Blatchford is taking off!

September was a big month in the development of Blatchford as the Blatchford Renewable Energy Utility was officially completed and the first Energy Centre opened! The utility includes a 570 borehole geoexchange field and the Energy Centre, which holds the mechanical equipment for the District Energy Sharing System. Part of Council’s vision for this community …

What to do this summer?

School is officially out which means that children and teens have a lot of time on their hands. Wondering what you can do in our City? There are many affordable or free activities for families to participate in over the summer. 

Downtown has been growing steadily over the past few years and it continues to offer wonderful experiences for families. Part of the experience can be taking the bus or LRT downtown, which is free for children under 12, I know my grandchildren love riding the train! The LRT has a stop that is very close to the Edmonton Street Car where you can enjoy riding a restored streetcar over the High-Level Bridge, an activity that is sure to satisfy all ages.

Head down to the Art Gallery of Alberta which is free for individuals under 17. If you attend the AGA with some friends and their children, consider registering for an education program for a more hands-on gallery experience. Visit youraga.ca for more information. 

Just down the street is the new Royal Alberta Museum. It’s a great way to spend time exploring over a few days. Children 6 and under are free and the annual family pass is only $70.  Right now the museum is featuring Vikings: Beyond the Legend, which is the largest touring exhibition of Viking artifacts in the world. 

On your way to the museum check out a free tour at City Hall. Free public tours take place every Friday in July and August beginning at 12:30 pm and last about an hour, no need to register, just drop in. 

Maybe your kids loved looking at the prehistoric animals at the museum but they would like to experience some amazing animals live and in person. The Valley Zoo recently opened Nature’s Wild Backyard which includes habitat for red pandas, a new urban farm where children can pet some animals, and play equipment that encourages children to use their imagination. 

For something closer to home cool down in any of Edmonton’s outdoor pools for free again this summer! Afterwards, head to the Aviation Museum on the last Thursday of every month from 5 to 8 pm for free family access

These are only a few of the wonderful options our City has to offer, there are festivals every weekend, markets all around the City and great community events. For more ideas check out exploreedmonton.com 

This September we are putting another community fun day together, it’s on September 7th from 11-2 pm at Grand Trunk Field, I would love to see you there. It’s a free family event, everyone is welcome!  

My thoughts on Residential Speed Limits

There has been all kinds of discussion surrounding what to do with residential speed limits, its coming back to Council on May 14th.  Making our City safe is a priority, but I recognize and have heard from many that whatever we do it needs to be simple, consistent, cost effective and that we need to …

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.

Yellowhead Trail Conversion Update

Yellowhead Trail Conversion Update

The concept planning study for St. Albert Trail to 97 Street launched in September of last year. The strategic plan for Yellowhead Trail indicates new interchanges. Namely, at 127 Street and 121 Street but no decisions on the future roadway design have been made. Engagement activities with stakeholders took place at the end of November. Property owners, business owners, and the general public were invited to share on how the roadway is currently being used. This is a critical step to understanding potential impacts of the removal of traffic signals and direct access as part of the freeway conversion.

As we come into the fall of 2020, Phase 1 of Concept Planning is coming to a close. Phase 1 set out to identify the values, issues, and ideas around the project. Here are display boards you can check out. Read the What We Heard Report if you want to get caught up.

Phase 2 of Concept Planning will explore and refine the best possible options for the corridor. Phase 2 public engagement will start in fall of 2020 and the Concept Planning Study will be complete by spring 2021 determining what will be designed and built.

YHT Engagement This Fall

The City has developed 3 design concepts for conversion project from St. Albert Trail to 97 Street. The concepts will be shared online on September 28, 2020. Explore the options, and join the City for a live online learning session the week of October 5, 2020.

The option address freeway access while minimizing the impacts to residential and commercial properties. No direct impacts to residential properties is anticipated in any of the options. However in some options, service roads and ramps may be closer to neighbourhoods and some residents may experience changes to their existing views.

In all options, though, Yellowhead Trail will pass under the new interchanges.

Your feedback is key in this process. The City is inviting all residents to be apart of the process and provide insight, share concerns, and have their voices heard.

Yellowhead Trail Public Online Learning Sessions

There are several opportunities to be involved:

Wednesday, October 7, 2020 from 3 – 4:30pm

Thursday, October 8, 2020 from 11:30am – 1pm and 6:30 – 8pm

An online survey will be open from September 28 to October 16 at the project website.

GBV, SHE-covery, and empowering women

Talking with Katherine O’Neill from YWCA Edmonton and Jan Reimer of Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters (ACWS)

L I V E talking about GBV, SHE-covery, and empowering women out of this crisis!

Talking with Katherine O'Neill from YWCA Edmonton and Jan Reimer of Alberta Council of Women's Shelters (ACWS)

Posted by Bev Esslinger on Thursday, June 25, 2020

Ward 2 Non-Profits

A great conversation with 2 wonderful non-profits doing incredible work in Ward 2. Very thankful and appreciative for organizations like this.Thank you to Jamie from Edmonton’s Food Bank and Harold from Edmonton Native Healing Center

Ward 2 Non-Profits

A great conversation with 2 wonderful non-profits doing incredible work in Ward 2. Very thankful and appreciative for organizations like this. Thank you to Jamie from Edmonton's Food Bank and Harold from Edmonton Native Healing Center

Posted by Bev Esslinger on Thursday, June 11, 2020