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January 21, 2022
February 9, 2017

Edmonton’s mature neighbourhoods get re-done

Infill isn't working with one-size-fits all model

Written by Jeff Samsonow

It may sound boring to talk about property zoning for Edmonton’s oldest neighbourhoods (hey, don’t click away!) but it does have quite a lot of importance to what’s going on in our city right now.

The City is currently looking at updates and changes to a planning document called the Mature Neighbourhood Overlay (MNO). For 15 years, it’s been the guiding document for building in our city’s older neighbourhoods (basically, everything existing or built-up until about the mid-point of last century). Some neighbourhoods have other planning documents that guide development and re-development, but the MNO is a main starting point for building things.

(The Edmonton Federal of Community Leagues has a good rundown on changes too.)

The reason the MNO changes have an effect on the rest of the city is because of our need to get more people living in older neighbourhoods, the idea of “building up not out” through infill. While Edmonton continues to push out with new suburban neighbourhoods, there’s no way we fit everyone moving here in without just annexing more land. And that’s not a sustainable plan, because an eventual city of EdDeerAlgary simply conjures fears of the mega-cities from Judge Dredd.

(My hope is if I use GIFs you’ll keep reading about mature neighbourhoods.)

The other need for updates is that the current plans don’t seem to be building enough, in all of the neighbourhoods or the right kinds of infill for Edmonton’s older neighbourhoods. It can be argued both ways that more rules are needed to encourage multi-family developments and that some kinds of multi-family buildings don’t fit in every kind of neighbourhood (to say nothing of the fights some neighbours will mount, rightly or wrongly).

Enter the mayor in the most recent discussions. Don Iveson is proposing something that makes a lot of sense, a model that’s not one-size fits all. He’s calling it the “middle overlay” and it’s on the right path to pleasing more people more of the time when it comes to new and redeveloped properties in Edmonton’s older neighbourhoods.

As we saw in this week’s first release of Census 2016 numbers, Edmonton’s growth doesn’t appear to be slowing. More options are needed to fit more people into more neighbourhoods.

The Mature Neighbourhood Overlay is nearing its newest form, so the time for open houses and public input sessions is over. You can, however, still take a look at the document and its proposed changes and, if you have thoughts for or against something in there, get in touch with your city councillor.