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New Edmonton mature neighbourhood bylaw allows for unwanted driveways

Old Glenora is in the middle of the City of Edmonton Neighbourhood Revitalization process. .
Old Glenora is in the middle of the City of Edmonton Neighbourhood Revitalization process. . Quinn Ohler, Global News

Edmonton city councillors have changed the rules that govern how mature neighbourhoods are redeveloped with both infill and replacement houses.

However, what was passed has caused some community groups to be caught off guard. The Mature Neighbourhood Overlay that was looked at in February by City Council has a big change when it comes to allowing front driveways.

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“I think they’re hideous,” said Louis Pereira, one of half a dozen community reps who argued against what is being proposed for homes that also have a back lane. “Architecturally making the prominent feature of your house a double overhead door is, I think, an architectural mistake.”

Bev Zubot of the EFCL said front driveways don’t create a walkable community.

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“If you have cars backing up, breaking up the sidewalk that is not pedestrian friendly,” Zubot said. “And if you’ve ever tried to teach a young person to ride a bicycle, even those driveways create an impediment if they have a slant on them. Certainly they create mobility issues.”

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Council voted unanimously for the changes that also include how neighbours are notified about permit applications for new infill projects. The question of front driveways will be looked at again in August, before this becomes law Sept. 1.

In essence, the city will allow lots that currently have front driveways to keep them, even if a new home is built.

“The feedback we heard overwhelmingly from people over the last year was adding more homes with front drive garages in mature communities is not what people want to see in mature communities,” said Coun. Andrew Knack following the meeting.

There’s confusion on roads that have treed boulevards, and those that have sidewalks next to the street or avenue.

Irene Blain, the civics director for the West Jasper Place Community League said she wanted the Feb. 1 regulations adopted by council. She said she’s worried that 50-ft. lots will be split that currently have a front driveway, meaning twice as many will dot streets and avenues in older communities.

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New neighbourhood planned for southwest Edmonton
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“And they can actually have a front garage if there is access, or if there’s a sub-divided lot that’s even worse,” Blain said. “If you’ve got a lot that has front access and it’s sub-divided now you can have two narrow-built houses with front garages the way this new proposed regulation is.”

Developers are anxious about other changes that they say need to be made. A rep from the Canadian Home Builders Association said how a home is positioned on a lot will become very important, especially since the city is mandating that all newly-built homes by 2030 have to be ‘net zero’.

“In the long run being able to have more flexibility on the footprint of the lot is very important, how you can turn your house and maximize the angles and stuff. It’s too prescriptive the way it is right now,” said Sydney Bond of Effect Home Builders,

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“Solar panels, they’re going to be an inevitability,” Bond said. “You may want a traditional house with a sloped roof. You may want a flat roof with a more modern house so basically the major point is to be able to have that flexibility to orient and design within your lot and not be so confined to the current regulations.”

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Expect more changes to come said Mayor Don Iveson.”We have to remember that this legislation is a work in progress all the time.”