Edmonton’s City Hall Passes Privacy Regulations for Infill Projects
Privacy remains a concern for many. As many as 70% of Edmonton residents did not want the city hall to regulate how residents interacted with each other in mature neighborhoods, according to a survey. Somewhat inexplicably though, the city hall pushed ahead with its move to pass privacy bylaw amendments, in spite of the survey results pointing otherwise. The move is expected to ensure more privacy among households, so that there is greater privacy screening.
Among the proposals discussed, there was a rule passed that rooftop patios be pushed back by at least two meters if it is at the edge of the roof. The proposal aims to ensure that one cannot overlook his or her own backyard or neighbor’s house from their rooftop patio. The rooftop patio must also be around one meter back from the front of the house as well.
If you’re installing new decks, you may not be as lucky either. If the deck is installed one meter or more off the ground, regardless of whether it is in the back or side yard, you would need to have a privacy screening. The city hall, replying to the survey, stated that the results do not match what they have been hearing from residents for so long.
What does this mean for the infill projects?
The new bylaw amendments bring into perspective the different changes one can expect. For one, infill developers will have a lot more work to do than before. They need to check that the windows designed in two-story homes, located around two meters or less from the neighboring property line, fill the privacy screening requirements. Therefore, the development application needs to note all of these details. Additionally, developers would have to plan for bushes and trees accordingly, so that the neighbor’s privacy isn’t compromised.
It is the concern about privacy that is driving the move, according to Coun. Scott McKeen. People are more concerned about intrusion and complaints have been coming in for years, McKeen says. However, he does point out that certain measures could be reached, especially if the neighbors and developers can reach a compromise.
What about the survey results?
When asked about the survey results pointing to as many as 70% residents not having concerns about privacy, Coun. Andrew Knack stated that the views from the past few years have been the opposite, with most people concerned about privacy. City officials, on the other hand, stated how few people responded to the privacy issue during the consultation period. In spite of advertisements in community newsletters and webpages, only a few responses and views were gathered, perhaps playing a part in the eventual decision by City Hall.
The survey, carried out by Insight Community, had interviewed as many as 3,079 Edmonton residents. And it was only 26% of the people who didn’t want neighboring houses and properties to be “allowed to look into other houses of yards in any circumstances.” Instead, nearly 70% responded that they did not want any privacy regulation, or that homeowners could achieve privacy themselves, without the need of any privacy regulation.
This, the respondents stated, could be done by putting in blinds and landscaping. And only around 29% believed that infill projected to have privacy screens, with 71% stating that homeowners could add in balcony walls and landscaping as needed.
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