One Year Later: Designing Great New Neighbourhoods

Last year, at just about this time (May 22, 2013 – to be exact), Council approved the “Designing New Neighbourhoods” policy, which supports the design of great new neighbourhoods in Edmonton’s Urban Growth Areas. This policy outlines our desire and commitment to create unique, innovative and sustainable neighbourhoods that achieve the following outcomes:

• Neighbourhoods are connected.
• Neighbourhoods are unique and inviting.
• Neighbourhoods are inclusive.
• Neighbourhoods provide residents with convenient access to a full range of transportation options.
• Neighbourhoods support viable uses, services and facilities.
• Neighbourhoods are cost–effective.
• Neighbourhoods conserve and enhance ecosystems and biodiversity.
• Neighbourhood amenities and facilities support the social and recreational needs of residents.
• Neighbourhoods embrace all seasons.
• Neighbourhoods are safe and secure.
• Neighbourhoods are flexible and adaptable.
• Resources are used efficiently and responsibly in neighbourhoods.

12 Months Later: Progress Update
In the busy year since, those of us in the Current Planning and Urban Planning and Environment Branches have been actively working away at implementing the Designing New Neighbourhoods policy.

Two of Edmonton’s Urban Growth Areas – Riverview and Horse Hill – now have Council approved Area Structure Plans (ASP), and the Rural South East is currently in the ASP planning process. Area Structure Plans provide a high-level outline of how a group of neighbourhoods will develop. With Area Structure Plans in place, developers can work collaboratively with the City to prepare new Neighbourhood Structure Plans – which will ensure that all our new neighbourhoods are great places to live.

These neighbourhood plans are informed by the newly-released Neighbourhood Structure Plan Terms of Reference. The Neighbourhood Structure Plans are a framework – they give us a way to achieve a balance between showcasing the vision for a neighbourhood and meeting stakeholder interests. These plans also detail the size, configuration, location of future land use and densities, the location of roads, municipal services and the staging for a new neighbourhood, among many other things in our developing communities.

The Balancing Act
Creating and developing a new neighbourhood in the City of Edmonton is an exciting and challenging prospect. We want to build communities that are healthy, vibrant and sustainable. We’re committed to developing great places that respect the natural environment, honour local history and context and establish a compelling vision for the future. We also need to ensure that neighbourhoods are planned to implement city policies, bylaw and procedures, adhere to provincial statutes and input from various stakeholders and agencies. To accomplish all of these “wants” we need to work in partnership with many city-building partners to achieve great things. In fact, planning a great new neighbourhoods is both an art and a science, and there’s no one single “formula” that ensures success.

That’s why we’re so jazzed about the Terms of Reference – they give us a way forward so we can guide the preparation of our new Neighbourhood Structure Plans in developing areas of the City, and actively advance Council’s vision of transforming Edmonton’s urban form through The Way We Grow. Because hey – who doesn’t want a beautiful, sustainable City to live in? Who doesn’t want to live in a great new neighbourhood?