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Edmonton's Westmount community divided on support for infill development
Carla Stolte says Edmonton’s Westmount neighbourhood is split 50-50 when it comes to supporting infill.

“Our neighbourhood is changing a lot. Some people think it’s for the good and some people think it’s for the bad,” said Stolte, president of the Westmount Community League. “Even on block to block, it’s very varied.”

The city’s infill plans — which sees new homes, or multiplexes, replace older residences in heritage neighbourhoods — have reached their two-year mark, and planners are going to the urban planning committee Wednesday to update councillors on progress.

So far, planners have completed 15 out of 23 action items, which contain a variety of projects that include creating neighbourhood guides and a communications strategy, and ensuring development signs are posted on infill sites, among others.
City marks two years of infill progress
Progress and Achievements of Edmonton's Infill Roadmap

January 17, 2017

The infill conversation has come a long way and it continues to grow and evolve, along with the City of Edmonton. Tomorrow, City staff will share a progress report on Edmonton's Infill Roadmap with City Council’s Urban Planning Committee.


  • The 23 actions in the Infill Roadmap were collaboratively identified by citizens, builders and Administration through a robust eight month public engagement process known as Evolving Infill. The City has made significant progress on all of the 23 action items identified in the plan, with 15 completed and the remaining eight in the process of being implemented.
  • Some of the completed actions items include: the development of an infill website to provide updated information on infill projects, signage now required on all infill building sites to alert neighbours about upcoming development, the creation of a Good Neighbour Guide to help foster positive neighbour relations, and the creation of the Community Infill Panel (made up of residents, community leaders and builders to provide feedback to Administration).
  • Some key lessons learned included the need for the City to adopt a flexible and responsive approach to implementing infill projects and to be more proactive communicating about infill in Edmonton.
  • The City identified 30 supplementary actions along the way. Known as “detours,” these additional measures support better quality infill in Edmonton. Some of these “detour” actions included: creating an infill compliance team to inspect building sites, passing bylaw amendments requiring lot grading plans for all infill developments, setting landscaping requirements and incentives for preserving trees and shrubs, and increased fines for non-compliance to the noise bylaw.

"As Edmonton’s population grows, the City needs to provide a broader diversity of housing options," said Kalen Anderson, Director of Planning Coordination. "We're really pleased with the progress to date and excited for what's to come. Edmontonians are looking to the future and working with the City of Edmonton to build that future together. The infill story is a truly Edmonton story and as it continues to evolve, so does the City."

Started in August 2014, Edmonton’s Infill Roadmap aims to support more and better residential infill in Edmonton’s mature and established neighbourhoods. The Infill Roadmap also helps guide a key part of Edmonton’s growth strategy to accommodate our growing population.

Providing infill opportunities helps revitalize aging neighbourhoods, many of which have lost population over the past 40 years, while making Edmonton a more compact and sustainable city. A second Evolving Infill conversation will begin this spring, looking ahead to see what’s working well, and how the City can continue to evolve infill in Edmonton.

For more information:

Edmonton’s Infill Roadmap Project Summary 2017
Edmonton’s Infill Roadmap

Media contact:

Amber Medynski
Communications Advisor
Expect a shift in the infill debate. Edmonton’s focus on increasing density one duplex or skinny house at a time has left it with angry neighbours and an infill target that seems way out of reach.

Its new focus is on transit nodes and corridors, says chief city planner Peter Ohm.

Edmonton is trying to increase density in mature neighbours to accommodate new residents where there are already services, to save farmland, create more affordable options and reduce commutes. But they set a target of 25 per cent new growth in existing neighbourhoods by 2018 and slipped in at a new low of 13 per cent last year.
City councillors decided to further narrow the minimum lot width for a single-family house to 7.5 metres Wednesday to accommodate small errors in previously imprecise survey methods.

Edmonton lots used to be measured with a chain, which could have kinks or otherwise create errors. That means several thousand standard-size lots the city thought were 50 feet or 15.24 meters wide, and therefore wide enough to subdivide, were actually slightly too narrow.

