Edmonton 'infill cops' to regulate residential development
City council is taking action on infill horror stories with an Infill Construction Compliance Team
The city is hoping a new squad of "infill police" will force developers and contractors to clean up their act.
Excessive noise, muddy sidewalks and streets and illegal parking are just some of the complaints about infill projects received by city administration last year. This year, the city expects to do 500 inspections of homes, garage suites and garden suites under development in mature neighbourhoods.
Who are they going to call to get the job done? The new Infill Construction Compliance Team. Comprised of three specially trained peace officers, they'll be able to issue fines and lay charges on developers and contractors not following the rules.
'We have to monitor these contractors'
After hearing horror stories, like a contractor driving a bobcat through a constituent's hedge, fences slipping into neighbours' dug out basements and noisy construction on Sundays, Ward 11 Councillor Mike Nickel said it's about time the city brings in the "infill cops."
"I've heard it loud and clear from my constituents … we have to monitor these contractors," Nickel told CBC's Radio Active. "There's some good ones, but there's some bad ones, and the bad ones were really bad ones.
"There's got to be more to this, we have to enforce the rules that we already have in place and we have to have a dedicated teams doing that. That's where I use the word 'infill cop'… because we're having a peace officer that [is] able to lay not just fines but charges if they trespass or if they break some other ordinances or laws."
We have to enforce the rules that we already have in place and we have to have dedicated teams doing that.- Mike Nickel, Ward 11 Councillor
Bev Zubot, a planning advisor with the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues, said communities are worried about narrow side yards that are now allowed, and deeper basements that could cause problems in the future.
Still, she said most people can handle the mud and noise -- but once three or four projects begin on one block, it can seem never ending, and minor annoyances can become a "major problem" for people's mental health.
She said she wants construction to end on Sundays, giving communities a break from the noise and traffic of heavy equipment. Infill police are a start, she said.
"It's about time we do something to address the issue and ... have people who can actually lay charges, rather than have people having to sue in order to recoup the damages that were done," she said.
"People have high expectations for this team. We're hopeful it will be well resourced and they will enforce the laws that we now have in place."
No effect on the taxpayer, city says
Nickel said it could be a couple of months before the infill police hit the streets. The city is currently working through the budget and will need time to train the peace officers. He expects it will cost around $500,000.
He said money is already put aside for this in a $22 million reserve with the city's Sustainable Development Branch, in which he said industry contributes to improve and monitor practices and create a better development and building industry in the city.
"This isn't a draw on the tax levy at all," he said. "This is just improving procedures."