City releases infill plan proposal, asks public for feedback

Hoping to spur residential development in established neighbourhoods, the city released the Infill Action Plan on Monday, June 2, 2014. Global News

EDMONTON – Hoping to spur residential development in established neighbourhoods, the City of Edmonton released a draft of the Infill Action Plan on Monday.

The plan outlines a series of proposals to encourage infill development – new residences in older neighbourhoods – over the next two years. In 2013, only 14 per cent of all new residences went up in established neighbourhoods.

“New homes support ongoing vibrancy,” said Lisa Larson, a senior planner at the City of Edmonton.

The public is still encouraged to chime in on the issue before the plan is finalized. During the three-week public review process – which runs until June 23 – Edmontonians are invited to comment on the Action Plan.

According to Elaine Solez from the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues, residents should speak up. Solez wants to see changes to further encourage families to move to established communities.

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“We’d like to see young families revitalize old neighbourhoods,” Solez told Global News, citing the abundance of schools and other community buildings that are underused in older neighbourhoods.

“This plan does not do enough to advance family-oriented infill. We’d like to see more for families with young children,” she continued.

The document contains 24 proposals, many of them entailing specific actions to be taken by city administration. There are proposed changes to both the single family (RF1) and small-scale infill (RF3) zones.

The new RF1 zone would allow for easier subdivision of lots into two, encouraging the creation of newer, smaller residences. The easing of restrictions on the RF3 zone is meant to support the construction of more row housing. In addition, new garage and garden suites are identified as a top priority, and the city plans to again relax regulations to encourage construction of these housing types.

READ MORE: Edmonton moves forward on controversial mature neighbourhoods bylaw 

Larson hopes this will lead to a greater diversity of housing options.

“Diversity is critical to providing homes for everybody,” she said. “Young families, seniors, young professionals, baby boomers downsizing… At the end of the day, all these people need a place to call home.”

Addressing potential concerns from existing residents about construction, Larson argued that infill supports strong community leagues and businesses.

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Other top priorities outlined in the Infill Action Plan include the creation of an advisory group made of citizens and stakeholders, the implementation of a wide-reaching communications strategy, and a better understanding of conditions in developed neighbourhoods.

The plan – and ways to provide feedback on it – can be found at the city’s Evolving Infill site.

In addition, open house events are planned for June 11 and 21. The June 11 event takes place at City Hall from 4-7 p.m., while the June 21 event is happening from 9 a.m.-noon at Central Lions Recreation Centre.

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