WHAT HAPPENED AT THE LAST #YEG PUBLIC HEARING
The March 13 public hearing had a total of fifteen applications (twenty-three agenda items).
Of the eight redeveloping area (infill) applications, Council approved five applications unanimously without debate, and a proposed RF3 rezoning in Inglewood was postponed to the April 3 public hearing.
Profiled below: a commercial direct control rezoning in Strathcona and a residential direct control rezoning in Glenora (Situate’s file!).
STRATHCONA: SUNSET (CLAUSE) ON THE PATIO 🌞
The Strathcona rezoning application proposed to change site specific zoning regulations in order to expand the outdoor patio beside the Commercial Hotel. During the COVID pandemic a temporary patio was constructed beside the hotel, on a separately titled lot that the hotel uses as their parking lot, and the applicant wanted to make the patio permanent.
Council debated the application for about an hour and a half, with much of the debate focused on patio capacity, noise, operations, and the proposed marquee sign.
Councillor Janz, the councillor for the ward, and Councillor Stevenson both noted that City Plan and the plan for Whyte Avenue both encourage redevelopment (of new buildings). Councillor Janz then made a motion to amend the proposed zoning regulations to add a five year sunset clause on the development permit for the patio. Councillor Stevenson noted that the sunset clause is a good interim option to support vibrancy (🎉🍺🍦), while also encouraging redevelopment to higher and better uses in the future. The motion to add the five year sunset clause was approved with Councillors Hamilton and Wright voting in opposition. The rezoning application was then approved unanimously.
GLENORA: LOSING SIGHT OF THE FOREST FOR THE TREES? 🏡
Situate’s application in Glenora was to rezone a large lot on the corner of 134 Street and 103 Avenue from the RF1 (single detached residential) zone to a custom DC2 (site specific) zone. The rezoning would allow the lot to be subdivided so that one new house could be built on the north side of the lot, with the existing house on the south side of the lot being retained, for a total of two houses on the site (🏠 + 🏠 = 🏠🏠).
The custom zone created site-specific length and width regulations for the new lots, which was necessary because the site is irregularly shaped, meaning it doesn’t conform to the length and width regulations of any standard zone. In fact, a previous attempt to subdivide the lot was unsuccessful for precisely this reason 😔.
Council asked questions about the application for about two hours, with most questions related to the purpose of the rezoning, design regulations, heritage, and trees on private property. Situate clarified that the purpose of the custom zone was to resolve the technical issues arising from the lot’s irregular shape. Questions continued about what materials would be used to build the new house, relative to concerns that the new house should not use the same materials as the other house. Administration clarified that the new house would not be identical to the old house.
Questions then continued about preserving trees on private property. Note: the City does not regulate trees on private property, just as they do not regulate the rose bushes in front of your house or the tomatoes in your garden (🌹🍅). They really like to talk about trees a lot though (and maybe they’ll regulate them in future, we don’t know).
Case in point: Councillor Knack, the ward councillor, asked why the regulations in the proposed zone did not say anything about preserving trees. Situate noted that standard zones do not say anything about preserving trees, nor was the matter raised to us by Administration as an issue to be addressed. The landowner stated his intent to preserve as many trees as possible. By this time it was time for lunch, so Councillor Knack asked Administration and Situate to talk about trees over the lunch break.
After the break, Administration reiterated that preserving private trees is complex because their health is unknown and they require a health assessment (if a tree dies, the City would have to verify the cause). There are trees are located within the area that has to be excavated in order to build a new building (the idea being that new buildings are good: they provide people with places to live, utilize existing infrastructure, support transit ridership and all that jazz). In our opinion, Councillor Salvador did a mic drop when she stated that everyone cares about trees, but that a broader conversation about trees on private property is required. In his closing statement, Councillor Knack maintained that he would have liked tree preservation to be addressed in the zone. The application was approved, with Councillors Knack, Principe and Rice voting in opposition.
