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  #1  
Old Posted Apr 15, 2019, 9:40 PM
Hidden Observer Hidden Observer is offline
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Residential Infill Strategy

What are your thoughts about the City of Winnipeg's work in progress of a Residential Infill Strategy? It appears that some sort of draft or rough conceptual outline of the Residential Infill Strategy was presented on the January 7, 2019 Property & Development meeting by the City's Public Service (link below, only works on desktops - not smartphones).

http://clkapps.winnipeg.ca/DMIS/perm...90107(RM)PD-71

I got the understanding after the February 4th property and development meeting that there would be a new round of consultations on the strategy coming in spring. I've signed up for updates from the City on the Strategy and haven't gotten any yet. From my understanding, the consultation process got less funding in the City's budget than initially proposed.

So, what do you think of the conceptual outline of a strategy, where do you think it's heading and what do you suspect it's impact on infill development will be?
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  #2  
Old Posted Apr 16, 2019, 2:56 AM
pmuhar pmuhar is offline
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Funny, just saw this on reddit

Quote:
Infill Housing Myths & Realities





There continues to be a great deal of debate at City Hall and in the media about infill housing. It is worth commenting on the accuracy of some of these claims. Firstly, I wish to commend Mayor Bowman for his consistent and balanced approach on increasing the size of the City - that is , we need both infill and greenfield development. We need to offer choice. We need to have the view of "one big city" rather than "inner city vs. suburbs".



1. COSTS “There are no costs to the City from infill housing”. This is simply not accurate. There can be heavy costs in terms of replacing old pipes. More generally, many city expenses ( eg expanding the north end sewage treatment plant) increase whether new development takes place at the edge of the city or as infill. The CBC claims in a true whopper that infill housing saves the City the cost of building new suburban schools - when in fact it’s the province which builds new schools (although the City has put money into upgrading both old and new schools) . The Free Press claims that adding more infill housing won’t increase costs of garbage and recycling - when in fact the collection companies charge more for each additional door they service.



There appears to be a belief among some that the City budget is overwhelmingly devoted to building new suburban facilities and servicing them. In fact the City budget is heavily weighted to updating and maintaining older facilities (eg $1.3 billion due over next 27 years for combined sewer separation; $20 million plus each year for each of water main and sewer main renewal; $80 to $120 million annually to repair old roads). There are also many City costs that do not depend on location of population (eg 311 services, 911, Assiniboine Park, debt servicing).



2. REVENUES Residents of infill will just use existing services, and all of the new property tax revenue can be used for new community centres or tax cuts......
full blog post
https://www.brianmayes.com/monthly-blog
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  #3  
Old Posted Apr 16, 2019, 5:41 AM
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Originally Posted by pmuhar View Post
Funny, just saw this on reddit


full blog post
https://www.brianmayes.com/monthly-blog
Yeah, he also shared that as a lengthy Facebook post. Really seems to be gunning to misrepresent the pro-infill position as "infill has no infrastructure costs" as opposed to "infill has less infrastructure costs than greenfield".
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  #4  
Old Posted Apr 16, 2019, 1:44 PM
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I think City Hall is going to continue to spin its wheels on infill strategy because no one actually knows the true difference in cost between adding X units of infill to the city versus adding X units of greenfield development to the city.

In general, developers pay for all the upfront hard infrastructure costs on greenfield development. So if a developer is building another Sage Creek or Waverley West, the developer puts in the local streets, water, sewer, parks, retention ponds, and sidewalks. On the other hand, with infill, a lot of mature neighborhoods in Winnipeg have really old water and sewer systems that need to be replaced to accommodate any sort of growth, and this cost is typically unknown until the project is close to beginning and is usually borne by the City itself.

Where the math starts getting fuzzy is that we know greenfield development (aka sprawl) requires further capital investment in regional roads, new fire stations, new police stations, new community centres, and new bus routes, all of which the City is having a very difficult time to produce right now (I hear fire response times in Waverley West are near 11 minutes, the standard for the City is 4 minutes or so). The City will also have to pay incrementally out of it's operating budget for additional police, fire, and community service staff to service the new neighborhood, along with eventually being responsible for long-term maintenance and snow clearing of the new local streets. Further, it is a fact that people in greenfield will use roads more, and have longer commutes, adding additional wear and tear to City roads. These are all major costs associated with greenfield, but are hard to calculate and when you do calculate them, are very sensitive to assumptions.

