Horse Hill Area Structure Plan (ASP) Public Hearing

When

Mon, February 25, 1:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Tuesday, February 26, 1:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Where

City of Edmonton Council Chambers (map)

Description

The Horse Hill Area Structure Plan (ASP) is scheduled to be presented to City Council for public hearing on Monday, February 25, 2013 at 1:30 p.m.

Following that, people can register to speak for or against the ASP. The hearing will go until 9:30 p.m. on the 25th and then resume on the 26th if there are more speakers to be heard.

Edmonton’s City Council seems poised to approve this plan. This plan reserves virtually none of the farmland in northeast Edmonton and if approved would convert almost all of the remaining 
farmland to residential and commercial use. The Horse Hill Area Structure Plan is the first in a series of three plans that will come before City Council and preserve virtually none of the remaining prime agricultural soil within the city limits.

To register to speak at the Public Hearing, you can contact the Office of the City Clerk at 780- 496-8178. Save the date and plan to join other food citizens to send a clear message to City Council that preserving some of the agricultural land in northeast Edmonton is an important priority.

 

Petition City Council: Please Gather Good Information before making a Billion Dollar Land Use Decision!

Edmonton’s City Council seems poised to approve the Horse Hill Area Structure Plan (ASP). This plan reserves virtually none of the farmland in northeast Edmonton and if approved would convert almost all of the remaining farmland to residential and commercial use.

The Public Hearing about the plan is scheduled for February 25 and 26, 2013, (1:30 to 9:30 both days). This is the first in a series of plans that preserve none of the remaining prime agricultural soil within the city limits.

Please Read and Sign our Petition and come to City Hall on February 25th and 26th!

 

To learn more about this issue CLICK HERE!

Why should you care about land use decisions in Northeast Edmonton?

  • The City and its citizens can’t afford it.  Suburbs are a drain on cities.1 The City of Edmonton has estimated that the infrastructure deficit is $19 billion from 2009 to 2018.2
    • $1.2 billion projected bill for unfunded infrastructure for neighbourhoods already approved for development3
    • $1.2 billion projected bill for unfunded infrastructure for Urban Growth Areas

Essentially, by approving the Horse Hill ASP, Council would be adding  hundreds of millions in infrastructure costs that it has no plan to pay for.  This on top of $1.2 billion in infrastructure costs already committed to, with no plan for how to pay for that.  Developers/homebuyers pay some of the upfront costs for development, building road and sewers, and providing land for parks.  The City has to fund the development of parks; contribute to building larger roads; buy land for and build recreation centres, fire and police stations, and libraries.  The $1.2 billion figure does not include operating costs for recreational and emergency services, snow removal, road and sewer maintenance, road widening, building interchanges, public transit, the list goes on.  In fact, a 2011 City Report indicates on average the City spends $1.36 for every $1.00 it collects in revenue for new developments.4

  • New and aging infrastructure needs in other parts of the city (e.g., LRT and public transit, sewer, roads, police stations, fire halls, libraries, snow removal, etc) will likely be put on hold to support the costs of this new development. There’s already a gap of $10.5 billion between what the City needs and the projected available funding for infrastructure.5  We need to know how the city plans to pay for our long-term infrastructure needs across the city in the context of this current development application.
  • Once soil is paved over, it’s gone forever.  Like taxpayer money, farmland is not a resource to be squandered lightly.  And yet the City in all of its development decisions has NEVER chosen farmland over development. Farmland in northeast Edmonton is clearly superior with assets that include rich fertile soil, an advantageous climate with an expanded growing season, ready access to irrigation water, existing rail and road transportation links, ready access to the urban market, ready access to a labor force and generations of farming experience already there.  None of this is easily transferable. It’s a synergistic blend perfect for new and thriving urban agriculture farms and related businesses and services.
  • The unexplored economic, social, environmental and health benefits for a local food economy are enormous.  The City of Edmonton spent over $750,000 developing their FRESH: Food and Urban Agriculture Strategy.6 The report states on page 5 that “producing more of our food closer to home has current and future benefits including: a multiplier effect on local economic development, agri-tourism opportunities in the food sector, the health-related benefits and cost savings of fresher food, the environmental benefits of ecosystem goods and services and the potential to reduce food waste and emissions from less transportation”. Unlike many resource sectors subject to boom/bust cycles, agriculture is far steadier. In fact, demand for food increases as a population grows and markets develop.
  • This decision will impact the future generations who will be paying for the cost of this residential development and the loss of the urban agriculture opportunities for years to come.  The same vision and forethought that was used to create Edmonton’s world renowned Waste Management System and our River Valley System needs to be brought to our Local Food System.
  • Citizens have asked, over and over, that urban agricultural alternatives and preservation of agricultural land be one of the criteria for future planning and development in Edmonton.  During the development of the Municipal Development Plan, the city The City engaged in a comprehensive public consultation process as part of the development of the FRESH: Food and Urban Agriculture Strategy. Citizens consistently indicated that access to land for growing food and preservation of agricultural land within the city limits was a priority and a sound direction for the city to undertake.7,8,9
  • We are going to need a more locally grown food supply sooner than later. Economists and food system analysts are telling us that there is currently only a two to three day supply of food in our city’s grocery stores. Most of our imported vegetables and fruits are from areas highly dependent on a reliable water source, consistent weather temperature and cheap transportation. As climate change impacts are felt globally this in turn will impact both the reliability and the cost of the foods that we currently have relatively easy and cheap access to.

