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New Land Use Bylaw — Fort Saskatchewan

CplKlinger

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Similar to what Edmonton is currently doing, Fort Saskatchewan is in the early stages of drafting a new Land Use Bylaw. It is meant to compliment their new Municipal Development Plan (you can access the full document here), which identifies a need to fill the missing middle, have more medium-high density residential and mixed use buildings throughout the city, removing parking minimums and/or adding parking maximums in some parts of the city, etc.

I spoke with a planner at the city, and he said that while it is too early to say what the new bylaw will look like, the department is definitely interested in exploring the removal of parking minimums in some areas of the city, and "streamlining" the residential zoning (which means we might see something similar to what Edmonton is doing, where single family homes and row housing have the same zone). Of course, there is still a lot of room for NIMBYers to derail this. But the planner added me to the mature neighbourhoods working group, so throughout the entire process I'll be able to give feedback and try to advocate for their original vision to be realized. I'll keep you all posted as this progresses!
 
There are a few things that are coming down the 'pike that may alter living situations and life-styles substantially and that also may have an affect on urban sprawl (perhaps not in the direction that one might suspect) and these could be excellent study opportunities for the "blank slate" that is Edmonton-and-surrounds:
1. "work from home" is now a "thing" and is gaining in popularity (for some, not all) -- e.g. this guy I know (let's call him Eduardo) really enjoys working from home; he can satisfy the requirements of all of his architectural clients, meeting on-site and face-to-face as needed but more frequently connecting via zoom, requiring no travel at all (car, bus, rail, aeroplane... nada). Eduardo grew up on a farm (in the very, very early days) and has a hankering for that liberating lifestyle. So he now has in mind to buy a small acreage (4 to 10 in size) and build his dream house thereupon -- raise miniatures (horses, donkeys, Jersey cows, Nigerian mini-goats and Babydoll sheep). He has expertise in Aquaponics and vertical farming.
2. Vertical Farming and Aquaponics -- Vertical farming is just at the very forefront of viability and projected astronomical growth. It requires very little soil and takes up minimal ground-plane floor space. And these vertical factory agriculture endeavors are now moving into suburban and urban realms -- much much closer to end-use points (retail markets). And some of the smarter people are combining these with an Aquaponics set-up -- the experimentation started with Tilapia (a relatively recent popular food fish) whereby tank-raised fish produce waste water which is then used to sustain farm plant-life; in a symbiotic relationship the plants remove the "fertilizer" aspects of the water and return the purified liquid back to the fish tank for a repeat cycle. The whole experiment has now blossomed into a major agricultural industry, ripe for replication in Edmonton with fish species expanded to all manner of fresh-water species (some even dedicated to the pet-industry -- Koi, Goldfish, Pleckos, Bettas, to name a few) and plant forms across the food spectrum and into ornamental-culture. The industry potential here is HUGE.
3. Transportation overhaul where we are just on the cutting edge. The advent of short- and medium-range electric aircraft is going to extend the commute limits and will bring on a surge in mid-size town airports -- Eduardo suggested that a certain Edmonton-based carrier open up a new income stream potential by developing electric "Flairports" -- Edmonton connected to outlying towns such as Vegreville, Camrose, and Whitecourt. As small towns have undergone the malaise associated with large commercially-owned farming operations and the associated urban influx of one-time farmers, this point aligned with the foregoing will surely reverse that trend. The build up of nodal rural-situated centres will even make rail networks more viable.
4. The rural "reach" of vacation destinations -- building off of the growth in small centres that will surely come as indicated above, the hospitality industry will begin looking at new possibilities. Alberta is blessed with one of the most diverse geographies imaginable -- mountains, foothills, parkland, forests, plentiful lakes and streams, deserts (and desserts, too @CplKlinger), badlands, and short- and tall-grass prairies. The Hospitality potential is only half-full presently.
5. The prowess of the "solo-professional" -- technology has enabled many one-man/woman pros to establish consultancy/service/medical businesses that don't rely on collective enterprises. They are then able to specialize in Niche markets. Eduardo thought how cool it would be to erect live-work office/residence towers whereby professionals, including lawyers (ptui!), doctors, dentists, engineers, architects, game-developers, graphic designers, and even planners (thinnin' of you @Avenuer) could live and work in a unit that is sold part-and-parcel with a lakeside weekender residence for a taste of two-worlds.
6. Modern Vagabonds -- with the electric vehicle onslaught there is a renewed interest in Skoolies (look it up) whereby decommissioned school buses (and others) are retrofitted as customized living units meant to be a placebo for the wanderlusters. Solar-panel roofs, internet connectivity via Musk's Skylink, electric battery management systems, containerized plumbing -- all have contributed to the broken tether that had held these travel-meisters in situ.
You see, @Platinum107, there are a lot of changes coming -- hence the need for study and the underscored necessity for Anthropological learning and a broad open mind.
 
