Thursday, June 13, 2013

paving over more farmland

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.


Anonymous said...

Take a good hard look at the Councillors really pushing this agenda and what they might have to gain...Also, from an infrastructure perspective, does it make sense? Edmonton is suffering from sprawl, this will dramatically increase population and traffic in the region. Goodbye farmland, goodbye quiet community, hello developer kickbacks.

Anonymous said...

I attended the meeting too and was more than a little dismayed that the idea of paving over farmland is a foregone conclusion-all we were being asked to do was tell them what color of pavement we might prefer. I think the whole process is very manipulative. Speak out against The Node and ask your candidate where they stand on this issue.

Christie said...

From my perspective, growth is a given. We keep having babies, people keeping moving to Alberta, and there must be places to live. Unfortunately not everyone is going to be able to live on idyllic 80 acre pieces of property anymore - somewhere, something has to give.

However, I agree with you that farmland is not the best place - one of the people I talked to mentioned that they had also considered another area in the County that wasn't farmland. I have no idea why they didn't choose that spot, and if that's still open for discussion, I'm happy to talk to my candidates about it. But if this is done deal, they'll have to somehow try to make something good out of a poor location choice.

Anonymous said...

Hi Christie,

My name is Anna Iannucci, and I'm part of the consultant team working on the Bremner Growth Management Strategy. Thank you very much for your interest and involvement in the process so far! We really appreciated your thoughtful engagement at the visioning session. As part of our outreach strategy, we have created a blog for the project, and we are trying to connect with other members of the Strathcona County blogging community. If you are interested, please feel free to post on our blog, link to it, or share it with other local bloggers who you think might be interested.