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Month: May 2012


For close to a century, Edmonton’s form of volunteerism and community involvement has been unique.  Channelled through the community league system, many, many volunteers have helped to build amenities, provide programs and guide community development, from Edmonton’s first Community League (Crestwood) to its most recent addition (Griesbach).

Individual Leagues and the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues have changed, adapted, and even when necessary, cleaned house in order to serve the needs of edmontonians and community.

The Community League movement has reached another transition point in time as the EFCL reaches out to a younger generation, while the demands of day-to-day life continue to slowly deplete local volunteer ranks.

It isn’t just volunteers and board directors that are needed, it’s the broader direction, inspiration and sustainability that can only come from a League’s membership base, lest a movement that’s contributed so much to Edmonton’s growth, sees its resources, and its capabilities, go underutilized, undermanned, and undirected.  While the talents and abilities of so many Edmontonians, which could be directed towards improving their neighborhoods and city, go untapped.  We need Edmontonians to see the value in this unique system, we need the support and encouragement of the community at large, and we need local Leagues to be open, warm, and welcoming places for residents, ideas and new volunteers.

The Matching Under 40s and Community Leagues events are a great and innovative step in this renewal process.  I believe however, the opportunity exists here to do far more.

We live in a time of decreasing involvement in the political process, where voter turnout, particularly at the civic level is unfortunately, and perhaps even dangerously low.  While at the same time, the next generation goes forth needing more and more skills to meet the demands and challenges placed upon them..

The Community League movement isn’t just a way to help your neighborhood and city, it can provide a gateway to public policy, governance, civic involvement, and even an education all it’s own.

My story, I joined the Glenwood Community League, was elected as its civics director, and encouraged by fellow board members, who despite my inexperience, pushed and supported me to advocate on behalf of our neighborhood with city administration and our civic and provincial representatives.  I went from someone apathetic about government, who rarely voted, to someone who ran for elected office, and became passionate about governance and public policy.  Along the way I’ve met so many wonderful people and learned far more than I could have hoped for, all while being able to give back to the community I call home.

For Leagues, here is the opportunity.  To welcome and encourage Edmonton’s next generation by inviting new talent, new ideas, and creating welcoming volunteer opportunities.  In particular, in the role of civic advocacy and involvement.  Our neighborhoods are changing, our city is looking to grow inward, mature neighborhoods are undergoing revitalization efforts, and residents are looking more and more to live locally through new and revitalized amenities, and alternate modes of transportation.  Perhaps, a perfect opportunity for a new generation of residents and community volunteers to jump into.

Area 6

The City has completed a round of public consultation exercises for the Mill Woods to Lewis Estates LRT line, featuring an additional session last night for “Area 6 -149 Street to Lewis Farms Transit Centre”.  A previous go-around had us west-end folks crammed into the Meadowlark Community Hall, seemingly well beyond the hall’s fire capacity.  A second night and larger venues this time around were more than welcome.  Before I forget something, a quick run-through of some of yesterday’s discussions..

Grant MacEwan is on the move, vacating their Jasper Place arts campus in favor of a centralized operation downtown.  The city is negotiating to buy the site, which opens up some interesting opportunities for future use.  Councillor Sloan made the suggestion, of adding public washrooms at a mid-point in the west line.  The city’s potential ownership of the Grant MacEwan site and the rest of the south-east corner at 156st and SPR makes this a logical point in the line, to do so.

The next stop to the south is 95th avenue and 156st.  97th avenue is part of a designated bike trail through the Jasper Place area, and bike lanes are going to be installed along 95th.  As such, we had a good discussion at our table about bike storage facilities, namely something that serves a dual-purpose as a form of public art.

Transit Oriented Development is of course an issue.  The TOD guidelines have been approved, and communities now have a desire to see some specific area planning done around their stations.  Staff were on hand who commented that TOD planning would be done along 156st, and full Area Redevelopment Plans are on the horizon for Glenwood, Canora, West Jasper Place and Britannia-Youngstown, though no time-table was available.

The flow of people and vehicles after construction was discussed.  Along 156st there was a desire to see the installation of signalized pedestrian crossings at several intersections.  For Glenwood, we again recommended moving our neighborhood’s signalized entrance/exit along 156st, from 97th avenue to 98th.  97th becomes a free-way at times, wide and open, allowing for high-speed cut-through traffic in the neighborhood.  98th on the other hand dead-ends, inhibiting such behaviour.  For the 170st overpass, there was a desire to see a pedestrian bridge incorporated in the design.

We all had a strong desire not to see transit stops and public realm investment becoming generic installations.  Rather they should be tailored to the history, character, and design of their host communities, for example, an olde town feel in older areas such as Glenora and JPlace.

Finally, the biggie, the west’s status, as staging plans have construction of line starting in Mill Woods and ending eventually in the west..  With several community league reps at the table, it’s probably no surprise that discussion turned towards advocacy.  Specifically what communities and stakeholders can do along the lines of helping to secure funding from higher levels of government, and to encourage desired modifications to the final design.  There’s strength in numbers and as we head back to report in to our individual league’s, we’ll see what grows from this spark.



Battleship Grey

I know there’s a few painted utility boxes in Edmonton, but no formal program seems to exist here to encourage replacing the battleship grey or greenish hues with some color. Perhaps something worth considering.


Applications now open for the painted utility box program

Spring is here – soon flowers will be blooming, birds will be singing and most exciting of all, new utility boxes will be getting painted!

The City of Calgary invites local and area artists to submit proposals to create art on City utility boxes at various locations throughout Calgary.