Main Streets Overlay - 1 Year Review

Walkable main streets play an important role in neighbourhood vibrancy and supporting businesses. The design of buildings along main streets plays a major role in the success of these spaces.

On Monday September 11, 2017, City Council approved changes to Edmonton’s Main Streets Overlay (Item 5.3) to better support attractive, vibrant and walkable commercial streets in Edmonton. At that meeting, Council directed City Administration to monitor the effectiveness of the Overlay changes, consult with communities along 109 Street within the Overlay’s boundaries, and prepare further changes to the Overlay if necessary.

Project Stage

Zoning Bylaw Council Decision

On Monday May 13, 2019, City Council approved further changes to the Main Streets Overlay (Item 3.14) to address concerns raised by development industry stakeholders, and communities and businesses along 109 Street within the Overlay’s boundaries.

What’s Changed?

Development Regulations

The following changes were made to the Main Streets Overlay to improve consistency in development along the city’s main streets:

  • Clarifying which regulations apply to new buildings versus which ones apply to existing buildings.
  • Adding incentives to encourage mixed use development along 109 Street.
  • Retaining the requirement to notify neighbours when a variance to the Overlay is requested in a development permit application. 
  • Included additional design requirements to enhance the visual appearance of the rear of commercial buildings that face a residential property. The 2.5 metre stepback requirement along 109 Street is retained.
  • Requiring businesses with drive-through services (such as fast food restaurants, gas bars) fronting a main street to locate drive-throughs at the rear or sides of the buildings to maintain walkability of the street.

Other changes are described in greater detail in the May 13, 2019 City Council Public Hearing report and its attachments (item 3.14)

Overlay Boundaries

City staff also amended the boundaries of the Main Streets Overlay to capture portions of main streets that were previously omitted. These areas included:

  • The eastern portion of 82 Street, north of the Yellowhead to provide consistency along the street
  • Removing properties with residential zones along 109 Street, south of Whyte Avenue and along Whyte Avenue west of 109 Street based on community feedback
  • Adding commercial properties to the south of 109 Street to ensure consistent treatment of commercial properties within the 109 Street Area Redevelopment Plan
  • Removing the Overlay entirely from 111 Street between 68 Avenue and 65 Avenue based on direction from Urban Planning Committee

For more information, please view the Council Report.

Public Engagement

The City of Edmonton is committed to citizen engagement.
City staff met with members of community leagues and development industry over a year and a half period between 2017 and 2018. During this time, Administration:

  • Notified affected property owners of the rezoning to adjust the existing Overlay boundary and provided them with the opportunity to share their thoughts
  • Circulated 2 drafts of the recommended zoning bylaw changes (from July 6 to August 7, 2018 and October 10 to November 13, 2018) for feedback
  • Notified stakeholders and community members of upcoming Committee and Public Hearing dates so that their voices could be heard before Council