The Pulse: June 7, 2024

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  • 19°C: Sunny. Wind northwest 30 km/h gusting to 50. High 19. UV index 5 or moderate. (forecast)
  • Blue/Gold: The High Level Bridge will be lit blue and gold for the Edmonton Riverhawks, who are playing their home opener against the Nanaimo NightOwls at 7:05pm. (details)
  • 18 km/h: It has been a windier-than-average year in Edmonton, with an average wind speed of 18 km/h and average wind gusts of 39 km/h from April to June. (details)
  • 6pm, June 8: The Edmonton Oilers play the Florida Panthers at Amerant Bank Arena for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. (details)

A photo of a farm field in the middle of Edmonton.

Council to decide if U of A's proposal to redevelop farmland into housing can start planning

By Stephanie Swensrude

The University of Alberta Property Trust's plan to develop West 240 on a 200-acre parcel of agricultural land it owns, situated west of 122 Street, east of the Whitemud Creek Ravine, and between the Lansdowne and Grandview Heights neighbourhoods, could gain traction on June 11, when city council votes on whether to allow it to develop a required statutory plan.

When you see the area, the U of A farm sticks out with its acres of rolling fields smack in the middle of the city. The university has farmed the area around South Campus for more than 100 years, and in 1930 expanded that practice to the land now proposed for West 240. At the time, the farmland was on the outskirts of the city. Now, residents of the nearby Grandview Heights and Lansdowne neighbourhoods use the fields for cross-country skiing in winter, watch crops grow in the summer, and wrinkle their noses when farmers spread fertilizer in the fall.

But the university said it no longer needs the land for institutional purposes and has planned to develop it into a mostly residential neighbourhood with an estimated future population of about 7,000 people. Following a provincial order in council in 2020, the U of A has examined developing several of its land parcels, including West 240 and a nearby development called Michener Park.

In May, city council's urban planning committee recommended that council should approve the University of Alberta Properties Trust's request to create a new statutory plan — specifically, a neighbourhood area structure plan — for the West 240 development. Such a plan determines where municipal services like water systems, roads, schools, and parks will be provided in new developments. The plan also sets housing density targets and identifies how development will be staged over time.

While the neighbourhood area structure plan is still to come, the trust has been engaging with Lansdowne and Grandview Heights residents for more than a year about what the new neighbourhood will look like, the trust's president Greg Dewling told Taproot.

"The neighbours have seen farmland for close to 80 years — i.e., the entire time that Grandview (Heights) and Lansdowne have been there, there has been farmland," he said. "So, any change in a neighbourhood is difficult for some homeowners."

The West 240 Master Plan Concept, which was finalized in December, lays out a potential future for the land. Dewling said neighbours suggested limiting vehicle access between the old neighbourhoods and the new was their main concern. A road and an alleyway between Grandview Heights and West 240 are the only two access points proposed.

The second-most important concern neighbours raised, Dewling said, was that the closest housing needed to blend in with the surrounding neighbourhoods. Houses will back onto the Lansdowne neighbourhood and face onto the Grandview Heights neighbourhood across 62 Avenue, according to the master plan. "We wanted to make sure that it looked in as much as possible similar to what was across the street, or across the alleyway," he said. "We didn't want to put six storeys right on 62nd Avenue — I think that might not have been received as well."

However, the trust is planning for taller buildings elsewhere in the development. The master plan recommends rezoning 16% of the land for buildings between six and 20 storeys tall. The tallest are planned for along 122 Street. Still, the trust plans for more than half of the neighbourhood to be a maximum of three storeys. "Through the core of the site you'll see density in our master plan concept that really focuses on an active core that's master-planned," Dewling said. "Along the perimeter, on the north and south and of course, along the ravine top of bank, we'll see a lot of single-family homes."

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Headlines: June 7, 2024

By Kevin Holowack

A title card that reads Taproot Edmonton Calendar:

Happenings: June 7-9, 2024

By Debbi Serafinchon

Here are some events happening this weekend in the Edmonton area.

And here are some upcoming events to keep in mind:

Visit the beta version of the Taproot Edmonton Calendar for many more events in the Edmonton region.