Hundreds sign up for public hearing on Edmonton’s proposed zoning bylaw

Click to play video: 'Edmonton city council listens to Day 2 of public hearings for proposed zoning bylaw'
Edmonton city council listens to Day 2 of public hearings for proposed zoning bylaw
The City of Edmonton is working on how it approves new builds and slows down urban sprawl, but there are concerns about the proposed zoning bylaw — and more than 120 people signed up to tell city council they need to do more work. Sarah Komadina has more. – Oct 17, 2023

The City of Edmonton is closer to a new zoning bylaw that would allow infill housing built on any residential lot in Edmonton, eliminating the need for the builder to go through regulatory approval.

The bylaw would also encourage small restaurants and retail stores to open.

Three days of public hearings started on Monday and more than 220 people signed up to speak to city council. More than 100 people were in favour and more than 120 were opposed.

David Berry, an urban density advocate, is hoping the new zoning bylaw will be approved. Living in the Westmount area, he said multiple infill buildings pop up there every year.

Click to play video: 'Hundreds want to speak at Edmonton’s zoning bylaw hearings'
Hundreds want to speak at Edmonton’s zoning bylaw hearings

“We have seen our schools fill back up. Even in the heart of the city, we’ve seen a neighbourhood that is becoming more walkable and friendlier,” Berry said.

Story continues below advertisement

“I would love to see more density, I would like to see slightly higher buildings, I think that it brings better things for the city… Certainly better for affordability.”

Keith Martinot said he wants his children to have the opportunity to one day buy a home in the same neighbourhood he grew up in, but said with the current bylaw that likely won’t be a possibility.

“Traditionally, people will grow up in their parents’ homes and to stay with them, it’s in a basement or a suite they build instead of something they can afford themselves. I would really appreciate my son to be able to afford a home or condo down the street,” Martinot said.

He also wants to be able to get around easier without a car.

“Today the only real effective way in the city is to own your own automobile.”

Click to play video: 'Hearings for Edmonton’s proposed zoning bylaw'
Hearings for Edmonton’s proposed zoning bylaw

The city has been gathering feedback on the proposed changes for five years. The current bylaw hasn’t changed in half a century.

Story continues below advertisement

On Tuesday, people who were opposed to the changes started to voice their concerns to council.

Jan Hardstaff, with the Scona District Community Council, agrees the bylaw needs an update but wants to ensure the city isn’t giving away development rights.

“I think we need density, but we also need affordability and climate resiliency. We need more than just more housing. We need a sustainable development,” Hardstaff said.

“I think the proposed zoning bylaw needs work.”

Click to play video: 'Report shows 1/3 of downtown Edmonton storefronts are vacant'
Report shows 1/3 of downtown Edmonton storefronts are vacant

Hardstaff believed this bylaw benefits developers more than anyone.

Kevin Taft with Better Infill echoes those concerns, and said people are also worried about losing canopy trees and heritage in their neighbourhood. He said the proposal is lacking climate resiliency.

Story continues below advertisement

“We are saying put in some amendments, put in some standards around environmental protection, improved building performance standards that will allow future owners to easily adapt to solar power,” Taft said.

“Nobody is saying throw this out. We are saying make it better.”

Click to play video: 'Discrepancies in infrastructure funding across Alberta'
Discrepancies in infrastructure funding across Alberta

Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said hearing from people in favour has highlighted issues like affordability. He said amendments after the public hearings are a possibility.

“If we are not proactive in tackling some of the challenges that other municipalities have faced… our city will become unaffordable,” Sohi said.

“We want to ensure our city remains affordable, that we are taking a strong action doing the city’s part on tackling climate change (and) at the same time improving the financial stability of the city.”

Story continues below advertisement

The hearings continue Wednesday, but if needed Sohi hopes to find time within the next couple of weeks to finish hearing from everyone.

“All of us want to push forward in a way that we build inclusive places, that we create diverse of housing, that our housing remains affordable, that we are taking strong action on climate change and be responsible with the resources we collect from Edmontonians.”

Sponsored content