Early July Housing and Urban Issues News

Housing and Urban Issues News

City Council’s meeting on June 24, 2021 was big for city planning. Many wide-ranging policies were adopted. Here’s a spotlight on some of them.

Infill Guidelines pass City Council

A key piece of Winnipeg’s long awaited Residential Infill Strategy, the Infill Guidelines, passed Winnipeg City Council. These design guidelines are meant to govern small-scale and low-rise infill builds in mature communities without a local plan. The guidelines passed 11 to 3 on June 24, 2021.

Most of the extremely restrictive last minute changes to the guidelines were removed, but the guidelines overall are still a very restrictive and cautious document. It still includes guidelines like 30% lot coverage maximums for the home, 28 foot height maximums, and side yard setbacks of 3 feet and 4 feet. These quantified guidelines are likely to be candidates of bylaw amendments, which means deviating from them will require variances. There does not seem to be much fanfare for the guidelines, but they can hopefully serve as an imperfect first step to getting a solid infill policy framework in place.

The Guidelines have gone through a couple rounds of amendment and revision during the Property & Development Committee and Executive Policy Committee meetings. Here’s the important bits regarding the final adoption of the guidelines by City Council:

Winnipeg’s Urban Structure

Infill Guidelines only apply to Mature Communities (dark grey). Council moved some areas out of Mature Communities and into Recent Communities (light grey), so they are no longer covered by the Guidelines.

Image Source: City of Winnipeg
  • With some exceptions, the ban on lot splits on gravel back lanes has been limited to lots zoned R1 (single-family-only). Many gravel lots in St. Boniface, which are zoned R2 (two family uses, i.e. duplexes), are therefore exempt from this.

  • The local block quotas are gone.

  • The 25% surface parking cap for small apartments is gone.

  • Part of the Norberry and St. George neigbourhoods were reclassified from Mature Communities to Recent Communities. As such, they’re no longer covered by the Infill Guidelines.

  • Part of the Booth community was reclassified from  Mature Communities to Recent Communities. As such, they’re no longer covered by the Infill Guidelines.

  • Council directed the civil service to prepare a draft bylaw amendment to allow two-family uses (duplexes and side-by-sides) as a conditional use in R1 zones.

  • Council directed the civil service to prepare a secondary plan for the Glenwood Neighbourhood by March 31, 2022.

One exciting possibility with a Glenwood Neighbourhood secondary plan is the potential for rezoning R1 lots to R2. As a delegate to the Property & Development Committee meeting on June 8, 2021, St. Vital Councillor Brian Mayes brought up the possibility or rezoning some R1 lots to R2 with a secondary plan. R2 zoning makes two-family uses (i.e. duplexes) easier to build. Ray Hesslein, with the Glenwood Neighbourhood Association, noted that duplexes save space relative to single-family lot splits.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 181376895_1386832511684416_6600398950426407345_n-1024x768.jpg
Winnipeg Infill Guideline stakeholder workshop from October 19, 2019.

Image SourceColin Fast/Twitter

City Council bans building on land designated as open space or park land

On June 24th, Winnipeg City Council also amended the Complete Communities Direction Strategy 2.0 to ban building on land designated as open space or park land. This follows controversy over a rejected proposal to sell land near the river that is currently a gravel parking lot. Some of the land where building is banned is currently gravel lot, but Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry Councillor Sherri Rollins says the intention is for it to become actual greenspace in the future.

Gravel lot at 409 Mulvey Avenue East. There was a proposal, rejected, to sell this riverside land to someone who would build a multifamily building. Amendments to Complete Communities that ban building on City-owned land designated open space and park would prevent development here. For designated open space and park land that are currently gravel lots, the City vision is to turn them into actual greenspace in the future.

Image Source: Google Street View – capture May 2019

City Council amends Complete Communities with language opposing hostile architecture

City Council further amended Complete Communities on June 24th with language opposing hostile architecture.

YIMBY Winnipeg Updates

We held our last organizing meeting on June 29th, 2021.The adoption of the Infill Guidelines by Council is a major turning point for our efforts. We’ve advocated around the Infill Guidelines since we first formed, in February 2019. Now is time to discuss how to bring infill and mixed-use density to the next level in Winnipeg.

We performed some basic housekeeping functions at our latest meeting. This included renewing Dylon Martin as spokesperson for another year and approving our first treasurer, Steve.

We discussed the infill guidelines and the lackluster response they’re receiving. For many mature communities, local area plans will be a much more important policy for infill.

We also discussed greenspace policy and the strategic potential of rezoning single-family-only land around parks and open spaces to allow more residents to enjoy these vital amenities. Further work on this idea will come throughout the summer.