Status & What's Next
The Guidebook for Great Communities was replaced by the Guide for Local Area Planning GLAP. GLAP is a best-practice administrative document that the City Administration will use in the creation of Local Area Plans. GLAP includes all of the policies from the Guidebook, including the one we are most concerned about:
- lack of effective public engagement
- promoting the replacement of houses with rowhouses or even density buildings.
As an Administration tool, there will be no more committee reviews, Council reviews or Public hearing on the GLAP.
Elboya / Britannia: Local Area Plan 8, Chinook
Nothing will change in the near term until our Local Area Plan is completed.We are in Local Area Plan 8: Chinook which includes Elboya/Britannia, Windsor Park, Meadowlark Park, Mayfair / Bel Aire, and Manchester. We are currently scheduled to start in 2022. Strong Community input will be essential to protect the character of our neighbourhoods.
Community Association Network
EHBCA will continue to participate in the Community Association Network. We continue to be concerned about the planning and development direction that this Council and Administration is forcing on our established neighbourhoods. EHBCA will bring issues as they arise and post them on this webpage.
October 2021 Civic Elections
EHBCA will be in Ward 8 in the October 2021 Civic Elections. We suggest that you find out the candidate's position on redevelopment in our neighbourhood to make sure they are aligned with your vision of what you want Elboya / Britannia to look like in the future.
WE WILL NEED TO CONTINUE TO PROMOTE CONSERVING NEIGHBOURHOODS LIKE ELBOYA / BRITANNIA FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS.
Guide for Local Area Planning
Guidebook for Great Communities: Public Hearing, March 22, 2021
The March 22 Public Hearing on the Guidebook for Great Communities did not approve the Guidebook. It was sent back to the Administration to recommend amendments and present a report to the Standing Committee on Planning and Urban Design Committee (PUD) at their May 5, 2021 meeting.
Planning & Urban Design Committee (PUD) May 5, 2021 Meeting Summary
The Administration made their report to PUD available to the public on April 30, 4 days before the PUD meeting. It included 62 recommended amendments. The amendments did address some of our concerns, but not all of them.A key amendment that affects single family home neighborhoods is:
- "Building forms that contain three or more residential units should be supported ….. where the parcel has a lane."
In plain language: Rowhouses and higher density buildings will be allowed on any lot that has a back alley. This would include most of the lots in Elboya / Britannia. This is our major concern.
The Administration gave a short summary of their report and amendments. A key recommendation was to change the Guidebook from a Statutory Document to a non-Statutory Document.
- Statutory: legally binding bylaw, revisions must go to Public Hearing
- Non-statutory Guide: not legally binding but will be used to create Local Are Plans, an Administration document that will be updated by the Administration as they see fit
There are pros and cons. The non-statutory document is more flexible and can be challenged. The statutory document provides more certainty. They renamed the Guidebook for Great Communities to the Guide for Local Area Planning.
Although the PUD meeting was not a Public Hearing, the public was allowed to speak (5 minutes per speaker).There were 83 speakers from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM. The majority were in opposition, but some (including developer organisations) were in favour. There were virtually no questions from the councillors. Although the meeting was live streamed from the empty Council Chamber, it was virtual so we could not see which Councillor was actually listening.
After a half hour dinner break, the meeting reconvened for committee debate. The PUD committee is made up of 6 Councillors, but the Mayor and any member of Council can attend and can vote. Twelve (including the Mayor) of the 14 Councillors attended. There was little debate. Mayor Nenishi made a motion to adopt the Administrations recommendation:
- Revise the Guidebook and 63 amendments into a best practices Guide.
- Abandon the Guidebook bylaw.
The motion passed: For (7): Mayor Nenshi, Councillor Gondek, Councillor Chahal, Councillor Keating, Councillor Woolley, Councillor Carra, and Councillor Farrell. Against (5): Councillor Farkas, Councillor Chu, Councillor Colley-Urquhart, Councillor Magliocca, and Councillor Sutherland
What does this mean?
The Guide is a best-practice planning document that they will use in the creation of local area plans. As an administrative document, policies from the Guide will be pulled directly into Local Area Plans to create a single document with all policies located in one place. Policies and tools that are included in the Local Area Plan, taken from the Guide, will be statutory policies if/when the Local Area Plan is adopted/approved as a bylaw by Council. Opportunities to update and improve the Guide will be ongoing and captured through the Local Area Planning process as noted above. Potential Guide refinements will be brought forward to Committee with each proposed local area plan.
Change to Redevelopment in Elboya / Britannia
Our Neighbourhood Character
Elboya and Britannia are neighbourhoods predominately made up of medium/large size houses on medium/large lots. This is what gives our neighbourhoods their unique character. It is why we have chosen to live here. Most families buy a house in Elboya / Britannia because they want to live in good-sized house on a good-sized lot with a yard and trees. The want to live in a a unique, quiet, stable neighbourhood close to downtown. Their choice is based on both house and neighbourhood.
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.
City Redevelopment Rule Changes
As will be discussed in more detail below, the City of Calgary is changing its redevelopment process and rules. Their main goals relative to residential neighbourhoods like ours are to provide more housing for anticipate population growth and to provide a wider choice housing types for Calgarians who do not want to live in houses.
To achieve these goals, they are changing the rules to allow, and encourage, that some houses can be randomly torn down a replaced with a duplex or two or more infill houses (on narrow 7.5m, 25 ft wide lots).
Positive and Negative Consequences
As with all change, there are always both positive and negative consequences.
