River Valley Solar Farm Decision

Edmonton River Valley Rezoning for Epcor water treatment facility solar farm

The land use decision to allow Epcor to use their land at the E.L. Smith Water Treatment plant for a temporary solar farm was a difficult one.  I, like many of my colleagues, agonized over this decision.  It was a 7-6 decision to rezone the land. Ultimately, I choose to support this land use.   

This proposed site is on private land held by Epcor that was intended to be used for the expansion of the water treatment plant.   A water treatment plant that serves the region.  This proposal would allow the water treatment plant to be self-sufficient and not rely on the energy grid, in addition to generating clean energy.

This wasn’t a discussion on the whole river valley (8,400 hectares) but on the small portion of disturbed land that Epcorowns for the future expansion needs of the water treatment plant (22 hectares).  We were to consider if this was an appropriate use of this land. 

The proposal is for a solar power plant on disturbed, fenced land that is owned by Epcor and had been earmarked for the expansion of the water treatment plant in about 30 years.  In the interim, a solar power plant was proposed for this land.  It would have less impact than the proposed water treatment plant.  It would be removed in 20-25 years and the land returned to its nature state.  

Previously council sent this back as there were concerns raised about the Indigenous archaeological significance and if the location should be deemed essential. 

Epcor worked with the Enoch Cree Nation to understand the area and have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with them to work together.   Enoch Cree Nation now supports the proposed land use.  Environmental reports were provided to address the essential aspect of the site.

Biodiversity impacts came up by many of the speakers and this was one subject where we saw differences of opinion by experts.   I believe the mitigation strategies proposed and on-going monitoring would address this.

I also considered the zoning change but in the end looked at the intended purpose of the land.   We often change our zoning to a new zone as we look at intended purposes for land. 

This proposal was considered on its own and this approval does not set a precedent for future development in our River Valley.  

First of all, I want to say thank you to the many Edmontonianswho shared their thoughts on this matter.  Many who agreed with solar farms but didn’t want it located here.   Others who disagree with what the experts had said.  Some felt the mitigation strategies on biodiversity were not enough. Others felt that the agreement with Enoch First Nation not enough consideration for the significant Indigenous history of the land.

At the end of the day I wrestled with this decision as I value the River Valley and recognize that many will believe we have impacted the ribbon of green. I was moved by many of the speakers and their passion and how this might impact future generations. Ultimately, I voted yes as I realize this is a temporary use on land that was earmarked for the future expansion of the water treatment plant.

Slowing down around playgrounds

The importance of playground zones for the safety of children

Councillor Bev Esslinger

May 15, 2018

There has been a lot of conversation lately about playground zones and the guidelines and rules around implementing playground zones. I wanted to take this opportunity to revisit why I have always supported playground zones and their importance for the safety of children.

 

The lower speed limit in playground zones (30km/h):

  • Increases livability of neighbourhoods;
  • Moves us towards Vision Zero, the City’s goal of zero traffic related fatalities and serious injuries; and
  • Protect vulnerable road users: children.

 

Since the implementation of playground zones has only recently been completed here in Edmonton, we can look to the City of Calgary for the impacts of implementing playground zones and changing school zones to playground zones. In 2017, the City of Calgary worked with the University of Calgary to conduct a before-and-after study to determine the impacts of combining school and playground zone signs and the times they are in effect. The results of the study indicate:

  • The average speed decreased from 36 km/h to 30 km/h.
  • The number of collisions involving pedestrians within school and playground zones decreased by 33 percent, with a 70 percent decrease between 5:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.
  • More than 80 percent of the respondents found it easier to remember the zone times with a single zone type that is consistent throughout the year.

 

To recap, playground zones lowered speeds, and lowered collisions, especially outside of regular school zone hours. This increased safety is the goal of playground zones and something I fully support.

 

So when you see the signs reminding you to slow to 30 km/hr from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week, 365 days a year, please remember why it’s important to slow down.

 

ATCO Projects 2018

ATCO has provided me with information on Projects happening in Ward 2 this year.

