Earth Hour Tour: Smart, Sustainable Development and Redevelopment

On March 7, 2014 WWF’s David Miller moderated a panel discussion with a variety of experts, hosted by the City of Edmonton, Canada’s 2014 Earth Hour City Capital, and the University of Alberta. The topic: visions for a future where climate change is no longer a threat. We know that future is possible, and that the solutions are all around us – including in Edmonton. And we want all of Canada to learn from their successes. We asked panelists to answer a critical question: what is the one thing we need to do today to achieve that vision? Here is one of the answers we received.
Written by Mark Hall, City of Edmonton, Blatchford Redevelopment Project

Earth Hour
An artist’s rendering of the community gardens planned for the Blatchford Redevelopment Project.© City of Edmonton

Climate change is a complex and multifaceted issue. And like most complicated problems, there are no simple answers or easy solutions.
While the path to achieving sustainability may not be clear, we know that cities will play a critical role in determining our planet’s future. With over two-thirds of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions coming from urban centres, a future where climate change is no longer a threat will depend on cities taking action today.
We need to find a new way to approach sustainability and a new way to live. We know where we need to go. What we don’t know is how to get there.
Even without clear direction on how to achieve lasting sustainability, there are steps we can take now. The most important thing we need to do today to create a world where climate change is no longer a threat is to set bold goals — and then strive to surpass them.
Setting bold goals will create an opportunity for us to re-imagine how we design our urban environments. It will provide us the opportunity to consider what people will need in the future, and to take action to support that vision. It will allow us to be innovative and to adapt our plans as outside influences and technologies change.
Edmonton has set a bold goal. We have envisioned redeveloping 535 acres of land in the heart of the city into a sustainable community – the Blatchford Redevelopment Project. Blatchford will be one of the largest sustainable redevelopment projects in North America and will be home for up to 30,000 residents who will enjoy a walkable, transit-friendly and ecologically-friendly community.
Blatchford will empower its residents to pursue a range of sustainable lifestyle choices to reduce their consumption levels. It will be environmentally friendly by constructing green buildings that use less heat, power and water. It will reduce its ecological footprint by using renewable energy and by being a carbon neutral development. It will help to transform Edmonton’s urban form now and well into the future.
Blatchford will show how one step towards sustainability can shape the direction of our future.
Achieving these goals will require significant innovation and a willingness to take risks.
But by setting this bold goal, Blatchford will demonstrate what a sustainable community will look like and will serve as a benchmark for future developments.
For more information on the Blatchford Redevelopment Project, visit
Interested in participating in the Earth Hour Tour: Out of the Dark, Into the Future? We’re coming to Halifax on Friday, March 21 and Toronto on Tuesday, March 25.
Celebrate Earth Hour, 8:30-9:30 p.m. on March 29, and let us know what you’ll be thinking about during your #momentofdarkness at