Michener Park Re-Development and Land Lease Update

Monday, September 02, 2013 3:21 PM | Cory Doll

The South Campus Neighbourhood Coalition’s Michener Park sub-committee had our second meeting with the University in early August at the Malmo Community Hall.  At the meeting, we were surprised to learn that the University is proposing to lease out two large parcels of land constituting around 1/3 of the exiting site (~5.6 ha).  This land lease is intended to help offset the Michener Park development costs.

While we are very amenable to the Michener Park re-development, the land lease is of concern.  It introduces two additional planning processes that could have little or no connection to the Michener Park sector plan, a daunting and frustrating scenario for our community volunteers, especially in the wake of the yet to be built Westcorp Golflands development, which taxed community residents and volunteers over several years.

In our consultations to date, Michener Park was looking to increase its density from 400 units to 800 units, a number that residents seemed very comfortable with.  To put the potential impact of the land leases into perspective, Westcorp recently received approval for 470 (+30) units on 2.48 ha of adjacent land also leased from the University, a density they claimed was necessary for viability.  Extrapolating that number to the potential new lease areas (1061), adding the projected new Michener Park units (400), and adding the approved Westcorp development (470), Malmo could easily be looking at getting 1930+ new units.  This is around four times the original community’s size. While a retail option may also be pursued, this impacts the potential to revitalize the Lansdowne mall, especially in the event that Sobey’s ends Safeway’s restrictive covenant on the mall.

The University also mentioned that these revenue generating land leases will likely be key to other South Campus developments moving forward (e.g. the West 240).  It would appear that these land leases will be designated through a development by development approach, not as a part of a broader plan / engagement.

You may be aware that the South Campus Neighbourhood Coalition’s (SCNC) new vision is to actively contribute to the evolution of fully liveable communities in the greater south campus area supported by genuine partnerships with the University and the City of Edmonton.  Were concerned that the smattering of high density development islands instigated by the university’s revenue generating needs, coupled with the current hodgepodge of university and city planning in the area, will not be conducive to developing fully liveable communities in the greater South Campus Area.

We are very concerned about the future impact of the status quo on Malmo Plains, and the greater South Campus Area.  Developments are happening on a postage stamp by postage stamp basis, without adequate attention being paid to the cumulative impacts, in absence of a broader vision, through different un-connected processes. 

Planning needs to be more visionary, coordinated and accountable.  

Paths towards achieving this goal includes limiting or removing the university’s planning exclusion enabling better coordination through ONE planning process.  Also, a substantial memorandum of agreement between the city, university inclusive of a community engagement charter could also be developed, enabling more coordinated planning and/or the joint development of a greater South Campus area development plan (e.g. Community Plan), and ensuring consistent and meaningful community engagement.

As a resident, you are encouraged to attend the next Michener Park Open House on September 17.   Also, please raise this issue with mayor and council hopefuls, our MLA and the University. Learn more and share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

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