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WHAT’S UP AT PUBLIC HEARING NEXT WEEK
The April 3 public hearing agenda has a total of eleven applications (sixteen agenda items). The agenda includes four infill applications.
One of the rezonings is to the RF3 zone in Dovercourt to allow for rowhousing. The other three will be pretty interesting: a direct control rezoning in Queen Mary Park to allow for a high density mixed use development and new public park, a rezoning in Windsor Park to allow for a mid-rise residential building (postponed from February 21), and a large site RF3 rezoning in Inglewood (postponed from March 13).
WHAT WE’RE WATCHING 🍿
We’re definitely tuning in to the direct control rezonings and the large site RF3 application.
👉 The Queen Mary Park application proposes to rezone a large brownfield site from the PU (public utility) zone to a DC1 (direct development control) zone and the AP (public parks) zone. The site was historically used for industrial purposes, including the former rail yard. In the 1950s, ATCO started using the site for office space, storage, maintenance, and repairs. ATCO’s operations on the site ended in 2010 and the rest of the buildings were demolished in 2021.
The rezoning would allow for a mixed used, high density development with a maximum height of 24 metres (7 storeys), except for one tower which has maximum height of 70 metres (20 storeys). The rezoning also includes a public park, which is provided to meet the redevelopment levy requirements in the Central McDougall/Queen Mary Park Area Redevelopment Plan. The site is located in the Centre City Node and is approximately 220 metres north of the future MacEwan Arts/112 Street LRT Stop.
👉 The Windsor Park application proposes to rezone the site from the RF1 (single detached residential) zone to a custom DC2 (site specific) zone to allow for a four to six storey residential building with up to 172 units. The site is on the edge of the University-Garneau Major Node.
At the February 21 public hearing, the item was postponed by Council in response to a request from two community members’ legal counsel. Apparently a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIP) request that was submitted in December of last year had not yet been fulfilled. The FOIP request was submitted to obtain information on the discussions between Administration and the applicant, as well as information on Administration’s decision to support the rezoning application.
👉 The Inglewood application proposes to rezone a large site from the US (urban services) zone to the RF3 (small scale infill development) zone to allow for up to 17 units of row housing.
The site is vacant and previously functioned as open space next to an Edmonton Catholic School site. In 2015 the school board declared the entire site surplus land and put it up for sale. The previous landowners (who purchased the site from the school board) attempted to rezone the site to the RF5 (row housing) zone in 2020 and to the RF3 zone in 2021, without success. After the 2021 application, Council (the previous Council), asked Administration to negotiate with the landowner to purchase the site; however, this negotiation was unsuccessful and someone else acquired the land. The new landowner is now bringing the RF3 application back to Council. At the March 13 public hearing, following presentations from Administration and speakers from the public, Councillor Rutherford moved to postpone to the April 3 public hearing.
Watch it live on Edmonton City Council’s YouTube channel; the action starts at 9:30 am on Monday, April 3.
NEWS FROM SITUATE
NEWS FROM THE CITY
The City announced that the next round of public engagement for the new Zoning Bylaw is slated for May. In the meantime, check out the new platform the City created to host the Zoning Bylaw. What do you think?
SOME GOOD READS
IDEA INFILL TOUR
On April 28, the Infill Development in Edmonton Association (IDEA) is hosting its annual Infill Tour to provide a behind-the-scenes look at recent residential, mixed-use, and commercial infill projects. Get your tickets here!
Hey, thanks for reading this far! We send this newsletter in the hopes of making it easier and more fun to understand (1) what’s going on at #yeg city council public hearings on land development and (2) zoning, infill, and the land (re)development process. We’d like to know from you, dear Zone In readers: what do YOU want to read about? Let us know and we’ll do our best to tackle it!
Zone In is created by Situate Inc. and is for informational purposes only. The content in Zone In is not to be construed as planning, zoning, real estate or any other professional strategy or advice.