Legal Brief for March, 2017

Infill Housing - What's It All About?

There is a lot of talk in the media these days about infill housing, some of it positive and some of it negative.  Most people have likely heard of the issue, but if you are like me you probably are not as familiar with the ins and outs of it as you would like to be.

Infill housing is the practice of building new homes in mature, established neighbourhoods.  It is literally the filling in of vacant or under utilized lots or portions of lots with new housing.  The new housing can take the form of single family dwellings, duplexes or triplexes, garage suites, secondary suites or apartments.  An increasingly common type of single family dwelling development is when an existing lot that has traditionally contained one house is subdivided into two lots, and a new house is built on each of the lots.  Since the lots are only half the width of the original lot, the homes have to be much narrower, and hence have come to be known as "skinny homes".  These skinny homes are becoming a common sight in many of Edmonton's older neighbourhoods.

The City of Edmonton has enacted a set of regulations that govern the construction of infill housing.  These are known formally as the Residential Infill Guidelines.  The Guidelines can be found on a special website that the City has set up, which is: cityofedmontoninfill.ca.  The Guidelines detail which neighbourhoods are classified as "mature neighbourhoods" and thus are available for infill housing development.

Anyone wanting to construct infill housing will need to undertake the following:

  1. first of all, your neighbourhood must be on the list of "mature neighbourhoods" as designated by the City.
  2. you need to check if your proposed site is affected by an Area Redevelopment Plan or Land Use Plan for your neighbourhood.
  3. you need to check the zoning regulations for your neighbourhood to see if the property's zoning in fact allows for the type of development proposed.
  4. if the existing zoning does not permit infill housing, you would need to apply for a re-zoning permit if you want to still go ahead;
  5. review the Infill Guidelines to design your proposed housing in accordance with the terms of the Guidelines;
  6. apply for a development permit and building permit for the proposed housing (which will include notifications to adjoining property owners, who will have the right to object to the proposed development).

As this list shows, there are a lot of steps between the idea stage and actually obtaining approval to begin construction.  If you are interested in learning more about this topic I recommend a visit to the City's website as noted above.  It is a great resource for more information, regardless of whether you are interested in building infill housing, opposing a proposed development in your area or you just want to become more informed.

Notice To Reader:

Please note that this Legal Brief Of The Month feature is intended to provide general information only, and is not intended to provide specific legal advice for any situation.  You should consult with a lawyer before acting on any matter that you are facing.  Your use of, and access to this website, does not create a lawyer-client relationship with John K.J. Campbell, Barrister & Solicitor.