Development & Planning
With a mix of single family, multi story apartments and commercial properties, Elboya-Britannia is always undergoing some type of development, and its community members are keen to keep on top of it all.
To help navigate the ‘development’ maze, this web page presents current news and information on:
- the City’s planning hierarchy
- major redevelopment plans
- commercial and other buildings
- our community review process for residential infill developments and secondary/backyard suite applications.
If you have any questions or concerns about development in the community, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org . We ask that you join our mailing list (sign up at the bottom of our web page) and Facebook pages for the latest community association news.
The EHBCA Planning and Development Committee
The committee meets once a month to review issues and applications for planning and redevelopment in our neighbourhoods. The Committee is made up of the EHBCA VP of Community Development, a Committee head, Sub-committee heads for Elboya and Britannia that deal with application reviews in the respective areas, and other volunteers.
Committee members are familiar with the City’s governing documents and participate in community planning workshops, “Partners in Planning” training offered by the Federation of Calgary Communities, as well as City or developer-led consultations.
Current issues include:
- Maintaining and enhancing Neighborhood Character in light of redevelopment pressures.
- Managing traffic and parking, especially around the Plaza commercial area, with new development transforming the area into a dining destination.
- Development along 50th Avenue which includes the tentative plans to bury the transmission lines between McLeod Trail and Elbow Drive.
- Secondary and Backyard Suites.
- Parks planning and development.
- The City of Calgary approval process for residential infills.
Planning Overview of Elboya-Britannia
The 1950s development plans for Elboya and Britannia created an ideal, “complete” and “walkable” community with a mix of housing types, landscaped boulevards, access to playgrounds, natural and recreational areas, schools, places of worship, a local retail and service center, and public transit.
Over time, redevelopment pressures in Elboya-Britannia have grown. Today they are significant and are now governed by several types of City of Calgary municipal plans, policies and guidelines.
- The Municipal Development Plan (MDP) (2009)
- Elboya and Britannia are classified as “Established Communities” within the City’s “Developed Residential Area”. Under this “urban typology”, the City considers us to be a “stable residential community with limited redevelopment potential over the next 30 years”, unlike the Inner-City that is slated for heavier densification. Populations in established communities have “declined from their peak and housing stock is generally in good condition”.
- Within communities, the City has area types called “Activity Centres”. The Commercial Centre at Elbow Drive and 50th Ave SW is classified as a Neighbourhood Activity Centre (NAC) intended to serve the needs of local residents.
- Adding to the complexity, the City has corridor types called “Main Streets”, where redevelopment will be concentrated through residential intensification, local job creation, retail, services and civic activities. The City has a classified 50th Avenue SW, (including the NAC) as a ‘Neighborhood Main Street’.
- The Land Use Bylaw (LUB) defines the many land use districts (zones) in our community, although the majority of housing is Residential – Contextual One Dwelling District (R-C1). The LUB sets out rules for each land use district for such things as parcel size, height and size of the building, setbacks, parking, and what the land or building can be used for. Recently, the LUB was amended to allow secondary and backyard suites as a discretionary use in R-C1 districts.
- The 50th Avenue SW Area Redevelopment Plan (ARP) was adopted in 2013 after extensive consultation with the communities of Elboya, Britannia and Windsor Park. It governs the Plaza commercial area and 50th Ave SW from Stanley Road to 8th St SW. Implementation of the full plan is predicated on burying the electrical transmission lines along 50th Avenue. The ARP lays out potential land use districts with specifics such as height, setbacks, density, parking, and street and sidewalk development. 50th Ave SW is also one of 33 planning areas within the Main Streets Program, a planning initiative to facilitate densification in Calgary’s developed areas.
- The Low Density Residential Housing Guidelines for Established Communities (2010) provide direction and clarity around single and duplex housing regulated by the LUB, as well as issues such as building mass, shading, privacy/overlooking, corner parcel development and landscaping.
For more information go to:
www.calgary.ca Follow the links through “Building, Planning and Business” to “myDevelopment” for information on the permit process, infills and the Land Use Bylaw. See The Community Guide to the Planning Process and the Parks department brochure: Tree Protection Plan During Development.