What would be nice to see ii the Fort (and really all capital region communities for that matter) is a higher density that can limit outward sprawl.
No kidding. Before their recent annexation of some land from Strathcona County, the Fort quite literally expanded to its seams. They had something like a few years worth of development before they'd completely run out of virgin land. I'm glad there's now a recognition among council that this sprawl hurts local businesses and local coughers as much as it does the environment and residents who don't have a vehicle.
 
A Request for Proposals (RFP) has recently been issued by the city, with a closing date of May 27, 2022. It is looking for a consultant to work with administration to undertake the public consultations and LUB creation, in collaboration with administration. I must say, their goals are very ambitious. Here are some highlights:

"The scope of this project is to create a wholly new and innovative Land Use Bylaw that is aligned with ‘Our Fort. Our Future.’ to serve the unique needs of different place types within Fort Saskatchewan. The Land Use Bylaw will achieve this by incorporating place specific, Euclidian and non-Euclidian regulatory approaches, providing flexibility for housing diversity and mixed use developments, and focusing on design elements for enhancing the public and quasi-public realm.

It will be a concise and visual document, limiting the number of districts, uses, and regulations to be as efficient and nimble as possible and providing visuals that make it user friendly by enhancing the users understanding of regulations and intent. The complete bylaw will be presented to Council in November 2023 with consistent council updates, public and stakeholder engagement, throughout the project."

"The draft bylaw will incorporate the following elements:

• Place based approach to foster vibrant and inclusive places
• Non-Euclidean regulations
• Flexibility to allow for greater innovation and resilience to changes in market conditions
• Document design consistent with and complimentary to the MDP
• Emphasis on place making
• Regulations that promote housing diversity
• Appropriate Infill and redevelopment regulations
• Regulations that facilitate complete neighbourhoods
• Regulations to facilitate the intensification of highway commercial and integration with surrounding areas
• Gender inclusive language
• Reflect MDP objectives for each place type in the appropriate districts.

The land use bylaw should avoid:
• Zoning models grounded in protectionism or exclusion
• Outdated or user based terminology e.g. Single Family Home
• Regulation based on conceptions of employment and production not consistent with modern practices"

If you're interested in learning more, the RFP references a number of other documents that are pertinent to this discussion, which I will hyperlink here: "The consultant will familiarize themselves with the relevant background documents including but not limited to; ‘Our Fort. Our Future.’ Municipal Development Plan, the Strategic Plan 2018-2022, the Transportation Master Plan, “my fort” engagement reports, existing Land Use Bylaw, research and discussion papers developed for the new Land Use Bylaw, and the Downtown Area Redevelopment Plan. and demographic information, background reports, and discussion papers prepared by Administration." As a follow-up to the Downtown Area Redevopment Plan, there's also the business-focused Downtown Action Plan and a list of the progress made on each specific action item.
 
Mature Neighbourhood Working Group Series 1 Summary Report

"Two Working Groups met virtually three times. Each meeting covered a different activity intended to provide insights into what makes each of these neighbourhoods unique. In each session, participants brought their responses to a question shared with them in advance of the meeting and shared and discussed their thoughts with other participants. The purpose of these Working Groups is to determine how the new Land Use Bylaw will implement the Municipal Development Plan (The Plan or the MDP) and fulfill the objectives for these areas. The 2021 Federal Census results confirmed the trends of an ageing and declining population in these neighbourhoods continued. While the city overall grew 12.1% our Mature Neighbourhoods decreased by an additional 4.2%. The MDP objectives for all of these neighbourhoods include increasing the population.

Throughout the sessions, general themes emerged. Many elements that residents value about their neighbourhoods are not within the scope of the Land Use Bylaw. There was significant focus on the city’s trail system, the mature trees and tree-lined streets, local parks, and the river valley. These public and community spaces resonated with participants and represented their neighbourhood more than private properties. Participants expressed concern regarding demographic trends in their neighbourhoods, particularly in the context of potentially losing local school amenities.

All participants expressed being open to development in their neighbourhood and concern regarding the level at which some ageing properties are being maintained. They varied in the degree they felt redevelopment should be regulated. While some were very open to development, they generally leaned towards greater controls to ensure development respects the existing context. Participants from the Old Fort area expressed concern regarding losing historical buildings in the area."
 
The guy in charge of this is fantastic and recently did a very interesting paper on where and how people live based on their employment sector and education/skillsets.
Can you please share that paper here? I'd love to take a read!

Oh, and also, in early 2023 administration organized an education session about the LUB rewrite initiative for council, and one of the guest speakers was Mayor Jim Brainard from Carmel, Indiana. You might recognize that city because Brainard championed the implementation of dozens of roundabouts, and a lot of progressive zoning/development policies!
Screenshot_20230622-135035_Drive.jpg
 

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