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City Administration is proposing numerous changes to low density housing zones, and the Mature Neighbourhoods Overlay - the special regulations originally created to preserve the character of neighbourhoods.
Most worrisome are the changes which threaten the pedestrian friendly, tree-lined streets of mature neighbourhoods. Since the 1990’s, the Mature Neighbourhoods Overlay has provided regulations which prevented, or at least discouraged, front yard garages on sites with back lanes and front treed boulevards. Where front garages were permitted, the garage was not to dominate the front yard, thus allowing windows, doors and eyes on the street.
The restrictions on front garages in Mature Neighbourhoods have been key to preserving the safe, pedestrian friendly tree lined streets of the neighbourhoods. Each addition of a front driveway creates another safety hazard for pedestrians, especially children. Also, cement driveways threaten the viability and life span of boulevard trees which greatly add to the safety and attractiveness of the pedestrian walkway. It is puzzling that the City would even consider allowing more front garages in mature neighbourhoods when promoting walking and transit use is a major city goal. After all, most LRT stations areas are in mature neighbourhoods.
Unlike many newer neighbourhoods designed for front garages, mature neighbourhoods do not have multi-use trails and separate walkway for pedestrians and cyclists. Mature neighbourhoods rely on the road right of way to provide safe passage for all modes of travel. Front garages work well in some neighbourhood designs but not in Edmonton’s mature neighbourhoods.
The City is also proposing numerous changes to low density zone regulations which apply to all neighbourhoods in the city. Most notably, the changes would permit semi-detached housing, duplexes, 4 unit apartments and row housing in numerous locations, such as corner sites, where only single family homes were previously permitted without consultation. The proposed amendments would also allow housing to be built on narrower lots, thus making it possible for single detached home lots to be subdivided.
For general background information go to: http://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/urban_planning_and_design/low-density-residential-zones.aspx