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'Legally that can't happen': Edmonton councillors hope to alleviate fears raised during district plan debate

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On Day 3 of a public hearing into the City of Edmonton's new district plan, councillors heard more 'lockdown' and 'World Economic Forum' concerns.

"Densification is one thing, and 15-minute cities is quite another thing," said Clare Kuehn, one of the registered speakers.

"It was heartbreaking to see people with real fears over things that they heard on the internet that have nothing to do with the planning that we're doing right now," said Aaron Paquette, Ward Dene councillor.

"We've heard from folks who felt like they were going to be locked down and obviously that was made clear that can't be the case, and legally that can't happen," Andrew Knack, councillor for Ward Nakota Isga said.

City staff said the district plan is meant to be a detailed look at amenities and housing that already exist throughout the city and to guide future development decisions.

"Edmonton is a car city," said Paquette, adding that it's "not going to change in our lifetime."

Knack said it's about giving people choice.

"It's not saying you shouldn't drive or you can't drive," he said.

"It's saying do we have good sidewalks, do you have good bike paths, do you have good transit and if you have those things and you have the opportunity to have commercial amenities close to you, you have the choice to make a different decision."

Speakers aren't the only ones who have differing opinions on whether the new plan should be pushed forward.

Knack put forward a referral motion which would mean it goes back to administration to do more work to clarify parts of the plan.

"If we’re going to be doing development as a city of two-million people, where will that development occur, can we actually put that in a map that people can see more easily and use to help inform what’s going to happen within their community?" he said.

If that happens, it could be 2026 before the district plan comes back to council for another public hearing process and approval.

"This is an important body of work we shouldn’t rush it through," said Knack.

He believes policies in the City Plan can be used until that time.

"There’s nothing in it that is so erroneous that requires stalling it for a year and a half," argued Paquette.

He said a delay would also cost upwards of $3 million at a time when the city is trying to save money.

"Everything that’s in the referral motion could also be handled with a subsequent motion," Paquette said.

He would like to see the district plan approved now.

"One of the other things it will do is show people that it's just a district plan. There is no other larger plan in this,"Paquette said.

"A lot of the fear that some people in the community might be feeling will be able to be addressed immediately as they see the city just goes on as usual."

The decision on whether to approve the district plan likely won't happen for a few weeks.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jeremy Thompson

  

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