What do you love about your community? Is it the trees or the shopping area? What about the low-rise buildings with pitched roofs, terraces, patios or front porches? Or is it the landscaping that makes sidewalks and pathways more walkable and inviting?
Neighbourhoods have their own “personality,” says Brent Toderian, an urban planner from Vancouver. A successful neighbourhood is distinguishable from living anywhere else. That starts with the way we build and the policies that our urban planners provide to developers for guiding infill development.
On March 22, city council will vote on The Guidebook for Great Communities, which, among other things, supports the addition of row housing throughout neighbourhoods that currently have single-detached homes and duplexes. Policies in the guidebook would be used to increase density without any particular attention to “unique” communities.
Do you appreciate new buildings that integrate well with your neighbourhood in terms of design, orientation, and exterior materials? Would you be upset if the massing and height of an infill were considerably bigger than your house? So much so that you can’t sit outside and enjoy your backyard?
The distinctive communities that exist in Calgary right now will change forever if we allow developers to build whatever they want.
Understanding What Makes Neighbourhoods Unique
Until now, Calgary’s area redevelopment plans and area structure plans have been community-specific. They contain hard-fought local recognitions that help residents have a voice with developers to tell them what they love about their neighbourhood and what they’d like to see in the future. These community-specific policies would not be retained once new local area plans are created with the guidebook.
As it’s laid out right now, the Guidebook for Great Communities’ policies will lead to homogeneous neighbourhoods and “free-range” development. Developers would be incentivized to tear down existing properties and flip them using cheap materials. Out-of-town developers often don’t even visit the neighbourhoods where they build new housing. They don’t understand what makes each neighbourhood special the way the people who live there do. City council needs to start listening to residents.
The response to bad infill development is to create guidelines for residential redevelopment. Local people should be able to create plans for their neighbourhoods that set rules for what development in their area looks like, ensuring it reflects and enhances local character and identity. Instead of developers forcing plans on locals, they should be required to adapt to local people’s needs and desires, guaranteeing that current and new residents alike will benefit from beautiful homes in well-designed neighbourhoods.
Help communities build better. Give the power back to residents to determine what happens in their neighbourhoods. With local residential policies, developers, residents and planners can work together to create great communities.
For more information, visit calgaryguidebook.ca
Take further action
Provide a written letter to submit to council by March 15:
Sign up to speak at the Public Hearing of council on March 22:
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