City looking at new ways to fast-track infill in older areas of Edmonton

WATCH ABOVE: There’s a push to speed up the infill process to see even more new developments in older areas of Edmonton. Vinesh Pratap has more on that, while Fletcher Kent fills us in on one of the more controversial suggestions.

EDMONTON – There’s no question with so many people wanting to call Edmonton home, it needs more room. Instead of expanding outwards, the city wants to make better use of the land it already has.

However, when it comes to the issue of infill, everyone seems to have an opinion.

The city hopes to refine that balance act with nearly two dozen suggestions on how to improve the infill process. Among the ideas: allowing the subdivision of single family lots 50 feet or wider, more garage and garden suites, and a communications strategy.

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Cathy Mowat, who lives in an older community and supports infill, believes the recommendations are a step forward but focus “a little bit too much on promoting infill rather than promoting appropriate infill.”

“I don’t think there’s one simple answer. I do think it’s really important to have communities involved,” she said.

One developer’s infill suggestion, though, could lead to a dramatic change in the look and feel of Edmonton’s mature neighbourhoods. It would allow for older areas to be re-zoned.

There are currently about 100 mature neighbourhoods in Edmonton, all of which are designated RF1, which only allows for the development of single-family homes. Stantec says changing the designation would be part of the evolution of the city.

“It’s not all about making it high-rises and so forth. It’s about small incremental change that’s still family-oriented and family-centric,” said Simon O’Byrne of Stantec.

“But it’s going to be a little bit denser and hopefully a little bit more attractive than what was there previously.”

Councillor Michael Walters says every neighbourhood should contribute to infill, but realizes that every neighbourhood is unique.

“The trouble we get into in infill is builders and neighbours can’t get along. We have to figure out a way to make that happen,” he said.

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“What we need to do is work with neighbourhoods very thoughtfully to achieve the right mix of housing.”

As part of the changes, the mayor would like to see dedicated city staff focused on infill development. They would help with approvals, information sharing and community engagement.

With files from Vinesh Pratap and Fletcher Kent, Global News

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