Edmonton’s Zoning Overhaul: A Step Towards a Denser, More Sustainable Urban Future
Historic Revamp of Zoning Rules
Edmonton, Canada, is on the brink of a significant transformation – the city’s zoning rules are undergoing their first major overhaul since the 1960s. This change could lead to the development of three-story buildings across residential areas, a proposal that has received support from the city’s development industry. The industry has acknowledged that the new rules, while not flawless, are a much-needed improvement over the existing “archaic” system.
The proposed changes aim to streamline the process of building increased density into mature neighborhoods. This aligns with the City Plan approved in 2020, envisioning a more densely populated and environmentally friendly urban space. However, the transition has not been without its detractors. The Coalition for Better Infill has accused the city of favoring developers over resident input, even though the city has been collecting public feedback on these changes since 2018.
The Development Industry’s Perspective
Developers argue that the current system can be restrictive and rigid, with minor design deviations resulting in lengthy permit and building timelines. The proposed zoning changes aim to alleviate these issues by consolidating several residential zones into one set of “small-scale residential” rules. This would provide greater flexibility and eliminate the need for direct-control zoning.
Impact on Housing Diversity and Affordability
Bob Summers, director of the University of Alberta’s school of urban and regional planning, stated that these changes would not directly lead to a windfall for developers. Instead, they would make it easier for them to build diverse housing. The changes would occur gradually over decades, and by increasing the number of units, particularly in older neighborhoods, affordability would be improved.
Public Hearing and Future Developments
The final updated bylaw is currently being circulated, with a public hearing scheduled for October 16. Additional days have been set aside if needed. This overhaul signifies a significant step towards a more sustainable, densely populated urban environment. It will be interesting to observe how this transformation unfolds and the impact it will have on Edmonton’s cityscape.
Edmonton’s zoning overhaul is a historic and forward-looking move towards a more sustainable urban future. While the changes have sparked debate between residents and developers, the city is working hard to strike a balance. The outcome of this transformation will have far-reaching effects on the city’s development, housing diversity, and affordability. Hopefully, it will serve as a model for other cities aiming for a more sustainable urban future.
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