In the far southwest corner of Edmonton, where swaths of new single-family homes encroach on fields of wheat and canola, a century-old stand of trees provides an episode for the long-running drama of pavement versus paradise.
Well, not pavement, exactly (a stormwater pond) and not paradise, perhaps, but it’s still pretty nice. And, for reasons that are unclear, it’s threatened by Edmonton’s insatiable need to expand.
The stand of aspen, dogwoods and wild rose bushes makes up about three hectares of a 30-hectare property owned by Darryl Howery, an independent consultant who specializes in municipal financing, and his family. About two-thirds of the land is in the river valley, where Howery rents a house and barns to a small-scale farmer. Up top, he has a shed, a u-pick strawberry field, a few hosted beehives and, at the northern edge, the treestand.
Development is coming closer every year. To the north, across a canola field, you can see the new homes and roads of suburban Edmonton being built by developers like Qualico and Mattamy Homes. To the west, just across 199th Street, Cameron Developments owns about 5o hectares of land.
Cameron has proposed bylaw amendments that would allow the company to develop its land, and that the plan is for a stormwater pond to be built over most of Howery’s treestand. The pond would potentially serve Cameron’s development as well as those of other developers and the City of Edmonton, which has plans to build schools, a rec centre and the staging area for the proposed Big Island Provincial Park in the area.