Sub­ur­ban com­mu­ni­ties no longer sus­tain­able

Metro Canada (Edmonton) - - Front Page - Krista Sylvester

It’s a con­tentious hous­ing is­sue that will hope­fully be solved when new guide­lines come to coun­cil early 2018.

Coun­cil re­cently di­rected city of­fi­cials to gen­er­ate more op­tions to reg­u­late fu­ture infill de­sign af­ter sev­eral con­tro­ver­sial infill de­vel­op­ments dubbed “skinny houses” popped up in older neigh­bour­hoods, irk­ing neigh­bours and coun­cil­lors alike.

There are peo­ple on both sides of the is­sue but one thing can be agreed on: the cur­rent process isn’t work­ing for any­one, ac­cord­ing to Ward 10 coun­cil­lor Michael Wal­ters.

“As neigh­bour­hoods age, hous­ing stock must be re­vi­tal­ized,” Wal­ters ex­plains. “Cur­rently, peo­ple have all types of ar­chi­tec­tural lib­er­ties and some new builds are well re­ceived and some aren’t.”

Wal­ters be­lieves the city and de­vel­op­ers need to be more mind­ful of how a neigh­bour­hood is planned to­day for when it is built for to­mor­row.

“We need to be stead­fast but flex­i­ble. We need to rec­og­nize the need to den­sify cities be­cause it’s the smart thing to do but be flex­i­ble to en­sure that ex­ist­ing home­own­ers and com­mu­nity mem­bers feel in­cluded and re­spected.”

Pres­i­dent of Infill Devel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion of Ed­mon­ton (IDEA) Mitch Graham agrees that pol­icy changes need to hap­pen. He would also like to see some mixed-use so­lu­tions in­cluded in fu­ture de­vel­op­ments.

“There’s an emo­tional el­e­ment associated with hous­ing be­cause peo­ple love their neigh­bour­hoods and many think any change will be neg­a­tive,” Graham ex­plains, adding that a “one size fits all” ap­proach won’t work.

“I think peo­ple need to get used to the idea that the built form they’ve been liv­ing with hap­pily for the last 30 years isn’t sus­tain­able for Ed­mon­ton into the fu­ture and they need to … be­come part of the so­lu­tion.”

Graham be­lieves com­mu­ni­ties should be en­gaged when the time comes to den­sify.

“Maybe some neigh­bour­hoods want a sky­scraper tower on the cor­ner while oth­ers might want row hous­ing or low-rise con­dos and those are the kinds of con­ver­sa­tions that need to take place.”

Cour­tesy of IDeA

City of­fi­cials were ad­vised to reg­u­late fu­ture infill de­signs af­ter a re­cent infill devel­op­ment prompted con­cern from neigh­bours and coun­cil­lors.

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