QACL response to Proposed Rezoning at 76 Avenue and 106 Street (Lulu)


By Russ - Posted on 29 September 2011

September 27, 2011

RE: LDA11‐0178 Proposed Rezoning to CB1 at 76 Avenue and 106 Street

To whom it may concern,

The Queen Alexandra Community League envisions our neighbourhood as a family‐friendly, human‐scaled, sustainable, inner‐city community.  The proposed rezoning to CB1 at the corner of 106th Street and 76th Avenue does not fit with this vision, and thus we are opposed to LDA11‐0178.

We have identified several specific reasons why rezoning this space at the heart of Queen Alex is not congruent with the community’s vision of our neighbourhood.  We believe that these negative impacts on the community outweigh any potential benefit for the owner to transition the center of Queen Alex from neighbourhood‐based CNC to vehicle‐oriented and commerce‐based CB1.

  1. The first reason why rezoning is inappropriate at this location is the scope of uses – both permitted and discretionary – allowed under CB1.  We understand that some commercial amenities within a neighbourhood can add to a community’s sustainability and vibrancy.  The uses already allowed under CNC such as convenience retail, professional, financial, child care, and health services can provide a benefit to Queen Alexandra.  However, many of the added uses under CB1 including large bars, pubs, and restaurants, nightclubs, hotels, minor alcohol sales, auto sales, recycling depots, etc. are not appropriate for a location surrounded by a residential neighbourhood of family homes and schools.  Further, if the City believes that higher intensity commercial development is necessary for its inner‐city residential communities to thrive, the context of the recent decisions made in and around Queen Alexandra would indicate that these types of developments should be focused not at the center of our community, but in areas along its perimeter – specifically along Whyte Avenue, in the dedicated commercial nodes of 109th Street, and in the commercial district along Calgary Trail now known as Strathcona Junction.
     
  2. A second reason why rezoning is inappropriate for this location is that the accepted form of CB1 as it exists on Edmonton’s south side does not match the context of the neighbourhood at the corner of 76th Avenue and 106th Street, neither in traffic usage nor in its built form.  According to the December 2010 City of Edmonton Traffic Volumes report, this corner sees between 7000 to 10000 vehicles on an average weekday.  Many of these vehicles are delivering students either to or from the four schools in the immediate vicinity.  However, existing CB1 developments on the south side only occur along major high speed multi‐lane arterial roads, including 109th Street, Whyte Avenue, and Calgary Trail.  These roads see on average up to 6 times the volume of traffic than either 106th Street or 76th Avenue.  CB1 is defined to interface with high volume and high speed arterial commercial areas.  This corner is not one of those areas, nor is it a good candidate to transition to such an area considering the residential nature along these roads and the proximity to schools and young pedestrians.  All instances of commercial development within residential communities along streets similar in character to this location on the southside are accommodated within CNC zones.  Examples include the Windsor Park Shopping Centre, Tra Amici in McKernan, Wild Earth in Strathcona, Devaney’s Pub in Bonnie Doon, and several others.  Furthermore, the built form of a CB1 development would allow for a maximum 12 meters in building height, and up to 3 stories.  This is a stark contrast to the adjacent residential area, which is limited by the City’s Mature Neighbourhood Overlay to 8.6m in height and 2‐½ stories.  The built form of CB1 does not fit the surroundings at the corner of 76 Avenue and 106 Street.
     
  3. The third reason why this rezoning is inappropriate is that the established form of CB1 works against the sustainability goals of the Queen Alexandra community.  In the absence of a statutory plan or ARP, the community league has taken upon itself the responsibility of defining its own sustainability goals specific to our neighbourhood.  These goals are shaped in part by information that we’ve received and shared with the Mayor’s Community Sustainability Taskforce.  We base our planning and development opinions on how various proposals fit within those goals and within the City’s published Residential Infill Guidelines and Municipal Development Plan.  There are no less than 3 goals of community sustainability that could be negatively impacted by increasing the commercial intensity of this location
    1. Improving the local school environment:  Local schools within a safe surrounding neighbourhood environment are necessary to attract and maintain families with children to the area.  The potential for an undesirable usage allowed for under CB1 would not help improve the two local school environments, whose playgrounds are both within 60m of this site.  Additionally, the potential for increased vehicle traffic volume due to intensifying the commercial usage of this property reduces the quality of the pedestrian environment for students and parents, and creates barriers along 76 Avenue and 106 Street, isolating the schools from the surrounding residential neighbourhood.  
       
    2. Providing a safer community environment:  Increasing pedestrian amenities and human‐scaled qualities to the streetscape leads to vibrant, walkable and bikeable streets.  In turn, this leads to a safer environment for residents.  The City has taken steps toward making this location a better human environment by placing bike lanes on both of these streets.  Additionally, the City has increased the focus of less pedestrian‐friendly, high intensity commercial at our community’s boundaries.  According to the 109th Street Corridor Study, the CB1 form has created poor pedestrian environments in the past, and thus we feel that rezoning this location would be taking a step back by allowing a high intensity commercial zone inside of a lower intensity residential and school zone.
       
    3. Diversifying the community’s demographics: A healthy community as a part of a sustainable city provides residential opportunities for a range of ages and affordability.  The north end of Queen Alexandra is characterized in part by higher density residential apartments and condos, as well as retirement communities.  The south end is characterized in part by the community’s “critical mass” of family‐friendly housing alongwith the high school, parks, and community recreation amenities. Together, these two sides create a singular Queen Alexandra that is on its way to becoming a more demographically diverse – and thus more sustainable – community.  By intensifying commercial usage along 76 Ave, a physical boundary becomes defined at the middle of the community.  This boundary would isolate the south end of Queen Alexandra from the existing commercial and cultural hub of Whyte Avenue, while isolating the north end of the neighbourhood from the school and parks in the south end.

For these reasons, it is our belief that the negative impacts of the CB1 form including undesirable commercial uses, inappropriate built form, and the reduction of community sustainability outweigh any potential unshared benefit that the owner could see from transitioning this corner away from the existing neighbourhood‐based CNC zoning.

The Queen Alexandra Community League recognizes this location as an important corner at the heart of our neighbourhood that is in need of redevelopment attention.  Our league is willing to meet with the property owner to discuss options of developing and restoring this location within the context of the existing CNC zoning.  We believe that this property has the potential to become a greater asset for both the community and for the owner.

Respectfully,

 

 

John Thompsen
Queen Alexandra Community League
Chairman, Planning and Development Committee

AttachmentSize
QACL Letter - RE: LDA11‐0178 Proposed Rezoning to CB1 at 76 Avenue and 106 Street  100.9 KB

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