References:

  1.  Freedgood, Julia (2002). Cost of Community Services Studies: Making the Case for Conservation. American Farmland Trust.  (Fact Sheet Summary – http://www.farmlandinfo.org/documents/27757/FS_COCS_8-04.pdf
  2. Gilbert, R. (2011, March 28). Infrastructure Plan Sorely Needed to Address Deficit. Journal of Commerce: Western Canada’s Construction Newspaper. Retrieved January 19, 2013, from http://www.joconl.com/article/id43581
  3.  City of Edmonton. (2012). Growth Coordination Strategy, Draft 5.
  4. City of Edmonton (2011). Costs & Revenues for New Areas. http://www.chba.ca/uploads/urban_council/Oct2011/Tab%206%20-%20Costs%20and%20Revenues%20for%20New%20Areas%20-%20City%20of%20Edmonton%20paper.pdf
  5. City of Edmonton. (2012). 10 Year Capital Investment Agenda. http://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/documents/Approved_2012_Capital_Investment_Agenda.pdf
  6.  City of Edmonton’s FRESH: Food and Urban Agricultural Strategy, October 2012. http://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/documents/FRESH_October_2012.pdf
  7. City of Edmonton’s Public Opinion Survey, September 2012. http://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/documents/Food_and_Ag_Public_Opinion_Survey_Report_Sept_2012.pdf
  8. City of Edmonton’s Citizen Panel, September 2012 http://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/documents/Food_and_Ag_Strategy_Citizen_Panel_Report_Sept_2012.pdf
  9. City of Edmonton’s Stakeholder Focus Groups, September 2012 http://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/documents/Food_Ag_Stakeholder_Summary_Round_2_Sept_2012.pdf

 

If the land could speak

My heart is sorrowful. In our church we have had much discussion about caring for the gift of creation that we are all part of and that we are called to be stewards for. In the past few years, preserving the agricultural land in northeast Edmonton has been a matter of much prayer, prayer that city councilors would value the integral spirit of the land and preserve its giftedness for us and for future generations. 

At the public hearings for the City-Wide Food and Agricultural Strategy at city hall this fall, I heard one of the majority landowners state that as long as they could not build on or develop the land they considered it “sterile”. The land can’t speak for itself. But if it could I am sure it would most vigorously object to being called “sterile”.  It would say, “Me?  Sterile?   Out of my womb I am providing you every year with thousands of pounds of vegetables, potatoes, carrots, spinach, cabbage, and berries of all kinds. Those who want to sterilize me have been minimizing my importance to you, but let me assure you, if am allowed to produce I will greatly enhance the food quality and security for your children and their children’schildren. Not to brag, but I am special compared to other lands. In the spring, because I am in the river valley, I wake up two weeks earlier then the rest of the land and in the fall I go to sleep two weeks later. If you have a garden you know the great difference four weeks can make in growing vegetables. Most lands in Alberta are best suited for grain crops.  I, in contrast, am superbly suited for your essential root crops.  I am a sandy loam soil and, with my partner the great Saskatchewan River hydrating my body through irrigation, I am able to give you, my Edmonton friends, a great wealth of fresh fruits and vegetables. One acre of potatoes will provide 400 families with 100 pounds each—enough for a year! One acre of fruit and vegetable growing can net from $6300 to $30,000 per acre in production depending on the size of the farm, the farming practice and the type of produce grown.  The ones farming here today love me, not just because they are making a good living growing vegetables, but because they honour me for what I am able to produce.” 