Councillors said they hope dropping the minimum requirement to 7.5 metres from 7.6 metres will solve the issue and make it clear for homeowners and all parties involved.

Proposed 10 centimetre change could transform Edmonton infill
In a change that shows the power of the centimetre, city council drew new lines Wednesday that could allow 4,000 lots be split and for skinny homes to be developed on them in Edmonton’s mature neighbourhoods.

The amazing part? The change was only 10 centimetres.

Councillors passed a motion at the urban planning committee Wednesday that would allow the minimum lot width for skinny homes be at least 7.5 metres from the current 7.6 metres.
Letting seniors sell their house and keep possession of a carriage suite on the laneway could give thousands of people the chance to age in their own neighbourhood, an architect argued at City Hall Wednesday.

Architect Sherri Shorten presented her award-winning infill design at the urban planning committee meeting Wednesday, asking councillors to allow a new form of back-to-front lot splitting.

Called “pork chop lots” where they are common in Denmark, they keep a narrow path from the front to the back for a sidewalk or garage. That creates the shape of a pork chop. Then a separately-owned lot is nestled along the back facing the laneway. It has space for a car just off the lane, a small home and a small, fenced backyard.

'Pork chop' lots could be the future of infill in Edmonton, city committee told
An Edmonton architect wants the city to consider adding "pork chop" lots as a way to increase the amount of infill housing in the city.

The lots bear a passing resemblance to a pork chop, explains Sherri Shorten, who made a presentation to the city's urban planning committee on Wednesday.

"It's basically a front to back lot split instead of splitting it down the middle, but you give the front lot access to the back alley," she said. "So that little driveway or sidewalk or garage space ... is what creates that leg piece so that's what gives it that form.

"So the front lot still has front/back access and then sitting there, where there could be a rental garage suite, is now a piece of property."
Edmonton's Infill 2.0 aims to calm neighbourhood battlegrounds
Edmonton officials hope the next wave of infill will bring higher returns with fewer pitched battles.

“Right now we’re really picking little fights across the city,” said Coun. Michael Walters, looking for something to yield quicker environmental, financial and social benefits.

During a planning committee meeting Wednesday, planners and councillors said they now believe the answer lies in creating medium density with low-rise apartments and row housing along transit avenues or LRT stations. They’re not saying the first effort was wrong, but a public consultation around this second effort starts in March.

“Has Infill 1.0 made Edmonton better? The answer is yes, in 30 years,” said Walters. “But it’s so slow and gradual. … We’re going to get there in our lifetimes through … medium density.”
Edmonton outlines final draft on changes to infill development
City officials are hoping new rules for infill, or skinny homes, proposed Thursday resolve some of the battles brewing in mature neighbourhoods.

Infill, the development that replaces older bungalows, has been contentious since the get-go, when the city first set out rules in 2014.

The issue pits long-time residents who argue skinny homes alter the character of their neighbourhoods against new residents who like modern homes close to downtown.

But Colton Kirsop, a senior city planner, said the new potential regulations —which have yet to be approved by city council — strike a balance between those on either side of the debate by enabling development while protecting the vibe of older neighbourhoods.

David Staples: Over-cautious city risks regulating infill aspirations to death

If one word summarizes what Edmonton infill developers think of the new proposals for redeveloping mature neighborhoods, it is that: timid.

The city is now overhauling its infill guidelines, making it slightly easier for homeowners and infill builders to construct usable, efficient and gorgeous modern homes in older neighbourhoods.

But the city is so intent on proceeding with caution that we’re in danger of regulating our infill aspirations to death, keeping out a much-needed influx of new homes and new families. With such timidity as our watchword, it’s little wonder that instead of moving to the goal of 25 per cent of new homes being infill each year, we’ve slid back to 13 per cent from a high of 19 per cent.

Infill builders and planners say the city’s numerous proposed changes, set out in a document known as the mature neighbourhood overlay (MNO), don’t go far enough.
New rules coming for infill in Edmonton's mature neighbourhoods
The city is moving forward with changes it says will improve the way infill and renovations are done in Edmonton's mature neighbourhoods.