With infill, it is assumed that the majority of capital costs associated with greenfield aren't required. Presumably the mature neighborhood is already adequately covered by a police station, fire station, community center, library, etc. So tearing down an old house in St. Boniface or Wolesley to build a 20 unit condo shouldn't add stress to local services. But the truth is that it does add stress, just in other ways. Sure, you don't need to build a new police station, but you might need to expand the capacity of the local library or park, which costs money too. And if people living in mature neighborhoods are more likely to use "active" or public transit, then there may be additional capital costs for adding in bike lanes, expanded path systems, or even additional buses and bus routes (and let's be clear: buses do more damage to the roads than the equivalent amount of cars needed to transport the same amount of people).

So when we try to objectively look at all the hard costs, both in capital and operating, associated with infill versus greenfield, it's really not clear which one is better for a city facing severe fiscal constraints. On the one hand, initial infrastructure costs in suburbs are zero for the city which means expanding the tax base (albeit only marginally) at virtually no cost in the short run, while on the other hand infill might be more "sustainable" in the long run, but requires city capital investment almost immediately due to aging water and sewer systems.

Mayes isn't necessarily wrong, and urbanists who immediately decry his stance simply because it's more intricate than an "infill good, suburbs bad" opinion are failing to take in the big picture. Does sprawl cost money? Absolutely. But so does infill, and doing the math on it isn't easy and is subject to interpretation. I'm not saying we shouldn't try to encourage infill, we absolutely should. But we have to bear in mind the challenges associated with both types of development and try to find solutions to overcoming the financial challenges Winnipeg faces. In a city that is struggling to provide an adequate level of public goods and services to all citizens, politicians are going to think about what gets them the best bang for their buck in the short term. Long term thinking isn't useful when you're just struggling to survive until the next budget cycle.
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  #5  
Old Posted Apr 16, 2019, 2:08 PM
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I think that just to curb our ballooning infrastructure deficit we will have to place a moratorium on greenfield development. Infill costs money in terms of capital upgrades but these sewers and other related infrastructures also have to be replaced or upgraded anyways. The standard argument against infill as Mayes points out is obviously the cost to upgrade systems. But what he doesn't say is that we're gonna have to replace billions worth of sewers that are all reaching the end of their service lives anyways so why not just upgrade them to handle the additional load. It also stands to reason that 20 miles of sewer is cheaper to maintain, not to mention easier, than the extra 40 miles you build with sprawling suburbs. Don't get it twisted, I'm not against suburbs completely. They have their place but so long as we keep building them we will never achieve the critical mass necessary to make the city financially stable.

We all complain about the roads but literally keep adding more every year when we already can't afford the maintenance on what we have now.
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  #6  
Old Posted Apr 16, 2019, 3:12 PM
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^ Perhaps suburbs could be more sustainable if we went back to the postwar style of building them? You look at an area like, say, West Kildonan, and it's built with gridded streets that are transit and walking friendly, reasonably sized lots, multifamily and commercial uses that are integrated with the area and not set completely apart on high speed roads with massive parking lots, and at first glance it feels more sustainable than pretty well anything that has been built since the 80s.
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  #7  
Old Posted Apr 16, 2019, 3:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by esquire View Post
^ Perhaps suburbs could be more sustainable if we went back to the postwar style of building them? You look at an area like, say, West Kildonan, and it's built with gridded streets that are transit and walking friendly, reasonably sized lots, multifamily and commercial uses that are integrated with the area and not set completely apart on high speed roads with massive parking lots, and at first glance it feels more sustainable than pretty well anything that has been built since the 80s.
Well if not sustainable now they would at least lend themselves well to densification and intensification later on down the road. What we need now though is not to build too far afield and really focus on land efficiency nearer the core. It's good for everyone. I think that a major component of this though is going to be creating a really good rapid transit system. One that doesn't really try to serve the suburbs. Focus on the core area and make it easier to live car free then you can add some lines out to the edges of the city to create other zones of density. Just look at any European city and imagine their transit system copy pasted here. Would make a massive difference even to have a fraction.

