As many of you know, we’ve been very involved in the politics surrounding the development of our neighbourhood, the Horse Hills. While we’re happy to be farming inside of the city limits of Edmonton, this proximity comes with it’s own set of challenges and concerns. In case you aren’t familiar with the ongoing development saga of the NorthEast, you can brush up here on the plans and projects involved in the Area Structure Plan as well as the proposed provincial highway crossing in our area.
After months of meetings and research, late in 2017, the Northeast River Crossing Planning Project Committee came out with six options for the proposed highway crossing in the Horse Hills. These options bring both good news and bad news. The good news is that not a single option proposes to cross Riverbend Gardens’ land. In the years leading up to this study we were always lead to believe that the highway would inevitably cross our land and make RBG a non-viable agricultural producer. We can hardly express our relief at seeing these options steer clear of our fields.
The bad news is, that this is not the case for all agricultural producers in the area who want to continue to farm in this area. Our neighbour, Norbest Farms, grow seed potatoes and have done so on their land for over 40 years. Being our next door neighbour their fields share many of the same qualities our land has which makes it exceptional agricultural land. Their proximity to the river, the micro-climate and the quality of the soil make their fields very valuable growing land and well worth preserving. It’s the kind of land that you just can’t replicate.
Only one of the six highway placement options avoids Norbest Farm’s land in favour of non-production land. This option is designated as “S2N3”. And while none of the proposed options actually cross Riverbend land, by far the best option for us is S2N3 as well. It keeps the highway a little further away from our fields (rather than running right beside them), doesn’t bisect any farms (no one wants farm equipment crossing a high speed highway) and creates a natural barrier between planned future residential spaces and agricultural operations. You can see all the options below to get a better understanding of the proposed crossings at this time.
S1 Highway Options
S2 Highway Options
This is where you come in, because after all, it is not farmers who will be able to save their farms, but rather, a community of people dedicated to protecting agricultural land in the Edmonton area. The best part is that right now, it’s really easy to show your support. All you need to do is to let the Northeast River Crossing Planning Study members know where you stand and what you’d like to see as the next steps arising from this study.
We encourage you to email:
Public Engagement Lead, CAROL CRAIG (email@example.com) and
Project Manager, CHRISTOPHER WINTLE (firstname.lastname@example.org)
to tell them that you support the S2N3 highway crossing option because you value local farmers and preserving agricultural land is important to you.
If you haven’t heard about it yet, the Sexy Men of YEG Food calendar is available for sale and all proceeds will be going to the Edmonton Food Bank!
Our very own Aaron Herbert is a part of this great project and we picked his brain this week about what it feels like to be a male model and local heartthrob. (We even have a few outtakes for you to enjoy!)
We are not agriculturalists. We are not down on the farm. In fact over 80 per cent of Albertans live in urban centres concentrated in the urban Edmonton / Red Deer / Calgary corridor. We do all sorts of occupations other than farm work. We have left our agricultural heritage in the dust as we look to the future, and for the most part that’s good.
But we still have to eat. A growing number of people (and it’s becoming a chorus, not a voice in the wilderness) think it’s better for our health, our environment, and our economy if we eat more things grown closer to home.
It’s easy to understand Janelle and Aaron Herbert’s anxiety about the provincial highway and residential development planned for the area surrounding their northeast Edmonton property. The simple reason? It’s too pretty a place to contemplate losing.
When Hollywood calls for an idyllic setting, it looks like their 140-acre farm, located at the end of a gravel road lined with wild chokecherry and silver willow. A driveway curls down a hill overlooking furrowed fields and ends at a 100-year-old clapboard farmhouse, its door swinging with the whims of the couple’s three young children. For a backyard, there’s an old-growth forest of poplar and spruce stretching to the city limits, marked by the North Saskatchewan River, the farm’s water source.
In February 2013, Janelle spoke at the public hearing on the Horse Hill Area Structure Plan. Below is a copy of the speech she presented at that time.
The chambers of city council were filled to the brim on Monday and Tuesday as concerned residents debated the proposed development of the mainly agricultural area of Horse Hill.
The Horse Hill Area Structure Plan (ASP) is a bylaw that will see much of the city’s farmland in the northeast developed into urban, residential land.
Ultimately the bylaw was pushed through by city council on Tuesday.
I had initially hoped this ASP would cerate some exciting opportunities to work with the cluster along 197 Avenue near the river to plan a neighbourhood and that integrated them. And even though there was significant public support for their protection and sustainability, the plan doesn’t protect them. At best it tolerates them. And because of the conceptual provincial road alignment, their long-term future is in doubt.
In late February 2013, the Edmonton City Council held a public hearing regarding the Horse Hills North East Area Structure Plan (ASP). As this ASP has direct and dangerous consequences for Riverbend Gardens, Janelle spoke to city council about preserving agricultural land in the North East and how this ASP would change life not only for Riverbend Gardens but for Edmonton’s local food scene. Her speech to Edmonton City Council is as follows: