Imagine Edmonton Trail as a new urban magnet in the inner city.
That’s what residents of three Calgary communities will be asked to do in the next two months, as part of a visioning process for their area.
Residents of the three northeast communities attended a visioning session with the Federation of Calgary Communities (FCC) and University of Calgary on Saturday, Feb. 2 at the Renfrew Community Centre.
The meeting was attended by about 70 residents, business owners, and stakeholders in the communities of Bridgeland-Riverside, Crescent Heights, and Renfrew.
Among the guests was Ald. Druh Farrell, whose Ward 7 includes Crescent Heights.
The attendees were introduced to the project where urban studies students, under the direction of Dr. Geoff Ghitter, will be studying Edmonton Trail and the three neighbouring communities until April as part of a senior capstone class.
The project, which is a university exercise with real-world implications, is run by the FCC.
“The purpose of this class is to envision a part of the city as it might be in the future and if it were to transform into something that would conform into the concept of urban sustainability,” said Ghitter.
Students will study the social, physical, and economic environments of the communities as a whole in order to understand the needs of each one.
“Having this applied experience is just phenomenal for them and it really helps the communities kick start their own planning initiatives,” said Karly Morgan, an urban planner at the FCC.
The three communities were chosen by the FCC and Ghitter last summer, after communities throughout the city were asked to send in applications to become part of the project. Communities wrote about current issues they were facing, and the FCC and Ghitter selected Renfrew’s application.
“This year, Renfrew, Crescent Heights, and Bridgeland-Riverside was especially interesting to [Ghitter], because of the potential for a northern transit link, which could go down Centre Street or Edmonton Trail,” said Morgan.
The residents answered several questions in a world-café-type setting, where smaller groups held discussions which were facilitated by the students. The students gathered the responses and presented them to the attendees.
“The goal of the students is to take that information and come up with a vision or a plan for the neighbourhood, which originates with the community themselves,” said Ghitter.
The students will present their plans to the communities on April 20.
Ghitter has run this project for four years in other areas of the city, but for the first time the FCC will be following up with the communities shortly after if they want to implement any of the changes suggested by the students.
“I think it’s a really great project and it’s so helpful for the students to really see what’s involved in planning in Calgary,” said Morgan.