review the plans close up, but as it was a drop-in format open house, there was no clarity about whether this was really just a development application, or whether this meeting was about a major rezoning application which runs contradictory to the intent of the community Statutory Plan.

Feedback From Concerned Citizens

In light of the dismal performance at the previous meeting, there should have at least been a second attempt to correct the deficiencies of the first meeting at the second, yet the second meeting made no such attempt. Without the background information that should have been provided during the first meeting, the natural progression to this second meeting was interrupted and thus pointless. We were left wondering about the most basic understanding of the project and are still wonder just what the community can expect should this project go forward.

Clearly the effort put into both of these meetings was not so much about actual community consultation, but rather about minimally satisfying the basic steps as outlined in the process laid out by the province as it regards community consultation so that the proponents can thus claim that they have consulted with the community.

Both of these meetings were nothing but a patronizing waste of time.

In spite of the willing participation of a substantial contingent of community residents and representatives, a clearly articulated desire for concise and clear information on this project, and a real concern for how this project will affect the community, the undersigned find that we are no better informed now than we were prior to the consultation meetings.

Here are some excerpts of what one resident of Norwood and long time community volunteer, had to say of the process in a letter sent to City Council:

“I am feeling entirely discouraged and betrayed by the City at this time. For all the meetings that have been held, all the vision statements yielded from Town Hall meetings ...even to our Neighborhood Plan..."

“(A)ll of them were (focused on {edited}) keeping the single family dwelling feeling in our neighborhood and limiting low income housing developments….”

“(A)ll this without agreement of the constituency. How is that democracy? How is that respectful?”

“I request that there be a referendum about this matter in our neighborhood. Barring that, I request that this item be deferred to a later date to allow for us to properly represent ourselves at this meeting.”

The Purpose of Community Consultation

Walter Trocenko, Manager of Housing Branch Planning & Development Department for the City of Edmonton clearly articulated the true purpose of the consultation process during the March 1, 2011 Council Meeting discussing the future direction of the Cornerstones program.

In that meeting Walter discussed with Councillor Kim Krushell how the consultation with the community process is actually quite irrelevant to making a decision.

It seems from his explanation that even if the community flatly rejects a project, provided the proponent has made a good effort to consult and answer the community’s concerns, then the Province will give approval for a project on the community’s behalf.

This explanation would thus seem to make the consultation process and the community’s opinion irrelevant.
In essence it is simply a process to tell people what is coming, not to ask them if they actually want it.

Also, this interpretation of the process seems to contradict Minister Jonathon Denis’ assertion that the province has no hand in influencing the location of projects within a particular community.

That is to say that if the Province is not in the business of locating projects that they or the city funds, then it can also not act as contradictory agents for the citizens who are unmistakably in opposition to inclusion of a project in their community, even if the steps of the process were adequately executed.

Clearly the process is not about consultation, but rather it is about fulfilling steps in a process regardless of the community response.

The exact transcription of that discussion is as follows:

Krushell: (1:11:31) "On the good neighbourhood agreements, right now that is a provincial requirement, correct?"

Walter Tracenko:"That is correct"

Krushell: "And their requirement is that the... you consult with the community and then if the community is not willing to sign on said project then the province will sign on their behalf. Is that correct?"

Walter Tracenko:"That’s correct, they’ve developed a kit of tools for community engagement,

they lay out the expectations, they understand that communities with all the best of intent and all of the other hard work that other’s may do in terms of engagement, and trying to work through a process, to garner consensus, that may not be achievable,

and if the community doesn’t sign and the Province thinks that it was a good process then the interests of the community are being addressed, they will sign on, on behalf of that community."


We the undersigned are extremely concerned about the issue of funding for this project and just how that funding will go towards influencing the councils’ decision on zoning.

One would suppose that for a fair assessment of a particular project to be granted a rezoning application, the City Council should act on the merits of the application and not be influenced by the promise of funding should the project be advanced forward.

That is to say that if a funded project comes to council, then council should not be influenced to approve zoning lest they should deny zoning and the opportunity for funded housing should be lost.

