Edmonton Expands Opportunities for Missing Middle Housing

Updated: Aug 29, 2019

Summary: Big changes to Edmonton's Zoning Bylaw include allowing both a basement suite and garden suite in conjunction with a single-family home.

Today, Edmonton joined a growing number of cities across North America who are taking steps to encourage the development of Missing Middle Housing.

The term ‘missing middle’ was coined by Daniel Parolek of Opticos Design, Inc. in 2010 to define a range of multi-unit or clustered housing types compatible in scale with single-family homes that help meet the growing demand for walkable urban living.

A host of changes were passed as part of Edmonton’s Missing Middle Zoning Review, including permitting homeowners to have both a basement suite and garden suite on the same lot. Other changes include the introduction of a new “multi-unit housing” use, which opens the door for courtyard housing, pocket communities, and mid-rise apartments with creative unit orientations. Density minimums were introduced in certain zones, and overlays were retired in an effort to simplify and streamline projects. To review the changes in detail, you can read the City's Missing Middle Housing Report.

The Missing Middle Zoning Review has ushered in some the most significant changes to Edmonton’s Zoning Bylaw seen in the past ten years.

For too long, Edmonton has been hemmed in by regulations that made it nearly impossible to build anything but low-density, single-family homes in vast swaths of the City. This has left us with a density profile that resembles a donut, rather than a tent pole. Typically density and the scale of built form increases incrementally from the outskirts to the centre of the City, but in Edmonton's case, there is a ring of low-density neighbourhoods surrounding our core (seen in pink), hence the "Missing Middle".

The changes passed today at City Hall are a signal that it’s time for Edmonton to start eating away at that donut and building up density where it’s most needed. Offering more housing options in our Missing Middle will infuse new life into neighbourhoods that have been experiencing population loss.

Edmonton’s “Missing Little

With all the hype centred on Edmonton’s “Missing Middle”, we wanted to point out the huge step that was taken towards increasing Edmonton’s supply of Missing Little Housing as part of today's changes.