Infill roadmap a must to get Edmonton on right path, developer says
Developer backed out of project after learning he'd pay $750K for fire hydrant and watermain
City councillors are giving their initial thumbs up to a new blueprint for infill housing, which calls for more low-rise apartments, row housing, garden and basement suites and tiny homes.
The 2018 roadmap focuses on more affordable, medium- to high-density infill, and includes steps to optimize projects for residents, the city and developers.
It's welcome news to Mick Graham, a developer and president of Infill Development in Edmonton Association, who was planning to put up a 12-unit condo building in Glenora.
"All those boxes were ticked," he said. "An area that's crying out for more density, it's exactly the kind of thing a mature neighbourhood needs."
But he pulled the plug after being told he would have to pay to replace a fire hydrant, which meant also replacing a watermain.
"So tearing up roads, digging up ditches and putting new pipes in," he said, at a cost of about $750,000. "For a 12-unit project, that's just not manageable."
Graham is optimistic the city's new infill roadmap will address some of those issues.
- Older neighbourhoods could see more small, affordable infill housing units in $400K range
- Edmonton ponders 'missing middle' infill in older neighbourhoods
"If the city truly wants to encourage this 'missing middle' sort of work … something needs to change," he said. "If it doesn't, it will continue to be missing."
Mayor Don Iveson is hopeful the new roadmap will lead to an easier path for developers and residents.
"We want to encourage people to be the first person in, rather than make it harder or punitive because you're taking that first risk," he said. "And having to bear these infrastructure costs for things like fire hydrants."
The map outlines 25 so-called actions to improve infill, such as speeding up the permitting process, making major corridors a priority and creating opportunities for small apartment buildings.
He said a lot of people may embrace infill but when mistakes happen, supporters turn against the proposals.
"Concerns about sloppy building practice and neighbours still paying the price for inconsiderate builders," Henderson said. "Cutting down trees, letting garbage go into the neighbours' [property], fences coming down and falling into the hole and not being replaced."
- From infill to overflow: Homeowner frustrated with backyard flooding
- Infill site inspections, complaints on the rise in Edmonton
The city doesn't have the authority to interfere in private infill developments — it's incumbent upon a homeowner to resolve the issue or take the developer to court to try to get compensation for damages, Henderson said.
The city's infill compliance team has helped rectify issues since it went into effect, he said.
Iveson promoted the new roadmap toward making infill efforts more effective and collaborative.
"We've made some mistakes along the way," he said. "We've made adjustments to try to bring things like more inspections to bear for problem builders."
City councillors asked administration to report back in November, in time for 2019-2022 budget deliberations, on how the actions in the roadmap will be put into place, along with a timeline and estimated costs.