DECL: Summer Events 2019

DECL Community Space, 10042 103 St.

YARDS SUMMER LAUNCH EVENT
June 20
Join us for a discussion on accessibility in the core.
The Hendrix Roof Top Patio Doors at 6:30pm, Speaker at 7:30pm.

Read more on our Facebook event page

DECL ANNUAL PANCAKE BREAKFAST
June 15 9am-11am
Join us for our Annual Pancake Breakfast. What better way to start the day than with pancakes, sausages, coffee and juice. Only $2, proceeds go to support our programming efforts.
DECL Community Space, 10042 103 Street

DECL SOCIAL NIGHT
June 22nd, Time TBA
Join us for a DECL social night. Watch for details on our Facebook page. Location TBA in the coming weeks. facebook.com/declorg

DECL PATIO PUB CRAWL
July 25, Time TBA
Join us for our annual patio crawl. Watch for details on our Facebook page.
Location TBA in the coming weeks. facebook.com/declorg

URBAN KIDS PLAYGROUP
Every Friday, 10am-11am
Urban Kids Playgroup for downtown parents and kids 0-5 years of age! Join us for snacks and free coffee.
DECL Community Space, 10042 103 Street

FAMILY BOARD GAMES NIGHT
Third Friday of every month (June 21, July 19, August 16), 6:30pm
Bring your kids to a family-friendly board games night and meet other Downtown families.
DECL Community Space, 10042 103 Street

DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE MEETING
Last Thursday of the month (June 27, July 25, August 29), 7pm
Join us for a discussion on the latest development proposals and city planning.
DECL Community Space, 10042 103 Street

PROGRAMS AND EVENTS COMMITTEE MEETING
First Wednesday of the month (June 5, July 3, August 7), 7pm
Join us to discuss and plan our downtown programming and events. Please email programs@decl.org if you plan to attend.
DECL Community Space, 10042 103 Street, or other locations when required.

DOWNTOWN SUMMER GREEN SHACK PROGRAM
July 3 – August 22 Tuesdays & Fridays, 2:30pm-6pm
The City’s back with children’s programming. Additional information here.
Alex Decoteau Park (10204 105 St. NW)

What’s a Community League?
Community Leagues are unique to Edmonton. They’re inclusive, grass- roots, community-based organizations found in each of this city’s 150-plus neighbourhoods. They facilitate healthy, safe, informed and connected communities by promoting participation in recreation, social activities and civic advocacy at the sidewalk level. They’re volunteer-run and promote volunteerism because getting involved is a great way to learn more about your neighbourhood and city. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to learn valuable professional skills, meet your neighbours and have fun. Join the movement today!

Downtown Edmonton Community League
10042 103 Avenue Edmonton, AB, T5J 0X2
web: decl.org
e: info@decl.org
Facebook: DECLorg
Twitter: @DECLorg
Instagram: @declorg

DECL board of directors: Chris Buyze (President), Laurissa Kalinowsky (VP), Glenn Rowbottom (Treasurer), Rainer Kocsis (Secretary), Jason Gold, Christie Lutsiak, Michelle McGuiness, Fardoussa Omar, Cheryl Probert, Tim Schneider, Cameron Smithers, Bronte Valk, Xiaosu Zeng

Go Fourth and Prosper

With the loss of City Market, 104 Street looks at what to do next

People may still picture 104 Street in downtown Edmonton as a street teeming with Saturday farmers’ market shoppers weaving between white-capped stalls holding samples of fresh baking in their hand. But all of that will change this year.

In March, the downtown community learned its weekly (in summer) City Market was disappearing, at least on 104 Street, at least for now. The Market needed a slightly larger year-round home and found one in the historic GWG (Great Western Garment) building, at 97 Street and 103A Avenue, where it will now open Saturday and Sunday every week, rain, sun, or snow.

But while some have worried aloud with concerns about what the future holds for downtown’s most important high street and its businesses, many on the actual street remain sanguine.

“We were doing Jim Dandy before the market came,” said Ed Fong, co-owner of deVine Wines and Spirits on 104 Street.

Fong agrees that the City Market, which moved to 104 Street in 2004, gave some of his neighbours a boost, like coffee retailer Credo. But for his business and others, “it was at best revenue neutral,” he said. “We lose the people that park in front of the store and buy three cases of wine because they think there’s no parking.”

