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Taking a long view into the future

At one time, I might have come down on the “it’s my right” side of thisquestion. But as Edmonton grapples with becoming a sustainable city, Inow think it’s a privilege.

Is living in one of the more remote subdivisions of Edmonton a right or a privilege?

At one time, I might have come down on the “it’s my right” side of this question. But as Edmonton grapples with becoming a sustainable city, I now think it’s a privilege.

In the past few years, the city has approved quite a bit of residential development on the fringes of the city. Whether or not this should have been allowed to happen is open to debate.

However, what’s not debatable is the fact that urban sprawl comes with a high price tag, both environmentally and economically. Except for developers and residents, there is no real benefit to the city having done so.

However, our municipal mavens may be rethinking whether or not we really need or want this kind of development to continue unobstructed. Three items in the news lately may show that we are finally getting a handle on exactly what kind of city we want to be now and in the future.

The first is the suggestion that developers pony up a transportation assessment when land is developed. The rationale is that when the population has grown to a point that warrants it, the city would provide bus or LRT service to the neighbourhood.

This is thinking that looks beyond the present and takes a long view to the future. We are an automobile dependant city, and that is neither desirable nor sustainable. Providing LRT access to far-flung communities would reduce the number of cars coming into the downtown each day and save on infrastructure maintenance costs.

For some developers this signals the end of the world. Somehow I don’t think so. For far too long we have let the tail wag the dog when it comes to developers.

That’s exactly what happened when the city allowed the building of monster houses on the edges of the river valley, thus denying the public visual access to one of the major additions to our quality of life. Some council members are asking if this was the right thing to do. Good on them.

The third thing that perhaps shows a different kind of thinking coming to the fore is the continued approval of high density housing in neighbourhoods close to the downtown. If we want to be a sustainable city, increased densification of existing neighbourhoods is crucial to reaching that goal.

 
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