Changes to the City Planning & Development Process and Rules

The City is completely changing the planning and development process through the “Guidebook for Great Communities”. It is aimed at increasing the population density in the developed area neighborhoods, including Elboya and Britannia.  There are numerous problems and concerns regarding the Guidebook and its implementation.  The two areas that concern us the most are:

  • Impact on Single- Family Home Neighbourhoods.
  • Implementation: The City’s limited consultation, aggressive timing, and lack of consistency, clarity, certainty, and understanding regarding the new process.

This page is intended to provide up to date information on these proposed changes.

News Release - City of Calgary Proposes Eliminating All R-1 and R-C1 Residential Designations

Calgary, Alberta, January 30, 2020 CITY OF CALGARY PROPOSES ELIMINATING ALL R-1 AND R-C1 RESIDENTIALDESIGNATIONSThe City of Calgary will make sweeping changes to its planning and development process and rules. The changes will be implemented through the “Guidebook for Great Communities” which will be voted on by Council in April 2020.In a effort to increase density, the Guidebook will eliminate all R-1 and R-C1 residential designations and replace them with a new designation that will allow the demolition of any single family home and replace it with various types of three story multi-unit structures.“We understand the need for densification in the City but strongly believe that contiguous neighbourhoods of single-detached homes add to the quality of life in Calgary and should be preserved,” said Mike Read, Planning and Development Committee, Elboya Heights Britannia Community Association (EHBCA). “We would like to see the proposed Guidebook for Great Communities amended to preserve pockets of existing contextual districts for current and future generations.”The EHBCA has been working with many other community associations to fight the uncertainty, loss of green space, gardens, trees and sunlight as well as increased parking, traffic and safety issues that will result from the implementation of the Guidebook for Great Communities as is.For further information please contact:Danielle MacdonaldPlanning and Development CommitteeElboya Heights Britannia Community

Latest Updates

**Upcoming Public Meetings Regarding The Guidebook**

  • February 20th, 6pm:   Ward 11 Town Hall / CA Presidents Meeting.Palliser Bayview Pump Hill Hall, 2323 Palliser Drive SW, Calgary.
  • March 4th:  Planning & Urban Design Committee Meeting, City Hall
  • April 6/7 OR April 27: City Council Meeting, City Hall

Check the City Web-pages for latest updates

Guidebook for Great Communities

The City is changing its Planning & Development process and rules (Why City Planning).  The changes are outlined in the Guidebook for Great Communities and  will be implemented through new “Local Area Plans and revisions to the “Land Use Bylaw LUB”.The purpose is to:

  • Implement the Municipal Development Plan
  • Guide Local Area Planning
  • Provide guidance to Planning Applications

Process and Rule ChangesThe Guidebook introduces form-based planning, as opposed to the use-based planning (districts).  It represents a completely new planning system in the City of Calgary.  It will replace the current development process by:

  • Replacing all existing local residential development plans with new Local Area Plans.
  • The Local Area Plans will develop new planning maps identifying what and where the new Urban Forms will be used.
  • Replacing the current Land Use Bylaw LUB District rules with a new Urban Form Classification System outlined in the Guidebook with 16 categories.
    • 3 Neighbourhood Commercial (major, minor, local)
    • 3 Neighbourhood Housing (major, minor, local)
    • 4 Parks & Recreation
    • 5 Industrial
    • 1 Campus
  • These Categories are also modified by Scale Modifiers: Tall, High, Mid, Low, Limited

Inpact on Single-Family Neighbourhoods

Currently all renovations and new home construction must comply with the rules set out in the Land Use Bylaw 1IP2007 LUB. Most of our homes in Elboya and Britannia are in areas designated as “Residential – Contextual One Dwelling Districts” R-C 1. The LUB defines the intent of R-C 1 districts as:
  • “The Residential – Contextual One Dwelling District is intended to accommodate existing residential development and contextually sensitive redevelopment in the form of Single Detached Dwellings in the Developed Area.”
We support the current rules and want “contextually sensitive redevelopment” to continue.