Still, some with a stake in the future of 104 Street see the street as a venue. For them, the City Market’s move requires thinking to create new opportunity.

The 104 Street Action Committee met the first week of May to lay out the options for future programming. As The Yards went to press, the group was floating ideas of a smaller market, a night market, performing arts, a series of mini al fresco events, more car shows or block parties. The Downtown Business Association was also in talks with the organizers of 124 Grand Market, who have been keen to gain a foothold downtown.

Whether this planning means the street will continue to close to vehicular traffic remains to be seen until a proposal is submitted to the City, Fong said, adding there’s “no rush” to close a deal.

Ian O’Donnell, executive director of the DBA, sees the City Market move to The Quarters as a win-win for 104.

“Let’s create something new on 104th that’s going to be great and bring in a new crowd,” he said. “But let’s support the decision [City Market made] and ensure we have a great downtown, year-round farmers’ market that’s open two days a week now.”

O’Donnell believes the City Market’s new building is a positive as well, but will take some leg work to rebuild their brand in their new home.

Plans are already coming together for complementary programming nearby, in Churchill Square, where arts groups—including the Art Gallery of Alberta, Citadel, and Winspear—are looking to expand their presence.

“The question is really, how do you replicate some of that more urban experience along 103A Avenue when there’s not much east of that at the moment?”

Ian O’Donnell

Beyond the aesthetic of the 118-year-old GWG building, City Market spokesman Dan Young said the move will take time to catch on, but said there’s opportunity in the area.

He believes development similar to what 104 Street saw during the market’s tenure there could now be in store for The Quarters. The idea isn’t to replicate that, he said, but to build a new atmosphere in a less developed part of downtown.

The market running two days a week is going to make it happen all the faster, he added.

Fong said the City Market move was all for the best — construction was starting to limit the street’s capacity for the market and retailers alike.

“Their ability to stay on this street, the time was up,” he said.


DECL: Spring Events 2019

DECL Community Space, 10042 103 St. decl.org
(all events at the DECL Community Space)

DOWNTOWN DINING WEEK POTLUCK
March 12, 6:30pm
Celebrate Downtown Dining Week with a community potluck.

INFO SESSION ON SOLAR POWER FOR CONDOS
March 23, 2pm-4pm
Join us and the Oliver Community League, in partnership with Alberta
Green Energy Network, for an information session on condo energy
efficiency and solar power for condos.

DECL ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
April 25, 7pm
Join the DECL board and your fellow community league members for the
2019 Annual General Meeting. Come down to vote for your new board
members and hear what’s in store for the year ahead.

DECL SPRING CLEANUP
May 5, 10am
Join us for our Annual Spring Clean- Up in conjunction with River Valley
Clean-Up. Get some exercise and keep our community clean!

DECL URBAN KIDS PLAYGROUP
Every Friday, 10am-11:30am
Urban Kids Playgroup for downtown parents and kids 0-5 years of age!
Join us for snacks and free coffee.

DECL DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE MEETING
Last Thursday of the Month, 7pm
Join us in discussion on the latest development proposals and city planning.

SUNDAY DINNER POTLUCK
April 14, 6:30pm
Let’s eat together! Join your neighbours for the start of a regular Sunday dinner series.

DECL board of directors: Chris Buyze (President), Laurissa Kalinowsky (VP), Chris Wudark (Treasurer), Rainer Kocsis (Secretary), Erin Bayus, Edmond Chui, Jason Gold, Christie Lutsiak, Andrew MacIsaac, Michelle McGuiness, Glenn Rowbottom, Tim Schneider, Xiaosu Zeng

Downtown Edmonton Community League
10042 103 Avenue
Edmonton, AB, T5J 0X2
web: decl.org
e: info@decl.org
Facebook.com/declorg
Twitter: @DECLorg
Instagram: @declorg

What’s a Community League?
Community Leagues are unique to Edmonton. They’re inclusive, grass-
roots, community-based organizations found in each of this city’s 150-plus neighbourhoods. They facilitate healthy, safe, informed and connected communities by promoting participation in recreation, social activities and civic advocacy at the sidewalk level. They’re volunteer-run and promote volunteerism because getting involved is a great way to learn more about your neighbourhood and city. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to learn valua able professional skills, meet your neighbours and have fun. Join the movement today!

