The Economist USA – April 20, 2019, has an article on urban development that gives an interesting analysis that can usefully be applied to my home community of Riverdale. The article Sorry, We’re full looks at the context of San Fransisco – one of the most expensive neighbourhoods in the world, but with striking similarities to Riverdale ‘discussions’ during the past year or so.
Riverdale is a small river valley community bordering on downtown Edmonton. It once was home to coal miners and other working class families. Extensive residential development on the former industrial brickyard has taken place. In addition more than half of the original houses have now been replaced by infills. This has resulted in social media fuelled arguments and discussions about population density, green space and affordability in Riverdale.

The Economist article describes three perspectives that residents tend to look at potential development issues. The first group are referred to as the “Landed Gentry” – those who got in earlier when prices were lower and are striving to maintain the existing culture and land values in the community. The second group are referred as “Left Wing Activists” to whom gentrification is to be avoided by creating affordable living opportunities for all citizens. Finally, there is the “Market-Orientated Urbanists” who want us to fix the housing shortage by building more. Ironically each of these three types jockey for the title of liberal and even progressive.

Each of us has components of all three characterizations lurking in our psyche, but it isn’t too hard to label myself and most of my neighbours that are active in the community or on social media.

All three have valid arguments. Only by willing to compromise and treating each other with respect in the process, will we arrive at the best combinations of housing and thus community in Riverdale, San Fransisco and many other places faced with growing populations.