As Edmontonians we are proud of having 27,400 acres of parkland in the city; to preserve another1400 acres for agriculture along the river in the northeast is a pittance, less than 1% of the area of the City as a whole. So why is city council nixing that vision? Is it because city council is under a spell of so-called urban progress, or is it as some have suggested they are beholden to the developers, either in being their friends or having had campaign contributions from them?  If the latter is true they need to come clean and refrain from making decisions on this land. The farmland in question is too precious to be sold for 30 pieces of silver.

Hundreds of citizens came to the hearings in favor of preserving the land, but this did not convince city council to even explore the possibility of retaining the land before approving a development plan that will rezone the land for residential development. City council is ready to throw away a once in the-history-of-Edmonton opportunity. We need to break the spell that blinds our leaders to our real needs and hopes for the future of our city.

People of faith have been instrumental in changing the politics of the day. Think of the civil rights movement, the Mackenzie pipeline hearings, and now Idle No More. My prayer is that the people of faith in Edmonton will once again offer up their own living prayers.  Perhaps some of us will write our Councilors and ask them to take the time to gather good information before making any land use decisions for Northeast Edmonton.  Maybe we could attend the February 25 and 26 Northeast Area Structure Plan public hearings at City Hall and invite everyone we know to be there. Perhaps faith communities could organize petitions to city council.  Some of us might even sign up to speak on behalf of the land and future generations.

Can we the people advocate for the land to be used in a way that gives life to all including future generations?  In faith, prayer and action all things are possible.

Reverend Harry Kuperus is a retired pastor and chaplain living in Edmonton.

 

8 Facts on True Costs of Losing Farmland to Urban Sprawl Economic Benefits of Farmland Preservation

Economic Benefits of Farmland Preservation

  • Over 80 Costs of Community Services Studies done across the United States find that agricultural “…lands make a positive fiscal impact, while residential development is a financial drain.” [1] Essentially, citizens subsidize developers.
  • Studies in other municipalities have shown that residential development of open space land often costs cities (taxpayers) more than the added tax revenues from the new homes, and purchasing land to preserve open space can have lower taxpayer costs than allowing development.[2]
  • Many studies have found that people are willing to pay more for houses close to farmland.  This can increase property tax revenues to a point that makes farmland preservation self-financing.[3]
  • Each dollar invested in soil conservation would save society more than five dollars.”[4]
  • Farmland is the living foundation of all material wealth.  Classical economics neglects the fundamental problem of resource depletion – “…we simply cannot afford to view agriculture as just another business because the benefits of soil conservation can be harvested only after decades of stewardship, and the cost of soil abuse is borne by all.”[5]

The Costs of Sprawl

  • The City of Edmonton has estimated that the infrastructure deficit is $19 billion from 2009 to 2018.[6]
    • $1.2 billion projected bill for unfunded infrastructure for neighbourhoods already approved for development[7]
    • $1.2 billion projected bill for unfunded infrastructure for Urban Growth Areas

Essentially, by approving the Horse Hill ASP, Council would be adding another $1.2 billion in infrastructure costs that it has no plan to pay for.  This on top of $1.2 billion in infrastructure costs already committed to, with no plan for how to pay.  Developers/homebuyers pay some of the upfront costs for development, building road and sewers, and providing land for parks.  The City has to fund the development of parks; contribute to building larger roads; buy land for and build recreation centres, fire and police stations, and libraries.  The $1.2 billion figure does not include operating costs for recreational and emergency services, snow removal, road  and sewer maintenance, road widening, building interchanges, public transit, the list goes on.

  • The Canadian urban population grew 45 percent between 1971 and 2001.  The amount of urbanized land grew 96 percent during the same period; we have more than doubled our use of land per person.[8]
  • “Powerful levers are working in a manner that directly undermines the objectives of planning, smart growth, and the curtailment of sprawl.” [9] These levers result from municipal fiscal policies that allocate costs to households on the basis of average use rather than proportional to actual costs of different types of development and from other poorly designed policies that create mis-pricing and market distortions.