Spruce Avenue

  • Replacement of approximately 0.5km of steel main and 36 residential and commercial services in the community of Spruce Avenue between Princess Elizabeth Avenue and 114 Ave near 105/106 Street.
  • Work will be coordinate diwth City of Edmonton Neighbourhood Renewal

Proposed Construction time: 2 Months

Map

Inglewood

  • Replacement of approximately 3.3km of steel main and 211 residential services in the community of Inglewood between 114 and 118 Avenues and 127 Street and Groat Road.

Proposed Construction time: 3 Months

Campbell Road Park and Ride

  • Relocate 500m of 323 mm high pressure natural gas transmission pope and install a valve assembly.

Impacts:
– Construction noise during regular work hours
– Lane closures and reduced parking

More information can be found here

Atco2018

Bus Network Redesign

Our bus routes are changing

Our city is growing and changing, which means Edmonton’s bus routes need to change too. In 2020, the ETS bus network will look completely different. This transformation will introduce new kinds of routes that will help you move across the city more quickly and efficiently.

Routes will be grouped into four types including: frequent bus routes, rapid bus routes, crosstown routes and local routes. Each of these routes will be straighter with less overlap between them. Inner areas of the city will see an increase of service throughout the day while outer suburban areas will see more service during rush hour for commuters. Check out the routes maps at edmonton.ca/newbusroutes.

In order for the City to provide faster or more frequent service, some people may need to walk up to 10 minutes to get to a bus stop. The City recognizes this is not possible for some residents, so a study is underway to see how other cities manage this situation to ensure most everyone can get to where they are going.

I would love your feedback which will help ensure the proposed bus network meets your needs. You can fill out an online survey or attend one of 24 public engagement drop-in workshops.

The next sessions closest to the northwest area are:

Date: Thursday April 26, 2018

Time: 3-7pm

Location: Inglewood Community Hall

12515 116 Avenue

 

Date: Saturday May 26, 2018

Time: 11am-3pm

Location: TELUS World of Science (IMAX Lobby)

11211 142 Street

 

International Womens Day – Together we can bring change!

Today is International Women’s Day. Its a day where we can look at the progress that we have had, but also a day to reflect on how we can continue bringing progress. I think that the message of International Women’s Day is that there is more work to do.  We all do this work together and as we step up and speak up we will continue to see change!

Together we can made Edmonton a better place for all women, today and in the future. 

Your Business and Vision Zero

On February 21, I had the pleasure of talking to over 40 industry executives and local business owners about traffic safety at the Vision Zero Corporate and Industry Symposium.

The long-term goal of Vision Zero Edmonton is to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries. We want our friends, family members, and employees to arrive safely at their destination and return home at the end of the day. Tragically, many people have lost a friend or family member to a traffic collision. That is why it was so exciting to see a room full of business leaders learning what Vision Zero is and how they can be part of making our streets safer.

Business owners have a vested interest in traffic safety because they want their friends, family members and employees arriving home safe at the end of the day. Losing an employee to a traffic crash means they lose a friend as well as a trusted and skilled employee. Collisions also put work vehicles out of commision, raise insurance rates, and increase the risk of liability.

A Vision Zero principle recognizes that eliminating fatalities and serious injuries is a shared responsibility between road users and those who design and maintain our roadways. To reach our Vision Zero goal will take all of us. The City is working towards Vision Zero using a data-based approach, to systematically upgrade intersections, improve safety measures around schools, upgrade crosswalks, and lower speeds where vulnerable road users interact with vehicles.

Symposium participants listened to traffic safety experts from Germany and Sweden, heard about what Vision Zero is accomplishing in Edmonton, asked questions, and discussed traffic safety. They agreed that industry and government should work together to end road deaths and serious injuries. Eight representatives from the group agreed to meet together again to determine possible next steps and then to share their suggestions with all the attendees.

I am thankful for those who showed their commitment to safer roads, and I am excited to see what happens next.