An interesting little item in yesterday’s Edmonton Journal about developer contributions for new infrastructure:

Road building rules around new Edmonton developments are about to get a revamp — but just how the jobs get funded may prove to be a speed bump.


work on the Anthony Henday around Edmonton

The city’s transportation committee received a report Wednesday outlining options to change the way highway penetrators — large roadways that serve as feeder routes into the city — are dealt with when subdivisions are built around them.

“Typically, subdivisions are built and land is dedicated for roads to carry that traffic through a four-lane road,” said transportation manager Dorian Wandzura. “In our agreement with the province around provincial highways that come farther into the city limits, they’ve asked for a bigger carrying capacity because they’re an extension of a provincial highway.

The report includes five roadways considered penetrators on the west and south parts of the city — Stony Plain Road, Whitemud Drive, 23rd Avenue, Terwillegar Drive and 50th Street. It recommends standardizing the system so developers are limited to dedicating land for six lanes of penetrators but also requiring developers to construct four of them.


Whitemud Drive


Basically, the deeper a developer builds into the City of Edmonton, the more road capacity they are responsible for providing. Seems a fine way to incentivize greater development and sprawl outside the city limits and car-dependency inside it. Not surprisingly, some developers are opposed.

“Users can’t also pay for that because others are benefiting as well,” said Brad Armstrong, vice president of community development with Qualico Communities, a company that has a number of properties in various phases of development in the city.

Russell Dauk, who spoke on behalf of the Rohit Group, said developers are happy to share the cost of road building in areas where they are building homes. But since a six-lane road likely serves more people than just those moving into the homes, the cost should be spread to others in the region.

“Coun. Scott McKeen reminded that, for the city, that leaves one option. The only other option we have would be the general taxpayer,” said McKeen.

“Coun. Michael Oshry, who chairs the committee, also brought up the fact that developers should be working those costs into their business models, but agreed they have a valid argument if the cost is simply going to be shifted to home buyers. The committee agreed to let administration come up with amendments to the city’s arterial road policy and bring them to council.


This is a very clumsy formula that essentially mandates sprawl in one form or another. It’s telling that simply not building more road capacity is not an option at all.