On Thursday, city planners released proposed changes on everything from setback requirements to getting variances to build a deck.

The proposed changes to the Mature Neighbourhood Overlay will be presented to the city's urban planning committee next Wednesday. City staff will recommend the changes then go to a public hearing.

Colton Kirsop, senior planner, zoning bylaw in the city's development services branch, said the ideas are a result of one of the most extensive consultations the city has ever done.

"Edmontonians of all ages from all areas of the city shared their feedback," he said, with nearly 8,000 responses to questions about construction in the city's 107 mature neighbourhoods, generally those built before 1973.
Mature Neighbourhood Overlay Review reaches final stage

January 26, 2017

The Mature Neighbourhood Overlay (MNO) Review has reached the end of the final (fifth) stage and the resulting proposed changes to the MNO are now available online.

The Review, which informed new changes to the Overlay, has been one of the most extensive, effective and innovative public engagement projects the City has ever undertaken. Edmontonians of all ages from all areas of the city shared feedback in a variety of ways through 26 engagement opportunities (including 4 public drop in sessions, 3 Insight Community Surveys, 3 stakeholder workshops, and 3 pop-up events). Over 7800 responses informed the changes to the MNO.

The revisions to the MNO create pathways to better infill, reduce the need for variances and streamline development permitting processes, improve clarity in the regulations, support innovative and affordable housing, allow for the continued renewal of housing stock and neighbourhood life cycle population, and foster better development outcomes.

The proposed changes also support resident feedback already received through other engagement by:
  • maintaining privacy requirements (approved in August 2016);
  • maintaining the 40% rear setback requirement, for larger rear yards;
  • maintaining a reduced height limit within the MNO relative to outside MNO;
  • limiting the distance decks and verandas may project into front yards (earlier draft proposed 2.5 m, revised down to 2.0 m);
  • ensuring 1.2 m is free and clear on one side of the dwelling; and
  • requiring driveway access from rear lanes where rear lanes exist.
City staff will present the proposed new rules for Edmonton’s mature neighbourhoods to City Council’s Urban Planning Committee on February 1, 2017. Members of the public, stakeholders, and project collaborators will have an opportunity to express their opinions on the draft amendments directly to the Committee. In the report, City staff are requesting that the Urban Planning Committee recommend the changes move forward to a City Council Public Hearing.

Since 2015, the City of Edmonton has been conducting a review of the Mature Neighbourhood Overlay (MNO) - a set of 24 Zoning Bylaw regulations that help ensure new housing in mature neighbourhoods remains sensitive to the surrounding community. The Review of the Mature Neighbourhood Overlay was Action 17 in Edmonton’s Infill Roadmap, a two-year work plan created in 2014 developed collaboratively by citizens, builders and City Administration to advance residential infill in Edmonton.

For more information:

Media contact:

Amber Medynski
Communications Advisor
Edmonton densification to become election debate: Iveson
Mayor Don Iveson wants a mandate from voters to go further with densification in some of Edmonton’s mature neighbourhoods.

In fact, he indicated Wednesday he wants it to be an election topic, after he presented a motion that tasks city administration with determining suitable neighbourhoods for more diverse and affordable housing options.

He asked for the report by the beginning of September so Edmontonians can weigh in before heading to the polls Oct. 16.
Builders, residents debate proposed new infill rules
How much front yard is too much? How much isn't enough?

Questions like these were heard Wednesday as residents, home builders and community league representativesgave councillors feedback on changes proposed for infill development in older Edmonton neighbourhoods.

City planners are proposing changes to the Mature Neighbourhood Overlay, including changes to infill and renovations that cover everything from front setback requirements to getting a variance to build a deck.

City planners presented a review of the proposed changes to council's urban planning committee Wednesday morning.

Iveson pushes city to make way for affordable infill
Mayor Don Iveson is pushing for changes to infill rules that would allow developers to build more affordable units, like multi-family homes, in central Edmonton.

