Why does NIMBY still look blurry?
I try to keep an open mind and heart when it comes to NIMBY issues. But some days I struggle.
For instance, I love the far off sound of a train whistle. That sound soured when I lived in an RV and parked crazy close to a railway track. How many times can you be rattled awake before the charm, well, de-rails?
If my fondness can turn foul in such Mach-speed, how can I vote for development in the community when I really don’t want it on my street?
“I know that development is inevitable,” I’ll say, “but why here?” The word “hypocrite” is forming on my lips too.
So what about development that provides much-needed housing? How will you react when your future view includes three tall and wide towers with hundreds of units? Bye-bye to the sunshine you’ve enjoyed. Hello to increased traffic in your formerly low-density area.
This scenario is happening in a proposed Edmonton, Alberta, project called Holyrood Gardens. Neighbours recently saw a re-design of plans and are no less frustrated than with the first proposal.
“It looks junky, it looks trashy,” said neighbour Mary Ann Stefanich in an Edmonton Journal story by Hina Alam. “It looks like a slum. This is a beautiful neighbourhood – there is no character [to the new design],” Stefanich continued.
Other neighbours showed similar disappointment with comments they wrote on Sticky Notes: “Do not let greed of the developer turn this project into this ugly noncompliant mess.” One comment referred to the project as the Berlin Wall, “not nice to look at.”
Coun. Ben Henderson said it wasn’t what he’d hoped for. “We need to see development here, but we are hoping to see it done right and integrate with the community,” he said. “I hope that still happens.” The story is ongoing.
Smart City Hub offers several principles of successful strategic planning. What resonates is the BE COLLABORATIVE section: “The process should ensure that governance arrangements are sensitive to the interests of local culture and communities.”
Again, all logical planning-speak but not always attainable.
The primary goal of a city should NOT be to make landowners and construction companies wealthier, or politicians more powerful. Instead, must create alternatives that conform to human needs and wants of families. Let’s not define urbanism by egos – of planners, architects, politicians or the super-rich. Instead, let’s define urbanism by what works best for the most people. A tough task, for sure, albeit necessary.
May this “be collaborative” definition unfold for all sides in Holyrood Gardens.
Do you struggle with NIMBY issues? Let’s keep the conversation going – share your experiences, both success stories and cautionary tales.
Pixabay photo credits: Pedestrians by B-Me, Block by eugeniu, After Rain by sdumas29
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