A Big Green Win

This last year has been significantly different than before for the residents of the Warehouse area and those who live particularly along 104 Street. Alex Decoteau Park has made a big impact on the lives of residents of the area as a gathering place. Since its inception and continued updates, the award-winning Capital City Downtown Plan has contemplated more green space and parks. Many of the city’s own documents over the years have
acknowledged a lack of green space for residents Downtown. Sure the river valley is nice, but it’s not right outside our door.

This past fall, city council approved funding for design and development of a large ‘District’ park in our Warehouse area. Just this past January, council affirmed this decision to move forward with acquiring the final sites needed for this park, north of Jasper Avenue, from 106 Street to just beyond 107 Street. At over 1.4 hectares, this park is already proving to be a huge catalyst for further residential development in the area, with several towers proposed. Much of this will cover the undesirable surface lots that have plagued much of the Warehouse area for decades.

The importance of this park, and other future parks in the Downtown can not be overstated. They directly contribute to the health and wellbeing of residents, providing respite, a chance to socialize with neighbours, and a way to ensure Downtown is an attractive and desirable place for people to live, visit and do business.

At the public hearing this spring, which required city council to approve an
expropriation of the final site to realize the vision of this large recreational park, I was impressed by the consensus around the room from administration, planners, residents, business and developers alike, about the need for this new green space. It re-affirms for me the priorities our board has advocated for over the last 10 years. Those are that more parks and recreational infrastructure Downtown is important to a lot of folks.

I can’t wait to see what’s in store for this large green space. We hope to see you participate in consultations regarding its design, (hopefully) later in 2019.

Chris Buyze

Designing Density

Maybe you grew up playing with Lego. Or maybe you enjoyed – or more likely became frustrated with – designing cities using SimCity. Both teach us that good building requires good planning.

This fall, Edmonton City Council approved two significant tower developments—one in Oliver and one Downtown. In Oliver, council approved a 23-storey tower on two lots where single detached homes currently sit. And in Downtown, council approved a surface parking lot to be rezoned from allowing a density ratio (called the floor to area ratio, or FAR) of 8-10 to 17. The decision nearly doubled the allowed size of the two proposed towers.

The Oliver Community League and Downtown Edmonton Community League recently told council we’re concerned about its trend of approving tower developments with increased densities, and without consideration for market demand, the effect on surrounding land prices and the diversity of built form.

Why do our community leagues take issue now, after years of being generally supportive of tower developments? Because the applications being proposed are much denser than before and this has a real and lasting effect on the overall real estate market. We feel our communities are reaching a point where we need better city planning in order to build a healthy city.

Many of the rezoning applications being proposed are between 50 to 100 per cent denser than what currently exists. These proposals require more thought and reflection as a city on the effects on the neighbourhood and other redevelopments across Edmonton. Many projects are at stake when we don’t question excessive density bonusing at specific sites.

Land development in Edmonton is significantly regulated. It’s regulated by the city administration, through City Council, through development officers and through the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board. You can build what you want on your land as long as it adheres to the rules – called zoning. The city provides a suite of standard zoning. If you want to build something that doesn’t fit in one of those zones, however, you have the option to write your own – a ‘direct control’ zone.

In the last decade, most rezonings in Oliver and Downtown have been direct control. These direct control zones have often allowed developers to build far more height and more density than previously allowed. In some cases, the resulting towers don’t adhere to Edmonton’s own rules and guidelines, let alone good urban-planning and design principles.

For example: Council approved a direct-control zone for a development at Jasper Avenue and 114 Street. The zoning allows for a 45-storey tower with 273 units and a floor to area ratio of 12.4. The increase in density is vastly different than the single-storey commercial buildings in the area, and enables the developer to sell many more units from this parcel of land. And yet, the developer successfully argued they were not able to provide three-bedroom units to the community to house families or an underground parkade.

Theoretically, each zoning application must stand on its own. City Council is not required to make decisions based on precedence or past decisions. This leads to the belief that their decisions do not affect the land development market. But they do.

