But first, what is infill?
Residential infill is the development of new housing in established neighbourhoods. It is a normal process of renewing and replacing aging housing stock to reflect modern needs. Similarly, in urban areas, the replacement of aging building stock, or the filling in of empty lots is also considered infill. This type of infill may includes mixed-use, commercial, or office developments.
Infill may include garage suites, duplexes, semi-detached and detached houses, row houses, apartments, and other residential and mixed-use buildings.
The Evolution of Mixed-Use Infill
The Evolution of a Residential Infill
So, why infill?
1. HOUSING FOR ALL
EDMONTON’S CURRENT HOUSING STOCK DOES NOT ALWAYS FIT PEOPLES NEEDS.
New families may wish to live in their existing neighbourhoods, but require more space. They may redevelop their lot and build a new infill home to meet the needs of their growing family. Seniors may want to remain in their neighbourhoods and age in place, but are looking to downsize because of mobility limitations. They may want to build a garden suite in their backyard and rent out their main home, or move into a new multiplex in the neighbourhood. Students, couples, and young professionals who may not traditionally be able to afford to live in Edmonton’s mature neighbourhoods can be given the opportunity through infill by creating diverse housing choices. This allows them to be close to work and amenities. Infill helps to create diverse and vibrant neighbourhoods by providing options to meet everyone’s needs.
2. FINANCIAL Sustainability
INFILL IS ALL ABOUT OPTIONS IN A NEIGHBOURHOOD AND CREATING HOMES AND SPACES THAT FIT DIVERSE FINANCIAL NEEDS.
Good infill development can lead to increased use of local amenities, and allow City services to reach more residents at a lower cost. Building in existing neighbourhoods helps save taxpayers money because additional roads, sewers, services, and infrastructure associated with building out are avoided. By densifying we create walkable neighbourhoods that reduce a Resident’s reliance on cars, which has a direct effect on their monthly expenses. They can also save the time they would have spent commuting and instead spend it at work or with friends and family. Neighbours of infill homes can also benefit financially as property values appreciate throughout the neighbourhood as new and diverse housing becomes available.
3. Keeping neighbourhoods alive
Neighbourhoods are living organisms - they grow, change and evolve over time.
any homes and commercial spaces in Edmonton’s mature neighbourhoods, due to age and lack of investment, are at the end of their life cycle. Currently, homes in Edmonton’s mature neighbourhoods are undergoing renewal and replacement through infill development. Infill not only renews the physical built infrastructure of neighbourhoods, it can also revitalize the social well being of the area by bringing more families of diverse compositions into existing neighbourhoods. Infill helps bring younger children to older neighbourhoods, in turn, contributing to keeping schools and public amenities such as community recreation centres and halls open. By gradually increasing the number of people in the area, local businesses prosper and economic activity picks up
4. Multigenerational Living
INFILL HOUSING CREATES FLEXIBILITY ACROSS THE LIFESPAN OF PEOPLE & HELPS FOSTER
Family compositions are changing - and the places we live should reflect that. Infill housing makes room for diverse family structures by creating spaces for parents, children, grandparents, and renters to co-exist on the same lot. For example, a family of four owns a home on a large lot and they decide they would like to rebuild their home. To help off set the cost, they sub-divide their lot and build their dream home, and sell the other lot. The sale of the second lot allows them to build a garden suite for their aging parents. 10 years later, once the children have moved out and the parents are looking to downsize, they move into their garden suite and rent out the main house. By allowing for diverse housing in a neighbourhood, families have options to age in place, young people are able to live closer to the core of the City and we are able to better utilize Edmonton’s infrastructure.
5. Environmental Sustainability
INFILL HELPS US BUILD MORE COMPACT
Infill can help the environment in a variety of ways. For example, by densifying our existing neighbourhoods through infill, important ecosystems surrounding the city can be left untouched. By enabling more people to live in our mature neighbourhoods, we can decrease harmful car emissions by decreasing our dependency on cars. Also, new infill homes, due to building code changes, are more energy efficient than existing older homes and commercial buildings. This reduces the city’s overall environmental impact by lowering energy consumption.
INFILL HELPS CREATE WALKABLE, ACCESSIBLE, AND HEALTHY COMMUNITIES
Walkable. In walkable communities, people typically tend to walk more because it is more enjoyable and convenient than using their vehicle. Having large lots and spread out infrastructure reduces interest in walking to get to a destination. Also, a City tends to send transit service to areas that hold a larger population. If there is a frequent bus service in your area that takes you where you need to go easily and conveniently, you are free to choose between different modes of transportation. Physical Health. A reduced dependency on cars and an active lifestyle can have a larger positive effect on our health care system. Accessibility. Though not perfect, building codes have changed to become more accessible. When spaces are accessible to all, this opens up the option for more people to utilize them. Social Health. As previously mentioned, living in an existing neighbourhood means that commute times are reduced and we have more time to spend with loved ones doing things we enjoy.