Leading the way with innovative design for streets and new neighbourhoods

Written by: Kalen Anderson, Senior Planner, Urban Planning and Environment & Stephanie McCabe, General Supervisor, Transportation Planning

As our city continues to grow, change and become increasingly diverse, our planning and design strategies need to become more responsive and adaptive. This is evident as Edmonton is continuing to lead the way with two new policies governing how we design new neighbourhoods and streets around the city in the future.

At the foundation of these two policies is a collective willingness to embrace innovation and try new things, a tolerance for taking reasonable risks, and a commitment to working together creatively.

One policy is about building great new suburban neighbourhoods; the places where we and our friends, neighbours, co-workers, loved ones and fellow citizens make our homes, communities and build our lives together.

The other policy is about building great streets – both brand new ones as well as rehabilitating older ones – that not only help us move around efficiently, but also enhance the quality of the journey along the way and become special places in their own right.

On May 22, 2013 Edmonton City Council approved the Designing New Neighbourhoods policy (C572) and the Complete Streets policy (C573).

These two policies both clearly state that we know what we want our streets and new neighbourhoods to deliver at the end of the day, while acknowledging that there are many different ways to get there. We will be charting these routes dynamically together as creative design solutions are explored over time.

In new neighbourhoods, Edmontonians can expect to see diverse, integrated and well-connected suburban communities that provide access to amenities, nature, recreational opportunities and many other key features.  No two neighbourhoods will be the same, but all will achieve the 12 outcomes established in the Designing New Neighbourhoods Policy.

As we build new streets and rehabilitate our older ones, Edmontonians can expect to see roadways that function both as places and as links. We’ll see streets that respond to and enhance their surrounding environment, and that are designed to enable a variety of travel options.  All streets will not be the same. They will be designed to work best for the users of the roadway year-round and respond to the needs of the immediate area and larger transportation system. This vision is established in the six principles of the Complete Streets Policy.

Ideas for how to implement these policies are provided in the Complete Streets Guidelines and in the Guidelines for Edmonton’s Future Residential Communities.

Thanks again to the many Edmontonians who participated in developing these two projects over the past year. Please stay tuned for updates on how the implementation process for the Designing New Neighbourhoods project is going as well as for how the Complete Streets pilot projects and implementation phases are developing over the coming months and years.

With this new policy direction, city-builders, citizens, and political leaders will continue to work together to help raise the bar for our city – a city that is young, vibrant and growing. Being a community of choice for existing residents as well as newcomers is critical to Edmonton’s long term competitiveness.

Fostering great neighbourhoods to live, work and play in that are seamlessly integrated with, and enabled by, terrific street design, will help Edmonton create the spaces and places where people want to be.