‘We’re worried’: Hundreds protest affordable housing project next to school
About 400 people took to Keheewin Park Wednesday to protest an affordable housing proposal they say is “too big and too close” to Keheewin School.
“The 20-metre distance, we just feel is too close,” said parent and area resident Lyndsey Olsen.
Capital Region Housing wants to build a 135-unit development just north of the school, on 1.5 hectares of land deemed surplus.
Capital Region Housing said the mix of unit types has not yet been finalized, but that the homes would be accessible to a range of types of families, including seniors and those with children.
The project is one of 19 similar surplus school site developments across Edmonton.
On Wednesday, Keheewin residents planted stakes and strung construction ribbon to mark the development's proximity to the school, which they say would see a fence constructed approximately 20 metres away.
Residents at the protest were concerned the project, which includes four-storey apartments and townhouse units, will bring increased crime, traffic problems and parking shortages.
“There are all kinds of ‘what if’s’ and we’re worried, mainly for the safety of our kids,” Olsen said. “It’s not just a few of us that feel this way.”
The city councillor for the area, Michael Walters, pointed out that consultations on the site have been extensive and ongoing since 2015.
“The school board has never raised any objections to the plans, “ Walters told CTV News Edmonton on Wednesday.
“You always have to ask yourself, ‘What’s the risk of it being that close?’ and so far, from a technical perspective, no one other than community members have raised objections.”
Walters said he’ll reserve judgement until after an upcoming public hearing on the project, which many of the protesters say they plan to speak at.
The project's rezoning application has been submitted, but requires approval from the City.
“I hear them that proximity to the school is an issue,” Walters said. “Although I hear that plus traffic, plus crime, plus property values, plus some people who do say that they don’t want these kinds of folks in their neighbourhood.”
He added, "To suggest lower-income people are going to harm our communities is an absurdity that we as city council and all political leaders have to stand up to."
Capital Region Housing owns or manages several developments in the metropolitan region, although it has not been involved developing other school surplus sites.
The corporation said it has other projects that are twice the density of the Keheewin School site.