Following the success of their Project 10 initiative

By Erica Marie

Residents in mature neighbourhoods recognize that issues such as poverty, crime and abandoned properties undermine the beauty and character their area has to offer. Derelict properties, particularly, are a significant challenge for neighbours as they continue to pose safety concerns and promote criminal activity.  

 

Desperate for change, community members asked for help in addressing these problem properties. After conversations with McCauley and Alberta Avenue residents, the Edmonton Community Development Company (ECDC) began an innovative initiative in 2020 called Project 10 to demolish ten problem properties and build new homes for families to purchase.  

 

What started as a proof of concept has now evolved into an effective revitalization approach for mature neighbourhoods. With the support of the City of Edmonton, the ECDC is committed to acquiring another twenty-two problem properties by the end of 2024. 

Timeline

With the evolution of Project 10, the organization will be conducting additional research to expand the number of problem properties in its database. Their goal is to purchase all twenty-two derelict properties by 2024.  

 

Acquiring problem properties also come with its own challenges as they are not always up for sale. In some cases, owners hold on to properties hoping that they will increase in value while leaving the property abandoned, or repairs become too expensive, and they are left neglected for years. Purchasing these properties can become a lengthy process if owners are unwilling to sell or if it moves into foreclosure and are before the courts. Considering these factors, the ECDC will strive to purchase twenty-two problem properties within the next two years.  

Communities

The scope of Project 10 includes four problem properties within both McCauley and Alberta Avenue and one each in Eastwood and Parkdale. Along with these communities, the ECDC is looking to expand in the neighbourhoods of Inglewood, Britannia-Youngstown, Balwin, Belvedere, Queen Mary Park, Central McDougall, Jasper Place and Chinatown. 

 

If you are a resident in any of these communities, you can report problem properties by filling out the questionnaire below.

Community Engagement

As a People First non-profit organization, the ECDC maintains that transparency and communication are integral to its principles. Their engagement strategy includes proactively involving neighbours in identifying problem properties and notifying them when properties are acquired and demolished. Updates on the construction of each home are posted on their website and social media platforms.  

 

It is particularly important for the ECDC and its builders to be diligent during the pre-development stage. While the houses are vacant at the time of possession, they are susceptible to fire, trespassing, dumping, squatting, and vandalism. The ECDC ensures proper signage and neighbourhood flyers are distributed during critical stages in the pre-development and construction process.  

 

The ECDC also intends to engage with community leaders and business associations within these new neighbourhoods to identify problem properties that are suitable for residential redevelopment.  

Approach

Many of the strategies used during the Project 10 initiative will remain the same as ECDC expands its initiative to twenty-two more properties. However, ECDC wants to increase their builders’ minimum energy efficiency requirements and build basement suites in each unit so people can have them for extended families or rental income opportunities.  

 

In addition, the ECDC would like to create a homeownership program that includes financial literacy and matched savings account. There could be a potential partnership with another non-profit organization to help provide families with modern and affordably priced homes.  

City Plan

The ECDC’s initiative is congruent with the City of Edmonton’s Neighbourhood Revitalization Program outlined in the City’s 10-year strategic plan. The program’s objective is to enhance livability in mature and established neighbourhoods across Edmonton and to mobilize community-led action.  

 

As a result of the City’s partnership with the ECDC, the organization can directly support their ‘Healthy City’ strategic goal of making Edmonton a neighbourly, equitably governed city with a sense of community and personal wellness for everyone. It also contributes to Edmonton’s ‘Urban Places’ strategic goal, whereby neighbourhoods are more vibrant as density increases, housing options are abundant, and residents and businesses flourish.  

Impact

When ECDC began this project, the City had 486 problem properties in their database. Ten properties were always just the beginning for the organization. It may seem like a small number, but its impact is substantial on the neighbours living with the burden of these problem properties. With twenty-two more on the way, the ECDC hopes its redevelopment efforts will rejuvenate communities and strengthen their economic position. 

Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments