Is Mixed Use School Zoning A Solution for Senior Housing?

Municipalities are getting more creative about how to face the growing need for affordable senior housing with ideas such as combining daycare with retirement homes but Edmonton is taking this concept one step further.

As neighborhood demographics shift and evolve, could building schools as mixed-use developments help communities accommodate the needs of an aging society?  Edmonton, Alberta thinks so and is lobbying the province to approve development of construction with flexible use.  The local developer Qualico, has submitted a plan to the city that could provide affordable housing for seniors as well as libraries, recreation centers, doctor offices, banks or daycares.  The primary use of the building would remain a school.

According to a report in the Edmonton Journal, the proposal would help keep seniors active members of the community while offering on-site mentors for students.  As the school use changes and space becomes available, the landlord (the developer) could find a new tenant.

In the first proposal of it’s kind, Qualico details a school that would also have space allotted for a public library and a skating rink.   The proposal would require changes to the Municipal Government Act and School Act which are expected to be announced during this spring’s legislative session.

A 2003 future school sites study was commissioned by the city of Edmonton, which recommended joint use of school and park sites as a “positive enhancement to the tradition way of developing schools.”  The report and its recommendations were approved by the city council.

At present, eight surplus school sites have been slated for new housing developments for older adults.  They are close to public transit, amenities and parks.  The construction will occupy only the building site while nearby green space will be preserved as community recreational space. To learn more about these senior housing projects visit .