I went to a community meeting tonight. The county in which I live (Strathcona) is preparing to start a brand new city within the confines of the county in the next few years, to accommodate for growth. The small city will, of course, be on top of what is now excellent agricultural land.
Tonight I chatted with a woman whose land will be subjugated by this new city, whose farmland has been in the family for 100 years. I am frustrated by her loss, and yet, this evening was very exciting for me.
I went to the "visioning meeting" tonight to put in my two bits about sustainability, and was pleasantly surprised at what I heard. Of course there were a few community folks at the meeting who were pushing for larger lots and further-away neighbours, but there were also the people who desired a greater community feel, to maintain natural parkland, and to allow only light industry.
Those who are actually designing the city are planning to make it more grid-style to allow for an excellent and usable transit system and easier walk/bike-ability. Here's a quote from their 'citizens bulletin':
"Bremner offers the opportunity to shrink our ecological footprint by using land and infrastructure more efficiently. Planning interconnected neighbourhoods and mixed-use centres within walking distance from homes will reduce dependency on the motor vehicle. Building energy-efficient homes and infrastructure that minimize storm-water run-off are also ways to be more sustainable."
This city will not be another suburb. This will be a high-density city - hoping to fit twice the population of Sherwood Park into a town slightly smaller than Sherwood Park's general boundaries (Henday to Hwy 21, Hwy 16 to Wye Road). A few people were disappointed that this wasn't going to be another suburb to build another, bigger home when the current 3000 square foot home is no longer enough.
But I'm encouraged by the fact that, if we're going to pave over farmland, we are at least going to maximize it into what will hopefully be an environmentally innovative, beautiful little city.
And if it all pans out the way it's supposed to, I may even want to live there one day.
PS. If you live in Strathcona County and are interested in getting involved in the visioning process, there's another Community Visioning Session on Saturday, June 15 from 9-12 in the Community Centre. Register here.