Revised Rules Encourage More Creative Housing Design

Walkout basements, 9’ ceilings and drive-under garages are immensely popular in Edmonton. Chances are you know someone with one or more of these features in their homes yourself!

Until recently, the height and grade regulations in the Zoning Bylaw made these common and desired features somewhat difficult to build. Now after two years of work the City of Edmonton’s Zoning Bylaw Implementation Team has made some revisions to the regulations so that these common home features can be created with greater ease for everyone.

Height and grade work together with other development and construction regulations—such as building setback, lot width and coverage, and building code regulations—to determine the overall size and shape of buildings in the city. These regulations play a central role in forming Edmonton’s urban environment, which is why it was an exciting moment when City Council approved proposed changes to the regulations earlier this summer.

“We are very happy with the result at City Council,” says James Veltkamp, Principal Planner on the Zoning Bylaw Implementation Team. “The project took quite some time, undergoing many drafts to reach a balance that satisfied the interests of both the community and the development industry.”

Thanks to the changes approved by Council, most walkout basements and drive-under garages no longer require special permission. The new rules also allow more flexibility in the internal layout of buildings.

The number of storeys inside a building used to be considered when determining height, but now the bylaw only regulates the external dimensions of a house. This means that there are now even more ways that you can build the house of your dreams.

Better yet, more-detailed instructions about how to interpret the zoning rules have also been introduced.  This will create fewer delays and more consistency when reviewing development applications, streamlining the process and helping get you into your dream house even sooner.

The drive for increased efficiency and consistency is not over yet. The Zoning Bylaw Implementation Team will begin work on additional changes to height regulations, as well as a review of the mature neighbourhood overlay, (MNO) later this year. The purpose of the MNO is to ensure that new development in mature neighbourhoods remains sensitive to the existing character of the neighbourhood.

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