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Edmonton city council passes massive zoning overhaul after days of public hearings

A major revamp of Edmonton’s zoning rules that will shape the city for decades has been approved by city council. 

Council has passed the new zoning bylaw 11-2 Monday, with councillors Jennifer Rice and Karen Principe voting against. 

The decision follows nearly 300 Edmontonians sharing their views at a public hearing last week — with just slightly more than half speaking against the bylaw.

It’s the first major overhaul of the city zoning rules in decades.

The city is shrinking the number of zones from 46 to 24 in an effort to align more closely with The City Plan, a long-term outlook that imagines a more dense, environmentally-friendly urban space as the city grows toward a population of two million.

The bylaw allows for buildings of up to three storeys in all neighbourhoods, and encourages different types of development to be built more easily in all residential areas.

Council is now making multiple motions for subsequent work on the bylaw addressing many of the concerns raised during the hearing.

The motions are not an instant change to the new bylaw and would first require a report coming back to council and then a vote.

“This bylaw supports affordability. It makes it easier for affordable housing developers and seniors housing developers to build housing our community needs by reducing unnecessary red tape,” Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said during the meeting Monday.

“It provides the opportunity for Edmontonians to attain different housing types for their needs across the city.”

Rice told CBC that there are concerns Edmontonians have that are not yet addressed in the bylaw and that’s why she voted no. 

“I don’t think for me at this moment I’m comfortable to say yes to this bylaw, but I do believe that our city needs a new bylaw,” she said.  

Critics of the bylaw cited a lack of regulation for developers and environmental issues among the top concerns. Others said the bylaw didn’t do much to improve housing affordability, despite the desire from councillors for it to help that issue. 

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