Canada News

Get the latest new in Candada


Progress on Blatchford lacks clarity and targets, City of Edmonton audit report shows

City managers overseeing the development at Edmonton’s Blatchford need to clearly define targets and report progress so Edmontonians better understand what’s happening on the 500-acre piece of land, a new city audit says. 

“Overall we found that the Blatchford Redevelopment Office does not have an effective system to track whether it is achieving all of its goals,” the report says. 

In 2014, council approved a set of goals for the Blatchford business case around energy, water use, transportation, affordable housing, green construction, density and profitability. 

The city aims to have 30,000 residents live on the former City Centre Airport grounds by 2042, and be 100 per cent carbon neutral. 

It’s a long way from that goal. 

Tom Lumsden, development manager for Blatchford, said 84 homes are currently occupied on the piece of land in central Edmonton, up from 20 when the first unit was built four years ago. 

In discussing the findings at an audit committee meeting on Monday, Mayor Amarjeet Sohi asked for the latest numbers.  

“So it’s not a huge success,” Sohi said.

Many more lots are being sold, Lumsden said, with one developer in particular looking to build on 60 lots. 

“We have made progress on that,” he said. “We also have a deal with a builder to build multiple lots, or to buy multiple lots in our next stage, part of that 190-unit townhouse development.”

Grass is in the foreground and homes with solar panels are seen in the background.
Solar panels cover multiple townhouses in Edmonton’s Blatchford neighbourhood. (Trevor Wilson/CBC)

Including units under construction brings the total number up to 156 homes, Lumsden said in a follow-up email Monday. 

Another 163 units are expected to be constructed on lots already sold, he said, and the city recently adjusted the zoning in the area to allow for more narrow lots to build more units.

Some city councillors and the mayor expressed disappointment with the pace of development and the lack of reporting.  

Coun. Tim Cartmell said there’s not a lot of consistent data.

“My level of confidence has always been rather low in this project,” Cartmell said. “It’s lower today.” 

The Blatchford management team said they would define the measures and targets clearly by the end of the year. 

“I’m hearing ‘we’ll get back to you with a better structure, but we won’t actually report against it until January of 2025’,” Cartmell said. “I think that needs to happen much faster.”

Cartmell said council is under a lot of scrutiny for the 8.7 per cent proposed property tax increase this year.

Sohi referred to the growing population in Edmonton, that 100,000 people moved to the city in the past two years with more expected in the coming years. 

“There’s a demand for housing, if this is not the right time to accelerate housing, what would be the right time?” Sohi suggested. “So I’m concerned, I think we need to see significant progress.”

Councillors agreed that the Blatchford Redevelopment Office should report back in the fall with clearly defined measures and targets, as per the auditor’s recommendations. 

No comparison

Aaron Paquette, councillor for Ward Dene, said the report raises a lot of concern. 

“We’ve got a big piece of land and the public perception is that it’s taking more time than it ought to develop,” Paquette said. 

“There’s a little bit of frustration that if we do not rapidly increase supply then housing prices will go up because we’re not meeting the demand.” 

Paquette was looking for a comparison to other developments, such as Griesbach but Lumsden hesitated to provide that. 

“It’s going to take time and it’s hard to make a comparison,” Lumsden said. 

“The last airplane took off from Blatchford in 2013, we had people living there seven years later,” Lumsden said. “Our density is three or four times of a traditional suburban community.” 

View original article here Source