North Glenora residents concerned with planned housing developments

Some residents in a central Edmonton neighbourhood worry changes planned by a developer won’t attract as many young families to the area as aging townhomes are replaced with new apartment units.

Regency Developments bought several 1950s townhouse properties in the North Glenora area a few years ago. It has slowly rezoned the properties with the city to allow four-storey apartment buildings.

Each building will have about 40 units with two bedrooms and a handful of one-bedroom suites.

Tanya French told CTV News Edmonton that she lived in her patio home in North Glenora as a tenant for her 12-year-old daughter’s entire life.

“I guess we sort of knew that these places wouldn’t last forever,” French said.

“I can see the point of wanting to get rid of them, but I don’t really understand the point of putting in more single people basically,” French added. “Cause it’s kind of more of a family neighbourhood.”

Raj Dhunna, Regency Developments chief operating officer, said many families live in its apartment buildings across the city. The developer has built more than 1,500 units in Edmonton.

For him, any new row housing unit development would come with much higher rent.

“The key element here is affordability,” Dhunna said. “We’re replacing two bedrooms with two bedrooms. The layouts are actually a lot more functional than a townhome is.”

Dhunna added that Regency Developments had always intended to demolish the townhouse units to build a new project. He said all the townhouse units have two bedrooms.

A map displaying the status of rezoning applications for apartment complexes in the North Glenora (CTV News Edmonton)

“These one, two-bedrooms that are coming in, we couldn’t afford them,” said Bobby-Ann Warrior, a resident of the area the new development in North Glenora is being built.

The nearby Coronation Elementary School nearly had to close a few years ago due to low attendance. Recently built townhouses designated as affordable housing have helped bring families to keep the school open.

In Warrior’s mind, the townhouse versus apartment debate is irrelevant, it is the cost that will drive families away from the area.

“They’re going to lose all those kids cause these parents just can’t,” she added. “They can’t do it.”

Regency Developments says the successfully rezoned site will start demolition this fall.

City council is scheduled to discuss what happens to the other sites in the area on Aug. 31.

Karen Burgess, a communications advisor for the city, said no official position on the project has been reached by the city. Their position will be made public after the report summarizing public consultation on the project is released ahead of the rezoning meeting in August.

“This rezoning is a developer-driven and not a City-driven development,” Burgess said in a statement. “Developers have the right to make rezoning applications and the City is obligated to process such applications, make a recommendation and then advance them to City Council for a decision.

“The City makes its recommendation on proposed rezonings by conducting a thorough planning analysis, which carefully weighs the application in the context of all policy and technical considerations.”