For an affordable and sustainable Winnipeg that grows up, not out
PRESS RELEASE: YIMBY Winnipeg supports lot split proposals on Friday’s Appeal Committee agenda
April 24, 2019
YIMBY Winnipeg supports lot splits set for appeal at the April 26, 2019 Appeal Committee meeting. Lot splits are the process of dividing a single lot into two smaller lots, usually with a house built on each lot. In older, inner suburban neighbourhoods zoned as single-family this practice provides a way to very modestly increase density in a manner that’s in keeping with the broader character of the community.
Lot splits in our city’s inner suburbs have generated significant controversy, however. Critics claim smaller lots are “incompatible” with existing neighbourhoods or that smaller yard sizes mean new housing “isn’t for families”. Hostility to lot splits have even driven calls for a moratorium on infill housing and demands for a very restrictive type of Residential Infill Strategy. These criticisms and sentiments are often misguided, however.
Smaller lots provide opportunities for more housing choices in neighbourhoods close to transit routes and commercial amenities. They add variety, which can benefit the character of the neighbourhood and represent a chance to renew and grow the housing stock. This is necessary for Winnipeg’s growing population in the next 15-20 years as we welcome more people into our neighbourhoods.
Not every family or home-seeker wants the same yard size. Throughout Winnipeg there are houses on 25 foot lots happily occupied by home-owning and renting families. The continued construction of housing on 25 foot lots indicates there is demand for this type of housing, near transit and commercial amenities.
Creating mixed-use, walkable and dense neighbourhoods is essential for our city’s future. Mixed-use density that enables more walking, biking and transit use is crucial for lowering our carbon emissions. With carbon pricing and looming climate change, Winnipeg will have to plan for smarter growth. Infill is an essential part of this.
Infill, by leveraging existing infrastructure much more efficiently than greenfield development, also helps with City service costs. Lot splits add more taxpaying properties per 50 feet of frontage than undivided lots and so better helps with paying for our infrastructure and other city service obligations.
The two lot splits under appeal are 127 Collegiate Street in Bruce Park (St James Ward) and 1032 Dumas Avenue in Maybank (River Heights – Fort Garry Ward). The Board of Adjustment, following the recommendation of Winnipeg’s Public Service, approved this development. The approval is being appealed and YIMBY Winnipeg opposes this appeal. The south part of Collegiate Street where the lot split is proposed is a beautiful, leafy neighbourhood south of the Portage Avenue commercial strip. Near transit and in a City-defined neighbourhood with a slightly higher transit usage than the Winnipeg average (according to the 2011 Census), it is an ideal spot to welcome more neighbours.
Dumas Avenue is a residential street perpendicular to the Pembina Highway commercial strip. This development was recommended by the Public Service, with various conditions attached, but reject by the Board of Adjustment on March 11, 2019. This rejection is being appealed and YIMBY Winnipeg supports this appeal. The proposed developments are near transit stops and would be in a beautiful area with a mix of houses and lot sizes. A lot split, which offers more housing options for new residents, would nicely add to this mix.