The Church Street Fair in 2014. Paula E. Kirman
On November 2, the City of Edmonton hosted an Open House for residents of McCauley at Studio 96 to look at and and provide input into the plans for rezoning historic Church Street. This was the second Open House on this issue, and quite likely the last, as this will be taken to City Council some time early in the new year.
Many of the issues that were brought up at the first meeting, a focus group in 2014, were dealt with by planners. As well, the issues from the April 2016 Open House were addressed. They wanted to ensure that residents were informed of what will be coming. At a previous meeting with the League’s Zoning and Safety Committee on October 17, we had strongly suggested some zoning guarantees that were implemented in time for the Open House. The City is listening to our input and implementing it well.
There was information provided that ensured existing houses will not be required to conform with the historic designation – in other words, if your house is nearly new and doesn’t match the character designs, no one will expect you to change. New developments and major alterations to existing homes’ exteriors will be required to meet the architectural criteria for the area.
There are several requirements in place for new buildings on the street. These are generally consistent with requirements of the Mature Neighbourhoods Overlay for the City. If your dream was to build a skyscraper on Church Street, I am afraid your dream will not be coming true. The character of the street will encourage buildings that mimic pre-1950s architecture, and the businesses on the street will continue to be encouraged to be much as they are today: personal services like a naturopath’s office, a spa like Off Whyte, an architect’s office, non-profit organizations, etc.
You may have read earlier this year that Mint Health is building a pharmacy at the corner of 106 Avenue and 96 Street. The businesses will be concentrated between that pharmacy and Studio 96 at 109 Avenue. All of the churches which have historical designation are zoned DC1 and may develop commercial enterprises. It has been suggested that some of the churches may benefit from renting their facilities out as commercial kitchens.
In other cities, sometimes the historical areas have restrictive policies that harm the homeowners financially, even infringing upon what colour they might want to paint their home, but this proposal does no such thing. All of the restrictions will be on new buildings and major renovations, and people will know that when they get their building permits. As well, the requirements are moderately benign in that they are concerned with the types of materials used in the facade, as well as a porch area.