Edmonton city council green lights 20-storey Whyte Ave towers
Councillor takes issue with planning process, but majority support plan
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Whyte Ave is about to get much taller — and denser, too.
City council voted 10-2 (Coun. Tony Caterina was absent) Monday to green light the construction of Southpark on Whyte, a complex featuring two 20-storey towers on 81 Avenue and two four-storey buildings on Whyte itself.
But the decision didn’t make everyone happy.
Coun. Ben Henderson, who represents the area and voted against the proposal, suggested council jumped the gun on the decision.
He said the development violates the guidelines set out in both the proposed Plan Whyte and Winter City strategies — at 50.5 metres, Southpark is a smidgeon taller than the 50-metre height restriction and still shadows Whyte Ave from October to February.
“This stuff needs to be thought out and I really worry we’re being careless; it’s a really important asset for the city,” he said, referring to the popular shopping street. “This is not about saying no, it’s about recognizing we have an important asset and making sure we take care of it.”
But the majority of councillors felt the building will spruce up the street — it’ll include public park space and allow street-front retail.
Mayor Don Iveson, who noted the planning process was imperfect but supported the decision, said Plan Whyte signals Edmonton is changing.
“The next stages for us as a city are asking ourselves, ‘What is our comfort level over height?’” he said. “We talk about character and this (development) will change that experience, but so will it change having more residents and more business activity.This will contribute to the vibrant, walkable neighbourhood we’re trying to build”
One Properties will likely get development permits soon, with an eye to start construction in late 2017.