It’s no secret the biggest change in Edmonton over the last few years has been the reinventing of the downtown core, but the outer fringes of the city are by no means static.
Granted, the suburbs have held few surprises – developers buy farmers’ fields, services are brought in and people buy houses. Significant population increases in a prairie city equate to suburban growth.
From 1913 until the discovery of Leduc oil in 1947, Edmonton held steady at 105 square kilometres of land within its borders.
|Kenton Friesen photos, Business Edge|
|The growth of Edmonton’s suburbs continues unabated. Above, homes in the Parklands suburb in west Edmonton. Below right, a home under construction in The Pines of Rutherford. Below left, new townhouses in Oxford Mews in north Edmonton.|
Oil changed everything, and by 1956 the city had grown by 41 square kilometres and doubled its population to 254,800.
The period from 1980 to 1994 dramatizes suburban growth with about 70 per cent of the building permits given to the suburbs. Almost half a century later, oil continues to change everything. The city now encompasses more than 700 square kilometres.
Thousands of hectares of annexed land have yet to be hit by the earth-moving brigade, but developments are marching toward the boundaries on every side. There are many questions concerning the wisdom of continuously sprawling urbanity, but the free market obviously likes it, and there is no shortage of demand.
The suburbs have often been accused of lacking character, with every house looking the same as its neighbour. While that can be said of some surrounding communities, there are a number that feature a wondrous variety of housing styles.
Some developers are adding distinction to their communities by demanding building procedures that adhere to niche-specific guidelines – admirably demonstrated by the quaint characteristics of Terwillegar Towne.
Houses continue to be built on fairly small lots (though not small enough for many with environmental concerns), but the setting aside of walking trails, ponds and old-growth treed areas has never been more popular. Look no further than Rutherford’s trail system, Summerside’s recreational lake or Signature Pointe’s intertwining greenbelt.
The Devonshire Village in Terwillegar Gardens is a prominent example of mixing a multi-family component into suburbs – a trend that is increasing the intensification factor.
Retail and commercial sections are also no stranger in most developing suburbs, helping keep traffic contained when it comes to fetching day-to-day necessities.
Edmonton is no stranger to shedding its old skin and presenting a youthful epidermis. And as long as the city grows, its suburbs will continue to freshen with new life.