2024

New Rules for Short Term Rentals

Do you operate a Short Term Rental?  If so, there are new rules that come into effect on January 1, 2024.    For complete details, see the City of Calgary website at  www.calgary.ca/STR.  Effective January 1st, if you rent out any home or portion of the home, you must have a valid Business Licence for the STR, regardless of how frequently or infrequently you rent out the unit.

How can you find out if a Short Term Rental has a valid License?  There are about 5,700 STRs in Calgary.  If they have a license, they will be on this map.  Map of Short Term Rentals | Open Calgary  If a unit is not on the map, it might be a licensed “Bed and Breakfast”, which falls under a separate category.  If it is an unregistered STR operating without a license, then complaints can be submitted to 311 (online, phone, text).

What is defined as a Short-Term Rental?
Most people are familiar with Airbnb or VRBO.  The City’s definition is “the business of providing temporary accommodation for compensation, in a dwelling unit or portion of a dwelling unit for periods of up to 30 consecutive days.”  Note that an STR may be either a full dwelling (such as renting out a whole condo or house) or a portion of a dwelling (such as a basement or a room in your condo).  Either way, new rules will apply.

Why are the new rules needed?
According to the City, these amendments aim to strike a balance between enabling the economic benefits for short-term rentals and minimizing the negative impacts on the community.  The rules are intended to:

  • Enhance safety of the STR unit
  • Reduce negative impacts on the community
  • Ensure greater accountability

What if I have a Secondary Suite?  Can I use that as a STR?

Yes, but the host must have a short term rental licence.  The Secondary Suite must be fully compliant with all the bylaws and building codes for a secondary suite, including being on the Registry.

What are the new rules?
As of January 2024, you must have a valid Business Licence for the STR.
The requirements include:

  • Licence Inspector review
  • Annual fire inspections done by Calgary Fire Department to ensure compliance with all life safety requirements
  • Proof of Insurance indicating the location is operating as a business
  • Proof of ownership of the dwelling unit or written owner consent
  • If in a condo, written proof from the condo board that Short Term Rentals are permitted

You must also include:

  • A floor plan of the dwelling unit or portion of the dwelling unit offered, including:
  • Dimensions of the rooms
  • All rooms for rent, including all rooms offered as bedrooms or available for the purpose of sleeping (living rooms with a fold out couch for example)
  • Location of all smoke alarms and fire extinguishers
  • Location of fire exits

In addition, the following regulations apply:

  • Maximum number of guests (no more than 2 adults per room)
  • Overlapping bookings (the host cannot rent out separate rooms to separate guests under separate reservations)
  • Advertising (the host must include the business license number in any advertising for the STR)
  • Emergency contact information must be available
  • A guest record must be kept for each transaction

What if a host does not comply with the bylaws? Are there fines for non-compliance?

The City’s approach is to achieve voluntary compliance for bylaws whenever possible. Failing to abide by the regulations can result in a $1,000 fine for each offense upon conviction.

If you rent out your home or part of your home, it’s up to you to get a license and learn the rules.  The City website also has a Good Host Guide and a Good Guest Guide to provide knowledge on best practices.  If you are a neighbour being impacted by an STR nearby, complaints should be submitted to 311 (online, phone, text).

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  We meet at 7:00 p.m. on the first Monday of every month in the Sportsplex Boardroom.  Contact the BCA for more information at office@brentwoodcommunity.com or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

On behalf of the Development and Transportation Committee

Will “Upzoning” Work to Make Housing More Affordable?

Mark April 22, 2024 on your calendar.  This is the day City Council will start a Public Hearing where they propose “blanket rezoning”, probably Calgary’s most significant zoning change ever.  If approved, all single-detached housing properties (currently zoned R-C1) could be redeveloped as townhouses (R-CG zoning).  Potentially, the house next to you could be torn down and replaced with a 4-unit townhouse with 4 additional secondary suites (8 housing units in total).  Affected neighbours would not be able to oppose or appeal such a redevelopment if it complies with other bylaw requirements.

Housing purchase and rental costs have soared compared to the inflated costs of other necessities, while wages have not kept up.  Many people struggle to make ends meet and housing is commonly their largest monthly expense.  How did we arrive at this point?  Clearly, some market-driven issues have increased demand, including population growth in Calgary.  Added to this are increased borrowing and mortgage costs, higher costs of groceries, insurance, utilities and so on.  Renters have to compete to find a home, while potential buyers have to compete with investors, developers and Short Term Rentals, additionally reducing the affordable housing supply.

Is housing affordability solely a supply-and-demand issue, as some industrial and governmental voices suggest, or are other factors at play?  Effectively, the voices supporting a market-only solution suggest that additional housing units of any kind, at any price point, will have a trickle-down effect, reducing prices and making housing more affordable. Such an approach is advocated by our Civic and Federal governments who have provided the housing industry with reductions in approval timelines and taxes without requiring the housing industry or rental property managers to achieve any housing affordability performance measures. The houses being built are not necessarily “affordable”.

While such housing demand and inflationary financial pressures are real, two questions should be asked:

  1. Are single-family homes really the main problem such that “upzoning” and densification will make Calgary more affordable.
  2. Is an increased supply of housing likely to make Calgary housing more affordable independent of the price of new housing units that become available?

To answer the first question, densification alone does not automatically equal affordability. Not everything trickles down into an “affordable” or lower sales price and rent.  If we needed “just” to build more houses, then there should be solid historical data that increasing housing supply drives down prices, even in the face of increasing demand, making housing more affordable for those with the greatest affordability needs.  That doesn’t seem to be the case: individual townhouse unit prices are often about the sale price of the entire previous older house and property that was replaced.

As for increasing the supply of housing, yes, almost everyone agrees more housing needs to be built.  However, blanket upzoning of existing R-C1 homes assumes that those are some of the only possible places to build more. Little heed is placed on all the other “brownfield” properties in the City that have been promoted as desirable building locations.  For example, the new arena deal advocates for all the increased residential buildings that will be built in Victoria Park. Another example is the large Westgate LRT area which has been vacant for many years. The redevelopment at Northland Mall is a good example of higher-intensity use of existing lands.  There are many areas of the city with empty or under-utilized lots, where building could start without first removing existing homes – homes that in many cases are the affordable or lower cost homes.

What if blanket upzoning actually serves to increase the price of houses in existing developed communities?  Older houses that are cheaper to rent or buy (sometimes referred to as “NOAH” – naturally occurring affordable housing) are usually the first ones to be replaced by new and more expensive units, further decreasing affordability within any area. Potential community residents who want to buy a family home have to compete against developers to make a purchase. Developers seeking to build an 8-unit building have more leeway on what they can afford to pay for the property because they can divide the lot cost by multiple units. Speculation means that land values may go up in an area, not down.  Developers make their money through building, so their best interests are served by building what is most profitable, and it is unlikely to be a low-cost affordable dwelling.  Building larger, higher end units (with items such as granite countertops and expensive finishes) doesn’t help those seeking affordability.

R-CGs bring substantial other changes because they can cover 60% of a property (compared to 45% for R-C1):  in most cases, mature trees are ripped out and there is little room to ever plant any new trees. Green spaces and vegetation should not be considered mere niceties, they are necessities!  Shading and massing are also concerns because R-CGs can be 3 storeys tall.  Given the many bungalows in Brentwood, the increased height difference can be quite jarring.

We urge you to inform yourself about this issue.  Read and learn more. The web links below provide some recent articles and opinions.  You can express your opinions either by attending and speaking at the Public Hearings April 22, 2024, or by writing to the Mayor and City Councillors prior to the Hearings.

The following are some recent opinions by others.  Please read and learn more.

  • A group called “Better Infill” in Edmonton has posted numerous articles about blanket rezoning on its website. This is worth a look:  https://www.betterinfill.ca/learn-more
  • Patrick Condon – “Density, Affordability, & The ‘Hungry Dogs’ of Land Price Speculation”

Condon, a UBC professor, articulates how “increasing density without affordability only further inflates urban land values to the benefit of speculators, resulting in nearly all of the value of individual labour and creative enterprise of entrepreneurs in regional economies to be absorbed as land wealth”. Patrick Condon: Density, Affordability, & The ‘Hungry Dogs’ of Land Price Speculation | The Planning Report

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

Development and Transportation Committee

What do Blanket Zoning changes mean to you? 

Calgary City Council is going to vote on “blanket rezoning” in April and if approved, that will allow for rowhouses and multifamily development on all properties previously zoned as R-C1 – single-family housing.  This is a very significant change because it includes not only potentially 8 units next door (4 units plus 4 suites) but also because it allows for much greater lot coverage (leaving less green space or trees) and greater building height (more shadowing or overlooking).  It’s difficult to balance increased densification within a community while still preserving some of the sense of community and the aspects residents enjoy most.  Many of our residents tell us, “I bought R-1 for a reason” so let’s take a look at what zoning means in the first place.

