The City Pursuing Different Direction on Policies For Housing
Edmonton is currently attempting to boost the density of mature neighbourhoods for accommodating new residents and benefiting the region by saving farmland and reducing commutes. Initially, the city had set a goal of increasing the residential occupancy of the existing neighbourhood by 25% within 2018. However, the year 2015 saw it attaining a new low; instead of experiencing an increase in density, the city faced a 13% drop. Find out what Peter Ohm, the chief city planner, thinks about the situation.
Ohm was asked whether the failure of the neighbourhood redevelopment plans means that it’s time to stop trying to make major changes in the city’s low-density zones. He did admit that the plan made for four West Jasper neighbourhoods didn’t come up with results he and his team was expecting, but he also emphasized that the plan also made a number of positive changes within those neighbourhoods. According to Ohm, this is the time to concentrate on the corridors.
The zoning rules have already been amended for allowing more skinny homes, duplexes, secondary suites, and garage suites on the regular streets of the low-density regions. In addition, the changed rules are also allowing construction of some row houses and triplexes. Ohm feels that right now, it’s time for the city to check its resources and use it in the right areas.
Another common question that Ohm is facing in almost every media conference is that how people can be encouraged to reside in the high-density zones of the city. Ohm acknowledges that it would take a bit more planning and effort for making people believe that it’s a good idea to live in the high-density areas of the city. Here, it must be mentioned that the city currently has rules, which makes it mandatory for the engineers to take into account people biking and walking on the streets when retrofitting.
Ohm, on the other hand, feels that it’s important that the gap between a building and the street should be broad enough to ensure that people residing in the building don’t feel as if they are living on the highway. He informed that planners would soon be studying other cities and write urban design regulations for different road and building types for the city of Edmonton. This would be done, as the city requires better policy to determine what would qualify as well-designed mid or low-rise apartments and towers. These changes would also allow people to know how to make the transition between the high-density neighbourhoods and neighbourhoods of other types.
Many are also wondering how Ohm and his department would convince developers for beginning constructions in corridors, which are currently filled with empty lots. Ohm informed that his department would encourage developers by reducing barriers and building the market for them. He said that people usually decide to live in the corridors when they don’t want to use a car to go everywhere. So, according to him, the market would be perfect for high density if the planners manage to offer comfortable access to local shops, parks, quality transit, and cycling routes.