WHAT HAPPENED AT THE LAST #YEG PUBLIC HEARING
The November 20 public hearing was anything but dull. There were seven files on the docket (fourteen agenda items), ALL of which were infill / redeveloping area applications. In addition, two applications that were postponed from November 6 were back on the agenda, for a total of nine applications.
COUNCIL DEFEATS NEIGHBOURHOOD COMMERCIAL REZONING 🛍️
It doesn’t happen often, but it definitely does happen: on November 20 Council defeated an application in Highlands on 112 Avenue to rezone a lot from the RF1 zone to the CB1 low intensity business zone (soon to become the CN neighbourhood commercial zone under Zoning Bylaw 20001).
The speakers, questions and debate lasted for many hours and revolved around neighbourhood character, property value, and the lengthly list of possible uses in the new zone.
🚃 The conversation went off the rails, in our opinion, on the topic of the proposed use under the new zone: child care services. 🧒🧒🧒 There was mass confusion about how and where child care services (or any commercial use) could be allowed in the new RS residential small scale zone (which the RF1 zone will become on January 1).
👉 So let us set the record straight. Child care services are allowed only in very limited locations in the RS zone:
- on corner lots on a collector or arterial road,
- on corner lots in other locations, but ONLY if an existing single detached house is being 100% turned into a daycare,
- in an existing non-residential building, OR
- if located right beside a lot in a non-residential zone.
This means that if a corner lot in the RS zone becomes a child care service, the house beside it can’t become a child care service too, because it wouldn’t meet any of the location criteria. So, no one needs to lose sleep worrying about the unfettered proliferation of daycares.
Ultimately it was all just too much; the application was defeated on first reading, with Councillors Cartmell, Knack, Principe, Rice, Rutherford, Salvador, and Wright voting against it, and Councillors Janz, Stevenson, and Tang in the minority, voting for it.
MEMORABLE QUOTE #1
🎤 “I will support this today…more commercial along busy roadways is an exciting opportunity for our city…it’s about location efficiency and providing choices for future generations. Don’t get too fixated on this daycare question…it may only be a daycare for the next five or ten years, and then after that, what would it be?…The suburban experiment…the single-use neighborhoods of just commercial or just housing that’s really come into vogue after World War II, this is not how we built cities for thousands of years…I just caution my colleagues not to be distracted by the trees and think about the forest.” – Councillor Michael Janz
VETERANS HOUSING OR A FIELD: WHAT WOULD YOU CHOOSE?
What if you didn’t need to choose, but could have both?
The real estate and open space branches of the City of Edmonton brought forward an application to rezone a portion of a field in the neighbourhood of Athlone to RA7 to allow for supportive housing for veterans, and designate the remainder of the field as a park.
Debate ensued about the loss of open space (the part of the field to be replaced with veterans housing), and whether it was appropriate to have an apartment building inside the neighbourhood (instead of on an arterial road acting as a buffer for traffic noise and pollution 🚙).
In the end the application was approved, with Councillor Rutherford, the ward Councillor, casting the sole vote against it.
MEMORABLE QUOTE #2
🎤 Councillor Janz was at it again:
“Not only will I be supporting the site, but I think we need affordable housing and wraparound services like this on all of the sites we mentioned here today. More people are coming to Edmonton, and if we do not take advantage of city-owned land and opportunities like this to build housing and opportunity, especially for the most vulnerable, we’re going to see a worse housing crisis and more social disorder, more public health downstream to all of us wherever we live in the city. We don’t need these just in Athlone; we need them all over the city and any city site…Let’s do our best to work with the neighbors to mitigate the negative impacts. But overall, let’s try to find ten sites like this in the next six months.”
BUT WAIT SITUATE, HOW DO WE ENSURE GOOD DESIGN?
Situate’s application, which got knocked off the November 6 agenda to the end of the November 20 agenda, was an RA7 zoning in Strathcona located behind the noise barrier wall on Scona Road. 🛣️
Councillor Rutherford selected the file for debate, and expressed concern that the site was too technically challenging to build on, and that she had no assurance that proper design would be followed. Administration disagreed, and so do we, of course, as rezoning is merely the first step in the land development process, with ever more detailed steps to follow (few people consider the development and building permit processes to be a walk in the park).
In the end the application was approved, with Councillor Rutherford voting against it.
ADMINISTRATION DOESN’T SUPPORT APPLICATION, COUNCIL APPROVES IT ANYWAY
Last up on the agenda was a site on 109 Street in Queen Alexandra that Administration didn’t want to see approved because it contravened the 109 Street Corridor Plan. The plan requires lanes to be reoriented from north-south to east-west to avoid laneways spilling out onto 109 Street (a pedestrian paradise, to be sure). The landowner refused to do this, thus Administration didn’t support the application. Council approved it though, with Councillors Knack, Principe and Rice voting against.
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WHAT’S UP AT PUBLIC HEARING ON MONDAY
The December 11 public hearing has a total of thirteen applications (thirty-one agenda items), including five infill applications.
WHAT SITUATE’S TAKING TO COUNCIL
Situate’s application is to rezone a site in Prince Rupert from a 40 year old direct control zone to the RA8 zone to allow for a new mid-rise apartment building. Administration doesn’t support the application, saying it’s too far from a node or corridor. It’s a zoning puzzle with district planning pieces thrown in for fun–catch the action live starting at 9:30 am on December 11 on Council on the Web.
NEWS FROM SITUATE
Hey, check this out–Allison Rosland, one of our amazing team members over here at Situate, is now co-hosting IDEA’s “In Development” podcast! 🎉
Starting in Episode 40, she’s teaming up with Lilit Houlder for some good ol’ urban planning talk. They’re diving into the world of Edmonton infill issues, sharing thoughts on new rules and regulations and what City Council and staff is up to.
Tune in for some city building vibes that go beyond the usual headlines. 🎙️✨
NEWS FROM THE CITY
Reminder that the new Zoning Bylaw and map come into effect on January 1, 2024. If you’re at a loss for holiday reading you can scroll the 1000+ pages of the bylaw right here.💡
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 and use discount code PAPASTEW to get your tickets half off!
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.