Construction has Begun

Dear Brookview Residents,
(Note: This was approved at the April 18, 2017 City Council Meeting)
On March 10th, 2016 the City of Edmonton sent all residents of Brookview (Bulyea Heights) a NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING regarding Bylaws:  17576 and 17577.  Unfortunately, the City provided no historical context, and the notice has resulted in more questions than answers.
The questions we are fielding from Brookview residents center around the legality of the rezoning of the original surplus school sites or the concept of self determination, as if our community had a say in what to do with the surplus school sites.  The actual Bylaws relate to combining the existing, already rezoned sites into one larger site, thus saving the more desirable green space near the Bulyea Road/Buchanan Road four-way stop.
Brookview Community League (“BCL”) and Brookview Community Homeowners Association (“BCAL”) thought we should clarify how and why these changes came to be. The Surplus School site adjacent to Bulyea/Buchanan/Burley four-way stop, currently used for mini soccer fields, was rezoned for a First Place row housing development in 2006; the Surplus School site between George Luck School and the Husky Gas Station was rezoned for a Seniors Centre in 2012.  In both instances, BCAL and BCL opposed the rezoning applications, but City Council voted in favour of the rezoning.
In 2006, BCAL surveyed the residents of Brookview.  The survey made it clear Brookview residents opposed the First Place row housing development.  Residents expressed concerns about consultation and input into the First Place development.  Since 2006 and especially after 2012, we have noticed an attempt by the City to consult with us.
Since 2012, the City has engaged in a dialogue with both BCL and BCAL.  The presidents of BCL and BCAL became the co-liaisons for our community in regards to the Surplus School Sites and the First Place Program. We shared the concerns about transportation congestion and safety.  We have concerns about access to the parkland; visibility, sports fields, parking and pathways will be disrupted by any new development.
In 2012, when it became evident that the second Brookview surplus school site would be rezoned to a Seniors site, our Councilor Bryan Anderson offered a solution which would protect one of the sites (Bulyea Road & Buchanan), while enlarging the other.  By extending the Seniors site deeper west towards Terwillegar Drive, we could have only one development on Bulyea Road.  Our feeling is the space behind the existing rezoned Senior site is less useful for us as a community than the green space near the Bulyea/Buchanan four-way stop.
BCL, BCAL and concerned residents of Brookview attended the Public Hearings in 2012 to oppose the second rezoning, but it was clear the majority of Councilors and the then Mayor were in favour of the rezoning.  Councilor Anderson spoke against the motion and voted against it, but it passed by a wide margin.  Councilor Anderson then made a motion to explore the possibility of joining the two sites between the Husky and George Luck.  The new Bylaws 17576 and 17577 accomplish this.
Because the City would not allow utilities and road access to cross one purposed site to another, the City is proposing the new site (same surface area as the two sites combined) to be a single purpose site; First Place site rather than a Seniors site.  While some residents may prefer a Seniors Facility to a First Place site, BCAL and BCL have chosen to support the decision to make it a First Place development.  We are sure there are a number of reasons the City is proposing a First Place site rather than a Seniors site, not the least of which they haven’t polled developers if the site would be useful for a seniors site.  From our vantage point, we know the First Place site will have fewer units and less density than a Seniors Site.  The zoning for a seniors site allows for a four story facility.  To be economical, the developer would push the envelope and build as large a facility as possible.  We do not know the exact nature of a seniors site, but for every senior who is too old to drive, you would have extra staff for care, cleaning and food services.  With multiple shifts in a day, we feel the larger facility with more inhabitants and staff, would cause more strain on our roads and park than the proposed First Place site.
Our community has been busy working on a parkland redevelopment to mitigate the effects of one or two developments.  We are prepared to make the necessary changes to the sports fields, parkland, walk ways and parking to minimize the negative effects of any development, but we are at a crossroads.  If many Brookview residents cling to the notion that we will be able to stop the developments, we fear we will lose this opportunity to join the two surplus school sites into one larger one.  If these bylaws are not passed, the original First Place site (Bulyea Rd/Buchanan) is scheduled for consultations in 2017 and construction in 2018.  Once that begins, we will have missed our opportunity to have a single (albeit larger) site.
By supporting the combination of sites, BCL and BCAL do not give up our right to object to the original rezoning and the legality of the Council’s actions.  BCAL and BCL are not aware of any successful attempt to change, stop or otherwise slow down the City on any rezoned Surplus School site since 2006.  While some communities have tried to challenge these rezonings, other groups have received legal advice (including our BCAL (home owners)) and we are not aware of any successful attempt.  If potential legal options present themselves, the combining of the two sites into one poses no threat to the success of a legal challenge.
The original hearing for Bylaws 17576 and 17577 originally scheduled for April 4th was postponed to April 18th so that Councilor Anderson could be in attendance.  The Presidents of both BCL and BCAL were in attendance and the merger of the two sites was approved.
The City then pushed forward the consultation process because the developer wanted to start early.  Construction has now begun.

Elmar Klapstein, President, Brookview Community League (BCL)
Harold Hornig, President, Brookview Community Homeowners’ Association (BCAL)