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This article was published 3/1/2019 (383 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Two new houses on a single lot, taking up more space than the home that used to be there, may soon be a thing of the past in Winnipeg.
A city report being presented to the civic property and development, heritage and downtown development committee next week recommends councillors begin the approval process on a new residential infill strategy, beginning with revising the maximum lot coverage.
"This isn't placing a moratorium here, but what it is trying to do is stop the idea of the wild west with infill development," Coun. Brian Mayes, chairman of the civic property and development, heritage and downtown development committee, said Thursday.
"This was the No. 1 issue in my ward last year — finally surpassing gravel lanes... There has been a lot of infill in the northern part of my (St. Vital) ward. 'Big, stucco, box' is how a person summarized it. That's the core of it," he said.
"People don't like two houses going in where one was before, but they really don't like a wall 35-feet high near the property line and running very nearly to the back."
Many older neighbourhoods have new development, either on vacant lots or by demolishing a smaller house and replacing it with a larger one or two structures. It has resulted in heated meetings at city hall, where residents have been pitted against developers or, at times, against neighbours.
The city report recommends the establishment of guidelines to restrict the amount of a lot taken over by a house and garage.
The report states civic staff have heard from Winnipeggers who say many infill housing buildings are "out of scale" and "skinny, tall and long houses," resulting in a wall-like condition along the property line, with reduced side yards and buildings "maxing out" the lot.
The report says instead of allowing maximum lot coverage for infill housing to only include a house and then allowing for additional lot coverage for a detached garage or parking pad, the changes would see both the house, garage and parking pad included together for lot coverage in R-1 single-family home areas.
It would also prevent long infill that extends into the traditional backyard.
While Winnipeg has infill guidelines and policies in a few neighbourhood plans, other Canadian cities have lot coverage restrictions. Vancouver has set 45 per cent coverage including garages and parking, Calgary at 45 per cent coverage with house and garage combined (24 per cent if only a house alone), and Edmonton at 28 per cent for a house on the smallest lots and an additional 14 per cent for a garage for a total of 42 per cent.
Winnipeg already has a lot coverage limit for house construction in new developments which include the house and the garage.
Mayes said councillors would be looking at 45 per cent for infill lot coverage, instead of what currently can be higher than 60 per cent.
The civic report says if councillors approve the proposals, work could begin on drafting the amending bylaw, with a public hearing on it potentially being held by the end of the year.
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.