[1] Freedgood, Julia (2002). Cost of Community Services Studies: Making the Case for Conservation. American Farmland Trust.  (Fact Sheet Summary – http://www.farmlandinfo.org/documents/27757/FS_COCS_8-04.pdf

[2] Crompton, John L. The Impact of Parks and Open Spaces on Property Taxes. The Economic Benefits of Land Conservation. The Trust for Public Land. http://www.tpl.org/publications/books-reports/park-benefits/the-economic-benefits-of-land.html

[3] Lynch, Lori. (2007). Economic Benefits of Farmland Preservation. The Economic Benefits of Land Conservation. The Trust for Public Land. http://www.tpl.org/publications/books-reports/park-benefits/the-economic-benefits-of-land.html

[4] Montgomery, David (2007). Dirt:  The Erosion of Civilizations. University of California Press.

[5] Montgomery, David (2007). Dirt:  The Erosion of Civilizations. University of California Press.

[6] Gilbert, R. (2011, March 28). Infrastructure Plan Sorely Needed to Address Deficit. Journal of Commerce: Western Canada’s Construction Newspaper. Retrieved January 19, 2013, from http://www.joconl.com/article/id43581

[7] City of Edmonton. (2012). Growth Coordination Strategy, Draft 5.

[8] Blais, Pamela (2010). Perverse Cities. UBC Press. http://perversecities.ca/

[9] Blais, Pamela (2010). Perverse Cities. UBC Press. http://perversecities.ca/

 

Jackie Clark, Horse Hill Berry Farm on Urban Agriculture

Urban Agriculture: Janelle Herbert of Riverbend Gardens, Edmonton

Senior Care

Next Senior’s Team Meeting is January 24th at 10:30am at St. Theresa’s Catholic Parish 7508-29 Ave

The Senior’s Team is collecting information from seniors about the services they need or they think they will need as they age, services which will help them to stay at home for as long as possible. We have hosted 3 house meetings so far.
 
Early results show that it is soft, domestic services they predict they will need in order to stay in their home. People are generally satisfied with the medical services available but the other services like housekeeping, snow shoveling, simple house maintenance, personal care, are the ones that are either not available or are too expensive.

Although most of the participants were over 65, some of the people who were not seniors had some valuable input for us. Many of them were caregivers of parents and other elderly family members.

We would like to have more house meetings in our GEA institutions. To that end we will be calling the delegates or institutional leaders to offer them the opportunity to host a house meeting and be part of this project. Please speak to Elaine if you are interested in finding out more about hosting a meeting.

Representatives of the Team met this week with Fred Horne, the Minister of Health. We asked him these questions:

  • What is your government’s vision for helping seniors to remain in their own homes for as long as possible?
  • What is happening within the Health Department and/or between departments to make this happen?
  • How can the GEA Seniors Team assist the process?

The Minister spoke of initiatives in his department:

  • the Seniors Property Tax Deferral to be implemented next year
  • consideration of a refundable Seniors Wellness Tax Credit
  • moving access to Home Care into the community via the new 140 Family Care Clinics and the current Primary Care Networks. Each of them will have an Advisory Committee of community members.
  • Model being set up for care and support of the homeless after they are housed could be extended to care for seniors staying in own homes.

Our conversation included possible other options for service delivery via churches, seniors’ centres, other social enterprises not yet in existence!

The Senior’s Team raised these issues which need to be addressed by government:

  • inadequate training of home support staff
  • low wages for support staff even though the agency charges are out of reach for many seniors
  • absence of standards of care

Significantly, Minister Horne said the government has moved from consultations which are event-based to individual MLAs consulting within their constituencies. Get ready to meet with your MLA to tell him what you want.

The Seniors Team is without a co-chair and is in danger of disappearing should no one step forward to take that position. I am currently a co-chair without a “co”. There were 18 people at our team meeting this week. Three of them were observers three of them were members we co-opted to come to meet the Minister of Health.

Two asks happened at the Strategy Meeting:

1. Consider hosting a house meeting to gather information about services needed by seniors at home as they age.

2. Volunteer as the co-chair of the Seniors Team

To host a house meeting or volunteer as a co-chair contact Elaine at lainey@telus.net.

Senior’s Care Focus on Home Care
After 35 months and 26 + meetings the Seniors Team received wholehearted support for the project they presented to both the Institutional Leaders Caucus and the Strategy Team on February 23 at the Catholic Archdiocese conference centre.The plan includes house meetings in member institutions to answer the question, “What home care services are essential to help seniors remain in their homes for as long as possible?”
Armed with this background information, a campaign will be developed. Allies will be recruited among seniors’ advocacy and social organizations and the people and politicians holding the power in this area of health services will be identified. People in our member institutions will be asked, for example, to:
  • write and/or call their MLA and the premier
  • write and/or call the Minister of Health and the director of Alberta Health Services
  • attend rallies or demonstrations
  • participate in a small GEA group meeting with politicians and/or the leadership in Alberta Health Services
The Seniors Team will provide scripts and training for people to raise their comfort level and skill in carrying out these vital activities.The Team considers this is a winnable situation and we are grateful for and excited by the support we received at the Institutional Leaders Caucus and the Strategy Team meeting.

