Visualizing Edmonton’s Municipal Development Plan

The Municipal Development Plan (MDP), also known as “The Way We Grow”, is the City of Edmonton’s strategic land use plan. You can think of it as the implementation of the City Vision for the next ten years (along with its sister document, the Transportation Master Plan). The next public hearing on the draft MDP takes place tomorrow (you can download the agenda in Word here).

From the Executive Summary:

By the year 2040, Edmonton will be home to more than 1 million people. To accommodate our growth and to aid Edmonton’s evolution to a more sustainable, healthy and compact city, this plan takes a holistic city building approach to managing growth and development. Success will give Edmonton a grater range of housing, living and work place choice, greater financial sustainability, an ecological system throughout the city and a fully functioning integrated transit and land use system.

Though a plan like this is probably just good to have, it’s also required by the Municipal Government Act – all municipalities in Alberta with populations greater than 3,500 are required to prepare a Municipal Development Plan.

The draft MDP is a hefty document, so I like to start by trying to visualize it. Here’s a Wordle of the entire 141 page draft document (which you can download in PDF here), with common terms (such as Edmonton or Municipal Development Plan) removed:

I thought it would be interesting to compare that with the current 109-page MDP (which you can download in PDF here):

Not surprisingly, they are fairly similar. The three that jump out at me are “neighbourhoods”, “transportation”, and “transit” in the draft plan – all are much smaller in the current plan. On the flip side, “business” and “services” are much larger in the current plan.

The key bullet points from the draft plan describe what the City of Edmonton is attempting to achieve:

  • Emphasizing the role urban design plays in a world class city.
  • Recognizing the need to address Edmonton’s financial sustainability by integrating land use and transportation decisions with city infrastructure and lifecycle costing.
  • Shifting from an auto-oriented transportation system to a system offering citizens more choice of transportation modes.
  • Focusing investment to transportation corridors that facilitate the movement of goods within the City and throughout the region.
  • Promoting integration of ecological networks and biodiversity in our approach to land use.

I haven’t read the entire thing, but two themes seem to be common throughout the draft MDP – population growth and financial sustainability. Edmonton’s current population of 782,439 is expected to grow by 400,000 people by 2040. Here’s what that looks like:

Looks a bit like the classic hockey stick curve! It takes a lot of infrastructure to support that many people. The City of Edmonton currently has more than $32.6 billion of City-owned infrastructure, most of which has a life cycle of 50 years. That’s a big number, so here’s a visualization to hopefully help you make sense of it:

I tried to pick items related to Edmonton in some way. It’ll be interesting to see how that number grows over time.

Proposed revisions and amendments to the draft will be considered by City Council tomorrow. The next public hearing is currently scheduled for November 12th. That gives you lots of time to scan through the document if you’re up to the challenge!

I’ll have more on the MDP over the next few weeks.