All that to say though that density needs to be prioritized but it won't happen or be effective without excellent transit
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  #8  
Old Posted Apr 16, 2019, 3:40 PM
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Sewer cost on infill housing will become less and less of an issue as the older combined sewers in the city are twinned with new land drainage sewers. This is only beginning to happen. Right now in St. James and Grant Park areas. The flow in the sewers that were combined and are now wastewater only is substantially reduced.

Water line renewals are constantly happening also, with upsizing. So costs on infill are minimal unless it is an entire brownfield development. But, an exception might be old industrial lands since they require large diameter fire lines already.

So I think it is a case-by-case situation. Especially since you really can't plug numbers on sewer and water installation. There is no table values based on pipe size or depth that can be reliable because ground conditions vary significantly throughout the city.
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  #9  
Old Posted Apr 16, 2019, 4:51 PM
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Brian Mayes everyone. haha
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  #10  
Old Posted Apr 16, 2019, 4:55 PM
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I'm not understanding how infill development is 'bad'. Or being misrepresented. That seems to be what Brian M is getting at.

Building new houses on old streets is a problem? Or they don't use existing infrastructure?? Well duh, old sewers need to be renewed. Not because of infill, but because they are old. I don't get it. How can these hacks at the City continue to be elected. Probably because nobody better wants anything to do with City Hall for all these reasons.
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  #11  
Old Posted Apr 16, 2019, 5:07 PM
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So if we don't encourage or develop infill then the city won't have to maintain existing infrastructure? Well, then...
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  #12  
Old Posted Apr 16, 2019, 5:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bomberjet View Post
I'm not understanding how infill development is 'bad'. Or being misrepresented. That seems to be what Brian M is getting at.

Building new houses on old streets is a problem? Or they don't use existing infrastructure?? Well duh, old sewers need to be renewed. Not because of infill, but because they are old. I don't get it. How can these hacks at the City continue to be elected. Probably because nobody better wants anything to do with City Hall for all these reasons.
I think the issue of water/sewer replacement is with timing. Yeah, the old stuff needs to be replaced eventually, but the old sewer servicing an old 800 sq.ft. home with 3 people living in it in St. Boniface will eventually need to be replaced, but it can likely be deferred for a couple of years or even a few decades, depending on how desperate the city is. But the moment a developer comes in and wants to put a 20 unit condo on that same piece of land, the city either has to swallow a multi-million dollar sewer replacement bill immediately, or tell the developer to do it themselves, in which case, they will probably give up since the numbers won't be favorable then.

I don't think the general public understands just how difficult it was for the city to balance it's budget this year, and it's getting even more difficult as each year passes and cost pressures escalate. When this is the environment you are operating in, suddenly a $10 million sewer upgrade for a neighborhood to accommodate some infill isn't an attractive strategy when pools are closing, ice rinks are in disrepair, and local streets are riddled with potholes.

It's not that the city doesn't want infill, it's that the city has no money in the near term to accommodate the service demand it will generate. The result is that politicians would rather build "free" suburbs and deal with budget issues later (aka kick the can down the road to the next politician 10 years from now), as opposed to making hard decisions now and growing a sustainable city.
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  #13  
Old Posted Apr 16, 2019, 5:25 PM
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There's a difference between infill housing and condo development. While both may use old land, or underdeveloped land, IMO these are not the same thing.

Replacing an old home with say 2 skinny homes, or just a new home has no real impact on services. The sewers will be able to handle everyones poop. Yes, building a 20 unit condo will require an analysis of the systems to see if the usage can be handled. Which again most likely is a non issue. If it is an issue, the developer either pays for it or backs out. Usually the land for a 20 unit condo and a single home are not compatible.

The city would not pay $10million to build a sewer for a condo. Much like what happened with north St. boniface. Systems could not handle a large scale, dense neighbourhood. So they put in single family homes.

