First thoughts on the draft Residential Development Guidelines (Infill Guidelines)

On Friday (Sept 18, 2020) the City of Winnipeg released their long awaited draft Infill guidelines.  The draft is long and technically detailed. We are currently going through them and hope to give a deeper analysis soon.

To start off, though, here’s what we first noticed when looking over the guidelines:

    • Entrenching arbitrary divisions (Area 1 and Area 2): The guidelines should provide a clear and consistent framework for development in older neighbourhoods or “mature communities”. “Mature communities” are Winnipeg neighbourhoods outside of downtown core or other planning areas that exist on a grid (see this map of mature communities). Yet the proposed guidelines divide mature communities into “Area 1” and “Area 2” (see map). Area 2 is mostly what would historically be called “inner city” neighbourhoods and Area 1 is what some consider inner suburbs, like River Heights and south Osborne.  The guidelines offer site location criteria, which govern where specific types of homes are allowed. For Area 1, these criteria are more restrictive. This is especially so for triplexes and small-scale apartments.
    • Lot coverage: In many cases for buildings smaller than an apartment, the maximum lot coverage for the main dwelling is limited to 30 per cent. This makes denser homes trickier to build, all else considered equal.
    • Recognizing the importance of transit: The draft guidelines, to their credit, recognize the importance of a greater density of homes around transit routes and corridors.
    • Massive discretionary caveats: Clear and consistent rules for infill are one of the main reasons for writing guidelines. But the guidelines give massive discretionary caveats. On page 12 the document states the following: “Every land development application will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Each one will be assessed on the scale and type of development proposed in relation to the context of the neighbourhood around it …
    • Very modest approach to land use and zoning reform: The infill guidelines need to be accompanied by zoning bylaw changes. The document itself notes this (page 10). While going some way to clarifying site location criteria and being supportive of higher density around transit routes, the overall approach is very modest and limited. Cities from Minneapolis to those across Oregon to Edmonton are rolling back and ending exclusionary, single-family-only zoning. Winnipeg is tweaking it around the edges and entrenching differences within mature communities between the inner city and inner suburbs.

There’s multiple chances to give feedback to the city. Some ways you can have your say include … 

      • Multiple sessions of in-person Residential Infill Guideline discussion at Cindy Klassen Recreation complex on September 30. The first session starts at 1 PM and the last session starts at 6 PM (register here).
      • Multiple sessions of in-person Residential Infill Guideline discussion at Bronx Park Community Centre on October 3. The first session starts at 1 PM and the last session starts at 6 PM (register here).
    • Multiple sessions of in-person Residential Infill Guideline discussion at Notre Dame Recreation Centre on October 8. The first session starts at 1 PM and the last session starts at 6 PM (register here).
      • Online engagement sessions at the following times:
    • Date: Sunday, October 4
      Time: 2p.m. – 3:30 p.m. (90 minutes) Register now
      Location: Online
      Format: Zoom webinar (Presentation and Q&A) *English only*

       

      Date: Wednesday, October 7
      Time: 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. (90 minutes) Register now
      Location: Online
      Format: Zoom webinar (Presentation and Q&A) *English only*

    • Contacting the City’s residential Infill project team at infill@winnipeg.ca.

The City of Winnipeg’s Infill Guidelines will shape the course of housing and land-use for decades. Do we want a sustainable future, with dense and multifamily home options across the City? Or do we want car-dependent neighbourhoods that fry the planet as exclusionary, single-family-only zoning is further entrenched?

Want to get involved with YIMBY Winnipeg and the movement for better land-use? Email us and sign up for updates!

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