Suburban communities no longer sustainable
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.”
City officials were advised to regulate future infill designs after a recent infill development prompted concern from neighbours and councillors.