The simple white building on the corner of 85 Street and 115 Avenue was once a neighbourhood hub. Veteran Appliance Service was well-known as owner Wayne Coffin’s fix-it business.
Over a year ago, a fall curtailed Coffin’s ability to run his unique enterprise. Although he is now healing, he sold his property.
A new owner began looking to repurpose the Parkdale property. He applied to the City of Edmonton for a license to open a liquor store. The City denied the permit application because the site is 20 m from Edgar Millen Park, a public green space. Liquor stores must be 100 m from public lands. The new owner is appealing the decision.
Neighbours are speaking up. Their actions are a textbook for anyone asking, “What are my options if I want to be heard about proposed changes in my area?”
This month, nearby property owners received a notice in the mail from SDAB (Subdivision and Development Appeal Board of Edmonton) that the application to change zoning and open a liquor store had been denied.
Jennifer Stewart, a community advocate, received a letter. She wants residents to know that they can make their opinions known about proposed changes in their neighbourhoods. Options include writing letters and emails, signing petitions, attending appeals, contacting City councillors, and participating in community league Facebook pages.
Stewart says she values positive relationships within the community. “It’s important to me and to my family. There are many children who walk and play outside.”
Parkdale and adjacent communities have worked hard over the past decade to revitalize and renew the area which includes Cromdale, Alberta Avenue, Delton, Eastwood, and others.
The SDAB invited community members to submit a written response to the appeal. Letters like this are submitted by email to email@example.com.
They also invited residents to attend a virtual appeal hearing a few weeks away, on Feb. 1. Residents can access the hearing by accessing https://meet.google.com/. Click on “enter a code or nickname”, then enter svd-hpmg-ydf. Or, join by telephone by dialing 587-786-4053 and enter PIN 885 569 814. Join the video conference 20 minutes before the scheduled time in case of connectivity problems.
The SDAB is an independent tribunal made up of Edmontonians to hear appeals.
Elvis Pineda and Jeremiah Valleau live across the street from the former Veteran Appliance site. They walked the neighbourhood, collecting signatures opposing the liquor licence.
“Most were surprised because they didn’t receive a letter from the City,” says Pineda. It appeared that only those less than a block away received the SDAB letter.
Valleau points out that Parkdale and other nearby communities recognize the presence of vulnerable people, both housed and insecurely housed. “Many struggle with addictions. A liquor store would be detrimental to their recovery process. We don’t oppose local business at this site, just not a liquor store,” he says.
Another local resident, Kiley Fithen, created an online petition opposing the proposed development. It was circulated online by way of the Parkdale-Cromdale Community League Facebook page.
Residents also wrote letters to Ward Métis Coun. Ashley Salvador.
Kristina Palmer is president of Parkdale-Cromdale Community League, located just a few blocks away from the site.
The role of a community league can’t be underestimated, Palmer says. “As a community league, we have a mandate to act as a conduit between residents and members, the City of Edmonton, developers, businesses, and neighbouring communities. We enable community members to express opinions and direct the future. Effective and honest engagement is essential to garnering support. It allows people to advocate for the wants and needs of themselves and their neighbours.”
Having a voice is crucial, adds Palmer. “People want to feel their opinions are valued and respected. Community is a powerful thing. Every community deserves to have its voice heard and its opinions valued. We want to create resilient, attractive, well-thought-out communities where people want to live. Advice and feedback from current residents are essential pieces of this very complex puzzle.”
The presence of the much-loved Edgar Millen Park across from the proposed liquor store can’t be underestimated. In 1932 in the Northwest Territories, the so-called “Mad Trapper of Rat River” shot 31-year-old Const. Edgar Millen.
“The park is a lovely oasis in our community,” says Valleau. “It has a bench and nice foliage. The plaque honoring the constable brings history to life.”