In the middle of a large swath of bulldozed dirt near Stoney Trail and Highway 22X are two intersecting streets lined with a handful of brand-new homes in various styles and sizes — and not much else. Yet.
This 96-hectare area is Hotchkiss, one of Calgary’s newest communities and the first phase of urban residential development east of Stoney Trail in the city’s Southeast. Surrounding it on three sides is a prairie landscape, including Ralph Klein Park to the north. To the west are the communities of Copperfield, McKenzie Towne, Mahogany, Auburn Bay and Seton, filled with amenities such as the South Health Campus, grocery stores, schools and restaurants, like Diner Deluxe and Chairman’s Steakhouse.
Named after famed Calgary business and community leader Harley Hotchkiss, the community is a partnership between Hopewell Residential and Qualico Communities Calgary. It launched last October with 11 showhomes, and its first residents will move in later this year. In seven to 10 years, Hotchkiss is expected to be finished, with 6,000-7,000 residents in 2,300 dwellings of varying types, plus a public elementary school, a fire hall and a 33-acre reconstructed wetland complex, Hotchkiss Nature Park, acting as a gathering place in the centre of it all.
If we look further ahead still, 50 to 60 years from now, Calgary’s population is estimated to double, surpassing 2 million people. In its Municipal Development Plan (MDP), the City of Calgary outlines its vision for sustainable growth and development to accommodate this future — and when it comes to community planning, the idea of “complete communities” is a top priority. A complete community is one in which Calgarians have their day-to-day activities within 15 minutes of their doorstep. “Designing communities with this consideration supports a transformation of the city — one with reduced environmental impact and stress,” reads the MDP. “Communities comprised of socially and economically mixed neighbourhoods improve the overall quality of life for residents, workers and visitors.”
Hotchkiss has been designed as a complete community, says Alan Sylvestre, general manager, community development at Hopewell Residential. Amenities and employment hubs are within a few minutes’ drive (with more to come within the community in coming years); there’s a mix of paired, laned and front-attached garage homes, as well as multi-family buildings; there are plans for public art; and there’s plenty of green space — all elements that make up a complete, and future-proof, community.
It’s not so different from many of the 218 communities that make up Calgary right now: “Future communities may not be structured that differently than some we live in today,” says Jeffry Haggett, senior planner, city and regional planning with the City of Calgary. “For instance, Acadia is over 50 years old, and, like newer communities built today, it contains a choice of housing options, places to play outdoors, community services and convenient retail.” However, in addition to being “complete,” some emerging trends will influence how communities work and are experienced in the future, Haggett says.
The first is transit accessibility, which includes expanding the City’s 5A Pathway and Bikeway Network and public transportation options — a major component of the MDP. In Hotchkiss, Shepard Station, part of the proposed Green Line LRT, will be a short drive away, and bus routes will connect residents within the community, as well as outside of it. This relates to another trend Haggett mentions: Communities will need to be designed in ways that help the City meet its goal of net zero emissions by 2050, which could include electric vehicle-charging stations and shared bikes and scooters. As well, home builders, including those in Hotchkiss, are exploring ways to make houses more energy efficient as we lead up to 2050.
Lastly, Haggett mentions the trend of considering how people will work and connect — something we’ve seen change massively in the last three years. “Over the coming years, urban planners will carefully chart if people return to offices or work remotely, and, if so, at what percentage,” says Haggett. “[They] will consider if future communities become more about collaborating, communicating and connecting with others. For example, a community could begin to offer services and spaces to meet and work.”
In Hotchkiss, the ways in which work has changed are reflected in the floorplans of Hopewell’s different home styles. In the “Rayn” paired home, for example, a home office or school work space is built into the landing of the stairwell that connects the main and second floors; and, in many of the laned and front-attached garage layouts, main-floor flex rooms offer opportunities for work-from-home setups.
Another way Hotchkiss is planning for the future is in its affordability and accessibility, says Sylvestre. Most of the floor plans are designed with a side entrance, making multi-generational living or mortgage-helper basement suites easier to implement — features that are attractive to first-time homebuyers, as well as immigrant and newcomer populations, which will continue to increase in coming years. “A lot of newcomers and immigrants, whether from outside our country or within our country, are looking for affordability and some space, as well as [to feel] like part of a community,” Sylvestre says. “We believe that having a strong community is the ultimate legacy of what [we] build.”
With many options available, from multi-residential buildings to front-garage homes, residents can remain in Hotchkiss as they progress through different life stages. “Today, someone might only be able to afford a townhome. But, in three or four years, they love the community, and they go and buy a laned home or a front-attached garage home,” says Sylvestre. “The idea is to provide lots of opportunities; it’s part of having that diversification within the community.”