Why do we need zoning? 

Imagine you live on an acreage where your nearest neighbour is a full kilometre away.  Both of you are unlikely to impact the other through your activities.  Regardless of whether you raise chickens, use power tools, sing or yodel, the neighbour won’t hear you or be affected by what you do.  Similarly, the size and shape of your home are unlikely to impact the neighbour.  You could build an expansive house, 3 storeys tall, with windows all around, and there won’t be a negative impact from massing, shadowing, or loss of privacy.

But in the city, those aspects definitely matter because when people live closer together, the desires and interests of one person may not align with others around them.  Some basic regulations are needed to try to minimize potential areas of conflict.  These fall into 3 broad categories:  Bylaws, Building Codes and the Land Use Bylaw (zoning).

Bylaws regulate behaviours.  Noise levels, garbage, smoking, etc. have rules around how they are handled. Different opinions come into play.  You may find bagpipes charming or they may drive you crazy and the same with things like outside stereos/TVs or a dog barking.  Different people have different tolerance levels, but the hope is that neighbours will co-operate with one another in order to live harmoniously.  If necessary, bylaws provide some basic rules and enforcement.

Building Codes usually fall under Provincial jurisdiction.  They specify how construction is to happen – the size of beams or walls, the type of cement, wiring regulations, and so on, with the goal of ensuring safety and standardization for construction.  Building codes do not regulate where something can be built, just how it should be built.  It is the City of Calgary Land Use Bylaw (LUB) which regulates the use (i.e. residential, retail, commercial) and the intensity (i.e. the maximum height, the number of housing units) of development that can be constructed on any particular property in the city.

Zoning is an important stabilizing influence in a city.  It provides certainty for what can or cannot be built next door to you.  Historically, zoning separated housing from other less desirable activities, for example, to ensure that you wouldn’t have a blacksmith or a pig farm next door to you.  While blacksmithing activities aren’t a big concern anymore, we still use zoning to delineate properties and uses.  Some areas of the community have high rises, some have shopping malls or commercial stores, while others have single-family houses.  Over time, some people may wish to change what can be built on a property, and the owner of a property does have the right to apply for a change of zoning.

Changing the zoning is a serious matter as it will affect the use of that parcel of land long into the future.  Therefore, one of the main considerations in evaluating a rezoning application is the impact on adjacent properties.  The Community Association, neighbours to a site, and other affected people have an enshrined right to weigh in before a decision is made. The Municipal Governance Act (MGA), the Municipal Development Plan (MDP) and the City’s Engage policy all include public input and feedback on any decision that will impact them.

Rezoning requires a Council Hearing and it usually happens on a case-by-case basis:  the merits of rezoning a property are discussed and debated.  A “blanket” rezoning is rare because it covers many properties and residents at once.  The current proposed rezoning impacts 500,000 households, which will see changes to what is allowed on their property and the properties around them.    Most people are not against changes over time in their community.  They are however, concerned about balancing the sometimes competing interests of densification with the reality of losing trees and greenspace, being over-shadowed by a much larger building, loss of parking and most of all, losing the sense of security that zoning provided to them.  It can be a difficult challenge for the City and for residents.

Rezoning is not some abstract concept.  It is a foundation of your neighbourhood where you have built your home and your life.  I’ll end with a quote:  “the people who live in a neighborhood are the world’s experts on that particular place. Any project to improve things should be guided by the community’s wisdom, not the dictates of professional disciplines. This is the most important lesson about making great neighborhoods we have learned in 30 years of work.” (Source:  Project for Public Spaces)

Get involved.  Read and learn more. Write to the Mayor and councillors. Plan to speak at Council on April 22, 2024.  Provide your feedback to your Community Association.  Recognize that you are the expert in your community!

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

Development and Transportation Committee

2023

Happy Birthday, Brentwood Community Association! 

Happy New Year to all Brentwood residents, and Happy Birthday to the Brentwood Community Association (BCA) as well!  In the early 1960s, development started on what is now Brentwood, and in 1963, the BCA was officially registered.  As we celebrate 60 years, it is interesting to take a look back.

Worldwide, 1963 was the year John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Martin Luther King delivered his “I have a dream” speech, and Lester Pearson become the Canadian Prime Minister.  Audio cassettes were introduced, and you might have listened to “It’s My Party” or “Be My Baby”.  If you invited guests, maybe you served fondues or gelatin salads.  Perhaps you crocheted a “granny square” vest or afghan, or you tie-dyed a t-shirt.

How did communities like Brentwood develop in the 1960s?  (The source for the following is Economic Research Department, Economics and Statistics Division, Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation; Ottawa, 1964.  Data is for Canada as a whole, not specific to Brentwood.)

The average family income was $6,179, with the average cost of the house purchased at $15,229.  In 1963, 31.0 per cent of families had three or more children.  In 1963, the average house size was 1204 square feet. Bungalows comprised 72 per cent of the 1963 total, with two-storey houses representing 7 per cent and split-level houses about 20 per cent.  Lucky new home buyers could choose avocado green or harvest gold appliances, along with shag rugs (which needed to be raked!).  Kitchens had a stove and fridge, but dishwashers or microwaves were not yet common.

Today, Brentwood still retains many of the original bungalow buildings, although some are starting to be torn down and replaced.  Buyers today favour higher ceilings, more wired-in technology options, more energy-efficient windows and insulation, and much more square footage. In the 1960s, many of the original homes in Brentwood were built with a single-car garage, but now the trend is towards double and sometimes even triple-car garages.

Over time, the community evolves and changes as lifestyles and the families occupying the homes in an area change.  According to the City of Calgary Community Profiles, today the average household size in Brentwood is 2.3 people:  households with 2 people comprise 36% of the total, 1 person are 31% of the total, and only about 33% have 3 or more persons living in the household.  If we compare back to 1963 when 31% of families had 3 or more children (and likely 2 parents in the home), today the percentage is only about 6%.

There are a total of 2,865 occupied private dwellings in Brentwood, and for redevelopment purposes, the City keeps track of the age of the dwellings.  The older the dwelling, the more likely it is to be replaced, which is why in some neighbourhoods, once buildings are 50-60 years old, you start seeing tear-downs and rebuilding.  In Brentwood, 63% of our buildings were built between 1961 to 1980, with only 26% built since 1980.  (For comparison, city-wide, the figure is 61%, which reflects the many new subdivisions and communities.)

In Brentwood, 67% of dwellings are either single-detached homes or duplexes, with about 32% rowhouses or apartments.  While Calgarians appear to show a preference for single-detached properties, townhouses and condos are being built in increasing numbers.  In the past few years, the Guidebook for Great Communities was proposed but ultimately became just the “Guide”, a reference for planning purposes.

The challenge for communities is how to adapt and change with the times, yet retain some of the desirable features of that community.  Brentwood has been voted the #1 community by readers of Avenue magazine several times, in part because of the many features we have.  We have schools ranging from Kindergarten to High School, both Public and Separate, several churches, shopping at Northland, Brentwood, Dalbrent and Northland Plaza shopping malls.  We have a pool and fitness center, an arena and the fabulous Nose Hill Library!  We have pathways and parks, plus of course Nose Hill park, and we are close to the University of Calgary and the Foothills hospital medical campus.  Happy Birthday, Brentwood, you’ve grown into a terrific community!

Another crucial element that makes Brentwood great is resident involvement and volunteers.  Maybe this is the year that you decide to join your community association or to get involved with one of the committees.  There will be birthday events throughout 2023 so keep checking the website and come out to some of the events.  We’d love to see you there.

(For thoses interested in a closer look at Brentwood over the years, maps of Calgary from the early 1900s to present can be viewed online at Calgary Imagery on the City of Calgary website:   https://maps.calgary.ca/.  Use the drop down tab to select “orthophoto by year”.  See how Brentwood changed from year to year starting in 1963, plus the years prior to any development north of Nose Hill, and so on. Worth a look!

Another terrific resource for local context is a book called “Expansive Discourses:  Urban Sprawl in Calgary 1945 – 1978” by Max Foran.  Worth reading is a very interesting account of how Nose Hill was saved from development.)

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

On behalf of the Development and Transportation Committee

What Will Brentwood Look Like in the Next 60 Years?

Last month’s column looked back at the first 60 years since the Brentwood Community Association (BCA) was formed.  What will Brentwood look like 60 years from now?  Most of us probably won’t be around to see it then, and we can’t really imagine how it might look, just as we couldn’t have predicted some of the changes we have already seen.  Take houses, for example:  none of the original Brentwood houses were wired in for computers or multiple (colour!) TV sets, and phones were land lines, not cell phones.  Houses are being redeveloped into more open layouts, more square footage, and double garages instead of singles.  Those things changed over time in response to technology and consumer preferences or demand.

