Ah the suburbs … it sometimes feels like Edmonton is nothing more than an endless collection of them.
Admittedly, Edmonton does have its more urban landscapes such as Whyte Avenue, Alberta Avenue or 124th Street. But particularly in the last 50 or so years, Edmonton’s expansion and development has been mainly focused on creating new, ever-sprawling and generally low-density suburbs.
In the 1950s and 1960s, issues such as peak oil and climate change were pretty much unheard of and suburbs developed primarily as residential neighbourhoods, while the so-called “main streets” that characterized the more urban neighbourhoods disappeared, as people opted to commute to their work, shopping and leisure.
And the preferred mode of transportation for the suburbanites, of course, remained private automobiles.
Today, in spite of our numerous advances, it sometimes feels like little has changed — the city continues to sprawl outwards, and the vast majority of commutes are made in cars.
But that might finally be changing.
Planning is now underway for the Heritage Valley Town Centre — Edmonton’s first major suburban transit-oriented development.
OK, so maybe this development, located in the far south-west quadrant of the city near 127th Street SW and 28th Avenue SW, is not exactly the antithesis of urban sprawl, but with a good mix of higher density housing, shops, offices as well as a possible post-secondary campus and hospital, this is not exactly your typical suburb either.
The Town Centre development is expected to be centred on a future LRT station; to be developed when the current south line expands beyond 23rd Avenue.
Also planned is a “main street,” which has been compared to downtown’s 104th Street by Tim Brockelsby, a senior planner with the city.
This is part of an overall shift towards making communities less car-focused and more self-sustaining, including more localized activities and better access to transit, to help reduce car-dependence.
Developers hope to have a public hearing on the development at city council by the end of the summer.