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Semi-detached and duplex houses now allowed throughout McKernan

Semi-detached and duplex houses will now be allowed on most lots in McKernan, after City Council voted at a public hearing on December 10 to amend the Zoning Bylaw. While these types of buildings had been allowed on any lot zoned RF3, and were allowed at the discretion of the Planning department on RF1 lots in specific locations, they will now be permitted on any RF1 lot as long as they meet the regulations for size, area, and built form.

In a semi-detached house, the dwellings are arranged side-by-side, while in a duplex house one dwelling is located on top of the other. They are typically the same size as a single detached home on the same lot, and have similar activities. One parking space per dwelling is required.

In McKernan, most lots north of 76 Ave and east of 114 are not impacted by this change as they are zoned RF3 and duplexes and semi-detached housing is already allowed. The lots in the area south of 76 ave and the area west of 114 St. are mostly RF1 and thus may see increased construction of low-density infill. This change is similar to the change that allowed “skinny” houses to be built on certain lots.

City officials expect that “the uptake in in semi-detached and duplex housing in the (RF1) Single Detached Residential Zone … will be low, resulting in minimal overall impacts for neighbourhoods while allowing incremental changes to housing choice that integrates with the existing urban fabric.”

As McKernan is experiencing high turnover of housing stock, our community may be more impacted than other areas. However, this change will likely not be much more disruptive than any other form of infill housing — housing that has already brought many new people to the community. Duplex houses in particular, with their full-size ground floor and reduced stairs, might improve accessibility for some residents.

More information about the amended Zoning Bylaw can be found in the minutes of the City Council Public Hearing at

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