The 2017 infill construction season has officially kicked off. Yesterday, I was pleased to join senior administration from the City of Edmonton, community members and industry representatives to launch another season of building. As I’ve said before, there is a strong case for why we need more and better infill; it makes the best use of our existing infrastructure, creates more housing options for Edmonton families, and keeps our schools and strip malls vibrant and viable. Having said that, Council recognizes that infill has caused tension in some mature neighbourhoods as we replace older housing stock with new.
That’s why yesterday was a significant opportunity to roll out some of the changes we’ve made to hold problem contractors accountable for violating community standards or damaging public property, and to highlight the progress we’ve made in exploring other tools to hold ‘bad builders’ accountable.
Construction initiatives like these (below) have made a difference in how we will build better infill in Edmonton and make the experience more constructive for everyone. These changes include:
- Deploying an infill compliance team
- Improving our Development Permit notification signs
- Launching pre-application meetings for infill projects
- Hiring an infill liaison team for community members, builders and homeowners
- Increasing fines for community standards, traffic and zoning bylaw infractions
- Creating incentives to retain mature trees
- Hiring a specialized residential infill development approvals team
We all have a part to play in improving infill in our city – from City Council to City Administration to home builders to community leagues. Your direct feedback fueled a number of changes to how the City engages with both infill developers and neighbours of infill. You can read the completed Infill Roadmap Summary Report here.
Now that we’re making progress on construction compliance and enforcement, I believe our next big challenge is to deal with the cost and availability of infill. I have heard from many of you that these are the biggest issues you face when wanting to purchase an infill home. A few months ago, Urban Planning Committee discussed the ways in which the MNO restricts the development of multi-family homes in neighbourhoods and areas near transit hubs – places where higher density makes the most sense.
After hearing your concerns, I tabled a motion to explore a new set of rules – a “missing middle overlay” – for pre-war communities near transit and employment nodes and along major corridors. These would be neighbourhoods with some deteriorating housing stock, and where height may be less of a concern because of older taller homes, areas that would benefit from reducing the restrictions on ground-oriented multi-family housing. I’ll have more to say on this in the coming months, but the important point here is that we cannot slow down on our efforts to make the infill experience better for everyone. We started with construction practices, but our work is only just beginning.
I encourage you to continue sharing your feedback with us and visit http://www.cityofedmontoninfill.ca/ for information, updates, news and more.