It’s not “crap”, it’s just not very good.

molson

I promised myself at one point this past winter, that I’d make the time to head down to the Molson Brewery and spend some time taking pictures of brick, and masonry..and history. Passing by the site today, I see that a dismantling of the Molson sign has begun. It might have started a while back, but I noticed it today. If were moving forward with an unpopular development proposal for the site and expecting media cameramen to make an appearance, I’d probably pick this as a good time to have an iconic feature removed from view.

Folks in Oliver have a great community league. It’s active, it’s engaged, it’s forward thinking, and it’s home to the next generation of volunteers on which the future of the community league system will depend. As a community league civics director, and as a member of the Federation of Community Leagues Planning Committee, I’ve been impressed by how they’ve approached the proposed redevelopment of the Molson Brewery over the past year.

Identifying concerns with the site’s proposed rezoning, it’s amenities, and a lack of residential uses on a downtown property along a major transit corridor; The Oliver League has connected with all the right people. They’ve held community meetings. They’ve developed positive recommendations and have been ready and willing to work with city planners and the property owner to develop something positive for the area, for downtown and for the preservation of it’s history.

And today Council passed a proposed rezoning which pretty much ignores all of that. The kind of decision that ends with volunteers leaving forehead sized dents in the fabric walls outside Council Chambers.

The Mayor and Council that famously promised “no more crap” didn’t exactly pass crap today. They just did what they’ve frequently done over and over again, in simply accepting what was deposited at their door. Councillors are meant to be the keepers and dreamers of a city’s vision, someone else could be the status quo rubber stamp society.

It’s the legal role of the Sustainable Development department to process applications to rezone a property. And herein lies my challenge to the next Council that will take shape at the end of October.

Rebuild the road that leads to you.

It’s the job of planners to prepare zoning applications and bring them to Council. They don’t have to like them, and they don’t have to recommend them, they simply have to prepare them for Council’s consideration. Outside of that, our planning and development process is open to a world of change. We don’t hire individuals trained to simply process applications. We hire educated, professional urban planners. Minds that can interpret and articulate a city vision. That can work with engaged stakeholders and incorporate input from all sources into a recommendation for Council.

Council could have sent today’s rezoning application back to city administration for reconsideration. Or city administration could have gone to Council with an additional alternative proposal, built collaboratively with all interested parties, and with our planners’ own sense and vision of what they want for the core of our city.

Voters will pick new faces for Council in October. Which of those, if any, will take on the role of changing the face our city’s administration. The city has hired some excellent individuals to work in it’s sustainable development department. Encourage them to come to Council with more than cookie-cutter proposals built on narrow vision and input. Developers in Edmonton aren’t known for being particularly experimental or open to taking risks. Don’t be afraid, current and future Councillors, to say ‘no’ once and awhile, and show them that the risk they perceive, might just be a great development that a community wholeheartedly wants.

Edmonton Molson brewery site rezoned amid controversy – Edmonton Journal

Edmonton city councillors approve controversial Oliver plan – Metro Edmonton

Controversial rezoning of Molson brewery site approved by council – CBC News

 

4 Comments

  • Deke
    August 27, 2013 - 7:14 am | Permalink

    There are several issues the Oliver Community league refused to accept making their plan flawed. Their ideas were good and at some point will be valid, just not today and although we may not like the results, they were the right one.

    We’ll ignore the issue of a 200 member community league speaking for 8,000 residents and move onto the main points.

    First, residential competition is too strong right now to make living on the 104 corridor viable to the densities proposed. 105 Ave, City Centre, the river valley, and Downtown all pose better alternatives to 104. You can ask for residential all you want, but without LRT, it isn’t going to work.

    Secondly, there’s no LRT. This is a future TOD site. With no guarantee of a station or LRT. In a city that is car centric, for today.
    Third, 104 ave is major arterial roadway with over 25,000 vehicles per day. It is not 104 street, a quiet pedestrian environment. No amount of building frontage will change this. The site is locked on three sides with pure residential development. The ability to create an interesting and engaging street is hard when its only a block long.
    The alternatives really were leaving it undeveloped until the city and its consumers were ready to buy the product Oliver was selling or, developing with flexibility to increase density as the market would allow.
    It may not have been a popular choice, but probably the best choice forvtoday

  • Tim
    August 27, 2013 - 5:17 pm | Permalink

    We don’t build for today we build for tomorrow. Buildings outlive the time they were conceived in. Without building for an LRT, we have effectively made the argument to invest in one on the monstrosity that is 104 Ave weaker.

  • Ed
    August 28, 2013 - 4:44 am | Permalink

    The T in TOD stands for Transit, not Train. 104 is ALREADY a transit corridor. That, more than anything else, has been driving me nuts in this debate.

    Additionally, TOD is more about walkability than transit, and in a neighbourhood that’s walkable, that’s appropriate. There were many options for this site that would have improved walkability, even without building adding residential units. The big thing is being able to access stores without first wading through a sea of parking. The original Crosstown site plan (before ownership was consolidated with the Molson site) was still a strip mall, with similar amount of parking. But it was accessible from the street so that people getting off a bus might actually walk into a store, instead of just passing it by.

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