Hi Brentwood and Charleswood Residents
Re the Guidebook, are you confused yet?!
It would be rather surprising if you were not because there have been so many different viewpoints in the media over the past week. This is lengthy, but many of you have questions, so please read further.
For starters, is the Guidebook really a statutory document or not? Yes, it definitely is.
Page 4 states “the Guidebook is a statutory document that builds on the city-wide policies of the Municipal Development Plan….”
On Global news this week, you may have heard the Mayor quoted as saying: “It’s not a statutory plan. It’s not a law. It’s a guidebook.” https://globalnews.ca/news/7703332/calgary-community-guidebook-planning/
However, the City lead Planner for the Guidebook later confirmed that the Mayor spoke in error, and yes, the Guidebook is a statutory document.
What that does illustrate is that the Guidebook is a complex and difficult to understand and interpret correctly.
The BCA has posted some updates on our website here: https://developments.brentwoodcommunity.com/
There are many different opinions about the Guidebook. Other individuals and Community Associations have created a website called “Calgary Guidebook” and have posted materials here: http://calgaryguidebook.ca
It’s worth checking out letters from other community associations to read what they think.
A Facebook site has been also created here https://www.facebook.com/groups/1337271716651346
This is the official City of Calgary Guidebook website: http://calgary.ca/guidebook
What is the position of the BCA?
On many city-wide issues, the BCA does not usually take a position, i.e. fluoride, speed limits, or public art. Residents may have widely different opinions, and all are worth of merit. On the Guidebook, we have published many articles in the Bugle over the past year, posted information on the CA website and Facebook page, and have tried to present the information in a neutral and balanced way.
Recently a resident told me that he needs help interpreting the Guidebook. At 131 pages and with a lot of planning jargon, it is not easy to understand. The resident said he wants to understand the concerns that might exist or where to look, so we have provided a summary of our concerns on a slide deck posted on the website. http://brentwoodcommunity.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Guidebook-Summary-of-Concerns.pdf
We have heard from many of you, and we have reflected what we heard in our BCA Public Submission letter. It will be posted on the DTC site here: https://developments.brentwoodcommunity.com/
This is the official City of Calgary Guidebook website: http://calgary.ca/guidebook
Some questions that we are receiving:
Why do we need a Guidebook in the first place?
The city continues to portray the Guidebook as merely a “menu” of choices, which communities will use in the future to create a Local Area Plan (LAP) which will select from the Guidebook menu to determine where to put new density.
Sounds good. What’s the problem?
The Guidebook menu does not include a single-family-only option. The smallest menu option you can select is “Neighbourhood Local” which includes R-C1 (single family), but also duplexes, triplexes, rowhouses and townhouses.
You can certainly keep your R-C1 property, and you can certainly build a new R-C1 home, but builders / developers can also select from the same menu. They might choose a townhouse and that would be allowed since it is considered a low-density building form.
In addition, you can’t choose the smallest option for any collector roads. Collector roads are roads you likely use daily if you drive somewhere. Therefore, in our community, this will mean that Northmount, Brisebois, Charleswood, Bulyea, Capri, and 52nd Ave will likely be identified as collectors, meaning you can only choose higher density options on the menu. Once the LAP is set, the city will support development that meets the criteria.
So, won’t we be able to decide all this at the Local Area Plan Stage? Who participates in a LAP?
– It won’t be open to all residents who wish to participate; residents will have to apply to participate, and the city will select representatives to participate in the LAP development. (For example, on the pilot LAP North Hill Communities group, there were 32 members in the working group, made up of: 10 representatives from the area Community Associations/ Business Improvement Association, 3 Development Industry Representatives and 19 members from the general community. See https://engage.calgary.ca/NorthHill/WorkingGroup)
– The LAP development process will be a highly structured exercise (i.e. a community cannot just opt out of changes).
– Provisions which will be allowed in the LAP will be limited to those set out within the Guidebook framework.
If the Guidebook is approved at Council (on March 22nd), what will change in Brentwood?
- Initially, nothing at all.
- The Guidebook policies do not come into effect until a Local Area Plan also exists for a community. The city has already determined that Brentwood will be part of District 14, along with Dalhousie, Charleswood, Triwood, Collingwood, Cambrian Heights, Rosemont and Highwood.
- No date has yet been determined for the LAP for our area. Other areas have LAPs in progress.
What is the Concern around R-C1 homes?
– The lowest density ‘zoning’ recognized in the Guidebook is Neighbourhood Local which includes R-C1 (singles), R-C2(semis) and R-CG(townhomes).
– When the LAP working group is looking at a street presently zoned R-C1, under the Guidebook framework it would likely become an area identified in the LAP as being designated “Neighbourhood Local”. Since Neighbourhood Local is the lowest category, there is no other option unless you want to see it designated even higher density, commercial, etc.
This is a Guidebook illustration of “Limited Scale” in the “Neighbourhood Local” category.
– Once the LAP process is complete and the LAP is approved, any existing Area Redevelopment Plans (ARP) are repealed. Brentwood’s Station ARP would no longer be in use, instead the LAP would apply.
Could a developer build a townhouse on a current R-C1 lot?
– R-C1 only allows for a single house on the property, but any owner can apply to rezone his property.
– That possibility exists now, so the Guidebook doesn’t change that.
– The developer would have to apply to re-zone the property from R-C1 to R-CG.
– The applicant would submit a re-zoning application, at which time the LAP is referenced and the proposed use is allowed under the LAP which is now the guiding policy.
– The re-zoning application would likely be approved. Since Brentwood falls into Zone B in the Guidebook, there would be little or no basis on which to object or appeal the decision.
– Simply put, under the Guidebook framework there is no ability to create a LAP that will provide the same level of control on redevelopment that existing RC-1 zoning does.
Huh? What does this really mean?
– The Guidebook does not change your community on its own.
– The Guidebook sets the stage for a new Local Area Plan which will guides redevelopment.
– It’s a bit of a chicken and egg scenario: The Guidebook sets out all the guidelines, which then have to be followed when creating a plan for each community. The LAP for the community must follow the Guidebook.
(For example, a community cannot opt out of increased density or put it all in another community.)
- One concern is that the Guidebook is more vague or subject to interpretation that the current residential land uses, whereas R-C1 or R-C2 are simple and easy to understand. However, R-C1 is very restrictive in terms of what can be built, and the Guidebook seeks to create greater varieties of residential buildings, including up to townhouses.
- Some people think that the term “Guidebook” is misleading: Guidebook seems to be a reference or suggestion, but this Guidebook will be statutory.
How does this really work? Has this been tried?
- If you would like to see how this process would be applied, a pilot LAP was completed for the North Hill Communities group.
- The FAQs from that LAP group will provide some further insights, including what people liked and didn’t like about the outcome.
For further comments, opinions, and other CA letters, please go to www.CalgaryGuidebook.ca
This is a private website, but it is serving as the place for many CAs to post their information.
You will also find links to the Council Hearing and all of the Agenda Attachments for the meeting have been posted there as well.