We're talking apples and oranges here.
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Old Posted Apr 16, 2019, 6:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Winnipegger View Post
(and let's be clear: buses do more damage to the roads than the equivalent amount of cars needed to transport the same amount of people).
I'd be really interested in seeing the study that verifies this. I mean, I could imagine that being the case for a bunch of compact cars brimmed to the max in capacity. SUVs transporting one person? Not so much.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Winnipegger View Post
Mayes isn't necessarily wrong, and urbanists who immediately decry his stance simply because it's more intricate than an "infill good, suburbs bad" opinion are failing to take in the big picture. Does sprawl cost money? Absolutely. But so does infill, and doing the math on it isn't easy and is subject to interpretation. I'm not saying we shouldn't try to encourage infill, we absolutely should. But we have to bear in mind the challenges associated with both types of development and try to find solutions to overcoming the financial challenges Winnipeg faces. In a city that is struggling to provide an adequate level of public goods and services to all citizens, politicians are going to think about what gets them the best bang for their buck in the short term. Long term thinking isn't useful when you're just struggling to survive until the next budget cycle.
The problem is Brian Mayes seriously misrepresents the urbanist position. Doing so, he obscures the conversation on infill's potential benefits. At Property & Development meetings and on his "Infill Myths and Reality" Facebook/Blog post, he reiterates that old infrastructure costs money to maintain. Almost nobody denies this! The actual argument is about the incremental cost of infill compared to greenfield. Namely, does maintaining and then upgrading old infrastructure to handle more capacity cost more or less than maintaining old infrastructure and then maintaining sprawl infrastructure down the line? And does having increased taxpayer density per some unit measure of infrastructure help sustain infrastructure?

It should be noted that what's precipitating this is a draft Residential Infill Strategy that seems geared to make infill harder in mature communities. For some reason, Brian Mayes feels compelled to use arguments against banning greenfield in a conversation about whether we should be less restrictive on infill. The whole infill restrictions debate was ignited because there seems to be so much demand for infill in areas like Old St Vital that it's already leading to a transformation of neighbourhood streets.

Last edited by Hidden Observer; Apr 16, 2019 at 7:06 PM. Reason: Added quote to respond to
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  #15  
Old Posted Apr 16, 2019, 8:50 PM
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There are costs of infill, but in some cases those costs are:
1) much less in some specific areas than in others. There are some areas that are, on the surface, prime candidates for more infill have major service capacity issues, so costly upgrades are needed, whereas a few blocks away there is existing infrastructure that is under capacity;
2) costs that won't go away by banning infill and pushing all growth to greenfield areas. Existing infrastructure (eg, combined sewer systems) will still need to be replaced regardless of if you increase growth or not.
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  #16  
Old Posted Apr 18, 2019, 3:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Winnipegger View Post
I think City Hall is going to continue to spin its wheels on infill strategy because no one actually knows the true difference in cost between adding X units of infill to the city versus adding X units of greenfield development to the city.

In general, developers pay for all the upfront hard infrastructure costs on greenfield development. So if a developer is building another Sage Creek or Waverley West, the developer puts in the local streets, water, sewer, parks, retention ponds, and sidewalks. On the other hand, with infill, a lot of mature neighborhoods in Winnipeg have really old water and sewer systems that need to be replaced to accommodate any sort of growth, and this cost is typically unknown until the project is close to beginning and is usually borne by the City itself.

Where the math starts getting fuzzy is that we know greenfield development (aka sprawl) requires further capital investment in regional roads, new fire stations, new police stations, new community centres, and new bus routes, all of which the City is having a very difficult time to produce right now (I hear fire response times in Waverley West are near 11 minutes, the standard for the City is 4 minutes or so). The City will also have to pay incrementally out of it's operating budget for additional police, fire, and community service staff to service the new neighborhood, along with eventually being responsible for long-term maintenance and snow clearing of the new local streets. Further, it is a fact that people in greenfield will use roads more, and have longer commutes, adding additional wear and tear to City roads. These are all major costs associated with greenfield, but are hard to calculate and when you do calculate them, are very sensitive to assumptions.

