WHAT HAPPENED AT THE LAST #YEG PUBLIC HEARING
The November 6 public hearing had a total of thirteen applications (twenty-seven agenda items), including nine infill applications. Council talked so long about some of the items that they couldn’t get through the agenda; two applications were postponed to the November 20 public hearing (including Situate’s RA7/RMh16 application in Strathcona) because time ran out. Read on for the details!
Council spent the afternoon discussing the Mustard Seed’s application to rezone the former Operation Friendship Seniors’ Society building in McCauley. The rezoning application proposed to remove a 55+ age restriction that had (bafflingly) been written into the old zone (an ancient direct control zone). The repurposed building would be used for supportive housing with temporary shelter services on the main floor. The debate centred on whether temporary shelters was an appropriate use for a neighbourhood that already has 86% (!) of all emergency shelter spaces in the city.
🌇 In the end, Council introduced a sunset clause into the new zone that would allow the temporary shelter to operate only until midway through 2025 (read Urban Affairs take on that in “I’m Very Disappointed in You“). The rezoning eventually passed 10-2, with Councillors Rice and Principe voting against.
Council spent the other half of the November 6 public hearing talking about a rezoning application in the developing neighbourhood of Rosenthal. ➡️ Though we usually focus on infill and urban redevelopment applications in this newsletter, we want to highlight this one because the debate provides insight into Council’s thoughts on direct control zones that, in our opinion, everyone should know about.
The application was to rezone an undeveloped area of the neighbourhood from RLD (residential low density) zone to a direct control zone. The debate centred on why the direct control zone was necessary and why the new suburban RSF (small scale flex residential) zone—just recently approved in Zoning Bylaw 20001—couldn’t be used instead, since the difference in height was only half a metre (12 metres in the RSF zone and 12.5 metres in the proposed direct control zone).
Now, to be fair, the new Zoning Bylaw and the RSF zone weren’t approved yet when this rezoning application was made. That didn’t seem to matter much to Council though, who almost defeated the application anyway. In the end the application was approved by only one vote, 7-5 (one vote less and it would have been defeated on a tie). Councillors Knack, Hamilton, Cartmell, Janz, Rice, Rutherford, and Principe voted for it, and Mayor Sohi, Councillors Salvador, Tang, Stevenson, and Wright voted against (Councillor Paquette was away).
⭐ 💡The key takeaway: if you’re applying for a new direct control zone make sure i) you really, really need it and no standard zone will work and ii) you are able to clearly articulate why you really need it and why no standard zone will work.
“Absolutely recognize that this is a tricky one […] we are trying to move away from DC applications; I often think of today’s new communities as tomorrow’s mature communities […] I didn’t hear anything from our applicants that suggested that their product type is so unique it can’t be accommodated under the RSF zone.”
– Ashley Salvador, Councillor
“I’m really proud of the new zoning bylaw. I think it has worked very hard to accommodate a range of flexible opportunities to accommodate the type of housing that we want to be seeing. Of course we may always need exceptions for exceptional developments. I’m not sure that bar is being passed today. I think now is a really great time to start showing the greater discipline […] around how we use these tools that can create challenges for communities, for individuals and just administratively in the future. I also will not be supporting. Again appreciate the difficult timing of this one.”
– Anne Stevenson, Councillor
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WHAT’S UP AT PUBLIC HEARING ON NOVEMBER 20th
The November 20 public hearing has a total of seven applications (fourteen agenda items), ALL of which are infill / redeveloping area applications (!). In addition, the two applications that were postponed from November 6 are back on the agenda for November 20.
WHAT WERE WATCHING 🍿
Frankly we’re going to be watching it all on Monday, because all infill? Yes! Also, one of the applications doesn’t have Administration’s support (which doesn’t happen too often), so we’ll be listening in on that one for sure and we’ll tell you all about it in our next newsletter.
WHAT SITUATE’S TAKING TO COUNCIL
Situate’s taking an RA7/RMh16 application in Strathcona to Council. This is an interesting property sandwiched between the top of the river bank and the noise attenuation barrier on 99 St.
📺 You can follow along with the action via Edmonton City Council’s YouTube channel; the action starts at 9:30 am on Monday, November 20.
NEWS FROM SITUATE
👉 NEW BLOG: WHAT CAN I DO IN THE RSM ZONE?
Is RSM the new RF3? Read our new blog post to find out!
NEWS FROM THE CITY
The City of Edmonton is extending an invitation to participate in the grand finale of District Planning engagement. From October 23 to December 1 you can participate in engagement sessions to find out more about the plans and let the project team know what you think. Key questions to investigate: do the district plans align with the intent of City Plan? Are the width and length of nodes and corridors as envisioned in City Plan? What is allowed in the urban mix policy area? Does the urban mix policy area align with zoning that’s already in place? Go find out…
CITY BUILDING EVENTS
Exciting news! Chuck Marohn, the founder of Strong Towns, will be in Edmonton on December 13. Strong Towns wants cities to be safe, livable, and collaborative. They’re reshaping North American development with small, smart investments and personal-scale actions. Sponsored by the University of Alberta and a few City Councillors, check out the event details here.
Arjay 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.