Edmonton city council pursuing '15-minute city' policy for this fall

An email blast confirmed that Edmonton will move on to next steps for its proposed 15-minute communities. City Council will consider all public feedback and likely approve the policy this fall.

Edmonton city council pursuing '15-minute city' policy for this fall
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An email blast confirmed that Edmonton will move on to next steps for its proposed 15-minute communities.

"District plans are key in bringing The City Plan's 'Community of Communities' vision to life by laying the foundation for 15-minute communities,” the email explained. 

Last February, the city announced it would divide its 400 neighborhoods into many 15-minute cities, calling it a "necessary tool."

According to the District Planning Guide, building a "community of communities — small towns in our big city" is a multi-year project to accommodate people. 

"This vision is for new and current residents to enjoy more housing, recreation, education and employment opportunities in all of Edmonton’s districts and to have more travel options within and across districts," reads the email.

From January through March, the city of Edmonton will assess the feedback already received from residents and compile a report for April. By early May, city officials are expected to advertise more "meaningful discussions" with the public, reported the Western Standard.

Upon further review by the Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board this summer, City Council will consider additional public feedback and likely approve new policy this fall.

City planners openly defend 15-minute communities, claiming their aim is to make cities more livable by ensuring all essential services — think schools, medical care, and shops — are within the distance of a short walk or bicycle ride.

Districts will help us build entire communities where we all can work, shop and enjoy nature, adds a city news release. "Planning our city on a district level also helps us be more thoughtful and efficient with our infrastructure like roads, transit and parks," it reads.

Earning praise from city planners, other residents have not shared in their enthusiasm, citing concerns about travel being limited within their districts.

"Our mayor, Amarjeet Sohi, would like Edmonton to become a 15-minute city, limiting our movement between districts, as they call it. They want us to spend 90% of our life in this 15-minute area so they can monitor our carbon footprint," said university student Alexa Posa.

She believes the city will market the initiative as positively as possible "because if they didn't, no one would agree."

Last November 4, United Conservative delegates proposed a prohibition on "any land use or development planning initiatives that would restrict movement of residents as per Section 6 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms." 

The Conservative grassroots rejoiced as the non-binding policy passed in near-unanimous fashion.

"There is much debate over the implementation of design strategies in urban areas which are known as '15 Minute Cities,' reads the policy resolution. "Broadly, the idea is to cut down on long commutes and car emissions and improve people's quality of life by ensuring they have access to quality services where they live, which are all benign and noble goals."

Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi permits the 15-minute city plan to address concerns on quality of life, including shortening commutes to work and trips to amenities like groceries, recreation, and restaurants.

He does not intend to restrict the movement of Edmontonians to their proposed district. 

City documents suggest the 15-minute communities project will help Edmonton reach 1.25 million people.

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