Every year, homes throughout our neighbourhoods are demolished to make way for something new. These are known as infill properties. 

Redevelopment like this can be desirable; it revitalizes our communities, brings young families back to our schools, and reduces the number of vacant and derelict homes. 

Due to the demolition and resulting construction, there is unavoidable disruption and inconvenience to those nearby, and patience is needed. Unfortunately, countless Edmontonians also experience harm to their health and quality of life; this is preventable and unlawful.

Some developers go to great lengths to ensure this does not happen; others make little or no effort, leaving it to us to protect ourselves and our neighbours. In order to do this we need to understand our rights and who to contact for help.

All construction must follow federal, provincial, and local laws. Many of these laws address safety and well-being of the public and nearby land and property. It is these protections you need to understand.

When water is not used during demolition, dust and debris travels to all nearby homes. | Jayne Nicol

We all have the basic right to feel safe in our home, yard, and neighbourhood; whether we are renters or owners doesn’t matter. Each and every person involved in the infill has a duty by law to make every reasonable effort to ensure this.

To prepare and feel safer, there are some things we can do ourselves. When you see a little white and blue sign that signals a new development on your street, record the contact information. If no one reaches out to you, contact them yourself and ask any questions you might have, such as when the demolition is happening. 

If work has already started, look for the things they are required to have on site. Take pictures if you can.

A permit sign must be present, with the application number and contact information to reach the developer or builder. If no sign is visible, call 311 and report.

Ask if there is an approved permit for the work they are doing. If the 311 operator says no or is unsure, ask the operator to report the work to the City’s Safety Codes, Permits, and Inspections office as an urgent matter. 

A six foot (1.8 m) fence must be erected and surround all sides of the property and within the property line. This fence must be closed each time workers leave, and guarded 24/7 if it cannot be closed. Call 311 if there is little or no fence and report this safety code violation. Tell them you feel unprotected and ask for work to stop until the fence is up.

During the demolition, another hazard to the public is the dust, debris, and window glass flying about. If workers are making no effort to control where these things go, close all your windows and report to 311 as a Community Standards nuisance construction site. Then, call Alberta Occupational Health and Safety at 780.415.8690. Their laws state that the public must not be harmed during any work, so dust, glass, and other hazards must be managed.

With all reports, ask for a reference number and a call back.

If further help is needed, email People for Responsible Infill Development Edmonton at [email protected]