15 Minutes of Fame for 15 Minute Districts but Community-Building Lasts a Lifetime

So … there’s been a lot of talk about urban planning in Edmonton these past several weeks. It’s not a topic that usually gets much general attention.

Inaccurate tweets, posts, and blogs are being shared about how Edmonton’s City Plan and 15 Minute District planning efforts are a way for the municipality to separate, monitor, or even “contain” people and communities from one another. These sentiments couldn’t be further from the truth.

In fact, these plans are all about connecting neighbourhoods and aspire to weave together developments, amenities, and services. Building places for people is the goal. It’s a concept that has had several names in the past – Complete Communities, Mixed Use, Smart Growth, and more. Today, it’s simply a rebrand of prior planning principles that seek to enable more development opportunities and bring more amenities to more people.

Edmonton’s 15-minute districts, in a nutshell, are about allowing more activities to happen closer to home. It’s about building great places all over the city for local communities to take part in. Ideally, a wide variety of experiences are close enough to access without needing to travel across town to enjoy them – things like job opportunities, daycare, schools, recreation centres, housing, seniors facilities, commercial areas, and more.

In a cheeky tweet, Dr. Robert Summers, a professor at the University of Alberta’s School of Urban and Regional Planning, made a wish for the year – for more people to understand what urban planning is and how it can influence development in our communities. His wish panned out a bit differently than he had originally intended.

While online noise abounds, now is an opportune time to bring the importance of city building to the forefront in real life. Here are a few ways in which all Edmontonians can practically engage:

Download The City Plan – and read it. The City Plan provides Edmonton with guidance on how to grow and accommodate an additional one million more people. The policies are all about enabling more places to live, work, play, and supporting our movement throughout the entire city. Edmonton is regarded as a leader in creating tools to help Edmontonians understand policy better – like podcasts, videos, and even comic books for kids. Want to know where Edmonton is today, and where we are headed? Download the city’s plans and policies, and get in touch with the City of Edmonton.

Discuss and debate municipal issues. City building and the actual physical developments and projects that pop-up in our neighbourhoods take time. That means that all Edmontonians have an opportunity to have their voices heard and to contribute to the shape of our city. Have an opinion on what you’d like to see? Come out to a City Council meeting and share your perspective. Want to build something new? Invest in the future of the city and actively build the spaces and places that make it home.

Contribute to building your city and enjoy everything it offers. Cities are our habitat. It’s where we live and it includes all of us. We are all building the city together. City building typically happens one site and one property at a time and requires millions of individual investments, actions and commitment. So who are the city builders? Each and every one of us. If you rent, own, invest or enjoy the public spaces in our city – you are part of building Edmonton. So let’s all get off the mobile devices for a bit and take some time to explore places we’ve never been to before and invite friends and family to share our favorite local spots – whether it’s a cool café or special park.

Urban planning and development can be dry at times, and some people might even think they are boring subjects. The upside of all this engagement has been some unexpected interest in what our cities look like and what they can become. Now that we’re all chatting about the city together, let’s get down to the important business of building and investing in an awesome Edmonton.