Neighbourhood renewal program brings much-needed upgrades
Neighbourhoods are susceptible to the ravages of time, and to help, the City of Edmonton has the neighbourhood renewal program for older neighbourhoods like ours.
Considering renewal affects all neighbourhood residents, it’s worth knowing how it works. Renewal includes repaving neighbourhood roads, replacing street lights and sidewalks, and enhancing some park spaces. Collector roads such as 111, 115, and 118 Avenues, and 95 and 97 Streets are not included. Property taxes, provincial funding, and cost-sharing with property owners fund a renewal.
This year, two of our neighbourhoods will be under construction: Spruce Avenue, south of 114 Avenue from 97 to 104 Street and Alberta Avenue, south of 114 Avenue from 89 to 97 Street. Blocks will be closed as old sidewalks and pavement are removed and rebuilt. Residents may have to access their properties from the alleys.
Construction can be lengthy and may impact residents.
Verna Stainthorp, president of Spruce Avenue Community League, says Spruce Ave’s renewal is half done and will be completed this year.
“[The construction] was well organized. There was some disruption, of course, but not as much as we anticipated,” says Stainthorp. “The City was very good in keeping us informed. Overall, it went quite well. There’s still a lot of touch-ups to be done.”
Most neighbourhoods take two years to complete a renewal, but it depends on the neighbourhood’s size. Alberta Avenue, for example, will take four years.
“Construction is expected to start during the week of May 6, pending the progress of locating existing utilities. Construction is tentatively scheduled to start on 112 Avenue, between 95 Street and 91 Street,” says Lyn Fluet, acting communications advisor with the City.
“I think it’s really a once in a generation opportunity for us to reimagine and recreate our neighbourhood. Although I know that nobody likes construction, I hope that the end product is infrastructure and other improvements that support the vibrancy and connectivity in the neighbourhood,” says Brendan Van Alstine, president of Alberta Avenue Community League.
Before renewal begins, the City assesses infrastructure in everything from roads to sidewalks to cracks. If conditions are poor, then that neighbourhood will be given priority.
Parkdale was the first neighbourhood in our area to be renewed around 2008-2009. Cromdale, Delton, and Westwood were renewed in 2014-2016. Spruce Avenue is wrapping up this summer while Alberta Avenue is starting. Eastwood and Elmwood Park are in the consultation phase and renewal begins in 2020.
The City works with community leagues to help engage the neighbourhood in the planning process. Ongoing consultations and meetings are open to the public. The meetings serve as a way to collect feedback from the community and is taken into consideration, along with factors like City policies, programs, and technical considerations. The City seeks input on streets and pedestrian connections including bike lanes, safety, accessibility, parks, and underused facilities.
It’s important for community members to attend so their voice is heard early in the planning process; it can be difficult to make changes once final designs are made. Renewal affects all residents with changes like reduced parking, bike lanes, increased property taxes, and construction. Share your thoughts and stay informed.
Eastwood and Elmwood Park’s renewal begins next year. Community consultation meetings for both those neighbourhoods has already started. The next public meetings are May 1 and 4.
Erin Campbell, Eastwood’s communications director, urges community members to attend. “It’s really important for the community to be heard and for the renewal to have a good impact.”
Midway through the consultation process, community leagues may present their residents with decorative street light upgrades, which come with a small additional cost to property owners. In order for this to go ahead, 50 per cent plus one of a sample size need to vote in favour of them. There was not enough support in any of our neighbourhoods for decorative street lights thus far.
Property owners receive a local improvement notice for the cost associated with sidewalk reconstruction four to six months before reconstruction begins. At this time, they can petition against it. It takes 50 per cent plus one of property owners in a section of the neighbourhood to stop sidewalk renewal in that project area.
The cost to a property owner for new sidewalks on a 33 foot wide lot is approximately $2,065, paid as a lump sum or added to property taxes at about $150/year over 20 years.
This program should not be confused with the alley renewal program, which aims to renew and rebuild alleys, or the neighbourhood revitalization, which sets neighbourhood goals related to physical, social, and economic improvements and often includes streetscape renewal of major commercial aerial roadways. The Avenue Initiative Revitalization included new streetscaping on 118 Avenue.
Should you have any concerns, contact the City or your community league.
Project manager: Donny Fung, 780.423.7441.
Meetings on May 1 & 4, Eastwood Hall
May 1, 5 to 8 pm
May 4, 10 am to 1 pm
Featured Image: Neighbourhood renewal works on improving or replacing infrastructure, like these residential roads. | Karen Mykietka