At the urban planning committee Wednesday, members of city council debated proposed changes to the Mature Neighbourhood Overlay, a city policy that governs the shape and position of infill, or new buildings in older neighbourhoods.

Infill, which has seen many older bungalows replaced with ‘skinny homes’, has been contentious since the get-go, when the city first set out rules in 2014.

The issue pits long-time residents who argue skinny homes alter the character of their neighbourhoods against developers pushing for what they say the market wants: modern homes close to downtown.
'We just need a whole different approach': Mayor pitches new infill plan for pre-war neighbourhoods
Edmonton’s infill debate saw a significant shift Wednesday with a motion to focus on those neighbourhoods where it’s needed and can be accommodated best.

“This should be a discussion we have this fall with our public,” said Mayor Don Iveson, asking for a plan to cluster slightly taller, more dense forms of infill before the October election.

Without repealing any infill initiatives passed this term, the new plan could allow three-storey homes, houses with three or more suites and full-sized row houses in the type of pre-Second World War neighbourhoods originally built with taller homes around a streetcar line.

Edmonton mayor says new approach needed for infill homes in pre-war neighbourhoods
The city should look at infill development in some older neighbourhoods in a new way that will make it more affordable, says Mayor Don Iveson.

The mayor is proposing what he calls the "missing middle overlay."

This would apply to pre-war areas in the city, where there are already taller houses on narrow and deep lots. Iveson said where multi-family and higher height infill homes would blend in, he said.

These neighbourhoods include McCauley, Grandin and Garneau.

Iveson brought the idea forward at a meeting of the planning committee Wednesday.

The committee was debating changes to the Mature Neighbourhood Overlay (MNO) and heard from residents, community leagues and builders.

Iveson said the MNO treats all older neighbourhoods the same — and that shouldn't be the case.
Why do developers concentrate infill homes in Westmount and Glenora, councillor asks
Achieving higher density through infill is the best way to give millennials a chance to buy a home near the core, ensure Edmonton’s financial stability and save farmland from sprawl, says Coun. Scott McKeen.

So why are developers focused on Westmount and Glenora — neighbourhoods where it’s simply impossible to build and sell a new home at entry-level prices?

That breeds cynicism, said McKeen: “People in Glenora and Westmount have come back to me and said: ‘This is ridiculous. A $900,000 skinny (home), who is that affordable for?'”

Last week, Mayor Don Iveson moved to study a new approach to infill, looking to allow further increased densities and height, but just in select pre-war neighbourhoods where it makes sense. The neighbourhoods have not yet been chosen. McKeen intends to follow that at Tuesday’s council meeting with a request to start with the basic economics.
As new census data underlines Edmonton’s exploding suburbs and shrinking mature neighbourhoods, infill proponents say it's clear the city must find ways to build more and denser housing inside the ring road.

Statistics Canada numbers released Wednesday show that the population of the Edmonton-area — which includes Lakeview, Leduc and Fort Saskatchewan — grew by 13.9 per cent from 2011 to 2016. That follows the 12.6 per cent growth rate the area saw from 2006 to 2011.

The national average was just 5 per cent.

But dive deeper into the data and you’ll find most inner-city neighbourhoods are growing slowly and some are even shrinking.

Boyle Street and parts of Spruce Avenue populations saw no growth.

Louis Pereira, policy director with advocacy group Infill Development in Edmonton Association, said the culprit are “restrictive” city regulations that inhibit growth in the inner city.
Council members debate Edmonton infill consultation
Letters in the mail just don’t cut it, according to infill opponents, as the city looks to improve how it tells residents about skinny homes propping up in their ‘hoods.

Council members at the urban planning committee debated Wednesday new approaches to notifying residents about infill development in their communities.

Jan Hardstaff, civics director with the Parkallen Community League, said she’d like to see the city notify neighbours of the demolition dates.

She said next-door neighbours would have to prove in court that any potential damage was caused by the demolition.

"So you have to have that lead time to have that assessment done.”