And even though the bylaw review is ongoing, Salvador already sees that initiatives to increase density are happening in the older communities in her ward.
“I think we’re starting to see that change,” says Salvador. “Pockets of Ward Métis are seeing more infill and new developments than others. But, over time, this is an absolute necessity if we’re going to get to a more sustainable place.”
If the residents return, she hopes that will mean spaces in older schools will be filled. New, local businesses will open. As well, it makes it more attractive for the big supermarket or drug-store chains to open or reopen locations in these places.
She says that while “infill” is a buzzword with developers and urbanists, she prefers the word, refill. “It’s about refilling our communities to sustainable population levels, so we can enjoy the amenities that we expect.
“If we zoom out, and see why infill is important from the City of Edmonton’s perspective, we simply cannot afford to continue sprawling outwards. We are eating into very valuable farmland and natural areas, while we’re in the middle of a climate crisis.”
She understands that, when it comes to infill, the stereotype is that builders are knocking down older, single-family homes and putting up new single-family homes to replace them. The new homes are expensive, and they do nothing to increase density.
“It’s not wrong, it’s unattainable,” says Savador.
She says that when the new zoning bylaws are enacted after the current review – and that’s expected some time in 2023 – there will be more tools for developers to add townhomes, courtyard housing and row housing to the urban form.