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Regina’s infill housing: eyesore or upgrade?

Modern designs like this one in Lakeview are popping up next to much older homes. Sean Lerat-Stetner / Global News

REGINA – In some of Regina’s oldest communities, there’s brand new construction going on.

Modern designs are popping up on subdivided lots right next door to century-old homes.

Not everyone is in favour of the new builds. A 35-year resident of Heritage isn’t a fan of the nearly-completed house down the street.

“It really doesn’t fit the character of the whole neighbourhood,” she said.

In Cathedral, seven-year resident Taylor Harris says the new homes across from her represent welcome renewal after much older homes had been neglected.

“It brings out the street, it’s not such an eyesore anymore,” Harris said.

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They’re different takes on some different looking houses, which is why the city is trying to come up with guidelines for infill development.

In Cathedral, there are four homes on what used to be two lots. Two of the new houses are up-and-down suites, which intensifies the number of people in the neighbourhood. Sean Lerat-Stetner / Global News

“We’re going to see changes within neighbourhoods, but we want to make sure we’re doing it in a way that is acceptable to the neighbourhood and also meets the objectives of the official community plan,” said Diana Hawryluk, the city of Regina’s executive director of city planning and development.

Right now, if it fits into zoning bylaws, there are few rules for that a new home must look like – even if new builds in Lakeview, for example, are surrounded by houses with a much different style.

Homebuilders see infills as addition by subtraction; a chance to replace aging homes that haven’t had as much love over the years.

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“There’s an opportunity to tear those down and build new, still fit the existing neighbourhood’s look and feel, but with new construction, more energy efficient homes,” said Dustin Halvorson, sales and marketing manager at Trademark Homes, which is behind many of Regina’s infill homes.

This newly built home in Heritage doesn’t stand out as much compared to some other infill developments. Sean Lerat-Stetner / Global News

It also fits Regina’s planning targets, trying to push 30 per cent of new residents to existing neighbourhoods.

Among the oldest is Heritage, where the community association is getting behind new builds.

“The empty lots in the neighbourhood kind of create these black holes where there isn’t a lot of activity happening,” said Kathleen Wilson, Heritage Community Association executive director. “They’re overgrown usually and they’re not very aesthetically pleasing.”

Whether new infill designs are easier on the eyes is up for debate – and as new builds continue in old neighbourhoods, it’s one Reginans will likely have for years to come.

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Your chance to weigh-in

There are two public engagement sessions to help form infill housing guidelines, with two more to be held in September and November 2015.

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  • Monday, June 8 – 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. (presentation at 7 p.m.)
    Knox Metropolitan United Church, 2340 Victoria Avenue
    Infill and intensification kickoff meeting and public workshop
  • Tuesday, June 23 – 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. (presentation at 7 p.m.)
    Knox Metropolitan United Church, 2340 Victoria Avenue
    Introduction to laneway and garden suites guidelines

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