The Infill Conversation is a Public Conversation
After reviewing the reports related to infill this past Tuesday, and after much discussion and debate, a motion was passed at Executive Committee to permit garage and garden suites in established neighbourhoods, and to allow the subdivision of properties into narrower lots (no less than 25 feet).
The next step after bringing the proposed bylaw amendments back to committee in January is a Public Hearing. You have will a chance to tell us what you think in a couple ways. I will be hosting a series of community conversations this fall in neighbourhoods across Ward 10. Stay tuned for the schedule. There will also be a public hearing in advance of any zoning changes next spring.
This motion is about providing choices. There are very few options in our mature neighbourhoods for families who want to live in a smaller house on a smaller lot. The same goes for young professionals who can’t afford to live near the core without the income from a garden suite. Some seniors who live in single-family homes find them difficult to maintain but cannot choose to live in a smaller home within the communities they’ve called their home for decades.
Edmonton is at a crossroads when it comes to growth. Our population is expected to double in the next 30 years. Will we only grow out? Or, can we also grow up and within existing neighbourhoods?
Many mature neighbourhoods are also at crossroads. School closures are a common story. Where mature neighbourhood schools have sufficient enrolment it’s because of specialized programs attracting families from across the city. With them they bring enormous traffic congestion and safety challenges. Waning commercial centres and thinly spread services threaten the vibrancy of mature neighbourhoods. And yet, with all of these challenges, housing remains expensive. Property taxes also increase annually as City Council is challenged to raise the funds necessary to service and maintain new neighbourhoods growing rapidly in every direction.
Fortunately newly developed communities have a full mix of housing choices, higher densities and offer a range of valued commercial amenities. We don’t plan predominantly single zone RF1 neighbourhoods anymore. Housing diversity and mixed uses are critical.
As I encourage debate about the kind of city we want- more compact or less- and about the kind of neighbourhoods we want- with more housing diversity or less- I will always respect people’s questions and experiences. Not every infill project has been a good experience for communities. We have a lot to learn from our citizens who have lived next to infill construction. I will do everything possible to ensure the community and residents are engaged effectively, that design and scale of new density is appropriate and that construction is respectful of neighbours and logistically efficient for builders.
Increased density, diversified housing choices, revitalized schools and commercial centres can be a win-win scenario for existing and future mature neighbourhood residents. Just as building a more compact city is a win-win scenario for existing and future Edmontonians, both financially and environmentally.
Moving closer to allowing the splitting of lots and permitting garage and garden suites is one step in our journey to a more compact city. To continue this conversation, Executive Committee also asked administration to provide options to the mature neighbourhood overlay, and options to transform the low-density zones including RF1 so that they can support and encourage more significant densification.
I hope you will participate in and contribute to this conversation.
The motions made at the August 19 Executive Committee are as follows:
Amendments to Bylaw 12800 - Edmonton Zoning Bylaw - Garage and Garden Suites and Narrower Lots
1. That Administration prepare amendments to Bylaw 12800, as set out in Attachment 1 of the August 19, 2014, Sustainable Development report CR_1076, to:
- permit garage and garden suites in established neighbourhoods by amending the zoning bylaw's location criteria and site regulations for these types of housing.
- change the RF1 (single detached) zone to allow the subdivision of properties into narrower lots not less than 25 feet wide
and return to Executive Committee by January 2015.
Update on Infill Progress
2. That Administration provide a report to Committee by March 2015, with an update on infill progress, particularly:
- Communication planning and implementation
- Piloting a city staff team dedicated to Infill processes and approvals.
Options to Overhaul RF1 - RF4 Low Density Zones
That Administration provide an interim report to Executive Committee outlining progress and timelines for the completion of the following:
1. Development of options to overhaul our suite of low-density zones (RF1 - RF4), including:
a. the merits and challenges of consolidating them into new simplified, flexible zone or zones similar to the suburban Residential Mixed Dwelling Zone
b. information on applicability of "form-based code" and "performance-based" approaches to our land use bylaw
c. revision of the Mature Neighbourhood Overlay.
2. An analysis of various incentives municipalities might offer to communities to support and encourage more significant densification.