In the 1960s, there was no LRT, so there were no high rise buildings around a Transit Oriented Development.  Overpass interchanges were subsequently built at Charleswood and Brisebois to accommodate the LRT tracks running up Crowchild Trail.  Northland Mall has undergone numerous changes, and continues to evolve and change.  We experience all those changes around us, but they happen gradually so we barely notice the impact they make on our lives.

However, sometimes the changes can have a more immediate and direct impact on us, such as in proposed changes to the Land Use Bylaws which would allow for more building types, such as townhouses or multi-plex buildings.  You can see examples of new building types by driving along 19 Street between Confederation Park and 16th Avenue:  what were once “single family” homes are being replaced by townhouses (some with basement suites) or other multi-unit buildings.

Why are these housing forms being built?  Why does a community have to change?  One factor is that family sizes have decreased since the 1960s.  New families moving in tend to have fewer children which would lead to a decline in the community population over time.  Another factor is the type of dwelling unit:  people who are single or widowed, or who are empty-nesters may wish to downsize or look for a different type of home.  In addition, ideas around “sprawl” (the footprint of the city), density, environmental issues and transportation options have changed over time.

Above all those aspects, there are two overall plans that provide policy and direction to guide decision-making in Calgary:  the Municipal Development Plan (MDP) and the Calgary Transportation Plan (CTP).  In 2009, the City of Calgary approved a new MDP which set a very ambitious target that 50% of all population growth from 2009 until 2069 would be in older established communities called the Developed Area.  The City has set a mid-term target of about 33% of the cumulative population growth by 2039 to happen in established communities.

All of those factors set the stage for future changes.  The challenge for communities is how to adapt and change with the times, yet retain some of the desirable features of our community.  The missing piece is you, the residents.  The community has and will change, with or without your involvement and input.

If you think that your voice doesn’t matter, then realize that silence is taken as agreement.  If you don’t provide your opinions, then realize that others will gladly step in, including developers, investors and City Planning, and their visions may not align with yours.

How to start?  By learning as much as you can about the development process so that when there is a proposed change, you have a solid understanding and background.  Start at www.calgary.ca and look up some of the following:

  1. Subscribe to updates from the Planning Department. Enter “dispatch” into the search bar, then sign up on the link.  This will keep you informed about planning matters or changes.
  2. Look up the MDP or Local Area Plans by typing those keywords into the search. This will provide some background into the documents that are guiding redevelopment in other communities.
  3. Planning & Development resource library has links for Planning Policies and other resources. A great starting point:   https://www.calgary.ca/planning/publications.html
  4. At the top of the page, go to “Engage” to see City-wide projects which are open for input.

Please consider joining your Community Association.  It’s important for the BCA to represent as many residents as possible.  It’s very difficult to represent everyone if we can’t easily communicate with you.  Memberships are sold on a calendar year from May 1 to April 30.  Membership fees are $12.50 per individual adult, $25.00 per senior couple and $35.00 per family.  Contact the BCA at 403 – 284-3477, email to office@brentwoodcommunity.com, or go to www.brentwoodcommunity.com to sign up and find out more about how your membership helps our community.

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  We meet at 7:00 p.m. on the first Monday of every month in the Sportsplex Boardroom.  Contact the BCA for more information at office@brentwoodcommunity.com or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

On behalf of the Development and Transportation Committee

There’s a Development Permit Next Door, What Happens Next?

Imagine you come home one day to find a City of Calgary sign board on the neighbour’s front lawn. The sign has information about a Development Permit (DP) or a Land Use Change (LOC) proposed for the property.  What does this mean and what happens next?

If there is a sign board on the property, that means that the project required a DP because the scope of the work posed a significant change to the property or was outside of the standard rules established for that district.  (Check with the City if you are unsure about whether or not you require a permit.  For example, you can paint or make minor alterations without a permit, but electrical or gas line work likely will require a permit.  You can find a complete list of items that require a DP under the Land Use Bylaw, Section 25.  Type in “LUB1P2007” into a search engine to get a fully interactive guide.)

There are three main steps in the DP process.
1.  Application Submitted
This phase includes an initial review by City Planning staff.

  1. Under Review
    Once a DP is under review, a file manager has been assigned and there will be “Notice Posting” (sign boards) for one week at the property site. This is also when the Community Association (CA) will be circulated.  The BCA receives an electronic version of the plans for purposes of review.
    In 2018, the BCA Development and Transportation Committee started writing up and hand-delivering a Neighbour Notification (NN) to adjacent homes so that residents knew who to contact for more information. Typically, we circulate a friendly letter to 2 homes on either side, and several homes across the street or alley.
    For feedback, what types of comments are allowable? They have to be planning related:  they have to focus on the “use”, not the “user”.  For example, you may comment on window placement, shadowing or massing but you cannot comment on potential tenants or how the property may be used.
    When the BCA receives comments on a proposal, we include those comments in our reviews.  We look at the relevant planning regulations such as height, lot coverage or setbacks but we also consider aspects such as window placement, air conditioner locations (noise impact on neighbours), and trees and landscaping.  It helps us with a review if we get comments from neighbours.  For example, sometimes neighbours may wish to have some trees retained or new ones planted, and even though this may not be mandated in the Land Use Bylaw, we can include these comments for review by City Planners.  In another case, a neighbour asked for a tree to be removed because it was straddling the property line and had grown too large for the site.  That kind of feedback is relevant for the file manager who ultimately reviews the application.
  2. Decision Outcome
    Once a Decision is made, there is an “Advertising and Appeal Period” of 21 days. If there are objections to the approved DP, affected parties must file an appeal with the Subdivision and Appeal Board (SDAB) within 21 days.  If there is no appeal, there will be some Prior to Release Conditions and finally, the Permit Release.

If you do see a DP in your area, even if it doesn’t impact you directly, you can also look up information on the DMap at www.dmap.calgary.ca.  In the past year, the City has started posting drawings or plans on this website and it’s interesting to see what is proposed for a site.

In Brentwood and Charleswood we are seeing a lot of change and renewal.  City policies dictate the planning process and our voices are but one aspect of any review.  Fundamentally what we do on behalf of the Development and Transportation Committee of the BCA is try to make sure that people have as much information as possible about what is happening, and also clear information about how to participate in the planning process.

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  We meet at 7:00 p.m. on the first Monday of every month in the Sportsplex Boardroom.  Contact the BCA for more information at office@brentwoodcommunity.com or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

On behalf of the BCA Development and Transportation Committee

Who was Jane Jacobs?  What are “Jane’s Walks”?

In 1961, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” by Jane Jacobs was published.  That’s about the same time that the community of Brentwood was just being planned, and 2 years before the Brentwood Community Association was established.  Yet even now, 62 years after first being published, that book is still relevant.
Planetizen (a public-interest website for urban planning, design, and development) lists Jacobs’ book as one of the “Top 20 All-Time Urban Planning Books Every Planner Should Read”, and The New York Times has written that this book is, “Perhaps the most influential single work in the history of town planning.”   

So who was Jane Jacobs?

Jane was an urban activist and writer (1916 – 2006).  She revolutionized the urban planning profession through her observations and writings about how cities function.  She spent a lot of her time observing people, interactions and neighbourhoods and coined the phrases “eyes on the street” and the “ballet of the sidewalk”.

Eyes on the street meant that everyone felt safe because the presence of a crowd protected everyone.  The intricate “ballet” meant that many different people interact in many different ways, but somehow some together in an orderly whole.  Jane had the ability to see a neighbourhood in a practical and different way from what was common at the time.

The amazing aspect of Jane’s influence was that she initially did not have any formal training in planning and yet became an effective, well-known spokesperson for communities.  In New York, Jacobs organized successful community battles against powerful opposition, and in Toronto she helped prevent the construction of an expressway that would have divided several neighborhoods in Toronto.

What are Jane’s Walks and why are they held?

Jane’s Walks are free neighbourhood walking tours lead by volunteers who are passionate about their communities.  The Walks take place in Calgary and around the world in May as a means of remembering Jane Jacobs and her legacy by connecting to our own neighbourhood and seeing things in a new or different light.

When / What / Where?
In 2023, the Walks will be held from Friday, May 5 to Sunday, May 7, at varying times on each of the three days.  Check the website https://janeswalk.calgarycommunities.com/join-a-walk/
Under the “Join a Walk” heading, you can search for walks by location, date, time of day, theme, accessibility and quadrant of the City.  You don’t have to sign up; just show up at the start location and time.

The Walks tend to be small groups, so there is a chance for conversations and questions.  Jane’s Walks are a great chance to tour a new neighbourhood or area that you’re not familiar with, or to gain a new perspective on your own area.  Past Walks have featured walks on Nose Hill, a downtown public art walk, a tour of Chinatown, historical tours and so on.  The volunteer tour leaders have a wide range of interests and backgrounds, but all are passionate about the tours that they lead!