Allowing a developer to develop a tower with more density than neighbouring properties through a direct-control zone sets cascading reactions in motion. Land prices climb as landowners presume development opportunities are ever increasing with each approved upzoning. Land prices may not be a significant hurdle for a large tower development, but they can make developments in the “missing middle” form – row-homes, townhouses, low-rises and courtyard apartments – near impossible or overly expensive.

A community league must advocate not only for its current residents but also future residents. What will the next generation of Downtown and Oliver experience living in the core? What are the cumulative effects of haphazard approvals that don’t consider allocation of public amenities, like green space and recreation? That don’t examine impacts to sunlight penetration and wind tunneling? That don’t respect market forces on affordability and land speculation?

In Oliver, single-storey development and surface parking lots dominate Jasper and 104 avenues. Meanwhile, Downtown has surface parking lots covering almost entire blocks. While densification of our city is crucial, our two communities have many plots of land available for development. If this land is underutilized it makes our home less enjoyable, healthy and safe.

Planning our neighbourhoods properly requires understanding how many people we want to accommodate, and creating a framework to ensure a diversity of housing can be provided. Downtown has the award-winning Capital City Downtown Plan, which is due for renewal in a few years. But Oliver hasn’t seen an update to the Area Redevelopment Plan since 1995, well before the closure of the City Centre Airport that restricted building heights.

The City of Edmonton is currently renewing our Municipal Development Plan – “the City Plan” – and will look to shape our city to sustainably accommodate two million people. It’s likely that the populations of Downtown and Oliver will more than double within the coming generation. It’s going to take a lot of effort – and planning – to make sure we create vibrant urban communities. We need diverse and affordable housing choices, access to active and public transportation, and access to amenities like parks, libraries, local coffee shops and grocery stores.

DECL Winter Events

December 13, 7-10pm | Annual Holiday Mixer

Come celebrate the season with your Downtown neighbours, partners and supporters! Light refreshments and beverages will be served, cash bar available. 10042 103 Street

 

Every Friday, 10 -11:30am | Urban Kids Playgroup

Our playgroup meets weekly for parents and tots up to 5. Coffee and snacks provided! 10042 103 Street

 

January 17, February 21 | DECL Socials

Meet your neighbours! Times and locations TBA Check on our Facebook page or the monthly DECL newsletter for more details as dates draw near!

Downtown’s Future Is (Still) Residential

Our fall issue delves into the history of community leagues. But if we look ahead into the future of our own league and downtown community, it’s clear there will simply be far more residents living here.

DECL is responding to an unprecedented number of new development applications. Many of these proposals are developments that will house hundreds, if not thousands of new residents. Many boosters talk about “20,000 in 2020,” and if these new proposals go ahead, we will be a little behind but not far off from those numbers. Urban planning experts say these are the sort of population numbers necessary for downtown to be sustainable, to encourage walkable retail and to retain offices and workers.

The first significant push for new residential housing downtown was in the form of the new Capital City Downtown Plan, in 1997. An update to that plan, in 2010, saw a confirmation that a significant future for our downtown was having people live here. Since that first plan, we saw an approximate doubling of our population, from 6300 in 1997 to about 13,000 people today. Downtown Edmonton has been one of the fastest growing neighbourhoods during that time.

Much of proposed development for the future comes from a new confidence in downtown due to recent investment, both public and private. New residential towers combined with public money flowing into parks and streetscaping are spurring results. The most significant ‘catalyst’ project downtown, Rogers Place, is now being augmented by western Canada’s tallest towers. Alex Decoteau Park has given residents a place to meet neighbours and be proud of the place we call home.

Some of the new proposed residential towers are pushing westward, into the warehouse area west of 104 Street. These proposals are a direct result of the proposed ‘Central Park’ planned for 106 Street to 107 Street, on vacant land between Jasper Avenue and 102 Avenue, an area at least four times larger than Alex Decoteau Park, which would serve the recreational needs of much of our neighbourhood.

The city is actively working with landowners in the area to purchase land, and developers are hedging their bets that this new catalyst will bring new opportunities and life into what is currently mostly gravel parking lots.

But this revitalization could stall. It will require Edmonton City Council to continue to invest in our downtown, particularly to make the development of this park and other important catalyst projects like streetscaping a priority in the upcoming fall budget. Continued momentum in both public and private investment downtown requires us all to work together and come to consensus on the type of community we want to see.

