Confused Planning: The Clash Between Freeways, Parkland Preservation And LRT In Mid-20th Century Edmonton
Much of Edmonton’s municipal past lacked any overarching development plan. Once such absentee municipal planning gave way to more concrete forms of municipal planning in terms of shaping the urban environment, conflicting goals soon emerged. Between 1949 and the early 1980s a conflict in planning goals within both the Edmonton District Planning Commission and the City of Edmonton, at this time governed with a commission board became apparent. Often this conflict played out in Edmonton’s river valley with competing visions of preservation and freeway construction. River valley neighborhoods were threatened with land acquisition policies that viewed the river valley as the sole domain of parkland. Concurrently, those neighborhoods and much of the river valley were also threatened by the Metropolitan Edmonton Transportation Study (METS). Citizen engagement in an otherwise politically apathetic city (prior to this) led to its demise, although the threat of large-scale removal of river valley parks and homes throughout the city loomed for some time. The period between 1949 and 1983 represents a period in Edmonton’s history where environmental protection policy clashed with transportation policy that advocated for the wholesale destruction of the river valley and countless homes. It is this conflict that led to increased political awareness that directly contributed to the demise of the METS scheme and gave rise to renewed support for river valley protection while making rapid transit a possibility for Edmonton.