It’s The City Plan super combo: a large helping of public input with a side of technology (but no fries)

How do you create a plan for the future of a city if you can’t be sure what all the development might look like and you don’t have a crystal ball?

As the City of Edmonton works on creating The City Plan, it’s public engagement with thousands of Edmontonians, as well as modern software technology, that will help us develop that crystal ball and peer into the future.

The City Plan will replace the existing Ways strategic plans and will be Edmonton’s new Municipal Development Plan (MDP) and Transportation Master Plan (TMP). The City Plan will be a roadmap to get to a city that will be home to two million people. And it’s a plan that will protect what we value today, ensuring we can enjoy the good things about our city for years to come.

It’s kinda geeky.

Methods being used to develop the evidence-based City Plan include data, public feedback, City Council direction, expert advice, existing City policies and bylaws, as well as regional guidance and provincial requirements. The City Plan team will distill that information and create evaluation scenarios using spatial and travel demand modelling.

This process involves continually evaluating and incorporating feedback from the public, Council, and expert advice and applying those learnings to the models, helping us to arrive at the final City Plan.

The first step in creating the scenarios is good old-fashioned brain power, according to Pablo Orozco, a project engineer with The City Plan team.

“The entire team—engineers, planners, analysts —sat in a room and talked about some of the ways a city could grow and we came up with three scenarios,” said Orozco. “We were doing what residents pay us to do: use our judgement and our knowledge.”

The team that helped create The City Plan evaluation models. Front row, left to right: Rongxu Qiu, Emily Hurd, Arthur Poon. Back row, left to right: Thomas Lorincz, Cherry Liu, Arun Bhowmick, Joydip Majumder, Aileen Xu, Sandeep Datla. Not pictured are Suzanne Young, Sinisa Vukicevic and Juhon Yuan.

The team that helped create The City Plan evaluation models. Front row, left to right:
Rongxu Qiu, Emily Herd, Arthur Poon. Back row, left to right: Thomas Lorincz, Cherry Liu, Arun Bhowmick, Joydip Majumder, Aileen Xu, Sandeep Datla. Not pictured are Suzanne Young, Sinisa Vukicevic and Juhong Yuan.

The team ended up with three learning scenarios that model different distributions of jobs and population growth across the city.

With the scenarios developed, the team uses software to model the impacts of each scenario. Some programs show potential future land use, others help distribute population and employment and provide insight into future travel patterns, and other programs help with greenhouse gas modelling.

“As human beings we can only see what’s happening here and now,” said Howaida Hassan, General Supervisor of The City Plan team. “To me these tools help us envision what could happen because we can’t manipulate that many factors in our minds. It’s all based on data and our best judgement, so it’s an evidence-based way to go about planning our city.”

Howaida Hassan, left, Pablo Orozca and Wesley Andreas led The City Plan Modelling and Scenarios team.

Howaida Hassan, left, Pablo Orozco and Wesley Andreas led The City Plan Modelling and Scenarios team.

Using the models’ information, The City Plan team, as well as members of the public and experts can then discuss what ideas might work best in Edmonton. Public feedback is vital at this point.

“This is not a technocracy,” said Orozco. “The technology we use to build that crystal ball serves Edmontonians looking at and living in our city, now and in the years ahead. Using technology to get a look at the future shape of things. The different ways Edmonton might develop. How goods and people might move. Not concrete plans, but scenarios for discussion so that people remain the focus of The City Plan.”

NewCity Plan public engagement opportunities are taking place through June. We invite you to attend and share your thoughts and ideas about Edmonton’s future. Visit www.edmonton.ca/thecityplan to see a schedule of the upcoming public engagement events.

Editor’s Note: Watch this space soon for A City Plan built with Pride.

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