New Edmonton zoning bylaw paves way for more multi-unit housing

Click to play video: 'New zoning bylaw paves way for more multi-unit housing in Edmonton'
New zoning bylaw paves way for more multi-unit housing in Edmonton
A new zoning bylaw is aiming to spark more multi-unit buildings in established Edmonton neighbourhoods. Mason DePatie has more on what they could look like. – Oct 24, 2023

Several developments in a south-central Edmonton neighbourhood might offer insight into the types of housing the city’s new zoning bylaw could spark.

Linda Mewhort has lived in Bonnie Doon for three years. She said she’s seeing a surge in multi-unit developments popping up in her area.

“Within the past year, they’ve been tearing down the little houses and been doing these multi-units — not just duplexes, but more,” Mewhort said.

A block over from Mewhort’s house, a lot that originally had a single home will now have two buildings. It will have four basement suites, four townhouses and two more units above the garages — for a total of ten units.

Down the street, the same developer is putting the final touches on another 10-unit complex.

A multi-unit infill home in Edmonton’s Bonnie Doon area on Tuesday, October 24, 2023. Global News

It’s a purpose-built rental, with basement suites starting around $1,200 and townhomes more than $2,000 a month.

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The townhouses have three bedrooms, each with their own ensuite bathroom.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton’s new zoning bylaw allowing more infill passes at city council'
Edmonton’s new zoning bylaw allowing more infill passes at city council

Igor Zunik, the founder of Glenora Homes Group, said the layout is meant to attract young professionals and students. He noted demand has been high for them.

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Zunik said getting the permits for the structures was hard, noting he had to change the design of one of them after losing an appeal at city hall.

“It’s extremely difficult,” said Zunik,

“As far as I know, we are the only builders who have managed to do such projects.”

These types of developments could soon be on the rise thanks to the city’s new zoning bylaws, which encourage a variety of development to be built more easily in residential areas.

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The new bylaw allows for buildings of up to three storeys in all neighbourhoods.

“It will make it permitted without needing to go fight for it,” said Zunik. “Obviously, it will make more land availability and more projects in different neighbourhoods available.”

Zunik said he’s slowly seeing a shift in how people feel about infill housing and hopes those against it will come around as more get built.

But Mewhort worries the new bylaw will exacerbate infill issues like a lack of parking and how the new buildings fit into the community’s vision and existing feel.

She also worries that large complexes will devalue lots like hers.

They’re complaints the city is looking into. Council is already tabling future amendments to the bylaw, including ones tackling environmentalism and affordability.

“This is a work in progress, and it will allow us to move the needle on sustainability and make it easier for us to create the kind of diversity of housing Edmontonians desire,” said Mayor Amarjeet Sohi, shortly after voting on the bylaw on Monday.

However, some residents, like Mewhort, worry the changes will only come after problems arise.

“I don’t mind at all the duplexes and basement suites,” she said.

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