WHAT HAPPENED AT THE LAST #YEG PUBLIC HEARING
The September 11 public hearing had a total of nine applications (twenty-two agenda items), including six infill applications.
Three of the infill files passed with no debate: an industrial rezoning application, a direct control application to allow for education uses, and a CB3 (commercial mixed business) application in Oliver at the corner of 123 Street and 102 Avenue. Situate’s application to rezone land in the (developing) Edmonton Energy and Technology Park to allow for indoor self storage was also approved with no debate. 🙌
The rest of the infill files were selected for debate and eventually passed unanimously: a rezoning application to the Industrial Business zone to allow for a religious assembly building and a small scale commercial rezoning in Pleasantview. The third application is profiled below.👇
Situate took a DC2 to RA8 (medium rise apartment) rezoning application to Council. Located in Bonnie Doon, the application was to allow for the construction of a building of up to six storeys on two lots: a corner lot and the interior lot next door. Two people registered to speak in opposition: someone concerned about parking in the neighbourhood as well as the immediate next door neighbour, who was concerned about the state of the vacant houses on the subject site.
Much of the conversation at Council focused on the maintenance on the property and whether two trees adjacent to the neighbours’ property line would be preserved. Interestingly, the old DC2 had a custom regulation baked into it that required the two trees in question to be maintained. Since there’s nothing in the standard RA8 zone (or any other zone) that can replicate that requirement, Councilllor Knack asked the landowner to publicly promise to keep the trees. 🌲🌲
We think a request like this—when an applicant is applying to rezone to a standard zone, and the rezoning aligns with City Plan policy—raises three important questions:
#1. Arborist reports are not required as part of a rezoning process, so it is unknown whether the trees i) are healthy and ii) would survive the excavation for (and construction of) the new building. So is this a promise that can be kept? 🤷 No one knows.
#2. Though neighbours may enjoy them, trees ultimately belong to the landowner. Should City Council be regulating existing landscaping? Maybe, maybe not, but in our opinion, if they’re going to do it they need to figure out a way to do it fairly and equitably (and not on a one-off and ad hoc basis). ⚖️
#3. One thing that almost always gets lost in Council’s discussions about trees at public hearings is the fact that the zoning bylaw (both current and proposed) requires new trees and shrubs to be planted whenever a new building is built. It also incentivizes existing trees to be maintained. Do these incentives need to be strengthened? Maybe, maybe not, but just like our opinion on #2 above, if Council think there’s a problem, they should figure out a way to solve it fairly and equitably (and not on a one-off and ad hoc basis). ⚖️
The application eventually passed unanimously.
Strictly speaking, Council is supposed to keep their questions, debate and discussion on rezoning applications to pertinent land use concerns, though in reality they care about a lot of things that aren’t necessarily directly related to land use, such as being a good neighbour.
Preserving mature trees arguably falls into that category: neighbours like your trees so Council wants you to keep them, as a good neighbour. Another good and neighbourly thing that Council likes you to do: clean your sidewalks, mow your weeds and—especially if there’s a vacant house on your property—prevent the house from becoming derelict. And if you can’t—consider tearing it down! (Over here at Situate we can even help you get that done). Email us.
MEMORABLE QUOTE 💬
“Are you going to keep those two trees on the side of the property as part of this development? You would have a larger setback than what was previously permitted but we actually lose the ability to retain those trees because that’s removed from the DC2. Are you willing to make that commitment here with the neighboring property owner in the room that can hear your answer?”
– Councillor Andrew Knack
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WHAT’S UP AT PUBLIC HEARING ON TUESDAY
The October 3 public hearing has a total of nine applications (nineteen agenda items), including seven infill applications.
In the mix of the infill files there are two small scale residential rezoning applications, two applications from the City of Edmonton to rezone parcels to parks and urban services, an industrial rezoning, an application for low rise (RA7) residential and another for medium rise (RA8) residential.
WHAT SITUATE’S TAKING TO COUNCIL
Situate has two applications at Council on Tuesday: the RA8 (mid-rise) application, which is located in Mactaggart, and one of the small scale residential rezoning applications, located in Bergman.
👀 Watch it live on Edmonton City Council’s YouTube channel; the action starts at 9:30 am on Tuesday, October 3.
NEWS FROM SITUATE
👉 NEW BLOG POST ON THE DRAFT NEW RM ZONE
We’ve got another new blog post hot off the press on the much-anticipated new Residential Medium Scale (RM) zone—the zone that’s planned to replace the RF6, RA7 and RA8 zones. Check it out!
OTHER GOOD READS
The new Zoning Bylaw is going to Council for approval (we hope) on October 16. Here’s an impartial, well-written opinion piece in the Edmonton Journal on why this project is so important for the future of our city: Zoning renewal will reduce sprawl, emissions and housing costs.
IDEA’s second annual infill Symposium, Infill Connect, is taking place next week, October 12. Situate’s founder Chelsey Jersak is on the keynote panel! Grab your tickets and we will see you there.
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 in general. If there’s a topic you’d like to know about let us know and we’ll do our best to write about 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.