There are many ways that cities in Canada are encouraging growth in a responsible manner that benefits both the city itself as well as the residents who live there. One of the major programs that has gained national attention, in part because of how effective it seems to be, is the infill Edmonton program. This refers to a citywide effort to reduce urban sprawl and to prevent older neighborhoods from falling into decay by taking underused property and underused lots in older neighborhoods and building new homes there to bring in new life to established areas that might otherwise be in decline.
Why is this so effective in Edmonton? There are a couple of obvious reasons for this. One is that there are several older neighborhoods that have abandoned houses, underpopulated apartments, or empty lots that simply were never developed. In many of these older parts of the city there has been a gradual population loss over the last few decades despite the fact the overall city population is booming. The infill Edmonton program provides new housing in old neighborhoods to help keep the population centralized while helping to revitalize those neighborhoods. This is a win-win situation for everybody involved.
There are many very specific ways this can work. A condemned or nearly condemned house might get renovated or it might get replaced with a completely new house on that lot. An empty lot that was going to be used for one house might be split up for two smaller modern houses. Old business parking that has been unused for years or even decades may get re-zoned for a new apartment complex or several new homes in one area.
All of these strategies are good ways to preserve the history of older parts of the city while also bringing in new workers, new home owners, and making sure that there isn’t a long feeling of decline. Studies in many cities have shown that after a certain point of aging it can be very hard to keep the rest of the area from going into decline.
The infill program brings in new people who want to be in the city, and helps them stay closer to the downtown and other areas while making the neighborhood look better. This makes more people likely to buy homes there, renovate them, and further develop in a positive cycle for the city.