Residential Infill Development
measures success in reducing requirements for new infrastructure and ongoing maintenance costs. This target supports the overall strategic direction of many major corporate initiatives.
|Infill Share - Annual (%)||17.1||17.4||17.2||13.2||16.4||11.6||16.8||25|
|Infill Share - 5 year rolling average (%)||19.6||19.2||17.6||15.9||16.2||15.3||15.0|
Residential infill development measures the City’s success in reducing requirements for new infrastructure and ongoing maintenance costs. The City’s Growth Plan to Half a Million has an infill target of 30% of the next 250,000 people over the next 30 years. Current infill levels are below 30% and many significant infill projects are several years away. A five-year rolling average is used because of large annual fluctuations in development.
The target = Number of new housing units in infill neighbourhoods over five years ÷ Total new housing units over five years
The target supports the success drivers of sustainable growth, neighbourhood quality, balanced land use, multiple transportation options, and it can contribute significantly to the availability of land for development. This target supports the overall strategic direction being set by many major corporate initiatives such as the Growth Plan to Half a Million, North Downtown Plan, City Centre Plan, Neighbourhood Infill Guidelines Study, Civic Operations Centre Plan, University’s 2057 Plan, and Vacant Lot Development Incentive Program.
How are other cities doing?
Many cities have infill development as a high priority to facilitate sustainable growth and have targets for new units or population living in infill neighbourhoods. Meaningful comparisons are a challenge since each city defines infill differently and uses different data for the calculations. The following benchmarks were identified:
- In Edmonton, 13% of new residential units were infill (downtown, mature neighbourhoods and near LRT stations) in December 2015.
- In Calgary, 16% of new population lived in infill neighbourhoods between 2006 and 2014.
- In Regina, 12% of new residential units were infill, compared to 26% in 2014.
What do we need to do to achieve this target?
- The ‘growth near major corridors’ component of the “Growing Forward! Shaping Saskatoon” initiative will have recommendations for infill along major corridors such as Idylwyld Drive and 8th Street and at key locations.
- With a projected build-out population of 7,650, the North Downtown Plan will increase infill development. However, it is currently planned to be implemented over 30 years, meaning that the impact on the infill target is unlikely to be significant within the next 10 years. The City could influence this by advancing the implementation timeframe.
- Saskatoon Land has a mandate to generate revenue for the City, primarily through development in new suburban areas. The City could alter Saskatoon Land’s mandate to include infill development. This would help achieve the target and set a strong example for private developers by demonstrating feasibility.
- The University of Saskatchewan’s Vision 2057 plan for its endowment lands forms the single largest potential component of the City’s infill strategy. Impacts will likely be realized in the medium and long-term.
- Offsite levies are considered as “owing” on many existing sites within the City’s infill neighbourhoods. The offsite levy structure could be reviewed with a goal of encouraging infill development through, for instance, reducing or offsetting the levies, or replacing them with re-development levies to provide more direct benefits to re-development areas.
What are the benefits of achieving the target
- Increases cost-effective and efficient transportation
- Reduces the overall cost of infrastructure
- Supports services and amenities in and near the city centre
- Enhances neighbourhood quality by the development of vacant sites and redevelopment of neglected buildings
- Adds population to support neighbourhood amenities like schools and services
- Supports City Centre population growth
- Avoids requirements to develop and service approximately 1,700 hectares (over 4,000 acres) in new suburban areas.
What are the risks?
- New buildings that do not fit with existing character or too much density in one location may detract from neighbourhood quality and raise opposition among residents, so infill policy requires sensitivity at the local level.
- In periods of high growth, there is a tendency for developers to “do what they know best” and there may be resistance to taking substantive steps to change the current suburb-focused development model to more infill development.
- A major factor in achieving the target is Vision 2057 which is dependent on the University of Saskatchewan’s developments over the next ten years.
- Much of the required development activity is out of the City’s direct control and is dependent on continued economic success for Saskatoon and region.