If you want to learn more about how our downtown is changing, what’s proposed, and share what you’d like to see develop, our development committee we would love to hear from you. Get in touch with us at info@decl.org.

Chris Buyze

President, Downtown Edmonton Community League

DECL Fall Events

CornFest 2018 | September 15, 11 – 3pm

Join us again this year at Alex Decoteau Park for free corn-on-the-cob, kids activities, community-garden tours and more!

 

Urban Kids Playgroup | Fridays starting September 21, 10 – 11:30am

Our playgroup meets weekly for parents and tots up to 5. Coffee and snacks provided!

 

Sunday Yoga | September 9 to October 28, 11am

Register at declyoga@yahoo.com. Free for DECL members, $10 for others.

 

DECL SOCIALS

Meet other DECL members, meet your neighbours!

September 20Pub crawl | locations to be determined, stay tuned!

October 19, 6 – 9pm | All ages board games night | DECL HQ.

November 15 Pool night | All abilities welcome, Metro Billiards, 10250 106 Street. Details TBD

 

As of September 1, DECL Memberships are FREE. Yes, FREE! Join once and that’s it! Sign up at one of our events or visit us at the City Market on 104 Street on September 22 for more info.

DECL Summer Events

FRIDAYS
Urban Kids Playgroup

Our playgroup meets weekly for parents and tots 0-5. Coffee and snacks provided! 10:30am – 12:30pm, DECL (10042 103 Street)

 

JUNE 15, JULY 20 AND AUGUST 17
Urban Kids Family Night

Our monthly family night continues for kids and parents. Join us for games, talent shows and more. 6 – 8pm, DECL (10042 103 Street)

 

JUNE 16, 9 – 11:30AM
Annual Pancake Breakfast

Join us for pancakes, sausages, coffee and juice just $2. Want to volunteer? info@decl.org  9 – 11:30am, DECL (10042 103 Street)

 

JUNE 16, 5PM TO LATE
DECL at Fruit Loop Pride Wrap-Up Party

Celebrate Pride Week Downtown with a block party at 103 Street and 103 Avenue. Visit our booth for free popcorn! 5pm to late, in front of Denizen Hall (10311 103 Avenue)

It’s Time to Talk Cannibis

We’ve heard for some time about government legalizing cannabis. But do we know how this new legislation from our governments will affect our communities in Edmonton?

There are many issues to consider: will consumers choose to smoke, vape or eat cannabis? Where will you be allowed to sell it, and where will you be allowed to consume it? What are the costs to citizens and are there any public safety considerations?

Whether or not the sale and consumption of cannabis is legalized on July 1, as once expected, by the federal government, local governments have nonetheless been preparing for it for a significant amount of time. Edmonton City Council has debated many questions and potential problems around the issue, and has asked residents for their opinion on many aspects of how the drug
will be regulated here.

One aspect the DECL board has been dealing with is in regards to sales. The city is anticipating hundreds of applications for cannabis retail stores the day pot goes legal. Already we are seeing signs around the core advertising new pot shops that are ‘Coming Soon’.

Once legal, companies will be permitted to open a cannabis retail store in many areas of the downtown, but not just anywhere. Proposed zoning regulations suggest a 200 metre separation between stores, as well as separation from public health facilities, schools, libraries and parks. While Calgary is making cannabis sales discretionary in most zones, here retail sales will be permitted in many zones, assuming you meet all other criteria set out by the regulations.

The DECL board is supportive of cannabis sales in many of our downtown zones, including our mixed-use residential zones like the Heritage Area (HA) Zone of 104 Street, and the Urban Warehouse (UW) Zone. The board feels those living and working in pedestrian-friendly areas should have cannabis stores within walking distance. It also feels these stores could fill some vacant retail
spaces.

But, that said, there will be limited locations in the downtown that will satisfy all of the City of Edmonton’s criteria. And cannabis sales are unrelated to potential future cannabis lounges
or cafes, which will not be permitted on the same premises. These will not be dealt with by the city in the first year of legalization, nor have been consulted on yet.

While Canada leads the world in the decriminalization of drugs like cannabis, how it’s sold, consumed and its effects on our community are a work in progress. If you have any thoughts and concerns, we would love to hear from you at info@decl.org.

Chris Buyze
President, Downtown Edmonton Community League