The Northeast River Crossing Functional Planning Study
Some of you may have already been Riverbend followers/supporters three years ago when we attended the Area Structure Plan for Horse Hill at City Hall. For those of you who weren’t or don’t know much about this issue, how it affects Riverbend’s land and how we’re trying to fight against having our land expropriated for the highway/bridge project, I recommend you take a quick glance at our re-cap of where things stand as of Feb 2016 and the associated links that help give context to the issue.
That brings us to this week when we received some news from the Northeast River Crossing Project Team about concrete plans and timelines. In a letter to landowners, the team told us that the bridge and associated road constructions are expected to be constructed in 25-30 years. Now, this may seem like a long way off. In fact, we’d hope to be helping a new generation of farmers taking over Riverbend Gardens in 25-30 years. The problem is that, if this highway and bridge go across Riverbend’s land, that will not be a possibility.
Right now, the Northeast River Crossing Project Team is conducting a planning study where they will examine the options for the proposed highway. This gives us hope that we can provide decision makers with the information they need about Riverbend to understand that a highway and bridge over our land will have devastating consequences for our business, the Edmonton food scene and local food security. While the construction of a bridge may be 25-30 years in the future, the planning study to confirm it’s location is happening NOW. In fact, the presentation of feasible options and recommendation of alignment will be happening already in autumn 2017. This is a short window for us to make sure the planning study takes into consideration the value of local agricultural land and for that we need your help.
In order to prove the impact of RBG and the importance of local food continuing to be available in our community for future generations, we need you to you use your voice in this civic process.
We are asking for you to do as many of the following as possible:
Speaking to your elected representatives to tell them what you care about is proved to be the most effective means of influence. (you could use these talking points when speaking with them to help give context to your concerns)
Call or write the Northeast River Crossing Functional Planning Team:
(you could consider using this sample letter to make your concerns heard).
Attend the public meetings to engage with the planning team directly:
April 19 4-8pm @ Bethel Lutheran Church 298 Bethel Drive, Sherwood Park
April 20 3-8pm @ Horse Hill School, 19355 Meridian Street NW
If you have ANY questions or concerns about how you can help and any more information you need, don’t hesitate to give us a shout.
EALT Conservation Easement
Some of you may be familiar with Lady Flower Gardens, the community organization that operates on Riverbend Gardens’ land and aims to connect inner-city agencies with agriculture and food. Recently they’ve begun campaigning to fund a conservation easement for the land through the Edmonton Area Land Trust.
Riverbend Gardens has always been a strong proponent of land stewardship and we applaud any efforts that work towards keeping agricultural land active and vibrant in our community. However, right now all of Riverbend’s energy and resources are directed at countering the threat of expropriation by the province for the northeast river crossing project.
While an easement can be a great step towards ensuring that agricultural land remains agricultural land under private ownership, an easement WILL NOT protect the land from expropriation for the Northeast River Crossing Project. An easement may actually make the land more vulnerable to expropriation because it will cost the province up to 80% less to expropriate land under an easement, so we are not able to support the campaign to fund the EALT easement.
Our funds and resources are currently focused on working to ensure that decision makers have all the information they need about Riverbend Gardens land to ensure that the northeast river crossing project doesn’t doesn’t destroy all of our preservation efforts and there will be agricultural land here in the future to be preserved by an EALT easement.
With an incredible amount of response to the recently passed Bill 6 by our provincial government it’s unlikely you haven’t heard at least something about how this legislation will affect agriculture in Alberta. However, much of the response surrounding this bill comes from a place of extreme emotion and partisan politicking.
We want to help our community understand the why and how of these changes within a context of fact and civic participation.
If you’ve been a part of the RBG community for a while now you’ll know that the area of Edmonton we farm in (Horse Hills), is the site of some major planned development. The thing about development is that it takes a lot of time and process for things to move forward. In addition to this, the Horse Hills is a diverse area that contains many stakeholders, many viewpoints and a lot of recent municipal planning history.