Today, Executive Committee will discuss a number of important reports that could have a deep and lasting impact on our city’s shape and form. It’s no secret that Edmonton is undergoing tremendous growth and Council is exploring a number of tools to help manage this change, and capitalize on the opportunity. Infill is at the top of my list.
Infill can be a daunting concept for residents of neighbourhoods that appear largely unchanged since the day they were built. When these communities were first developed, they were typically vibrant places anchored by large and growing families, busy retail centres and thriving schools. Over time, however, the demographics of our mature neighbourhoods have changed – most families are smaller, and many more of the households are empty nesters – so the total population has declined by 73,000 people in the last 40 years.
Infill is the help these communities – and our city – needs in order to restore cultural and commercial vibrancy, to support roads, pipes and sidewalks, and especially to justify retaining more schools.
After extensive consultation, the Infill Roadmap coming before Executive contains many community-driven ideas on how to do infill better. My hope is that we swiftly implement all the recommendations in the Roadmap to help change the rules and remove the many barriers to infill that exist today. Specifically, I’m most interested in the recommendations to:
- Work within existing zoning regulations (RF1) to allow narrower lot subdivision to increase density, opportunity, and housing options in more areas;
- Create more opportunities for garage and garden suites in established neighbourhoods;
- Developing an infill-specific team of city staff dedicated to supporting infill development, helping with approvals, sharing information, engaging communities; and
- Build a comprehensive communication strategy around infill to spur information sharing and enhancing communication between the city, builders and residents