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Planning Committee Information

The Planning Committee has been an important function of the community league for many years now.

As one of the oldest communities of Edmonton (and Strathcona before that), The Garneau was a very stable, very sought after neighbourhood ever since its founding in the early 1900s, due in large part to its proximity to the University of Alberta. Many university and other professional people lived here. In the 1960s two things happened to change this:  suburbs were being established in Edmonton and many people moved out to them away from the inner city neighbourhoods; secondly, the University expropriated a large area of the northern part of the neighbourhood from 87 Avenue to Saskatchewan Drive and from 112 Street to 110 Street.  Although it was said at the time that these blocks were urgently required for university expansion, nothing in fact happened for many years. This was the beginning of a souring of the relationship between the university and the community which only recently has, perhaps, begun to heal.

Into the vacuum created by these changes came the developers, eager to exploit the development potential of land near the university and the hospital. Some extremely large and incompatible high rises were built in the 1960s and many developers started accumulating parcels of land in the neighbourhood for even more future high rises. Had this continued, the community would have been destroyed. However, another trend, which began in the 1970s, saved the day. There were many people who loved the old character houses in the neighbourhood and thought they, along with the community, were worth saving. They moved in and began renovating the housing stock. There was also a change in the Alberta Planning Act which introduced the concept of Area Redevelopment Plans.

Three neighbourhoods were under siege from developers in the mid 1970s: The Garneau, Groat Estate, and Oliver. Community people from these three neighbourhoods formed planning groups which had two thrusts—to oppose the numerous applications to build more high rises and to persuade City Council that these neighbourhoods should have Area Redevelopment Plans. These plans were to direct any future development in a way that was sensitive to the nature of the community and would bring stability to the use of land. Everyone realised that fighting developments on an ad hoc basis was no way to plan a community; and it was exhausting. There were times when Planning Committee members were appearing either before City Council or the Development Appeal Board on a monthly basis.

This was the genesis of the Planning Committee. It was formed as a commitee of the community league in 1974 with the avowed aim to preserve The Garneau.  Any community residents who subscribe to this goal may join the Planning Committee.

The Garneau Area Redevelopment Plan was passed by City Council in 1983. It has served us well for many years now. With it came a realisation by developers and city planners that they had to consult the community before plowing ahead with their development ideas. So for these many years, a large number of dedicated community residents have met with developers, negotiated with developers and city planners, and organised countless community meetings and appearances at the city, all because they have been and continue to be determined to preserve The Garneau as the liveable and prized community it is.

Anne de Villars – Chair
April 2010