In Brentwood, there will be a tour starting from the BCA building, stopping at Nose Hill Library, then taking a look at the changes happening at Northland Mall, and then returning to the Northland Plaza mall (Royal Bank area), where the original proposal was far different from what is there today.  Interested?  Check out the website above and also the BCA website at www.brentwoodcommunity.com for more details.

If you’d like to learn more, check out some books about Jane Jacobs from Calgary Public Library.  There is even a version for kids:  “Walking in the City With Jane:  A Story of Jane Jacobs” by Susan Hughes (2018).  Or if you prefer a DVD, check out “Citizen Jane: Battle for the City” (2017).

Jane’s Walks are an interesting way to learn more about your city, so join in on a walk … or two … or three!

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  We meet at 7:00 p.m. on the first Monday of every month in the Sportsplex Boardroom.  Contact the BCA for more information at office@brentwoodcommunity.com or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

On behalf of the BCA Development and Transportation Committee

Housing and Affordability Task Force Recommendations

At the June 6th City Council meeting, the Housing and Affordability Task Force presented 6 recommendations.  After a vote, the Motion was defeated by a 7 (in favour) to 8 (against) vote.  The following day, on June 7, there was a reconsideration of the vote along with further amendments and the Motion was carried (approved).  If this sounds confusing, it was.

You may be wondering how anyone could have initially voted against affordability measures:  as the saying goes, the devil is in the details.  What may seem simple, has complicated details that are likely not so straight-forward.
Details on the Task Force:  https://engage.calgary.ca/HATaskForce

On that same website page, on the right side, under Document Library, there is a link to the Recommendations.  This is a 10 page detailed document and you need to read it to form your own opinion.  PowerPoint Presentation (hdp-ca-prod-app-cgy-engage-files.s3.ca-central-1.amazonaws.com)

What were the 6 recommendations?
1.  Make it easier to build housing across the city.

  1. Make more land available to build more housing across the city.
  2. Ensure that the supply of affordable housing meets the needs of Indigenous people living in Calgary and Equity-Deserving populations.
  3. Convene the housing sector to facilitate greater collaboration.
  4. Increase the investment to support housing providers.
  5. Ensure more individuals have a safe place to call home.

Most people would be supportive of ensuring these goals in general.  So how does the Task Force propose that these goals can be achieved?  Let’s look at some of the details in #1 – “Make it easier to build housing across the city”.  Some of the proposals include:

  • Make the base residential district Residential – Grade-Oriented (R-CG) with guidance for single, semi-detached, row and townhouses into a single land use district. (R-CG allows primarily for townhouse or rowhouse building forms that face the street with a front door access; 4 units plus secondary suites could fit “sideways” on an existing R-C1 lot.)
  • Enable secondary suites and backyard suites on one parcel of land.
  • Remove minimum parking requirements in all residential districts.
  • Advocate to the Government of Alberta for legislative change to the Municipal Government Act to allow affordable housing to be defined in a manner that exempts it from certain planning process requirements such as public hearing, which increases certainty and reduces timelines for developers and providers.

If these sound like very major proposed changes, they are.  Please read the 10 page summary document with the details at the link above.  It is those details that matter.  The alternative is a “why didn’t I know about this?” response later or a surprise when there is an application for a rezoning next door to you.  Opinions will likely be divided and only you can determine if you think these measures will be beneficial or if they will impact you negatively.  Councillors will be voting on this and they need to know what you think.

While many of the proposals are intended for redevelopment in Established Areas such as Brentwood, some recommendations would impact new communities as well.  For example, under #5 – “Increase the investment to support housing providers”, there are potential changes to the MR, Municipal Reserve.

The City currently acquires open space lands (such as local and community parks) primarily through the 10% Municipal Reserve dedication as part of the subdivision process, and through direct purchase on an opportunity basis. Would you be supportive of reducing the 10% figure “to dedicate a portion of the Municipal Reserve for the purpose of establishing land banks in all new communities for Affordable Housing (for example: 1/5 of the overall 10% dedication)?

A central question: do you think these recommendations will have the desired effect of increasing affordable housing options in Calgary?  Do you think that building more intensely on existing R-C1 lots (i.e. building a townhouse / rowhouse or adding secondary suites) will make more housing available at a lower cost?  Or do you think that building should be focused on many of the larger existing brownfield areas (such as Westbrook LRT area, Victoria Park, Midfield Park, Stadium Shopping Centre, etc.)?

Housing has changed a great deal since the 1960s since Brentwood was developed and we’re now seeing the effects of the financialization of housing.  Houses are often viewed as commodities that can generate a large return on investment and as a means of accumulating wealth:  they have become attractive for reasons other than just as a place to live long-term or to raise a family.  Prices are climbing while affordability is plunging, leaving many people looking for solutions.

The Task Force made its recommendations, but unfortunately, Community Associations and “regular” citizens were not part of the discussions.  If this concerns you, please learn more and get involved.  Attend a Brentwood CA meeting in September, attend the Annual General Meeting in September and join your Community Association.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

On behalf of the Development and Transportation Committee

How are Short-Term Rentals Impacting Housing Markets?

Once you start looking at City planning and development issues in Calgary, it’s almost impossible not to look at other areas through the same lens when travelling.  This summer, for me that involved several weeks of “house sitting” for someone on Vancouver Island, plus travelling along the Sunshine Coast and through BC.  Other areas have the same growing pains as Calgary does, especially in terms of housing availability and affordability.

One topic that came up frequently was Airbnb and its impact on local housing markets. (Note: Airbnb is just one platform for what are more broadly known as Short-Term Rentals (STRs).  In Calgary, a Short Term Rental is defined as “the business of providing temporary accommodation for compensation, in a dwelling unit or portion of a dwelling unit for periods of up to 30 consecutive days.”  Short-term rentals and lodging houses (calgary.ca)  Because Airbnb is so widely known, this article references Airbnb but in general, it also includes other STRs.)

As an example, consider Gibsons, a small town of about 4,700 that some of you may know from the old CBC series “The Beachcombers”.  I spoke to a hotel owner there and asked if Airbnb had impacted their business.  Without any hesitation, she replied that the hotel was still busy, but Airbnb had “ruined it” for staff and residents looking for accommodations.  A quick search of Airbnb turned up 189 places available in the Gibsons area.  For Gibsons, Statistics Canada shows about 2,285 housing units in total with 25% rented households or 570 rental units.  Out of a total of 570 units, the number of Airbnb units is not insignificant because those units are not available for people looking to actually live in the community, not just vacation there.

It’s important to consider different categories of Airbnb.  Airbnb was founded in 2008 and was originally intended as a means for people to rent out a spare room(s) in their own home.  The homeowner would still live in the house, but could rent out space during times when he was either away or maybe just during some peak season (i.e. renting out a room during Stampede or the Grey Cup).  It was a “home-sharing” platform rather than a means of renting out entire dwelling units.

The Internet provided a way for Airbnb to act as a broker to create a widespread booking network:  the internet made it possible for STRs to exist on a large scale because anyone can book a unit from anywhere in the world.  What changed is that instead of a homeowner renting out a rooms or rooms during periods when he didn’t need the space, some property owners decided to just rent the units on a short-term basis year round.  What this did is remove a unit from the potential pool of long-term rental units (for people looking for a home) and turned them into STRs (for people looking for a vacation unit).  That didn’t raise many concerns until it became widespread and suddenly cities or towns realized that there were few rental units available for residents or staff who actually need to live there.

It’s not hard to see the appeal of Airbnb.  For travellers staying for days or weeks in one location, they likely want a kitchen and maybe laundry facilities.  Airbnb used to be a much cheaper option than hotels, although lately cleaning and other added-on fees have raised the rates.  Airbnb units might be in neighbourhoods where there are few hotels, and they may provide a more “local” experience, plus originally, the host was likely present and may have provided local insights.  Property owners may choose Airbnb or STRs because they can charge much higher rates if renting out a unit on a daily basis, rather than year-round.