Guidebook Changes

We expect that all single family neighbourhoods will be designated at the lowest density Urban Form: “Limited Scale, Neighbourhood Housing Local”.  Key parameters are:
  • “include a broad range of building forms including single-detached, semi-detached, rowhouses, townhomes, stacked townhomes, mixed-use buildings”
  • “the buildings can be a maximum three stories in height”.
This form will likely be similar to the current R-CG district:
  • accommodates grade-oriented development in the form of Rowhouse Buildings, Duplex Dwellings, Semi-detached Dwellings and Cottage Housing Clusters;

Elimination of Single-Family Home R-C1 Neighbourhoods

The issue that causes us the most concern, and will have the most impact on our neighborhoods, is the elimination of all areas that are currently devoted to single family homes by allowing multi unit buildings like Rowhouses in  all areas.

Altadore Rowhouse

  • Increased lot coverage
  • elimination of greenspace: minimal front and side yard, the backyard is paved driveway
  • elimination of trees: the trees in photo are on neighbouring home yards
  • shading and invasion of privacy of neighbouring houses

The Impact

  • There will be NO Districts with only single- detached homes (R-1).
  • NO contiguous areas preserved for single-family homes.
  • Loss of greenspace and trees, sunlight and privacy resulting from taller, bigger buildings.
  • Increased on-street parking issues and Increased traffic resulting in congestion and safety issues.
  • Three story multi-unit buildings will be allowed anywhere, anytime. There will be continuing uncertainty regarding when your neighbour’s house will be torn down and replaced with a multi-unit building.  There will be no opportunity to prevent it through a public hearing or appeal process.
  • Irreversible destruction of single-family homes.
To see what the future will look like, take a drive through Altadore  between 14 St SW and 20 St SW and 34 Ave SW and 40 Ave SW.

EHBCA’s Position

Multi-Unit Redevelopment where it makes sense

We are not opposed to modernized rules and increasing the population density where it makes sense:

  •  along LRT routes
  • along major transportation corridors (e.g. McLeod Trail)
  • in areas already being redeveloped with multi-unit housing
  •  in areas already identified as suitable for higher density development (e.g. Main Street initiatives such as the “50th Ave. Main Street”.

The Guidebook can meet its growth targets without eliminating all the existing single family neighbourhoods.

Preserving neighborhoods of single-family homes

There is no need to allow multi-unit redevelopment everywhere. We believe (as do many other developed area Community Associations) that contiguous neighbourhoods of single-family homes add to the quality of life in Calgary and should be preserved.

The Britannia Caveat may offer another legal protection in Britannia.

The Caveat land use restrictions states “only one single family dwelling house….may be erected on each lot”. We believe enforcement of the Caveat would prohibit any building form other than single-detached and prohibit “Back Yard” suites. We are working with several other Community Associations with similar Restrictive Covenants to determine how effective this “Legal Action” strategy will be. However, any legal action will be costly, and the Britannia Caveat Fund may need additional funding.

Implementation Concerns

The Guidebook for Great Communities: was issued August 30, 2019.

The City’s plan was to have it brought to City Council for approval and adoption into law in November 2019.

The Federation of Calgary Communities FCC immediately raised concerns:

  • “limited consultation and aggressive timing on this very critical document”
  • “lack of consistency, clarity, certainty, understanding”
  • “need for input”

FCC and at least 12 Community Associations (including EHBCA) made vigorous representation to the Councilors and at City Council meetings and Planning & Urban Development (PUD) Committee meetings expressing our concerns.

In response to these concerns, the City Council postponed final review of the Guidebook until April 2020 and instructed the City Administration to conduct a meaningful public engagement program and evaluate the results from a test implementation of the new process.

Ongoing Concerns

There are only 2 1/2 months (50 working days) to the April final review.  It seems unlikely that there will be much opportunity for “meaningful public engagement”.


Local Area Plan Concerns

The approval of the Guidebook would effectively allow multi-community Local Area Plans to apply the “urban forms” proposed in the Guidebook. Over the next five years, the aim is to have multi-community area plans in place for all developed Calgary.