The Development Review Process
The EHBCA is included on the City’s circulation list for new “discretionary” development permit applications in our community. This includes residential and commercial redevelopment and changes to institutional properties like schools, religious buildings and care facilities. Often these applications request “relaxations” to the rules specified in the Land Use Bylaw.
Relaxations could be for on-site parking requirements, height, building envelope etc. The City streamlined its application approval process for infill homes a few years ago so that if a plan meets the rules for “contextual dwellings” (i.e. adheres to design guidelines, allows no relaxations, and is restricted in size and placement relative to adjacent properties), it skips the circulation and comment process.
The EHBCA also receives circulations on applications for land-use changes. These may come before, or concurrently with, a development permit application. Examples include subdivision of single dwelling lots to allow for duplexes, townhomes or other uses as well as changes to allow higher density commercial buildings. Land use changes must be approved at a Public Hearing meeting of City Council.
Typically, the EHBCA has 2 weeks to respond to these applications. Comments are considered by City Administration, along with internal reviews by several City departments. Our comments may or may not be acted upon, depending on the applicant’s submission and other planning considerations.
The EHBCA asks for residents’ assistance in monitoring construction in our neighbourhood. If you observe a notice sign on a neighbour’s lawn, park or commercial property, or observe construction, please take a moment to let the Community Association know about it. If you are concerned about a development occurring next to you, you may request to see the plans by emailing the respective sub-committees to arrange an appointment.
Remember that it is the individual responsibility of residents to protect their specific property from adjacent encroaching redevelopment that could result in loss of privacy and shading. The Elboya and Britannia Sub-committees that review development permit applications circulated by the City do not address these concerns, nor do they address architectural style, finishing materials, colour, or landscaping. A telephone call to the City at 311 can help you determine the City’s Infill Guidelines that apply and what approvals may be necessary for the neighbouring project.
Britannia Caveat Sub-Committee BCSC
The character of Britannia has been defined and preserved by the Britannia Caveat registered by the City on most properties in Britannia at the time of subdivision in 1954. Among other provisions, the Caveat requires generous setbacks that make Britannia “green” and allow residents a higher degree of privacy than offered in many other communities. It limits the height of the homes that border the ridge, and it prevents secondary/backyard suites, sub-division and trade in the residential area.
The Britannia Caveat is a legal contract between each and every property owner who has the Caveat registered on title. This contract is separate from City of Calgary zoning (land use) rules and overrides the City of Calgary Land Use Bylaw. The City does not have the legal authority to rewrite the tenets of the Caveat—as they do with zoning bylaws.
The Britannia Caveat Sub-Committee (BCSC) of the Elboya Heights-Britannia Community Association, continues to actively, and rigorously, enforce all aspects of the Britannia Caveat. If you are planning to renovate or rebuild (any project requiring a Building Permit) we request that you forward a copy of your preliminary site and building plans to the BCSC BEFORE your plans are submitted to the City for permits.
This will speed up the City approval process and save you time and money. It is necessary to have approval from both the BCSC and the City before you can proceed with construction. Further information and a sample of the Caveat can be found here.
Britannia’s ongoing success in enforcing the Caveat depends upon continued vigilance. However, there are still rare cases where the applicant challenges the validity of the Caveat. In such cases, the BCSC may incur legal costs to defend the Caveat (legal costs have averaged about $15,000 per year over the last 5 years). The BCSC maintains a Caveat Fund through donations from the community to pay these costs. The last Caveat Fund raising initiative was in 2016 and we need to replenish the fund.
Please consider donating to our Caveat Enforcement Fund. You can make your donation by:
1. Cheque: payable to the Britannia Caveat Sub-Committee and may be mailed to the Elboya-Heights Britannia Community Association. PO Box 30573, RPO Chinook, 6455 Macleod Trail SW, T2H 2W2 or dropped off at 808 Madison Ave. S.W. Please provide your mailing address.
2. BCSC Visit: please contact the BCSC at email@example.com and a committee member will visit you at your convenience to discuss the Caveat and/or take your credit card payment or cheque.
Donations do not qualify for a CRA tax receipt
If you are not already a member of the Elboya Heights – Britannia Community Association, please consider returning to the Membership page and joining.