On the flip side, there have been criticisms of Airbnb, including some well-publicized incidents of non-compliance with local bylaws, misleading representation of rooms for rent, hidden cameras, and so on.  (See Fairbnb.ca, a not-for-profit organization that “supports efforts to ensure STR regulations in Canada protect housing security”.)  Airbnb has been the subject of criticism for enabling an increase in home rents and causing a decrease in the number of rental units available.  Communities like Banff and Jasper have found it difficult to attract staff because they can’t find a place to live, yet at the same time, tourists can select from hundreds of STR units.  (See “Ricochet” articles, including “How Airbnb and short-term rentals have decimated housing in Canada” and “Jasper, Alberta has hundreds of Airbnbs, but not a single place to live”.  Jasper, Alberta has hundreds of Airbnbs, but not a single place to live | Ricochet)

For detailed studies and articles, read the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) study, entitled “The Impact of Short-term Rentals on Canadian Housing”.  The CMHC study found that “approximately 31,000 homes have been taken off the long-term market in Canada thanks to STRs. This number is comparable to all vacant and available rental housing in some locations.” The Impact of Short-term Rentals on Canadian Housing | CMHC (cmhc-schl.gc.ca)

The CMHC project used data collection and analysis to investigate the effects of short-term rentals in Canada.  The 3 key findings were:

  1. Short-term rentals have been a major cause of housing financialization in Canada, providing revenue outside of traditional rentals.
  2. The majority of short-term rentals are owned by large-scale commercial operators, and not by private individuals.
  3. The financial incentives of short-term rentals place pressure on housing, leading to long-term rentals being converted into short-term ones.

In Calgary, City Council approved changes to the Business Licence Bylaw to require a business licence and regulations for short term rental (STR) hosts in Calgary that will come into effect on January 1, 2024.  Details are available at Short-term rentals and lodging houses (calgary.ca).

To be clear, STRs are not the only cause of housing shortages or affordability challenges, but it seems apparent that they play a significant role.  Many cities are trying to come up with solutions, for example, limiting STRs to 90 days / year or charging additional taxes on STRs.  Like many aspects of city planning, there are no easy solutions, but the first step is to at least gather accurate information and data.  The CMHC study in particular does a good job of investigating the existing situation so it’s worth taking a look at the study.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

On behalf of the Development and Transportation Committee

The Role of the DTC on Community Issues

I am constantly amazed by all the volunteers who contribute so much of their time and efforts to the Brentwood Community Association (BCA):  everything from Hockey to Gardening to Bugle proof-reading and much more!  I’ve met so many of the nicest people, not only other Board members and volunteers, but also many other Brentwood residents.  Often this contact is initiated due to a Development Permit (DP) or some other problem or complaint.

We sometimes get asked what the role of our Community Association is regarding planning matters.  In Calgary, Community Associations are considered to be “directly affected” by community planning matters and are therefore entitled to have notice from, and to be heard by, decision makers.  In Brentwood, the Development and Transportation Committee (DTC) receives and comments on planning matters, collects feedback from residents or affected parties, and communicates with the City of Calgary.

Essentially, the DTC represents our community and tries to help residents who have a problem or concern.  We have taken development cases to the SDAB (Subdivision Development and Appeal Board) and attended Council meetings to provide our feedback.  Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we don’t.  It can be both discouraging and frustrating when we cannot help a resident who has valid concerns that lie outside of our scope.  Two recent situations come to mind.

In one case, there were significant changes to a Development Permit (DP) after it was circulated to neighbours and the CA.  Second-storey windows were installed where there had been no windows on the initial submitted plans.  This illustrates a flaw in the DP process:  only the initial plans for a new house or addition are circulated, meaning that neighbours and the CA can comment on them.  However, if the applicant makes subsequent changes (like adding new windows), there is no easy way for anyone to know about this.  During construction, if all of a sudden new windows are installed, at this point it is past the deadline to appeal or to have changes made to the plans. (Note:  It is possible to file a request through Property Research, although this requires submitting a form and arranging a time for viewing the plans.)
We have discussed this with the City Planning Department and they recognize that this sometimes happens.  The goal is to eventually post updated information on the website (www.DMap.ca) but that may still take some time, plus a budget for this kind of work.  This is not much consolation for anyone who could not have commented on windows that were not there initially!

In several recent cases, there have been DPs for new houses that are replacing existing smaller houses, with the new houses being several times larger (much higher, closer to the setbacks, much larger building footprints).  When a three-storey building is proposed for next to a bungalow, the discrepancy can be startling:  some have been referred to as “monster houses”.  A common question is whether that is really allowed. In most cases that we have seen, yes, because although the plans for the new houses may extend to the maximum allowable limits of what the Land Use Bylaw (LUB) allows, they often do not exceed the limits.  Some of the feedback we have received include comments about the height, suitability for the area, the lack of sensitivity to neighbouring properties in terms of shadowing or massing, and so on.  Residents express disappointment when most of the existing trees will be cut down and when much of the property will be covered with cement, walkways and garages.  Residents have also commented that in an era of climate change and environmental concerns, building very large homes and cutting down trees in favour of air conditioners seems out of touch.  Ultimately though, every homeowner has the right to develop a property within the “rules” of the Land Use Bylaw, even if that means a house that is much larger than adjacent homes.

As far as Planning rationale, there are provisions in the LUB, the Municipal Development Plan and other Guidelines for Infill Development that state that redevelopment should be contextual or sensitive to the area, but since beauty is in the eye of the beholder, that can be difficult to quantify or prove.  Two recent cases (one in Varsity, one in Charleswood) were taken to the SDAB, but in both cases, the DP was allowed to proceed unaltered.  Neighbours opposing the proposed building could not prove that their use and enjoyment of their own property would be negatively impacted by the planned building next door.

Unfortunately, sometimes matters like this lie outside of the scope of the BCA.  We try our best to represent our community and we do want to hear from you so that your comments can be included in our reviews and feedback to the City.

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  We meet at 7:00 p.m. on the first Monday of every month in the Sportsplex Boardroom.  Contact the BCA for more information at office@brentwoodcommunity.com or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

On behalf of the BCA Development and Transportation Committee

Will a New Zoning Bylaw make Housing more Affordable?

Regardless of whether you pay a mortgage or pay rent for your home, your costs have likely increased significantly in the past year.  Many people are trying to make ends meet or finding themselves priced out of a very tight market. On September 14 – 15 at a Council Committee meeting, many people spoke about their struggles and frustrations with trying to find suitable or affordable housing. (“Affordability” in this case is defined as “people or households have access to a variety of housing options where they do not have to spend more than 30% of their income on shelter.”)  Everyone needs a home, plain and simple, although the ways to get to that point are not anywhere near as straight-forward.

What are some of the main recommendations?
Some of the items include using City-owned lands for non-market affordable housing, providing incentives or distributing money to enable affordable housing construction, efforts to speed up the planning process (“cutting red tape”), advocating to the federal and provincial governments for additional support, and fast-tracking the City’s plans to develop density and affordable housing around transit sites.  Those items have broad support from most Councillors and most of the Calgarians who spoke at the public hearing.  However, three of the recommendations raised significant concerns or objections.

Do you support “upzoning” (also known as “blanket rezoning”) if it means that 8 dwelling units could be built on every current R-C1 (“single family”) lot in Calgary?  This is known as “R-CG” zoning, and it would allow for a 4-unit townhouse plus 4 secondary suites for a total of 8 separate dwelling units on a single property.  What else would change regarding lot coverage and building heights?  While a single-family home can cover up to a maximum of 45% of the property, an R-CG can cover 60% of the property.  While a single family R-C1 home can be built to a maximum height of 10m (almost 33 feet), a R-CG can be built up to 11m (36 feet). Given the many bungalows in Brentwood, the increased height difference can be quite jarring, plus lead to a massing and shadowing.

Do you support the removal of parking minimums?  This would allow for the developer to decide if on-site parking will be provided, or how much might be provided.  Right now, a townhouse with 4 units (plus 4 suites) would need to provide 4 off-street parking spaces.  If the parking minimums are removed, no parking spaces would be required (it would be up to the developer to determine).  The intention is that this would make it “cheaper” to build, although it is not clear how there could be assurance that the presumed savings would be passed on to buyers or renters.

Do you support removing the right to a public hearing on some types of developments?  Currently, under the Municipal Government Act, planning process requirements include the right to a public hearing.  The recommendations would advocate to the Government of Alberta for legislative change to allow affordable housing to be defined in a manner that exempts it from a public hearing.  The intention is that this would increase certainty and reduce timelines for developers and providers.

How was all this determined?  The Housing and Affordability Task Force (HATF) consisted of 15 individuals from City administration, the development industry and social organizations, but did not include any Community Associations or members of the public at large.  The Task Force created numerous detailed recommendations, almost 80 items in all.  After 2 days of Public Hearings, a “Special Meeting of Council” was held on a Saturday and the recommendations were approved.

Some councillors wanted to vote on some of the recommendations individually:  the chairperson of the Council meeting will often allow requests for some items to be voted on separately. That was not the case here.  It was an all or nothing vote and the entirety of the HATF (with minor amendments) was passed by a majority in Council.  Blanket rezoning remains the item that seems to be the most divisive because it is such a major change.

Is blanket rezoning necessary?  Will it provide “affordable” housing?

