My family bought in Windermere fully aware of the mix of residential and commercial spaces and I for one am very much looking forward to seeing how our community transforms in the coming years. Some of the residents in this subdivision are quite active (and vocal on social media) in their objections to businesses in the community or, at least, the types of businesses. For instance: no bars, few or no big box/chain stores, and an emphasis on local businesses and boutique-style shoppes. We’ve received several notices in our mailbox about proposed re-zoning and amendments to the proposals, most recently the explicit exclusion of a bar/pub-style establishment. How idyllic and narrow-minded. I posted my thoughts in the Facebook community group and also wanted to publish here since it can be hard to eliminate the noise from the messages in those groups. These are my (expanded upon) counterpoints to the points made in that group.
Businesses in the community are an advantage – you get to know business owners, our children can be employed locally, and more connections are made within the community. People can walk, ride, or drive a short distance to meet their needs instead of leaving their neighbourhood for the parking nightmares that are West Edmonton Mall and South Edmonton Common. A neighbourhood pub (not a bar in the nightclub sense) would be a welcome addition where people can relax, enjoy themselves, and get to know one another over a pint or glass of wine. I don’t see how this is so abhorrent to have in the community. I’m speculating that perhaps there’s the misperception that a pub-style establishment will create issues of public drunkenness and subsequent violence. I find this hard to accept given the newly-built southwest division police station would be two blocks down the street. As I said, the proposal to rezone to include a pub-style establishment was rescinded; an unfortunate instance of minority dissenters negatively impacting the rest of the community.
As for Big Box and chain stores, they aren’t terrible to have in the neighbourhood. These stores act as anchors for the shopping area and attract traffic, many people want these stores nearby (as opposed to driving to SEC), and larger stores can offer stable and more employment opportunities to community members (especially part-time jobs for kids). The key is to find the right balance of chain stores, professional offices and practices, and local boutique/mom-and-pop shops in order to engender a strong sense of community. With the major chains now established, I’d like to see the focus now shift to attracting independently-owned and operated businesses: banks, hair salons, health and wellness services, local restaurants, law offices, clothing boutiques, coffee shoppes, and – if for nothing else than slurpee runs – a convenience store or two.
The goal of Windermere should be a thriving, vibrant community where people love to work, play, and live. For that to happen, the right mix has to exist – homes, schools, parks, and businesses – and community members need to engage in healthy debate with the objectives of consensus-building and compromise. If you want to share your thoughts, opinions, or concerns about what’s planned for our community, feel free to comment here, share your opinions in the Windermere Community Group on Facebook, or contact Bryan Anderson (the city councillor for our community) who, in my experience, has been very open to sharing ideas and raising the level of discussion.