On October 23, 2023, City Council passed the first of several significant reforms in how Edmonton will be planned, built  and renewed with the update of our Zoning Bylaw. I voted in support of this renewal.

I believe this is a critical step toward keeping Edmonton an affordable housing market for our next generation of homebuyers. Never before has it been more important to have our eyes on how our kids and grandkids will be able to afford to live in our city. 

I know that with some recent publications and public criticisms, considerable consternation exists with some of you. Please know that I understand your concerns and I share some of them. I will do everything I can to reassure you that this is the right path. This is just the beginning of a pivotal community conversation, not the end.

Our old bylaw was exclusionary. It describes where a single specific type of building is permitted and every other building type is excluded. 

Imagine a 60 year old book with over 800 pages, with sticky notes pasted here and there, new pages glued over the old pages, exceptions and changes written in the margins  - it was an unworkable document that needed replacement to become functional.

A frequently mentioned concern was that these changes, in and of themselves, create density, but not affordability. In the midst of a housing affordability crisis, will these changes make housing more affordable?

With the old bylaw and its exclusionary zones, new developments that added density came from a “spot” rezoning.  Only those that could afford the time and cost of a rezoning effort could build that more dense development. Rezoned lots were scarce, resulting in inflated value of those lots that were upzoned. 

The new bylaw will create neighborhoods that have a variety of housing types. It will be possible to build a starter or downsized home beside the prototypical middle class single family residence. That’s a healthier neighborhood. And by permitting more types of residential housing without inducing the premium that scarcity drives, affordability should result.

Some neighborhoods will remain more desirable, for a variety of reasons, and such desirability will drive value increase and reduce affordability in those places. There will be all kinds of “yeah, but” exceptions. But on the whole, across the city, over time, affordability will be enhanced.

Most concerns raised during last week’s public hearing were about what was happening next door - would there be a giant new building that will block the sun or result in a 30 ft high wall?

What about environmental building standards? New district plans, won’t those bring eight storey buildings to neighborhoods? Will more home based businesses cause a nuisance? Should we require parking on multi-unit developments? Will more density overwhelm our utilities? Should we put more protections in for mature trees, or unique neighborhood plans?

All valid concerns, and in general terms, already being worked on by City Administration - see the list below.

I cannot cover all of those in this blog, but I am happy to address individual questions.  Please send an email to [email protected].

Again, this is the start of the conversation, not the end. Lets keep talking.

Here is that list of upcoming work:

  • Limiting Distances Review and Analysis - Urban Planning Committee 2024
  • District Planning: Engagement sessions can be found here:
  • Developer Contributed Affordable Housing : December 2023
  • Construction Safety and Accountability: Q2 2024
  • Curbside Management (parking ): Q1 2024
  • Climate Resilience Planning & Development Work Plan: Q1 2024
  • Growth Management:  Q2 2024
  • Report on Water, Wastewater and Drainage: Utility Committee Q1 2024
Timothy Cartmell


Honoured to be the City Councillor in Edmonton's Ward pihêsiwin. #yegcc #Wardpihêsiwin