Fate of City Plan is in next council's hands, says Speaking Municipally

· The Pulse
By Karen Unland
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The mayor and council that Edmontonians elect on Oct. 18 will be in charge of a "once-in-a-generation" renewal of the city's zoning bylaw that will have a huge effect on how the city is planned.

The Zoning Bylaw Renewal Initiative is partway through a comprehensive overhaul, and much of the work is slated to take place through 2022.

"We don't do this often," said Speaking Municipally co-host Troy Pavlek on Episode 151 of Taproot's civic affairs podcast. "So this next council could either push us forward... (or) it could set Edmonton back not just four years, but a generation."

After budget deliberations in the fall, zoning will dominate the agenda, agreed podcast co-host Mack Male. That means the fate of the City Plan that was approved in December of 2020 is in the new council's hands.

"Who we elect on Monday and their views on the zoning bylaw and on urban planning in particular are really going to make or break how much of City Plan we start to realize in Edmonton," Male said.

The Taproot Survey quizzed candidates on three matters related to urban planning:

A screen capture of how the mayoral candidates answered three questions about planning on the Taproot Survey.

Here's how the mayoral candidates landed on the Taproot Survey's planning questions. Mike Nickel, Vanessa Denman, and Augustine Marah have not completed the survey. Rick Comrie and Abdul Malik Chukwudi have since said they endorse Nickel.

Most of the 67 candidates who answered Taproot's survey said they support the idea of bringing the 15-minute districts described in the City Plan to life, with the difference being around whether they think council should rely mostly on zoning decisions to make it happen (37 candidates) or use every tool at its disposal, including financial penalties and incentives (20 candidates). Incumbents were pretty evenly split between those two options, as were mayoral candidates.

Most of the incumbents, as well as mayoral candidate Amarjeet Sohi, said council has shown the right amount of flexibility under the current zoning bylaw, but most of those seeking election for the first time (34 candidates) said council has been too flexible under pressure from developers, while 15 — including mayoral candidates Cheryll Watson, Michael Oshry, and Kim Krushell — said it has not been flexible enough to make way for development.

The majority of the candidates (38) said they supported the city's current approach to infill, with 13 opposing it because it harms the character of mature neighbourhoods, nine opposing because of gentrification, and three opposing because it interferes with market forces.

The podcast also touched on the Valley Line Southeast LRT, Ada Boulevard's bridge, and Kalen Anderson's new role with the Urban Development Institute. They also made election predictions and discussed Pavlek's up-and-down week in election commentary.

If you haven't voted yet, there's still time to take the Taproot Survey to see which candidates in your ward align with you best. You can find more information on Taproot's Election Guide. And when the polls close at 8 pm, watch the results come in on Taproot's dashboard.