Plan Development: The city will be divided into 42 multi community areas. A new Local Area Plan will be created for each by a Local Area Plan Team: Each local area plan consists of a team of city staff, and a working group from the community and developers.

EHBCA is in Local Area 8 which includes Britannia / Elboya, Windsor Park, Bel-Aire / Mayfair,  Meadowlark Park, Manchester, and Manchester Industrial.  The planning process is expected to start in 2021.

They current LUB districts are scrapped and the team designates the new Urban Form Categories and Modifiers as set out in the Guidebook.
Swaths of existing R-C1 single-family home neighbourhoods will be assigned “Limited Scale Neighbourhood Housing Local” that allow developers to choose from a much broader range of building forms.

The Administration will develop the plan in collaboration with a working group (described above), incorporating feedback from the broader public throughout the processes.

Timing: The process takes about 1 year from project start to the draft plan.

Plan Approval : Local Area Plans are ultimately decided upon by City Council.  Once a plan is finalized by the Administration, the plan will be presented to City Council at a Public Hearing. Residents and other affected parties will have the opportunity to express their support or objections to the Plan.  Council will adopt or reject the plan as a bylaw.

Test Cases: there are currently two test cases that hopefully will be completed in time to provide insight into the Guidebook Approval: North Hill Growth Plan  (areas 5 and 6) Westbrook Communities Local Growth Planning, (area 10) and Heritage Communities (area 31)

An Area Plan is a one-time blanket implementation of current urban design philosophy. It will likely do little to honour the history, value or contextual integrity of single -family home neighbourhoods.

There will be limited opportunity to look at specific locations or unique circumstances. Although full time City Planners and Developers staff, already familiar with the jargon and planning principles, may be able devote enough time to effectively work on the plan, it will be very difficult for resident volunteers to do the same.

Once the Local Area Plans are established, Developers can destroy a home and replace it with any approved Urban Form. The affected nearby residents will have no opportunity to raise concerns or issues with the proposed re-development.

Bylaw Revision Concerns

On 17 June 2019, Council directed the Administration to return with an outline for what new land use bylaw districts could look like based on the new Guidebook at the same time that the Guidebook is being proposed by Council.

The following are excerpts from the “Toward a Renewed Land Use Bylaw” relative to low density residential areas.
“Phase 1: Priority Focus November 2019-Q1 2021
• Work on a new Limited scale Neighbourhood Housing district that would accommodate inclusive and equitable choices for everyone throughout communities.
•  Output – New district that could be implemented across developed areas (with potential to expand to developing areas)
• Output – Implementation options for when/how to apply new district
• Output – How-to-Guide that will outline design intent and help to provide guidance when relaxations are requested

The new Districts and Rule will govern what buildings can be constructed.


The Guidebook will be approved based on the unclear text descriptions before the  Bylaw rules are revised.

How can decisions about the Guidebook be made before we know what it really means?  For example, we will not know what a “three story building” means until it is defined in the Bylaw.


What You Can Do

Join the Community Association

  • Check the website for information and developments. We’ll try to post information about City information sessions, suggestions for further action and requests for volunteers as needed.
  • Contact the Development Committee or Britannia Caveat Committee if you have specific questions.

Contact Councillor Farkas

  • Let him know about your concerns.

Attend the City Engagement information sessions (we’ll try to let you know when, where), provide feedback through they City’s webpages 

Tell them your concerns

  • Ask them questions:
    • Are R-C1 neighbourhoods going to be eliminated?
    • Is multi-unit redevelopment going to be allowed everywhere?
    • What does three story really mean, what will the maximum height be?
    • Will the maximum Lot coverage by buildings be increased; i.e. less greenspace and trees?
    • Can the Guidebook be changed, how do we do it, who do we have to talk to?
    • Why do you think you have to eliminate single family neighbourhoods?
    • Why can’t the growth goals be met without destroying single family neighbourhoods?
  • Find out what the City is doing

Participate in Surveys or Petitions if there are any

Attend the PUD meeting in March

Attend the Public Hearing in April