Opinions differ.  Some people think that building more of any type of housing will increase supply and ultimately bring down prices.  However, density does not necessarily = affordability.  As an example, research from Patrick Condon, a noted UBC Professor in urban design, indicates that “The City of Vancouver, since the 1960’s, … has more than tripled the number of housing units within this small center city – all through “infill” development. …. If anyplace should have shown the affordability benefits of adding housing supply it would have been Vancouver. …. The real-world evidence proves that increases in allowable density increase land price, i.e. increase the level of land Rent, with most of the Rent ending up in the pocket of the land speculator.”

Where R-CGs have been built in Calgary in the past 5 years in areas such as Capitol Hill or Altadore, individual rowhouse units seem to sell for $600,000 or even $700,000 to $800,000 and up per unit, hardly affordable. Each rowhouse in a set of four often costs about the same as the entire house and property that was torn down and replaced.  Some of the older stock housing that rented for a lower price because it was “old” is then no longer available for families in that area and the new housing rents for a much higher price.

Another problem is that City administration does not appear to have answers to questions about how affordability could be guaranteed, or if it will even be monitored.  For example, if a developer builds an R-CG unit with no parking, those savings should, in theory, make each unit “cheaper”, but by how much?  If the cost of a unit is based on market pricing, then there is no way to determine if savings are passed on.  There is also no requirement for a small-scale builder to build affordable, as opposed to luxury units, in the first place (although large-scale apartment style buildings may require a percentage of affordable units, to be determined on a case by case basis).

What happens next?

Because blanket rezoning involves a major change of Land Use, the following steps have to happen before it can be implemented, likely sometime in the second quarter of 2024.

  • Preparation and mapping by City Administration
  • Notifying all affected property owners
  • Public engagement
  • Administration prepares a recommendation for Council, incorporating public feedback
  • A public hearing of Council where Calgarians can share their views
  • A final decision by Council

The Task Force recommendations will impact you so learn more and get involved.  For details on the Task Force, this is the main website:  https://engage.calgary.ca/HATaskForce

On that same website page, on the right side, under Document Library, there is a link to the Recommendations.  In the BCA hall, we will post information on the bulletin board.  Please also check the BCA website for updates.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

On behalf of the Development and Transportation Committee

Redevelopment at Northland Mall area

Construction and renovations at Northland Mall are ongoing, but are nearing the final stages.  The mall will be rebranded as simply “Northland”.  Elsewhere in this issue of the Bugle, Lee Hunt has written about the murals on the existing parkade – a very welcome addition to liven up the concrete walls. If you haven’t already done so, take a walk from the parkade ramp (by the A & W) to the other end of the mall (the Walmart side) to see the murals and experience some of the overall mall changes.

The biggest change at Northland is obvious:  the change from an interior, enclosed shopping mall to an open-air mall with some stand-alone stores.  I’ve talked with some Brentwood residents who have asked why the existing mall was torn down, instead of just an interior renovation.  While that decision was made by the mall owners, there were likely numerous factors at play.  North-west Calgary has three major malls in close proximity:  Northland, Market Mall and North Hill Mall.* Tenants with multiple branch stores are unlikely to locate a store in each of those malls.  There were simply too many enclosed malls within a relatively small trade area.  This major change is strategized to help Northland not only stay viable in today’s shopping climate, but also offer new possibilities.

The second major change is the addition of a residential development, two six-storey, purpose-built rentals with about 230 units.  The residential building is well-situated, with excellent access via three major roads (Shaganappi, Northland and Crowchild), Transit options, plus many facilities nearby, including schools, Calgary Public Library, recreation facilities, shopping and parks.  Residents who live so close to the mall will likely also help with Northland’s activity levels by supporting the businesses nearby.

One of the main differences between an enclosed mall and an exterior mall is the overall customer impression.  For an enclosed mall such as Market Mall, the layout consists of one large building surrounded by parking spaces:  the focus is all internal.  As a customer, you move through the parking lot as quickly as possible because you are just trying to get inside.  For Northland, the exterior overall site is more important because it is, in essence, part of the mall experience.  There is still surface parking, but there are also a pedestrian and bike corridor in the middle of the site, as well as some “pocket parks” and even a small off-leash area for dogs. There will be a new wide, landscaped sidewalks plus some benches, lighting and other features – including the new murals!

There are advantages and disadvantages to both types of malls.  During Covid, some stores found that outdoor entrances might be preferable, or restaurants needed to have more space or outdoor patios.  At Northland, stand-alone stores might be easier to access because customers can park (or walk) close to their desired store, instead of walking down a long hallway.  One upcoming space will be a veterinarian, a welcome addition to the neighbourhood and one that would not likely have been in an enclosed mall.

Interior malls are expensive to operate:  heating or cooling, lighting, large public hallways, decorating, cleaning and maintenance.  An exterior mall doesn’t have some of these costs, although it will have more costs for things like landscaping, pathways and benches or other exterior features.  Trying to create a place where customers want to come back repeatedly is the challenge.  Consumer shopping habits have changed since the 1960s when Northland was initially developed.  Technology has made it possible to order items from your own home, so malls have an increased challenge in trying to draw you to their sites.

Increased visibility for stores might also be an advantage for individual tenants. Customers can see the stores or their signage from outside, grabbing their attention when they are in the area.  Making the mall accessible to foot traffic and bike traffic is important as well since it increases the likelihood of steady customers.  Although it’s unlikely that many of us will be sitting outside in the winter, in the summer, it’s easy to imagine meeting friends for a coffee over at “the mall”.

It will be interesting to watch the completion of the mall and to see how it works for local residents.  If you haven’t already done so, take a walk and take a look!

* Why were two large regional malls (Market Mall and Northland Mall) approved so close together?  The answers have been largely buried by the passage of time, but you might find some intriguing background in a Planning book by a local historian, Max Foran.  The rather unusual Planning approvals of both malls is detailed in the book “Expansive Discourses:  Urban Sprawl in Calgary 1945-1978” by Max Foran.  Mr. Foran is a local author, as well as a professor, historian and community contributor.  In October 2023, he was awarded the Alberta Order of Excellence for his many contributions to our province.  I’d highly recommend “Expansive Discourses” to anyone interested in the history of how Calgary communities came to be, plus it has a good account of how Nose Hill was saved from development.

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  We meet at 7:00 p.m. on the first Monday of every month in the Sportsplex Boardroom.  Contact the BCA for more information at brntwdca@telus.net or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

On behalf of the Development and Transportation Committee

2022

Building Higher – Multi-storey Development in Brentwood

Brentwood is a “Developed Area” by City of Calgary definitions:  https://www.calgary.ca/pda/pd/home-building-and-renovations/glossary.html

When The City introduced a new Land Use Bylaw in 2008, Calgary was divided into two areas: the developed area, which included substantially developed communities at the time, and the developing area, which included communities still in the process of completion. The developed area includes land use districts with rules that depend on the size and placement of buildings on neighbouring properties.”

Last month’s article focused on the goals of the Municipal Development Plan (MDP) in regards to building and growth in Calgary.  (To recap, in 2009, the MDP target was to have 50 per cent of all population growth between 2009 and 2069 within established communities, rather than new suburbs.)  Within Brentwood, we have seen changes through secondary suites, with over 100 applications in the past several years.  Secondary suites increase density by increasing  the usage of existing properties, usually without major exterior change (other than in the case of backyard suites).

Since we can’t add additional land into our community, the only options are to build more on a single property or to  build upwards, for example, the towers at the Brentwood LRT area.

Greater intensity (and density) is achieved by building up with multi-storey buildings.  The challenge lies in determining where it makes the most sense to build upwards.  In Brentwood, there are two main areas:
1.  Northland Mall, where two six-storey residential buildings are currently under construction; and

2.  The Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) at the Brentwood LRT station.

What makes these good locations?  They are close to public transit options, close to commercial and retail businesses, and have good options for groceries, services (medical, professional, etc.), and even job opportunities.  Some residents of a “walkable” community will choose not to own a vehicle, but since not everyone will bike or walk, nearby roadways must also be able to carry the increased traffic that comes with increased densification.

What else needs to be considered?  The impact on the existing community.  As per the Developed Area policies, the “rules depend on the size and placement of buildings on neighbouring properties”.  The Northland Mall area is an example of where development can be integrated into the neighbourhood without impacts such as overlooking or shadowing onto adjacent properties, and traffic increases can be accommodated on the major surrounding roads (Crowchild, Shaganappi and Northland Drive).

The Brentwood TOD area poses more of a challenge because there is only one roadway for access (Brentwood Road), plus there will be greater shadowing impacts onto Blakiston Park and nearby homes.  The City of Calgary encourages higher density development near an LRT station to make transit convenient for more people, encourage ridership and make use of existing infrastructure.  Future redevelopments (not yet determined) will see increased residential, commercial and retail developments.

What guides the proposed redevelopments in Brentwood?

