Changes to the City Planning & Development Process and Rules

The City is completely changing the planning and development process by revising several key statutory documents:

  • Municipal Development Plan "MDP": overall long-term plan.
  • Guidebook for Great Communities "Guidebook": a more detailed plan the guide the creation of Local Area Plans.
  • Local Area Plans "LAP": Calgary will be divided into approximately 40 multi-community Local Areas.  A LAP will be created for each Area. The LAP is a detailed plan that sets out what types of buildings can be developed, or redeveloped, and where they can or can not be built.
  • Land Use Bylaw "LUB": the detailed requirements and rules that define the general shape and size of a building, and what the building can be used for, for each lot in Calgary.

The changes are 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 three areas that concern us the most are:

  • The elimination of Single- Family Home Neighbourhoods: multi-unit developments will be allowed anywhere in Calgary.
  • Implementation: The City’s limited consultation, aggressive timing, and lack of consistency, clarity, certainty, and understanding regarding the new process. The City's failure to notify property owners about the significant impact these changes will have.
  • Reduction of Citizen and Community influence: the changes will reduce the public's ability to influence redevelopment in their neighbourhood

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

Latest Updates

The City has revised the Guidebook for Great Communities.  Below is the review schedule they posted>

"Jan. 4, 2021,: The revised 2021 Guidebook for Great Communities was published and posted the updated proposed Guidebook on the project webpage: - Look for the link “Download the Guidebook”.Based on the importance of these policies and plans to citizens and our stakeholders, we’re ensuring there is more time for people to review and learn about the updated Guidebook, leading up to the Council meeting on March 22.

Jan. 13: At SPC on Planning and Urban Development (PUD), give an update on both documents and be available to answer questions from Committee members. While there is an opportunity for citizens to speak, we understand you may not have had time to read the updated Guidebook. If you are interested in speaking, but not yet ready to speak at this PUD, we encourage you to attend the Feb. 3 PUD. This option provides you with more time to read the Guidebook to have a more informed and complete discussion.

Feb. 3: At PUD, present Guidebook and North Hill LAP, resulting in a recommendation to the Combined Meeting of Council. This meeting will give PUD members and citizens a more fulsome presentation and opportunity for questions and comments.

March 22: At Combined Meeting of Council, present Guidebook and North Hill LAP, resulting in a Council-decision. This public hearing is another opportunity for citizens and Council to ask questions and provide comment."

The Elbow Heights Britannia Community Association will be posting a review of the revised guidebook soon once we have had a chance to the changes.


Guidebook for Great Communities

City Council Meeting, June 15, 2020

    June 15, 2020: City Council approved a motion to refer the Guidebook back to the PUD rather than proceeding to a Public Hearing.
    The purpose was to allow the Administration to develop a proposal to “refine the document” based on the feedback from the March 4 PUD meeting.

PUD Meeting, July 15, 2020.

    Administration Report
    The Administration published a 300-page report July 10, 4 days before the meeting. They proposed to revise the Guidebook including possible changes that seem to address our concerns over low density neighbourhoods.
    Their proposal included a policy that would “allow future Local Area Plans to determine areas of communities, where there are merits to enabling one type of low-density form” and “to focus on areas where growth and evolution can occur in a meaningful way.”

We interpret this to mean that the team creating a Local Area Plan (which will include Community Association representation) will be able to identify areas for houses or duplexes and focus higher density forms in more appropriate areas.

    In the report, Administration recommend that they develop the required revisions, with some focused public engagement. They would return to the PUD meeting Dec 2, 2020 for approval. If approved there would be a Public Hearing in January 2020.

THIS IS WHAT WE WANT: planned redevelopment focused where it makes sense while retaining the core of existing single-family homes. We supported the Administration report recommendation (letter Attached).

    The PUD committee approved the recommendation we support. This recommendation went to the July 27 Council meeting for approval.

Combined Council Meeting July 27, 2020. PUD Report

    The summary of the July 15 PUD meeting and the recommendation was reviewed at the July 27 Mayor and Council Meeting.
    EHBCA and many other CA’s sent emails or letters to the Mayor and Councillors asking them to approve the PUD recommendation.
    The full Council approved the recommendation.

WHAT’S NEXT Now to December 2, 2020 PUD Meeting

The Administration will work on the revisions.

Update to Urban Form Classification System: Working Session: October 2020: Focused engagement with an existing stakeholder group that includes some Community Associations.  EHBCA is not part of the group but will be in close liaison the CA’s in the Group.

Low Density Residential areas: The Administration will revise the Guidebook as per their report recommendation.  These revisions, if they adhere to our understanding of the recommendations, will adequately address our concerns.

PUD Meeting, Dec 2, 2020

As soon as we see the final revisions, we will determine our response. If the final revisions do NOT address our concerns, we will be forced to mount a vocal and aggressive campaign to get the Guidebook rejected at the PUD meeting.

WE MAY NEED YOU HELP: Depending on the lead time the Administration gives us, there may be a flurry of activity in late November.We will keep you updated

Public Hearing, January 2020

If PUD approves the Guidebook, it will go to a Public Hearing in January. Again, if the PUD approved revisions do address our concerns, we will again mount a campaign to get the flawed Guidebook rejected.

Municipal Development Plan MDP

The Municipal Development PLAN, MDP is general long-term planning document the sets out the Development Policies for Calgary for the next 30 years.  It is the parent document of the Guidebook. It is the process of being revised.  In this case, the Administration is conducting a meaningful public engagement process. The Administration posted the proposed revision in February and asked for feedback.  EHBCA and many other Community Associations responded with recommendations.

On July 20 the Administration replied to the CAs with new revisions which addressed, in general, most of our concerns.  They will now do the final revisions for presentation at the Oct 7 PUD meeting.

We’ll keep you updated.

Review of the 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.

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.

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