Edmonton appeals Sturgeon development plan
City seeks clarity on Villeneuve, heartland, St. Albert regions
By: Kevin Ma
| Posted: Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014 06:00 am
Edmonton has thrown a roadblock in the path of Sturgeon County’s municipal development plan – one that, if not removed, could lead the city to veto the plan at the Capital Region Board.
The City of Edmonton filed an appeal of the county’s municipal development plan (MDP) at the Capital Region Board (CRB) on Feb. 7.
The appeal means that the city does not support the plan in its current form and wants it debated and voted upon by the board’s 24 members.
Edmonton has an effective veto in such debates due to the board’s voting structure.
All MDPs must meet the requirements set out by the board’s growth plan before they can be passed by their local councils.
The board’s administration found last January that the MDP met all those requirements and recommended its approval. Had Edmonton not appealed the plan, the MDP would have gone back to county council for approval and implementation.
Peter Ohm, the manager of urban planning that reviewed the MDP on behalf of the City of Edmonton, said the city filed its appeal due to unanswered questions about the county’s border regions near St. Albert, its plans for Villeneuve and its plans for the industrial heartland region.
“The exercise of moving an MDP through three iterations over the course of eight months was pretty fast,” he said, referring to the plan’s multiple revisions.
“The opportunity wasn’t there for meaningful discussion.”
St. Albert had not filed an appeal as of Tuesday, one day before the end of the 14-day appeal period.
Mayor Nolan Crouse would not say if the city plans to file an appeal, saying only that it would “remain silent” in this matter.
“Much of the work that was done in the last update of the MDP was satisfactory to St. Albert,” he added.
As board chair, Crouse said he had advised Edmonton and Sturgeon County to delay any board vote on the MDP so they could work out their differences.
County Mayor Tom Flynn was confident that Sturgeon and Edmonton could come to an agreement, and noted they had several weeks to talk about it before the plan went before the board in March.
“We may be able to satisfy their concerns.”
Edmonton’s concerns deal with three parts of the MDP: Neighbourhood G, which covers the regions north and west of St. Albert and Edmonton; Neighbourhood E, which covers Villeneuve; and Neighbourhood I, which covers the Sturgeon Industrial Park.
Much of Neighbourhood G has been zoned as a priority growth area (PGA) in the CRB’s growth plan. This implies that it should be subject to intense, urban-style development.
“It wasn’t clear to us how (this area) was going to be developed and by whom,” Ohm said.
Edmonton is concerned that the county would try and develop this area on its own, creating a new town near Edmonton’s borders.
Edmonton is also concerned about Villeneuve, as the MDP projected growth there in excess of what the board’s growth plan would allow.
“They were on the way to creating a new town,” Ohm said.
While previous versions of the county’s area structure plan for Villeneuve proposed to add about 6,000 residents to the hamlet in 60 years, the MDP predicts an addition of just 919 residents to the Villeneuve region by 2047. The county is currently working on a new area structure plan for Villeneuve.
As for Neighbourhood I, Ohm said that while Edmonton is aware of the county’s plans to turn it into an industrial node, this region isn’t listed as such under the CRB’s growth plan.
While this might have been an oversight, Ohm said the growth plan should be changed to allow for this industrial node before the MDP creates it.
“If (the growth plan) needs to be changed, there’s a process to do that.”
Edmonton wants to talk with Sturgeon and work out these issues before the MDP goes to a vote, Ohm said.
“We’ve got a number of weeks with which to have that dialogue.”
It would be bad news for the region if Edmonton vetoed this MDP despite the board administration’s approval of it, Flynn said.
“The region has to work together to plan for the future. If one part of that (region) feels they have absolute control of it, it won’t ever succeed.”