top of page
Resources About City of Edmonton Bylaws



Review some of our past information on this continually evolving topic. 

Review Polling Results: Edmonton Zoning Survey (October 10, 2023)
Media Advisory (October 13, 2023): Poll Shows Edmontonians Want Zoning Bylaw to Require Environmental Standards; Want Council to Pause
Calgary Hearld Op-Ed, Sept 29 A Housing solution or a recipe for disaster?
Beyond Density: The Priority is Affordability
Edmonton Journal Op-Ed, Sept 27, Debby Kronewitt Martin: Edmonton’s zoning renewal goes too far.
Zoning For a Greener Future
Urban Design: Living in Dense Urban Areas
Making Density Livable and Healthy
Construction Impacts and Safety
Citizen Engagement that Works for All of Us
Edmonton Journal Op-Ed, Asha Gupta: July 17, 2023: Don’t risk what makes Edmonton special with leap of faith on zoning
Edmonton Journal Op-Ed, Roni Kraut: August 10, 2023: Edmonton, Calgary residents need more say on zoning changes

City planning and infill developers have very little trust and goodwill in neighborhoods. Here are real-life examples from Edmonton neighbourhood McKernan/Belgravia of actions by developers and city planning that undermine public confidence, and two examples of better process.

Real Life Developer Stories from Edmonton

  • A developer required major zoning exemptions for a large project. One neighbour, who worked through the city’s standard processes to raise concerns was singled out by the developer, who filed both a lawsuit against the neighbour and a misconduct complaint with the neighbour’s professional association. The lawsuit collapsed because it was groundless, but the professional association was legally bound to investigate the complaint, which forced the neighbour through stressful and expensive hearings. Eventually the neighbour was fully exonerated. The developer bullied the neighbour for simply exercising his legal rights.

  • A developer brought forward a condominium proposal far exceeding the zoned density standards and requiring significantly reduced setbacks from sidewalks and the alley. The developer hired a major consulting firm to help get city approval for the project and a meeting was arranged among the city planner, the consultant, and members of the neighborhood. The city planner and the developer’s consultant arrived at the meeting together in the same car. When asked about the appropriateness of their travel together, they explained they were long-time friends and former colleagues (the consultant had worked at city planning and has since returned) and said driving together gave them a chance to discuss the proposal.

    To the neighbours, it felt equivalent to a judge catching a ride to a trial with the prosecutor; the fix was in. 

  • A developer bought a large residential lot, split it in two, and demolished the existing house. He then built a house on one of the new lots and sold the second lot. The buyer of the second lot discovered the developer had ignored proper demolition procedures and buried the foundation rubble of the old house on the lot he had just purchased. When he challenged the developer, the developer dug up the rubble and piled it on two other lots he owned in the neighborhood. After complaints by neighbours about the unsightly and hazardous piles, he was eventually forced to dispose of the rubble...somewhere.

  • Just two business days before city council’s hearing to consider a proposed condo development, city planning provided neighbours a copy of the developer’s plan for protecting nine city-owned mature elm trees (75–85 years old) immediately adjacent to the proposed site. This tardiness forced neighbors to scramble to hire a professional arborist to review the report over a weekend.

    Neighbours discovered the tree report had been cut-and-pasted by the developer from another job. The trees listed after the cover page were located kilometers away from the site and the report was dated three years prior. The number of trees varied from page to page, and the report described the radii of the tree canopies as if they were their diameters, under-representing by 50% both the tree canopies and root systems. The report grossly undervalued the financial value of the trees. And yet, it had been accepted by city planning as the developer’s legitimate plan, demonstrating deception by the developer and negligence by city planning.

    These irregularities were presented by neighbours to city council during the project’s public hearing. During a subsequent break at the hearing the developer, consultant, and city planners met privately, and when the hearing reconvened they explained away the failings of the report. Council, unwilling to hold either city planning or the developer accountable for what amounted to gross plagiarism, accepted the excuses. The development was approved.

  • This infill house project was uphill on a sloping street, entailing drainage issues for downhill neighbours. The first sign of problems came when a project worker told a neighbour the developer was not digging the foundation to proper depth. A string of irregularities followed. There was no signage, fencing, or bin. The building was not located properly on the site, was too close to property lines, and was not square to the lot. Because the excavation was too shallow, inspectors found the foundation was too tall, creating drainage problems and complicating sewer connections. Rather than correct the problem the builder shaved down the foundation wall, quickly erected the main floor walls and, working off hours with a small truck and 5-gallon buckets, packed dirt around the outside of the foundation to make it appear deeper. The builder was seen dumping coloured liquids down a nearby storm sewer in early morning hours.

    After repeated complaints by neighbours and failed inspections, a stop work order was issued and the case went to the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB). The developer hired a lawyer specializing in real estate issues to argue his case; the community did not hire a lawyer; and city representation was ineffectual. The lawyer argued his client was well-intentioned and should not be penalized for innocent mistakes. The SDAB ruled in the developer’s favour and the project proceeded as built. Subsequent research by the community found the developer had been before the SDAB previously for similar problems on another project, and the lawyer he hired was a former chair of the SDAB.

  • An infill developer quietly bought two small lots at the bottom of the cul de sac, and then two more across the street. The lots were too small to split. The developer came forward with a proposal to build two seven-story buildings, one on each side of the cul de sac, increasing the density from four housing units to 140, far exceeding zoning.

    Though the plans called for seven storey buildings, the documents provided to the public by the developer and city planning said they were six stories, creating an impression of shorter buildings than were proposed. When it became clear the project would pinch the adjacent public green spine to considerably less than guidelines allowed, the city worked with the developer to simply redraw property lines, rather than address the actual pinching. When a new wind impact study was required because the project became much larger, the date on the old study was simply changed and it was then re-submitted and accepted. The back lane, which provides access for emergency vehicles, was reduced from a standard 7.5 meter width to 6.0 meters. When the proposal was before council, administration told council the project provided a generously sized public plaza, even though the space in question was less than one-third the city’s own minimum area to qualify as a plaza. The project was approved.

  • A developer proposing a large infill project that exceeded the height limits of the zone by 50% invited the neighbors to an information session at a public park. The developer provided free beverages and barbecued food; several bouncy castles; a fully equipped ambulance with three paramedics; several portable toilets; and other attractions. The information about the project amounted in total to one poster of an illustration of the proposed building, with a consultant to field questions. There was no detailed information, the website on the poster was not functional, and there were no hand-outs.

  • A developer bought adjoining lots on a busy avenue to build a multi-unit structure. Before finalizing any plans, the developer arranged a meeting with nearby neighbours as well as representatives of the community league. Through several sometimes intense meetings run by skilled facilitators from both the developer and the community league, changes were made to the scale and design of the project to address neighbour’s concerns. The project has been a welcomed addition to our communities.

  • A major developer proposed a six-storey apartment building with 195 units.

    The scale and design respected the height and density limits of the ARP for that location and the project proceeded. By following the ARP the city achieved a significant increase in density, the developer profited, and the neighborhood was respected.

City of Edmonton Zoning

Did You Know?

City council is pushing through district plans that will upend neighborhoods across the city, and is considering unilateral rezonings to allow 8-20 storey buildings in many neighborhoods.

Community Discussion Over Zoning and Infill
Larry Beasley, former co-director of planning for City of Vancouver and internationally-renowned urban planner.

"Our neighbourhoods are the sacred foundation of our livibility. That doesn't mean there shouldn't be change and intensification in neighbourhoods. There should be. But we should let every neighbourhood decide how they want to do that... Decide how they want to make greatness in their city."

bottom of page