Demystifying Myths About Infill 

Edmonton (and Canada) is grappling with housing shortages, especially at the mid-level end of the market. The situation has only worsened during the pandemic, as inventory of available mid-priced housing is limited. The lack of housing supply drives higher housing costs.

One solution to the lack of affordable housing is to build more infill housing, which increases housing supply with designs that preserve unique neighborhood characteristics. Some of the challenges of infill stem from misconceptions about the implications of infill housing. 

Myth #1: Building more infill housing leads to overcrowding

In Edmonton, there is ample room for Edmonton’s single-family neighborhoods to house more people without becoming overcrowded. Increasing density is not the same as overcrowding. Low-density infill housing could not only address the shortage of housing but also increase the flexibility of existing housing stock to accommodate different needs, including multigenerational families, those working from home, and an aging population who want to remain where they live. And it takes advantage of under-used infrastructure and services.  

Myth #2: Infill housing leads to higher costs and displacement

Besides having an incrementally positive effect on supply, these new infill houses in higher-income neighborhoods are very unlikely to increase housing costs, as they are likely to be more affordable. Edmonton needs strategies to mitigate possible negative effects by encouraging the distribution of this new housing equitably around the city.

Myth #3:Infill housing can’t be well designed

Contrary to opponents’ fears, infill housing can be very well designed. Smaller homes can be built in established neighborhoods without adding out-of-context or sprawling development. Some of the classic and beautiful designs of modern homes also include duplexes and townhomes. 

What’s next for low-density infill housing in Edmonton?

Low-density infill housing can play an important role in helping Edmonton solve its housing supply and affordability challenges. But the city’s current development zoning bylaw and permitting process is challenging, worsening its housing supply shortage. Revising policies to promote infill housing could help address this challenge and ensure all residents can afford a home in the city. The benefits of infill include: 

  • Infill uses existing infrastructure and facilities
  • Infills are required to be fully landscaped
  • Infill construction revitalizes the neighborhoods and boosts its economy 
  • Infills encourage upgrades from their municipality to community parks and walkways
  • Infills place residents closer to their jobs and community services
  • Infills are typically in the urban areas which offer close and regular public transportation access
  • Infills invest back into the existing community