News   Apr 03, 2020
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New Zoning Bylaw

Couple of articles on the Zoning Bylaw update. Really hope this passes, it will add so much flexibility to what people can do with their properties. The solution in the lower mainland seems to be to just keep adding new zones to try and capture every housing type but it's such a pain to deal with, not everything fits in the narrower and narrower boxes they keep creating, and it means you need to rezone or get a variance to do pretty much anything.


 
Flexibility and predictability are important, but the amount of density that we are creating across the city when we continue to struggle with densification of our core seems a bit counter intuitive.

Incentivize density and development in key areas, nodes, corridors first.
 
I get where you're coming from, but I don't think arbitrarily limiting density across the City will necessarily have the impact of nodes and corridors being developed. If you keep the same Single family zoning everywhere to try and get density in specific areas, there's no guarantee that developers don't simply choose to develop in the burbs, which has largely been the case. One of the main issues in Edmonton is that greenfield is just so much easier, removing the rezoning requirement for medium density housing in the core will level that playing field a bit.

This type of framework has the opportunity to capture housing that would have been built in the burbs, not just housing that would be built in key nodes and corridors.
 
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The last thing Edmonton needs to do is make 'the burbs' more affordable.
 
I believe the real strength in a loosening of density and land-use regulations in low-density residential zones is how it empowers individuals or small scale landowners to increase housing options at a scale that is financially viable for them.
Just as we have people now who will rent out their basement, or invest in a laneway house, as that is the extent that heir financial situation allows for - by enabling them to make better use of their own land, we facilitate the control of housing to be spread amongst the population, instead of the only option being larger apartments in desirable areas - something that only a development company can afford to do.
By extension, supporting accessory commercial units in these neighbourhoods has the same effect, creating more low-risk opportunities for individuals to start and trial a business, without the costs and therefore minimum viable profit that would be required to rent a space from someone else.

And; for every potential aspirational landlord that turns their rental house into a 6-plex, and for every risk-averse aspirational business owner who manages to successfully run a business in their garage that would not be viable in a strip mall, we create countless opportunities for local investment and innovation.

And in the face of the abject failure that is the national housing crisis, Edmonton should only stand to benefit by doing everything possible to remain affordable, more affordable than the entire rest of the country. This can only serve to benefit us as Toronto and Vancouver continue to completely mishandle the problem. Even if that means our downtown doesn't receive the same development intensity as the rest of the country, something that has happened in other cities because of their failure to provide adequate development space outside their cores.
 
This is such a wonderful initiative, and I hope it passes close to as-is. If there were one thing I could change, it would just be to allow small-scale businesses to go in any residential building within those first three zones, rather than just residential lots that are adjacent to existing commercial lots (clause 3.3.1 of the proposed RS, RSF, and RSM zones). I think it just arbitrarily limits where small-scale mixed-use developments can happen, and perpetuates the segregation of land-uses that we're trying to get away from. So, I guess this is five steps forward and a half-step back.
 
The last thing Edmonton needs to do is make 'the burbs' more affordable.
I agree, what I meant is that currently greenfield has less barriers than infill, so our current system favours greenfield. Removing the rezoning requirement for a lot of infill development will remove a significant disadvantage that infill has currently. Rezoning + Public Hearings can be a huge barrier for infill, not only due to time and cost, but because of the uncertainty of developing in an existing neighbourhood where community pushback can kill even the most modest proposal.
 
This is such a wonderful initiative, and I hope it passes close to as-is. If there were one thing I could change, it would just be to allow small-scale businesses to go in any residential building within those first three zones, rather than just residential lots that are adjacent to existing commercial lots (clause 3.3.1 of the proposed RS, RSF, and RSM zones). I think it just arbitrarily limits where small-scale mixed-use developments can happen, and perpetuates the segregation of land-uses that we're trying to get away from. So, I guess this is five steps forward and a half-step back.
I agree 100%. I took the time to say as such at city hall during the April 12th review of the renewal. Ashamedly I've been quite busy lately and completely missed the recent opportunity. But I've also left such feedback on the appropriate channels the renewal people have presented, and I'll make sure to say it all again tomorrow morning at one of their "talk to a planner" web sessions tomorrow about the "15-minute communities" initiative.
I really want to hammer home how important it is that these ACUs are available by right in all residential zones. That's where the true opportunity and flexibility lies. Never having to plan ahead on your location, having to move, or having to beg for a variance. Knowing that wherever you live, whenever you are ready, you can open your business.
I worry that sometimes there's too much of a focus on the ideal local community coffee shop and corner store that exists in our minds, and not enough focus on the economic opportunities and economic mobility made available by ubiquitous allowance of ACUs.
 
I was part of their 15-minute communities session today;
and it was clarified by the planners that they are intending to allow "home based businesses" "by-right" in all "small scale residential zones".

So this is all our normal low density neighbourhoods. With no conditions as to node or arterial adjacency.
They're just hammering out precisely what that looks like: What sort of businesses, and what sort of visibility (signage, patios, etc). The dialogue in the session, and with other people there was very positive towards this, and noone in my break out group (10 people) was against the concept, although there's always nits to pick about specifics and potential disruptions. If that was the vibe with that group, it's hard to imagine them moving backwards with this proposal. So it's good news!
 
I was part of their 15-minute communities session today;
and it was clarified by the planners that they are intending to allow "home based businesses" "by-right" in all "small scale residential zones".

So this is all our normal low density neighbourhoods. With no conditions as to node or arterial adjacency.
They're just hammering out precisely what that looks like: What sort of businesses, and what sort of visibility (signage, patios, etc). The dialogue in the session, and with other people there was very positive towards this, and noone in my break out group (10 people) was against the concept, although there's always nits to pick about specifics and potential disruptions. If that was the vibe with that group, it's hard to imagine them moving backwards with this proposal. So it's good news!
Very interested in seeing ideas on how to integrate these into the burbs. I know Vancouver used to have similar buildings, but this is the only modern proposal I could find. A small cafe or basic grocer in the middle of a cul-de-sac would be fantastic.

I feel it's worth bringing up garages get turned into storefronts for showhomes all the time, so it's something contractors have experience with already. Glass storefront and two parking spots, it's a good start.
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