We need to reinvest in Calgary’s established communities
The news is all too familiar, existing neighbourhoods are losing amenities while our taxes go to subsidize new communities to build new schools, roads, and recreation centres on the edge of the city. In and around Ward 8, we found out Rosscarrock School will soon be closing. The Beltline is fighting to save their Fitness and Aquatic Centre and the Eau Claire YMCA abruptly shuttered its doors back in February.
And when it comes to new developments, many established communities in Calgary have no plans for how and where new development should happen leading to a haphazard process with varying quality of outcomes. This is where the Guidebook for Great Communities was first developed as a tool to assist communities in tailoring their own Local Area Plans for the future.
Public Engagement on the Guidebook for Great Communities
While it was disappointing to see so much misinformation spread about the Guidebook back in March, I am always inspired when Calgarians are passionate about their communities because I share the same care and investment. At the public hearing March 22-24, City Council sat for one of the longest public sessions ever, listening and engaging with concerned citizens who wanted one more opportunity to have their voices heard.
The City has responded to information collected through public hearing and further engagement with 62 new amendments.
A Refined Guide For Local Area Plans
Based on the feedback from public hearings, engagement and Council direction, the City is proposing new amendments to improve the plan and provide more clarity.
1. Clarity, Predictability and Certainty
- Change the Guide to a non-statutory document.
- Change the name to “Guide for Local Area Planning.”
- Add a “Before You Begin” page focusing on its fit with City policies including local area plans, an overview of the local area planning process, and the process for future amendments.
- Remove story-telling elements, to focus more on technical policies and tools.
- Update goals with “enhancing” great communities and recognize climate change throughout.
2. Complete Communities
- Pay tribute to the land on which Calgary was founded and grows.
- Expand on who will use the Guide.
- Recognize mobility options can change in the winter.
- Consider vehicle-oriented uses (e.g., drive throughs) in Main Streets and Activity Centres.
- Support the protection of existing tree canopies.
Ensure local area plans recognize the following:
- Community investment
- Neighbourhood structure, including streetscapes and historic block patterns
- Significant tree canopies
- Diverse and inclusive types of homes
- Unique aspects of individual communities
- Add a policy for new development to consider the community context, particularly adjacent to properties on the Inventory of Historic Resources.
- Outline expectations for local area planning engagement, demonstrating a commitment to meaningfully engage citizens early and throughout the process.
5. Neighbourhood Stability and Character
- Include a Single-Detached Special Policy Area that gives residents the opportunity to identify in a local area plan area where development will be limited to only single-detached homes.
- Include additional policies that consider the impact of multi-unit buildings.
- Delete policy that allows the Development Authority to consider applications that exceed the scale modifier.
- Recognize and consider the role of restrictive covenants in some older communities and when developing a local area plan.
I support the Guide for Local Area Planning
This is an important step forward in how we build a city that is inclusive, diverse, equitable, and modern. This is how we create the conditions for local businesses to thrive. This is how we acknowledge our past, while building toward tomorrow. This is how we ensure the City continues to invest in making our established communities more amenity-rich.
City Administration listened, they engaged, and they did the work: on May 5th, the new and improved Guide for Local Area Plans goes back to committee. I will be watching closely to see that the City moves forward with the Guide for Local Area Plans so we can support safe, sustiable, and amenity-rich communities by keeping more of our tax dollars in Ward 8.
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