On Feb. 14, Elvis Pineda learned that the Edmonton Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB) denied the appeal to open a liquor store on the corner of 85 Street and Fort Road in Parkdale. The property is just steps from Pineda’s residence.

The first request for a redevelopment license for a liquor store on the former Veteran Appliance Service had been denied because the site is across from Edgar Millen Park. City bylaws do not allow a liquor store within 100 metres of public lands such as parks.

The news did not reassure Pineda or others who live in the community. Residents of the area contend with catalytic converter thefts, porch pirate thefts, and various acts of violence. They also deal with drug and alcohol addictions and the outcomes of break-ins. They did not want to go backwards with the addition of a liquor store, especially as there are at least five others within 500 metres of the proposed site.

With less than a month to go before the SDAB hearing on Feb. 1, the community committed to action. Pineda walked door-to-door, sharing the news and gathering some 150 signatures against the redevelopment. Online, Kiley Fithen created a petition, which was signed by another 150 people. Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society, two blocks away, added their crucially important voice. The Parkdale-Cromdale Community League posted an online notice. Rat Creek Press published an online article before the hearing with information on ways that community members could add their voices.

On the day of the hearing, both sides of the issue presented their arguments. “I was impressed with the hearing,” says Pineda. “The three tribunal members listened fairly to both sides. They gave us all respect and time to make our positions clear.”

The decision by SDAB, published online on Feb. 14, includes some interesting facts on this well-known corner of the community. A high volume of vehicles pass this way every day. According to data from 2019, Fort Road sees an average of 8,400 vehicles every day, while 115 Avenue sees an average of 9,100 vehicles. Data from the City of Edmonton estimated that 160 pedestrians pass by the location on a daily basis.

The new owners suggested that it was highly unlikely that someone would purchase a legal product from the proposed liquor store and then consume it illegally in the park, which is visible by pedestrians, vehicles, and the nearby dwellings. They anticipated that the majority of customers would walk to the store.

Four community members joined the online hearing, presenting their reports against the appeal. The reports show that details are important. Citing neighbourhood rejuvenation over the past three or four years, speakers pointed out that the goal is to bring the community into a safe environment with a low crime rate. An adjacent neighbour noted that his daughter has special needs, which require constant supervision when she is outside, and that there are many families with children nearby. 

Since moving to the area in 2015, Pineda has witnessed positive change. “It’s such a relief that our voices were heard and respected,” he says. “I saw how institutions like SDAB are a good thing. They were welcoming and unbiased. They never showed favouritism for one side or the other.”

Above all, Pineda recognizes it was the efforts of the community that led to success. “It’s thanks to all the dedicated neighbours who are trying to make this a better place to live,” he says with gratitude.

Those interested can read the report here