With infill, it is assumed that the majority of capital costs associated with greenfield aren't required. Presumably the mature neighborhood is already adequately covered by a police station, fire station, community center, library, etc. So tearing down an old house in St. Boniface or Wolesley to build a 20 unit condo shouldn't add stress to local services. But the truth is that it does add stress, just in other ways. Sure, you don't need to build a new police station, but you might need to expand the capacity of the local library or park, which costs money too. And if people living in mature neighborhoods are more likely to use "active" or public transit, then there may be additional capital costs for adding in bike lanes, expanded path systems, or even additional buses and bus routes (and let's be clear: buses do more damage to the roads than the equivalent amount of cars needed to transport the same amount of people).

So when we try to objectively look at all the hard costs, both in capital and operating, associated with infill versus greenfield, it's really not clear which one is better for a city facing severe fiscal constraints. On the one hand, initial infrastructure costs in suburbs are zero for the city which means expanding the tax base (albeit only marginally) at virtually no cost in the short run, while on the other hand infill might be more "sustainable" in the long run, but requires city capital investment almost immediately due to aging water and sewer systems.

Mayes isn't necessarily wrong, and urbanists who immediately decry his stance simply because it's more intricate than an "infill good, suburbs bad" opinion are failing to take in the big picture. Does sprawl cost money? Absolutely. But so does infill, and doing the math on it isn't easy and is subject to interpretation. I'm not saying we shouldn't try to encourage infill, we absolutely should. But we have to bear in mind the challenges associated with both types of development and try to find solutions to overcoming the financial challenges Winnipeg faces. In a city that is struggling to provide an adequate level of public goods and services to all citizens, politicians are going to think about what gets them the best bang for their buck in the short term. Long term thinking isn't useful when you're just struggling to survive until the next budget cycle.
It's great to see a balanced, objective post like this. All too often it's sprawl = bad, infill = good. I think there's some middle ground to be had, and a city needs both types of development to grow and meet the needs of residents.
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  #17  
Old Posted Apr 18, 2019, 1:07 PM
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It's great to see a balanced, objective post like this. All too often it's sprawl = bad, infill = good. I think there's some middle ground to be had, and a city needs both types of development to grow and meet the needs of residents.
Balance is important, but my impression is that the scales are tipped wildly in favour of suburban greenfield development.

Look at the new subdivisions... developers tend to get what they want. They draw up the plans, they get to build what is most profitable, and the City does its best to support that even if it means having to pay for costly road extensions (Bishop Grandin east) or widenings (Route 90) and other associated infrastructure.

By contrast, if you want to do something that involves infill, even a modest lot split or small condo building, you are met with a wall of nimby resistance that most councillors are happy to join in on. Yes, the policy documents may all support the concept of infill, increased density, mixed uses, etc., but in practice it triggers resistance at every turn.

Downtown is a bit of a different story, there is not the same kind of nimby pressure there. But downtown is just one neighbourhood in the grand scheme of things. Councillors like Mayes erroneously frame it as downtown vs. suburbs, but downtown is not the problem. You can build big if you want to there. The real battleground is older inner suburbs that should be rightfully becoming denser, more urban environments but residents, abetted by councillors, are intent on keeping the status quo even though doing so is absurd in a metro area that is close to reaching the million mark in population. Areas like Old St. B, Crescentwood, Norwood, Wolseley, etc. should be growing up and becoming home to more people.
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Old Posted May 22, 2019, 6:36 PM
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classic nimby

Quote:
Residents of a tony Tuxedo neighbourhood are challenging a neighbour’s plan to split a large lot and build a second, two-storey home on the vacant portion.

The Sapozhnik family received the go-ahead from the City of Winnipeg planning department and the board of adjustment in April to split their 152-foot-wide lot at 202 Handsart Blvd. into separate, 77- and 75-foot-wide lots.

However, neighbours, many of whom live on 75-foot-wide lots themselves, are appealing the decision.


The opponents, led by David and Ruth Asper, said while the lot split appears compatible with other properties to the south on Handsart, the proposal compromises the streetscape along the cross street (Nanton Boulevard).
source: https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/lo...510237732.html
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  #19  
Old Posted May 22, 2019, 7:43 PM
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^ This is verging on the outright absurd... 75 foot lots are supposedly considered unacceptable?!
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  #20  
Old Posted May 22, 2019, 8:01 PM
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WTF? That is one hell of a leap in logical faith
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