Plans for infill growth in the communities of St. Albert and Sherwood Park are rolling out. We could be expecting angry debate regarding lot splitting and skinnier condominiums and houses, similar to what is happening in Edmonton. Council members have stated that people are understandably fond of their neighborhoods and are slow to change their views about infill policy. However, if the transition doesn’t happen, housing as many people as is expected is just not practical.
The Capital Region Board released plans referred to as “intensification targets” during the beginning of April. Towns and cities in this region will be expected to forward their strategy regarding the addition of higher density neighborhoods. A majority of the growth last year happened in suburbs as infill numbers were at a mere 13 percent. Edmonton’s target was 25 percent in 2010 compared to St. Albert’s target of 17.5 percent present day. Three 20-story and 25-story buildings were recently approved for St. Albert’s downtown district. The same goal was set out for Sherwood Park.
A 15 percent infill target will be expected in Fort Saskatchewan, Leduc and Stony Plain areas.
Citizens in Fort Saskatchewan appear to be very concerned as it is such a monumental change. Opposition has been clear, with residents who disapprove apartments being mixed in with the single-family homes. Their city’s density minimums would be doubled as the plan allows for 50 dwelling units for each residential hectare. However, the proposal recommends any existing plans be grandfathered in.
Row houses, shorter apartment building, and sparingly placed residential skyscrapers would be implemented while single-family houses in the area would dwindle. The ability to have residents choose what type of housing they want has been emphasized as a benefit for infill discussion. Regional board members have explained that infill development will be beneficial for young people and seniors too as they can remain in their chosen community.
The county mayor over Sherwood Park, Roxanne Carr, has stated the city of Sherwood Park is still very young and she cannot see opportunity for infill developments in this region. Approval of a new growth area approximately the size of Sherwood Park will be implemented for the county. Officials say the requirement for 50 units per net is indefinite at this time.
The city has also examined the need for preserving farmland apart from the dense suburbs and industrial quarters. Plans would need to be made to determine how the requisition could best protect farms; targets of the high-density project state 300 quarter sections of farmland would be saved over 30 years of implementation.
Before plans can be carried out, experts say Edmonton will need to improve its public transit system. Otherwise it will be difficult to adequately transfer from the lower density mode of car transportation.
A study has been granted to review higher occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes. The board is also making plans to review dense areas and need for public transit in both Edmonton and St. Albert.
14308 97A Ave
Edmonton, Alberta T5T 5X8