Planning to Rebuild or Renovate a Home in Elboya?
The early development of Elboya dates back to 1910, during Calgary’s first building boom when land was annexed by the City and landowners like Eliza Jane Smith worked with developers Malcolm D. Geddes and Herbert T Scheffield to sell off sub-divided farm land for residential development. Many properties in Elboya still have restrictions registered on their property title dating to this period, referred to in a document called a “Transfer of Land”. Provisions include one building per lot, 25 ft front and rear setbacks, minimum construction values, and no mercantile or business buildings.
Calgary’s development stalled through the two World Wars and the depression, only to boom again in the late 1940’s. The City of Calgary planned and developed a portion of the Elboya and Park Hill Community, previously known as the Stanley Park Building Scheme in 1954. At that time, the City put forth a set of restrictions by which development in the area would be governed. It restricted development to one single family dwelling house and garage per lot, minimum size, a defined front set-back, no trade or business, and no further subdivision of the lot. These restrictions were registered on the title of each lot in the area as a Caveat, forming a binding agreement into which the property owner enters upon the purchase of a lot in the affected area. If you check your land title, and find an instrument registered against it with the number 4345GS dating from 1954, this caveat applies to you.
The continued enforceability of instruments like these is a matter for individual property owners to pursue through the court system. If you have any questions or concerns about infill development in Elboya, or the applicability of the 1954 Caveat, please contact us by email.
A Note on Secondary Suite Reform
On March 12, 2018, City Council voted to adopt a bylaw that would allow legal secondary and backyard suites as a discretionary use in R-C1 type districts like ours. By the City’s own definition, this changed our district from allowing one dwelling unit to two on the same lot, under the same property title. The new approval process is in line with the approval process currently in place to review infill development (i.e. your neighbour’s new house). An application for a development permit (DP), submitted to the City by the owner, is reviewed by the City for compliance with the Land Use Bylaw rules, may be considered for relaxations, is notice-posted on site, and circulated to the community association for comment. Affected parties (e.g. neighbors, the Community Association) have the right to appeal the DP decision at the Calgary Subdivision and Development Appeal Board.The position of the Elboya Heights-Britannia Community Association, after discussions with legal counsel, was that caveats with specific wording, like those registered on title on most lots in Britannia and some lots in Elboya, preclude secondary and backyard suites. There is recent legal precedent for our position. In Deagle v. 1678452 Alberta Ltd. (Judgement: December 2, 2013) an Edmonton judge interpreted a similar restrictive covenant to preclude a property owner from building a secondary suite despite approval from the City of Edmonton.Owners considering adding a secondary or backyard suite to their property should review any Caveats/Restrictive Covenants registered on their titles to determine if one would be allowed, before applying to the City for a development permit. All residents are cautioned to be on the alert for notice postings of applications for secondary suites on neighbouring properties and are advised to object to the City if they have concerns. Backyard suites are particularly problematic because of overlooking into neighbour’s yards, loss of privacy, noise, shading, removal of matures trees, lane access for parking, extra garbage bins and impacts on drainage due to slope changes or reductions in permeable surfaces.The EHBCA undertook an online survey of members to gauge opinions toward the change and found that a clear majority were in opposition. Read EHBCA’s Letter March 5, 2018 to Council Opposing Secondary Suite Reform here.
Legal secondary and backyard suites
A legal secondary or backyard suite must contain 2 or more rooms designed to be used as a residence by one or more persons, have kitchen, living, sleeping and sanitary facilities, and have 1 motor vehicle parking stall on the parcel (e.g. in a garage or parking pad on the lot). It must meet all building codes for safety and construction and have passed inspection.Secondary and backyard suites do not have a separate title and cannot be sold independently of the main home. They can be rented out, owner-occupied, or occupied by other person(s) like a family member or care giver. They can be operated as a bed and breakfast if owner-occupied, providing a discretionary development permit for this use is obtained. A secondary suite is self-contained anywhere within the main home (often the basement) but secondary to it (smaller). A backyard suite must be smaller than the main house and be contained in a detached building behind the front façade of the main residential building. Examples are a suite located above a garage or a separate “laneway” house.