Public information sharing and engagement is required in every community where First Place housing has been approved.
The City takes responsibility for sharing all available information and for listening to community concerns, questions and insights that will help make the development the best possible “fit” in the neighbourhood.
You can see the status of communication and engagement in your community. In general, the process follows these steps:
1) Council Discussion and Direction
In 2006, City Council approved a plan to develop First Place housing on 20 sites declared surplus by school boards. Due to a sense of urgency around providing more housing choices for Edmontonians, a Provincial Order-In-Council enabled all sites to be rezoned at one time without the public hearing process normally attached to rezoning applications.
City Council directed administration in 2014 to place notification signs on all surplus school sites showing clearly the location and size of the building site, the adjacent open space, and other associated features.
2) Community Liaison Group
A Community Liaison Group has been created with community volunteers who serve to receive City updates and share information back to their communities as these projects develop.
The City's project team goes out to meet with the leadership in each community (community league executives, homeowner association executives, possibly others) to provide an overview of program rationale, outcomes and possible timelines for initial soil testing and eventual development.
The team notes all questions, concerns and insights as well as suggestions for when and where a broader public meeting should be held.
3) Public meetings
The team organizes a public meeting in a school or hall, and mails an invitation to every home in the community. Community leagues and associations post information on their websites if they consider this of value to members.
The public meeting is an opportunity for the City to provide more complete information on the program rationale, outcomes and possible timelines. Answers will be provided to all questions as far as possible. Additional questions and insights from the community are noted.
Participants are invited to provide their names and e-mail addresses if they wish to subscribe to updates and other communications.
Sometimes, if there is more than one surplus school site on the parcel of land, residents may ask if the First Place housing could be moved to the alternate site. The City will undertake an examination of whether the alternate site is feasible in regards to:
- additional cost
- technical challenges
- effects on marketability of the homes
If one or more of these conditions indicates the alternate site is not suitable, the approved site will be developed.
Further public meetings will be held as necessary to ensure community questions and concerns are answered as fully as possible. The meetings also provide an opportunity for residents to offer their names for a Design Engagement Group.
Names are chosen with the intent of forming a group that is representative of neighbours close to and neighbours further away from the development.
4) Design and Construction
The Design Engagement Group meets directly with the builder over a series of working sessions to develop consensus around the structural footprint and how it aligns with special views, access to sportsfields, etc, as well as ideas around parking, security, fencing, landscaping, trees and architectural details such as rooflines and trim that help the development “fit” with the neighbourhood.
The final step is for the builder to apply for development and building permits and begin construction.