The Cornerstones program, however, has earmarked 2 million dollars specifically for this particular project in the 2011 calendar year. Even though the project has not yet been approved or zoning put in place, the opportunity for another project located in a more appropriate location is completely lost in this calendar year since all the available funding has already been allocated.

This project has not even applied for funding, yet funding has been earmarked.

Council also knows full well from the March 1, 2011 session on Cornerstones’ future plans, that this project has a commitment of 2 million dollars that cannot be allocated to another project this year.

Council will be fully cognizant of that fact. So if they should deny rezoning based on merits of the project, they will effectively be denying additional affordable housing brought into the city’s housing pool for not only this year, but probably the following year as well since any new project would need to go back to square one and start again.

Consequently, we the undersigned recognize the process of the rezoning application has been tainted by the presence of the earmarked funding. Allocated funding that has not been formally granted.

Funding should not influence zoning, but evidently that will not be the case in this application. In essence, the plan for the communities future as outlined in the NIP is being sold off piece by piece.


We the undersigned, know that to go forward with this project will clearly rezoning if situated on this property. The NIP is quite succinct on just what should go where in the community in order to fulfil the mandate of that community driven plan.

The problem thus is that the property reserved for Community Neighbourhood Convenience (CNC) would be transformed by this project into some form of housing which is not permitted in CNC zones. But what kind of housing? One would assume that the DC2 zoning would need to be informed by an existing zoning type that would be compatible with the single family residential zones surrounding this property. Perhaps something in the way of an RA7 zone or an RF6 zone would suite to the area. Yet investigation finds that this is not the case.

It appears from the March 1, 2011 Cornerstones report that this project is being informed around a heretofore unbeknownst zoning type, namely RT7. The cornerstones project and Walter Tracenko call this project a “Demonstration Project” that has never been tried anywhere in Alberta.

We are informed however that the RT7 zoning type was a new zoning type that was considered in June 2009 at the request of the Executive Committee. However, in October 2009 the zoning was considered unworkable and was therefore not presented to Executive Committee when it came due that month. Rather, another new type of zoning was to be investigated called Street Oriented Zones but to this date that zoning type has not been developed.
That begs the question, exactly what zoning type is this project based upon?

Certainly its massing covering an entire block front does not fit into any of the zoning types currently in play and thus we find it difficult to discern just how this project will affect our community.

Investigation also shows that based on the few details the community can access, this planned project does not fit within the provisions of the DC2 as outline in the Municipal Government Act nor does it fit within the planned Medium Scale Residential Infill overlay (MSRI) that is coming before council in the near future.

This project seems to be based on a whimsical untested idea that strives to rebalance the populations in affected communities. It is based solely on the notion that more subsidized housing can be introduced to stressed neighborhoods if it is tempered with market housing in the same complex.

Percentages of populations would not change but the quantities would be radically different. While that notion may have merit in unaffected communities, it clearly has no place in stressed communities like Norwood, or adjacent to devastated communities like McCauley that have more than their fair share of problem developments.

Demonstrations and experimentation in communities on the verge of collapse is obviously not what these communities need. What they need is implementation of solid well tested planning practices that have known positive outcomes for the community they affect. If demonstration is the order of the day, then those demonstrations need to be carried out in communities that can bear the brunt of a yet another failed experiment. Neither Norwood nor McCauley can afford any more mistakes in planning practices.

We, the undersigned residents of Edmonton, ask City Council to change the May 2nd 2011 date of the Public Hearing regarding Bylaw 15737 (changing the Zoning Bylaw from CNC to DC2 to allow a four story apartment housing development @ 95 Street and 113 Avenue), and an associated amendment to the Norwood Neighbourhood Improvement Plan. The hearing should happen in mid to late May in order to properly get feedback from concerned citizens.

We the undersigned, also ask City Council to not approve this Bylaw change, and therefore this development due to serious issues and deficiencies in the Community Consultation Process. We the undersigned serious believe this shows an appalling lack of democracy in our city of Edmonton.

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The Edmonton City Council: Respect Community Consultation on Norwood Development petition to Edmonton City Council was written by Chris Hayes and is in the category City & Town Planning at GoPetition.