News / Edmonton

Edmonton city councillors approve controversial Oliver plan

Over the objections of the surrounding community, city councillors passed a new plan for the former Molson Brewery site late Monday night.

In a 10 - 3 vote, councillors approved the redevelopment, which include apartment buildings and power-centre type shopping areas.

Coun. Don Iveson, who stood opposed alongside Coun. Linda Sloan and Coun. Ben Henderson, said land in Edmonton’s core should not be used for a suburban strip mall.

“All of a sudden good enough is good enough,” he said.

Mayor Stephen Mandel accepted the developers argument that the market isn’t demanding higher-density, pedestrian-oriented development. He said it was better than leaving the land undeveloped.

“I think this will be of benefit to the city and otherwise that land will sit there for five years,” he said.

The developers, First Capital Reality and Sun Life Insurance, said the development would be changed over time, but this plan serves the area today. They also said any delay on council’s part would cost a construction season and $2 million.

“What we have is something that is sustainable for the next 10 or 15 years. Alternatively, as I said to council, we could leave the ground fallow and wait for the market to present itself,” said Ralph Huizinga with First Capital, adding that the existing site was like “Downtown Beirut.”

Oliver resident Mark Gitzel said they wanted the development off the ground, but not this style.

“The site may look like downtown Beirut now, but I would prefer downtown Beirut to suburban Phoenix,” he said.

Chris vander Hoek, with the Oliver community league, said council’s move leaves the community dependent on the developer’s promises and he expected more.

“We don’t know if any of the concerns we addressed will be brought up in the future,” he said.

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