Long-term residents may have participated in several years’ worth of engagements which resulted in the Brentwood Station Area Redevelopment Plans (ARP) being finalized in 2009.

This Station ARP provides the local area policy for the site:  it sets the guidelines and standards for redevelopment in the Brentwood TOD area.  This includes aspects such as the height of buildings, the transition to adjacent residential homes, public realm space, landscaping, etc.  (Go to www.calgary.ca and enter “Brentwood Station ARP”.)

The Station ARP was specific to Brentwood only.  Other communities created their own Area Redevelopment Plans since each community may have different conditions or circumstances, although not every community has an ARP.  The problem is that there are now over 200 variations of Council-approved local area plans currently in place that aim to guide growth and development in our city.

The City of Calgary states that “many of these plans (ARPs) and the policies within them are also outdated in the sense that they do not align with modern planning principles or Council-approved policies – such as the Municipal Development Plan and Guidebook for Great Communities.” https://www.calgary.ca/pda/pd/current-studies-and-ongoing-activities/local-area-planning-in-calgary.html

This is where the new Local Area Plans (LAPs) come into play.  An LAP is intended to “provide development direction that residents, landowners, builders/developers, City Planners and Councillors can commonly refer to as new development ideas are proposed by property owners and landowners within the area”.

What is the difference between an LAP and the existing Station ARP?

The LAP is a multi-community approach within a broader area.  That means instead of just the Brentwood community, other surrounding communities will also be involved, including Dalhousie, Triwood, Cambrian Heights, Rosemont and Highwood.  A local area plan is created by The City in coordination with interested and impacted stakeholders including: residents and landowners, local businesses, community associations and builders/developers.  Once an LAP for the broader area is in place, it will replace the existing ARPs for those communities.

This recognizes that community boundaries are somewhat “fuzzy”, that is, that we all move about and interact in multiple communities within our greater area.  The challenge lies in ensuring that our own community’s unique features and assets are not lost in the process.  There is no date yet set for work on an LAP for Brentwood; that will be determined by the new City Council.  In the meantime, please keep reading and watching for development issues as they arise throughout the city.  The more you know, the better you will be able to participate and provide your feedback when you see redevelopment proposals in Brentwood!

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  Our meetings will be determined in accordance with AHS guidelines.  Please contact the BCA for more information at office@brentwoodcommunity.com or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

Is Parking Really “Free”?

Here’s an interesting experiment.  For one week, keep track of every trip that you make outside of your house:  grocery shopping, work, taking kids to school, appointments, visiting, and so on.  How did you travel each time?  How many trips were made by walking (or biking) and how many by car or by transit?

If you drove, where did you park?  Did you pay for parking or was it “free”?  In Brentwood, while there are some restricted parking zones (permit or 2-hour), there are no metered (pay) street spaces.

So what are the rules around street parking?

First, nobody “owns” the right to park in front of their own house.  Street parking is a public space available to everyone (unless there are signs indicating permit parking or limited parking only).  That doesn’t mean that there are no problems:  parking is one of the frequent complaints received by the Community Association, especially when there is spillover parking from adjacent homes or businesses.

Second, for homes with a secondary suite, there is a requirement for two off-street parking spaces:  one for the main dwelling and one for the occupant of the suite.  Since secondary suites in our area often have multiple tenants and often multiple vehicles associated with the suite, when reviewing a Development Permit for a suite, the BCA seeks to ensure that there are at least 2 off-street parking spaces provided.  We successfully appealed an application through the SDAB (Subdivision and Development Appeal Board) in which there was only one parking space.

Finally, for commercial or business parking, in July 2020, the City of Calgary removed the minimum parking requirements for non-residential uses from the Land Use Bylaw. “This means Businesses will now tell The City how much parking makes sense for them. This change recognizes the changing needs of Calgarians, supports Calgary’s comeback and creates a stronger alignment between the Bylaw and overarching city-wide policy documents.”  Changes to business parking requirements (calgary.ca)

Why were business parking minimums removed?  According to the City, this change:

  • Allows businesses and developers to advise how much parking makes sense for their development
  • Decreases indirect parking costs that would be passed onto consumers, businesses and tenants
  • Creates an urban form that encourages walking, cycling and transit
  • Enables spaces to be designed for people rather than for vehicles
  • Encourages more active modes of transportation over driving
  • Aligns with Calgary’s Climate Resilience Strategy

Does this mean any new development may decide to build without parking?  The argument is that business owners know that their customers need to be able to get to their business, and if that means providing parking, they will do so.  If they think customers may park on the street, or use transit, walk or cycle, the business may choose to not include as many parking spaces.

A common theme for parking arguments is that if free parking is provided, more people will drive because it is easy and free.  If parking comes with a cost, transit or other options become more viable.  Consider the last time you went to a Flames game or downtown:  did you drive or take public transit?  

How might parking rates change your behaviour?  Out of all the trips you took last week, now reconsider your actions if you had to pay for your parking.  For example, if you had to pay $10.00 to park at Market Mall, would you still drive there, or might you be more inclined to walk or take a bus?  What if it cost $20.00?  Or, might you skip Market Mall as your destination and instead drive out to Cross Iron Mills or another mall where the parking was free?

Those are the challenges for commercial parking, and for residents who may be impacted by businesses nearby.  Permit parking is an option, but also comes with some challenges or costs.

Next month’s column will delve deeper into whether street parking is really ever “free”.   Donald Shoup argues that it isn’t.  Shoup is a professor at UCLA and the author of “The High Cost of Free Parking, a 700-page book about parking and its impacts/costs.

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  Our meetings will be determined in accordance with AHS guidelines.  Please contact the BCA for more information at office@brentwoodcommunity.com or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes and Greg Zwick

What is a Free Market Approach to Parking?

Last month’s column focused on parking, specifically street parking and business parking requirements.  Many parking theories or reforms are broadly based on the writings of UCLA professor Donald Shoup, one of the leading academics on parking policy.  His 2005 book, “The High Cost of Free Parking”[1] is widely used and referenced in establishing parking policies in urban areas.  (It has been reprinted and updated numerous times.) Dr. Shoup argues that parking is never really “free” and our efforts to avoid paying for it impose economic and environmental costs on society.

Shoup promotes a free market approach to parking that can be summed up in three main parking reforms:

  1. remove minimum parking requirements for new developments
  2. set prices to optimize usage of parking resources
  3. return parking revenues for local services

You can see these theories in practice in Calgary.  The City’s 2020 decision to remove minimum parking requirements for non-residential (i.e. commercial and retail) uses ties exactly to Shoup’s first point.  The idea is that developers and businesses will decide how many parking spaces they need to provide for their customers:  too many spots and they are wasting money and resources, but not enough and customers may not come.

For residential buildings, minimum parking requirements usually apply, but in 2015 Council tested out the market by approving a building with no residential parking at all.  In East Village, the N3 condo building (approximately 160+ units, completed in 2017) was built without a single underground parking space.  Instead of parking, there is a large enclosed bike storage area, and residents were provided with a credit for car-sharing services.  The concept is that the condo units can be more affordable if residents do not need to pay for their share of an underground parking garage, and they may choose to use other options (LRT, taxis, Uber and so on).  In the downtown core, there are other nearby parking lots or parkades that can be used by visitors or guests in the N3 building.

Downtown parking rates that vary during the day is an example of optimizing the parking resource.  It’s also more expensive to park in some areas compared to others, based largely on supply and demand.  If prices are set too high, customers will balk at paying the rates and may go elsewhere.  If people want to park in a certain area at a certain time, they will have to pay the going rate because they really have no other choice.
The price can be varied, for example by making evening parking less expensive or by charging a premium on weekdays, but far less on weekends.  Meters are another example of paid parking,

In Brentwood, we do not have any metered parking, although we do have permit or restricted parking areas.  Even though parking is “free”, it has still created some frustration in our community, particularly in areas of Brentwood that have seen large recent increases in the utilization of on-street parking, for example close to the LRT station.

Many residents view on-street parking as an amenity – not as a resource for the City to maximize or as a tool to reduce the cost of nearby development.  Some residents who live close to the LRT Station feel that they have lost the amenity of on-street parking (or have had parking permits required); some feel that more parking should have been provided for commercial or residential uses in the development.  The broader argument is that the move to a free market approach to parking can impose costs on existing residents that should be considered in setting policy.

What do you think?  Would you be more willing to pay to park at a destination if you knew the funds would be used locally or would support improvements? For example, at the Calgary Zoo, parking costs $12.00 (although it is free with a membership).  Funding goes towards operating costs or other zoo enhancements.  Does this change your opinion?  What if the developers of a project reduced the amount of parking they were required to provide and instead paid into a fund for local improvements?

