[Update, April 20, 2012: City Administration sent an email (quoted below) to the Blue Quill Community League yesterday indicating that the Skyrattler site is being put on hold for further review. I continue to press for more community involvement in decisions affecting all these sites, and will demand meaningful community input into the options for developing this site:
"The Skyrattler site included within the City of Edmonton First Place Home Ownership Program is being reviewed. The review will examine location needs, market potential and potential infrastructure requirements and connections.
"While the site was proposed for development in Phase 1, development will not proceed this year until the review is complete Once the review has been completed, the City will connect with the Blue Quill community league to discuss next steps. Development may take place at a later date
"The City will continue its Phase 1 development with the remaining three sites and also continue work on review and preparation of remaining First Place sites. For future program updates watch www.edmonton.ca/firstplace"
In 2006 Edmonton Public and Edmonton Catholic declared surplus 20 pieces of land set aside for schools. In many cases residents are unaware that these parcels were not meant to be park in perpetuity and in fact were always intended for development.
That same year City Council decided to zone these 20 sites to allow for townhouses as part of the First Time Homebuyers program, which is now called First Place. Two of the sites were advanced as pilot projects. A comprehensive review was concluded in 2011 and it was decided that the remaining 18 sites would move ahead over the next decade in phases (here is the schedule).
Last year when the pilot review and path ahead were being discussed I proposed a motion to review all 18 sites to see whether a different type of development might be more appropriate. It did not pass. (Minutes of the meeting are here).
The next phase of four developments includes one on Saddleback Road in Skyrattler. It will occupy 1.2 hectares out of the four hectare park, which is the same area the school development would have occupied. It will be developed with approximately 50 townhouses, which is permitted by the zoning Council applied in 2006.
I have heard loud and clear (and share) resident concerns about the process Council used to rezone these sites in 2006 and I do not think there was adequate public consultation about the change from school use to residential use.
However, I do support developing these school sites, and while I think other forms of development (e.g. seniors housing) might be more needed, I believe that the town housing will be built to a high standard.
More information can be found at www.edmonton.ca/firstplace.
In 2009 the school boards released another 20 sites. The City is exploring options for development on these sites as well. For Ward 10 these are in Blue Quill (Saddleback and 112 St), Erminskin (25 Ave & 106 St) and Keheewin (105 St and 20 Ave).
I have made it clear that I expect a more open process for decision making about this next round of surplus school sites.