There is a critical staff shortage in long term care facilities

On April 12th, 2010- GEA’s Senior’s Care Team brought a new voice to the legislature as they began a series of small team meetings with MLA’s regarding improving conditions for seniors in Alberta, particularly in terms of Long Term Care Funding.

Thanks to the meeting with Dr. Sherman GEA will now be meeting with other ministries and health officials related to important Senior’s issues.

GEA’s Senior’s Team has begun researching and organizing around the following components of Senior’s Care:

– Increased Funding to Continued Care Facilities and ensuring the proceeds from the sale of Alberta Savings Bonds actually goes toward Continuing Care.

– Changes to the Alberta Building Code to allow for more senior’s friendly housing.

– Increase funding for training of continuing care workers.

– Developing community owned not for profit pilot seniors housing and care projects.

Mark Winne on Food

Local Foods Update ~ October 2012

Since 2008, the Local Foods Team has been working on the issue of strengthening our local food system and economy. In 2010, the City of Edmonton passed progressive policy (the Municipal Development Plan or MDP) which stated:

before any of the remaining land in the City’s boundaries that is currently zoned agricultural could be rezoned two key strategies would have to be developed: a City Wide Food and Agricultural Strategy (CWFAS) and a Growth Coordination strategy (GCS). They also approved a vision for Edmonton as part of the MDP : “Edmonton has a resilient food and agriculture system that contributes to the local economy and the overall cultural, financial, social and environmental sustainability of the city”. It was the first time in Edmonton’s history that local food and food security were included as part of the planning parameters of the city. This policy happened only because citizens of Edmonton organized themselves with the support of GEA’s member institutions and turned out over 500 citizens three times to City Hall during the two year process. We moved from being food consumers to food citizens…actively engaged in shaping food policy for our city and region.

 

Since 2010, we have continued to actively engage citizens in the ongoing discussion as to their concerns and imaginations about the future of food and the preservation of agricultural land in Northeast Edmonton. As part of our citizen engagement, we hosted Local Food Training in June. As well, several GEA leaders have participated in both the Advisory Committee for the Horse Hill (Northeast Edmonton) Area Structure Plan (hosted by Waltons, Cameron Development and other key landowners in NE Edmonton) and the Food and Urban Agriculture Project Advisory Committee (hosted by the City of Edmonton). Debbie Hubbard has been the GEA representative on the Food and Urban Agriculture Project Advisory Committee since its formation in October 2011. In September 2012, we hosted a workshop facilitated by Miistakis Institute and invited a variety of stakeholders to learn about tools and mechanisms for conserving agricultural land. (land trusts, conservation easements and transfer of development credits) We were very fortunate to receive a $30,000 grant from Alberta EcoTrust that has supported our work on this issue.

 

However, there are many competing interests and views in the City about what should happen to the remaining land zoned agricultural in the City.  Pressure is mounting to rezone it and move quickly into development. GEA believes that a win-win solution to those competing interests is possible but that it will take leadership from the City and time to work through a process. All landowners deserve fair compensation for their land. However, through the Municipal Government Act, the City has been given the responsibility to make decisions that protect the long-term interests of all citizens and not the short-term interests of people wanting to make windfall profits. http://www.edmontonjournal.com/travel/OpEd+fork+city+path+future+pave+save+prime+northeast/7287309/story.html

 

Just as with our earlier action with the Municipal Development Plan, we need folks to flex their citizenship muscle. Plan to come to City Hall Council Chambers on October 26.  There will be a public hearing for the City-Wide Food and Agricultural Strategy from 9:30 to 5:30 pm. Come for the entire day or for whatever part of the day you can. This will be the only Public Hearing that citizens can have a say in the content of the Strategy. It will be held before the Executive Committee (Mayor Mandel and Councillors Sloan, Leibovici, Diotte and Krushell). They will decide whether to send the Strategy back for more work or on to the full City Council for a decision. We know that a citizen presence at City Hall does and can make a difference.


Alberta Ecotrust Logo