Infill is a matter of good neighbourliness City team responsible for inspections and complaints

Every worker at a residential infill site must keep it tidy and secure, among other requirements. When those rules aren’t being followed, residents can use the 311 complaint line and a new resource: the city’s infill compliance team.

“The team has authority to do proactive inspections on infill sites in older neighbourhoods, to ensure all types of issues can be addressed on site,” said Adrienne Hill, spokesperson with the city’s sustainable development.

Since Edmonton’s mature neighbourhood overlay—an initiative to re-invest in the city’s core residential areas—came into effect, older neighbourhoods have seen infill housing leap ahead. According to the city’s latest infill report, skinny house lot splitting in core, mature, and established neighbourhoods went from zero in 2012 to 334 last year.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In 2013, the city revised lot widths in mid- to higher-density residential zones, allowing for skinny homes. Two years later, further revisions allowed skinny lot divisions in the low-density, single home/duplex zones.

Duplexes and semi-detached startups in older neighbourhoods jumped from 170 in 2010 to 300 last year. Infill row houses almost doubled.

This construction brought headaches for neighbouring residents, among them noise, excavation problems, and piles of dirt too close to adjacent properties.

The city responded, and in 2014 launched its infill roadmap which set 23 targets for addressing infill issues in older neighbourhoods. By January of last year, 15 had been implemented, with the remaining in progress. New targets included an infill website, a Good Neighbour Guide for contractors, and an infill panel to advise the city.

In early 2016, city councillors added 30 more targets called detours.

These detours were predominantly related to construction-related issues, having administration propose changes to construction rules as well as increasing educational materials for builders and the public about best construction practices,” said Hill.

One of them was creating the infill compliance team, which has authority to inspect building sites randomly, not just in response to a complaint.

According to the April 5, 2017 report to council, in their first year of operations the infill team made surprise visits on 227 residential infill sites, with a focus on mature neighbourhoods. They responded to all citizen complaints within one week.

As for what residents can expect on the ground, every infill contractor is responsible for adhering to the Good Neighbour Guide, which specifies things like keeping debris and vehicles off neighbouring properties, fencing open excavations, keeping trash in bins, and keeping radios turned down. Hours of construction are firm: no construction outside the 7 am to 9 pm curfew on Monday through Saturday, and 9 am to 7 pm on Sundays and holidays.

If residents notice rule infractions, they can reach the infill compliance team by calling 311 or emailing 311@edmonton.ca. For specific inquiries, contact the city’s infill liaison team at evolvinginfill@edmonton.ca.

Guides are also available, including a booklet on how to respond to a land development application in the neighbourhood. Last month, the city published a new brochure informing neighbours experiencing infill construction on how to improve their infill experience.

Meanwhile, the city’s evolving infill team has held 20 public events and workshops and are now documenting the results. They’ll invite the public’s response to this first draft in early 2018.

For guides and infill information, including contractor’s responsibilities, visit http://www.coeinfill.ca.

Featured Image: Residents can contact the city’s infill compliance team if contractors aren’t following ground rules. | Kate Wilson

Kate Wilson

Kate took up the reporter's pad and pen while living in northern Alberta. The writing bug stuck, and the next 20 years were spent covering everything from local politics to community happenings. She lives in Alberta Avenue with her daughter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *