Infill Housing Re-Zoning Plan In Edmonton Causing Community Concerns
Edmonton is considering a zoning bill intending to make use of unused spaces in some of the city’s more mature neighbourhoods. A number of community leagues are not pleased at the idea of putting up infill housing and it is possible that bill will have to be totally redone.
This coming Monday the bill will be brought to the executive committee. The idea is to let homeowners subdivide lots that are 50-feet or 15 metres wide, increasing the number of duplexes and semi-detached dwellings that could be added to areas that are currently zoned for single family homes. Also on the bill are new rules about adding front garages that are so often found in suburban settings.
This past Thursday 28 community organizations got a jump on those proceedings. They sent a joint letter, requesting council to do the entire bill over after consulting the communities involved. In short, they gave the entire idea a resounding “no thanks.”
Rob McDonald, who was the Strathcona Community League’s past president, was one of the most vocal protestors. He noted that the bill’s zoning amendments nullified much of what was already agreed to in the original residential infill guidelines. McDonald also noted that the changes were done without consulting the neighbourhood’s residents, and that they went way beyond what those residents already agreed upon.
One example concerns duplexes and semi-detached homes. In the original agreement, these types of structures were limited to corner lots and next to existing row houses and apartments. The new bill lifts that restriction, allowing those structures in any property in the RF2 zone. If you live in Strathcona, Canora or Riverdale, chances are this means you. For RF1 zone lots, which is the most common type of single family zoning in Edmonton, those types of developments will be allowed on corner lots only and only after the neighbours are consulted and a development officer signs off on the project.
McDonald also noted that the new bill has no provision for parking cars on property or for yards big enough for kids to play in. Adopting this bill to fit all the old neighbourhoods was not the intent of the original guidelines.
Councillors have been considering zoning changes so that developers can more easily invest and build in the older areas of the city. Don Iveson, councillor, notes that about 60 percent of the bill was done after consultation and that the entire thing doesn’t need scrapped. Rather, the parts that need worked on could be excised out while letting the rest go ahead. Iveson noted that he would not vote for acting beyond the existing guidelines for infills. But he did note that changing the categorization on some items to permitted would streamline the process.
Coun. Karen Leibovici does not want to postpone the bill, noting that the city has already done a great deal of consulting. She also wants specifics on what the neighbourhoods are finding problematic.
Residents have complained about the 15-metre lot subdivision more than anything, fearing they’ll be living across from two mega-houses on a tiny lot. Coun. Linda Sloan noted that this type of set-up would make parking challenging and decrease access for the various emergency services, and perhaps should be looked at again. Councillors Tony Caterina, who would like to see more consultation, and Kerry Diotte have also received messages of concern on this same subject.