Edmonton infill housing strategy set to shift focus to mid-scale homes

Infill housing is set to become more common in Edmonton, but the homes might be different than what people are used to seeing.

In the past, the city’s infill housing strategy has focused on the construction of single-family units, like skinny homes. But now the city wants to give more attention to the development of mid-scale infill homes, like townhouses, stacked row housing and low-rise apartments.

Expansion plans will be reviewed next Tuesday at an urban planning committee meeting, along with a new city report on the results of the infill project thus far.

Mid-scale infill homes aren’t common in Edmonton but will help the city handle population growth, said Hani Quan, a senior planner with the city.

“There’s not a lot of them, so it provides more diversity in housing choice,” he said.

“Missing middle” housing refers to the lack of mid-scale infill housing in Edmonton. (City of Edmonton)

When the infill project started in 2013, public engagement sessions determined people were interested in the development of small units, Quan said.

“People were ready for low-scale because in Edmonton, historically that’s what we have loved. We have loved low-scale, single-detached kind of residential development,” he said.

The prices of single-family [units] … are just unachievable for 99 per cent of the population.– Chris Proctor, realtor

But these days, not everyone can afford those types of homes, particularly in older neighbourhoods.

Mid-scale infill housing will make living in older neighbourhoods more affordable, said Chris Proctor, a realtor with MaxWell Devonshire Realty.

“There’s a large amount of buyers that want to live in the mature neighbourhoods in the core of the city, but unfortunately the prices of single-family [units] — especially in the more sought-after neighbourhoods — are just unachievable for 99 per cent of the population,” he said.

Proctor said pricing below $400,000 could open doors for people hoping to buy a home in an older neighbourhood, where infill is most common. Detached or semi-detached homes in established neighbourhoods typically cost between $600,000 and $800,000, he added.

Quan estimated the city will lock down possible expansion sites by spring 2019.

“When we talk about location, it isn’t just about what’s appealing to homebuyers. It’s also about where there might be capacity in our infrastructure systems to take on more people and more homes,” he said, highlighting road, water and fire servicing.

“There’s probably going to be a lot of data analysis required to be able to really figure out where we’re going to get the best bang for our buck.”

The city’s work plan also includes goals to remove zoning barriers, address construction issues and investigate opportunities for tiny homes.

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