Edmonton

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.

Proposed changes could encourage more garden and basement suites

New homes built in mature neighbourhoods will be restricted to front yards that are only 20% of the lot depth. (Google Maps)

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.

"The revisions … create pathways to better infill. They reduce the need for variances, and they streamline the developing permitting process," Kirsop said.

Kirsop said the changes would keep front yards smaller than back yards by limiting them to 20 per cent of the lot depth.
City planner Colton Kirsop demonstrates proposed changes to front yards for new homes in mature neighbourhoods. (Nola Keeler/CBC)

He said that would provide more affordable housing, by making it easier to have garden and basement suites.

"We're proposing to allow a little more height in basement suites," he said, raising the height out of the ground from four feet to five feet.

"This will allow more light into the windows."

The bigger back yard would also provide more room for a garden suite.

No more boring facades

The proposed new regulations would also put an end to flat, unvaried fronts on semi-detached housing, such as duplexes and triplexes.

Instead, the front facades of attached homes would have to be staggered, to clearly define the different units.

Row houses would also require either staggered front walls or unenclosed front porches.

Kirsop said the proposed new regulations will encourage higher quality design for infill and a "better looking product."

New rules for renovations, too

For homeowners in mature neighbourhoods wanting to do some renovations that require a variance or exception to the zoning bylaw, the new rules will make that easier, he said.

The city plans to take a different, tiered approach to those variances, based on how much impact the renovation would have on neighbours.

"We'd like to consult with immediate neighbours on matters that are less impactful, such as a balcony or a sundeck," he said. "Middle tier would involve neighbours side to side, as well as across the back alley … for variances on placement of the garage."

The current practice of checking with all neighbours within 60 metres would remain in place for big variances, like building a house that sits further back on the lot than the allowed setback.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nola Keeler is an award-winning journalist who has worked with CBC in Whitehorse, Yukon and Edmonton since 2000. She has worked as a host, reporter, news reader and producer for CBC. Send story ideas to nola.keeler@cbc.ca.

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