Eastwood Community League was buzzing on the evening of Oct. 11 as it hosted the 118 Avenue District Planning Project and Zoning Bylaw Renewal Initiative event. Residents and community stakeholders were invited to view and interact with displays detailing the project, and ask questions directly to City employees working on the project. 

The Zoning Bylaw Initiative’s goal is to comb through current Edmonton bylaws to assess whether those bylaws meet current City goals.

“What we have found over the last number of years is that our current building bylaw is quite complicated and is not necessarily in line with some of the big changes outlined in the city plan that we want to achieve,” explains Lyla Peter, the City’s director of development, approval, and inspection. “This big, wholescale initiative is being undertaken to review and update the zoning bylaws so we can better deliver the goals and visions as outlined in the city plan, to make it easier to develop, and to bring a diversity, inclusion, and equity lens to development.”

Recent major changes to the zoning bylaw include the removal of minimum parking requirements for new developments and adjustments to make the bylaw more equitable for housing. All of this will be continued in the zoning bylaw overhaul.

The District Planning Project, a multi-year project that began in 2021, aims to set policy objectives for planning projects such as new housing and bike lanes as well as helping the City make decisions in an equitable way. The project will be used as a guide on how to approach changes in the future as Edmonton’s population rises to 1.25 million people. It will create 15 district plans to help implement the city plan approved in 2020. 

“It comes down to being able to implement the vision that is set out in the city plan,” says Ward Métis coun. Ashley Salvador. “District planning talks about, from a spatial perspective, what folks can expect and it helps engage people in that process so that they can have a say in what that’s going to look like.”

Resident feedback has been positive, with lots of people who haven’t previously taken an interest in or had an understanding of city planning now becoming engaged. Engagement opportunities were also offered online through the City of Edmonton and ended on Oct. 15. The next step will be to take the feedback from events like this and refine the 15 draft district plans. These refinements will be brought back out for public engagement in the spring of 2023, after which it is hoped these plans will be approved and work can move forward.

The current draft district plans for 118 Ave and other districts can be found online at www.edmonton.ca/city_government/urban_planning_and_design/district-plans.