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Basement suites capped at 70 Arlington

Council agreed to put a cap on the total number of basement suites allowed at 70 Arlington Dr., limiting the number at 25 per cent of total development. Coun.

Council agreed to put a cap on the total number of basement suites allowed at 70 Arlington Dr., limiting the number at 25 per cent of total development.

Coun. Lorie Garritty introduced the motion in response to council’s decision last month to open up the area to basement suites. Garritty said when he made the original basement suites proposal he wasn’t looking at increasing the development’s density.

“To me the interpretation of the allowance of basement suites does not necessarily mean there’s going to be any, but that there is an allowance for them,” said Garritty. “It might make sense to allow for some basement suites just to allow for the numbers to work.”

Mayor Nolan Crouse said regardless of how many basement suites are allowed, all of the units at 70 Arlington Dr. must have basements. He said there was some confusion on the issue, and wanted to ensure council was aware of the difference.

Coun. Roger Lemieux wondered if basements were allowed in condominium developments, later saying that a change in policy may be required if the current bylaws do not allow for that. Neil Jamieson, general manager of planning and engineering, said discussions with the planning department have already cleared the way for basement suites if needed.

However, city manager Bill Holtby pointed out that with direct control zoning council could make changes without changing city policy.

“This [motion] will achieve your goal because in the DC it will stipulate that 25 per cent of the development can have basement suites,” said Holtby.

Coun. Carol Watamaniuk did not support the idea, saying she did not want people cramped into such a small area. Basement suites should only be for those people who own the home they live in, she said.

“I don’t think there should be any basement suites at all,” she said. “I don’t think these units are going to be that big to begin with, and I don’t want to cram people into a bad situation.”

Crouse informed council that, according to Habitat for Humanity’s own rules, owners of a Habitat home are not allowed to sub-lease any part of the premises. Doing so risks their place in the Habitat program.

Habitat for Humanity Edmonton CEO Alfred Nikolai confirmed the statement, adding basement suites would only be helpful for a private developer who wished to build on the land as well.

“If Habitat’s going to do it on their own, they won’t need them.”