Positive: the changes will address the City’s goals
Negative: relative to our residents’ lifestyle choice of wanting to live in a “unique, quiet, stable neighbourhood”
- Unique: the unique character of our neighbourhoods will be eroded once different housing types are randomly mixed in with the existing houses; we will start to look and feel any neighbourhood.
- Quiet: more people in the same area will lead to increased traffic, parking issues, general activity
- Stable: the new rules will allow random replacement of a neighbours house with a duplex or infills; there will be no predictability or certainty regarding what might be built beside you.
EHBCA believes that the majority of our residents do not want these proposed changes to the redevelopment rules; the negatives outweigh the positives. We have actively representing our concerns to the City Council and City Administration.
Changes to the City Planning & Development Process and Rules
Changes to the City Planning & Development Process and Rules
The City is changing the planning and development process and rules by revising several key statutory documents.
Municipal Development Plan (MDP)
The MDP is the overall long-term plan setting out principles, key directions, growth plans and policies. The MDP was first made law in 2009 and updated in 2020. EHBCA and many other Community associations had concerns with its failure to recognize the value of Calgary's single family home neighbourhoods. The 2020 MDP revisions were approved by Council is spite of these concerns.
Guidebook for Great Communities (Guidebook)
The Guidebook was a was a more detailed statutory plan to implement the MDP. The first version was issued in September 2019. It was not approved and converted to non-statutory Administrative Guide for Local Area Planning (GLAP) document.2021.
Local Areal Plans (LAP)
Calgary will be divided up into approximately 40 multi-community Areas. A LAP will be created for each Area. The LAP is a detailed statutory document that sets out what types of buildings can be redeveloped and where they can, or can not, be built.
Land Use ByLaw (LUB)
The LUB is the detailed requirements nd rules that define the general shape and size of a building, and what the building can be used for, for each lot in Calgary. It will be revised over the next year or so to reflect the policies and direction of the MDP.
Preserve and Protect the Heart of Calgary’s Low Density Residential Neighbourhoods
“The Municipal Development Plan directs growth to typologies such as Main Streets and Activity Centres within communities. Guidebook”. We agree with and support this key direction. It puts densification where it should be. The MDP also provides an excellent articulation of the benefit of focused redevelopment around activity centers and along the busier roads.
Section 2.2.1 Vibrant and Transit-Supportive Mixed-Use, Activity Centres and Main Streets.
Objectives: “Focusing most intensification to defined areas provides more certainty to the development and building industries and makes redevelopment more predictable for existing communities by lessening the impact on stable, low-density areas.”
The ad hoc random redevelopment in areas away from the preferred focused growth typologies should be avoided.
We believe that virtually all successful residential neighbourhoods follow the same general design;
- Contiguous areas of one type of low density housing form separate from other contiguous areas of a different housing form.
- They are not designed with higher intensity forms dropped ad hoc into the middle of lower intensity forms, or visa versa.
- Intensification is focused adjacent to busier streets and activity centres.
Virtually all the new subdivisions are also designed along this same model. Look at the layout of some of Calgary’s most innovative and successful new communities, Mahogany, Mackenzie Town, Auburn Bay. They all have large separate areas of houses with separate areas of narrow-lot homes, other areas of semi-detached and duplex homes, and higher intensity forms along the busier streets and around the activity centres. They do not mix housing forms.
Existing Neighbourhood Character
The character of Calgary’s existing neighbourhoods started with the original design and then took decades to build. Great cities are characterized by retaining and protecting some neighbourhoods that preserve the City’s unique heritage and character.
We should preserve and protect the existing neighbourhood core of homes against ad hoc higher intensity redevelopment. This would focus the higher intensity to the defined areas where it should be.
Future Uncertainty and Cumulative Effects
The impact of the ongoing recession in the energy industry, and the worsening impact of the Covid 19 crisis suggest that Calgary’s population growth will be less than expected.
The Calgary and Region Economic Outlook (Fall 2020) shows potential lower population and employment forecasts in response to the Covid 19 crisis. With the current higher caseloads, deaths, and lock-down restrictions, these forecasts will only get worse.
Calgary will not need as much new housing as the previous long-term forecasts suggest.
For any new redevelopment, an existing home and streetscape must be demolished. This is irreversible and cumulative. If redevelopment is ad hoc and random, with time the unique identity of the neighbourhoods will be eroded. With time, all our neighbourhoods will look the same.
There is no need to reduce the unique character of existing neighbourhoods until it is obvious that intensification is required to meet new demand. Random, ad hoc redevelopment should be avoided to prevent premature destruction of viable homes to make way for densification that will likely not be needed.
The City should preserve its existing homes and neighbourhoods for as long as possible.
Local Area Plan Concerns
Local Area Plan Failure
The North Hill Growth Plan has been developed over the last couple of years using the draft Guidebooks as guidance. It was reviewed at Standing Committee on Planning and Urban Design PUD February 3, 2021 meeting. Several Community Association who participated in the development were so unhappy with the outcome that the refused to endorse the Plan and strongly opposed in at the PUD meeting. In spite of public opposition, the Committee voted (7 for, 1 against) to approve the plan.
Local Area Plan LAP Creation Process
The city will be divided into 42 multi community areas. Multi-community Local Area Plans will be created to apply the policies of the Guidebook. Over the next five years, the aim is to have multi-community area plans in place for all developed Calgary.
Plan Development: 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. The Administration staff will create 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.
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.
Elboya / Britannia
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 2022.
Land Use 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.
The Britannia Caveat
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.