As you can see, there are no easy answers and widely differing opinions on how parking should be best managed.  Calgary Public Library does have a copy of Shoup’s book if you’d like to delve further into this topic.

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  Our meetings will be determined in accordance with AHS guidelines.  Please contact the BCA for more information at office@brentwoodcommunity.com or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes and Greg Zwick

[1] Shoup, Donald.  The High Cost of Free Parking, 2011, Taylor and Francis, New York, NY.

The City of Calgary’s best resource?  311!

Long-time readers might remember that I’ve written about 311 before, but it’s worth repeating because in Calgary, 311 truly is the starting point for accessing most City services. https://www.calgary.ca/cfod/csc/311.html

You can contact 311 in 3 different ways:  online, on a mobile app, or through a phone call to 311.  Staff is available 24 hours per day, and they will connect you to City services and information, or transfer your service request to the appropriate department for action.

What types of services can you access via 311?  There is a long list of services, including Garbage & Debris, Graffiti, Street Lights, Long Grass or Weeds, Traffic Signal Lights, and many others.  On the 311 website, there is even a Live Map where you can see Snow Plow locations, road service requests and other requests.

Bylaw works on a complaint basis only.  Contacting 311 is the only way to register a complaint and seek action to resolve the issue.  If you say nothing, then nothing will or can be done.  (For example, bylaw officers do not drive around looking for unkept properties, illegal secondary suites or barking dogs.)

All 311 reports are private and confidential.  The Mobile APP allows for anonymous submissions, but depending on the complaint, if you provide your name and address, you may receive follow-up information or be able to track your request.  You will be asked to provide a password and given a tracking number so that you are the only one who can request information about any follow-up on the complaint.

If you see a problem, likely other neighbours do as well and it benefits everyone to have the issue resolved.  It also sets an expectation for every property owner that he must maintain his property and comply with the existing bylaws.  Finally, if there truly is a problem property, calls to 311 are the only way to ensure that there is a record of complaints.  A bylaw officer will investigate and fines or penalties can be levied if necessary.

Did you know there are other varieties of X-1-1 numbers in Alberta? 

211 – For information on community and government agencies, community and social services

This free, confidential, multilingual, 24 hour information and referral system connects you to resources such as the Distress Centre, Addictions Helpline, Kids Help Phone, Bullying Helpline, Family Violence Helpline, and others.

It’s accessible by calling 2-1-1, text INFO to 211, or on the website:  http://ab.211.ca

411 – For business or residential listings

It acts just like an old-fashioned phone book with a directory of phone numbers, addresses of businesses and people.

511 – For Alberta road conditions

A free traveller information service operated by the Government of Alberta, offering highway conditions, roadwork, weather alerts, major incidents or accidents, and so on.

It’s accessible via phone toll-free by calling 5-1-1. Computer and mobile device users can visit 511.alberta.ca.

811 – For general health information and nurse advice (also known as Health Link)
This free tele-triage and health advice is run by Alberta Health Services.  You can phone 24 hours / day to speak with a nurse and get advice on health information, Dementia Advice Service, AlbertaQuits Tobacco Helpline,

Addictions information and referral, and others.

911 – For life-threatening emergencies

This phone line is for assistance in medical, fire and police emergencies only.

(For non-emergency police matters, call 403 – 266 – 1234)

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  Our meetings will be determined in accordance with AHS guidelines.  Please contact the BCA for more information at office@brentwoodcommunity.com or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

On behalf of the BCA Development and Transportation Committee

“Sprawl is where other people live.”

In a Little Free Library, I recently came across a very thought-provoking book:  “Sprawl – a Compact History” by Robert Bruegmann (2006).   Bruegmann is an author, professor, historian and critic of architecture and urban development. (www.robertbruegmann.com)

At about 300 pages, this isn’t the type of book you read rapidly in one sitting.  Many of Bruegmann’s premises require some careful thought because they run contrary to popular opinion (i.e. all sprawl is bad).  The statement that “sprawl is where other people live” is a good example!  What was once considered “sprawl”, the outer reaches of Calgary, is now considered part of the established area of the city, Brentwood included.

(For those who are interested in viewing maps of Calgary over the years, check out https://maps.calgary.ca/, Calgary Imagery, and use the drop down tab to select “orthophoto by year”.  See how Brentwood changed from year to year starting in 1963, see the years prior to any development north of Nose Hill, and so on. Worth a look!)

The book is divided into three parts.  The first section attempts to define sprawl and delves into the history of sprawl dating back centuries, (example, Paris in the late 1700s or London in the 1920s), and the rapid suburbanization after World War II.  When automobiles replaced horses, it became possible to live on larger properties further away from the more-densely populated established city centres.  Bruegmann points out that sprawl is not something new, nor is the desire for space, privacy or choice in where to live.

The second part evaluates various anti-sprawl campaigns over the past century.  As communities expanded into what was once farmland or countryside, concerns were raised about this new automobile-dependent development.  While many people welcomed the chance to live on large lots away from the noise, smog, crime or other negative aspects of large, dense cities, others considered this an unsustainable pattern.  As growth moved outwards, costs increased for roads, sewers, and other infrastructure.

In the third and last part of the book, Bruegmann tries to reconcile the desire for suburban development with ways to allow for smarter and greener development patterns – not an easy task.  We cannot dismiss the realties that low-density areas require proportionately more resources than highly dense spaces, i.e. road maintenance, heating and fuel consumption, car usage, and so on.  But neither can we ignore personal choices.

At the crux of it all, put simply, a majority of people like single-detached houses.  According to Stats Canada (https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/), in 2016, the most common dwelling type in Alberta was the single-detached house, representing 61.9% of total dwellings, with 19.3% for duplexes, townhouses, etc., 14.6% for apartments that have fewer than 5 storeys, and only 4.1% for apartment buildings that have 5 or more storeys.  As noted in the report, “The single-detached house represents, to some, a symbol of traditional, middle-class living—a dream to which many may aspire. However, a number of factors have placed pressure on Canadians’ ability, and even desire, to live in this type of dwelling. Higher house prices, the pressures of a long commute to work and an aging population are three of the many factors that may lead Canadians to live in different dwelling types.”

At what point does the single-family house become “sprawl”?  There tends to be a last-man-in objective:  we may want to move out to the quiet suburbs or countryside, but then complain about additional sprawl from newcomers.  Housing types get built because there is a demand for them.  If developers can sell apartment towers easier than single-family homes, then that is the housing form that they will build.  In Calgary, the single-family house is still king for many people.

Preferences can change depending on many factors.  In Vancouver or Toronto, housing prices mean that many people are priced out of the single-family housing market, so condos or townhouses are more feasible options for most.  In the Calgary area, potential homebuyers can also select homes in adjacent communities such as Airdrie and Chestermere if those properties offer advantages such as lower costs than in Calgary itself.  Covid-19 has also played a role because homespace, home offices and yards became a desirable asset, and shared spaces such as elevators or apartment lobbies were less welcoming.

This book makes you realize that there are no right answers as to what constitutes good urban planning:  there is no one-size-fits-all solution.  Personal choice does not necessarily align with prevalent urban planning guidelines.

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  Our meetings will be determined in accordance with AHS guidelines.  Please contact the BCA for more information at office@brentwoodcommunity.com or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

On behalf of the BCA Development and Transportation Committee

John Laurie Boulevard / Charleswood Drive Intersection Update

This past summer and fall, the repaving of four kilometres of John Laurie Boulevard between 14th Street N.W. and Shaganappi Trail N.W. was completed.  The improvements to the area included the installation of high-tension cable barriers along the road as well as the underground infrastructure for potential future traffic signals at Brisebois Drive, Charleswood Drive and 19 Street N.W. intersections.

The information we received at the time was that “While traffic signals are not being installed at this time, completing the underground infrastructure as part of this project will reduce future costs and impacts. Signals will be installed when warranted in the future after a detailed analysis is completed.”

 

On April 26th , the City of Calgary presented an update to the BCA Board regarding the installation of a signalized intersection at John Laurie and Charleswood.  The work is planned for this August.  We were not expecting this change so soon after the work on John Laurie was just completed, and we have some concerns about potential increased cut-through traffic in the community, but it appears that accident rates along John Laurie warrant additional measures.

The information we received from the City is as follows.  Three intersections will see some modifications.  See the link at the bottom of the City information for a map and further details.

Melanie Swailes

On Behalf of the DTC

John Laurie Blvd update – City of Calgary – April 29, 2022: 

In August, The City of Calgary will be implementing traffic control revisions along John Laurie Boulevard N.W. to reduce collisions and improve safety at three intersections.

The traffic control revisions include:

  • A signalized intersection at John Laurie Boulevard N.W. and Charleswood Drive N.W.
  • Prohibit left turns from northbound 19 Street N.W. to John Laurie Boulevard during the morning and afternoon peak periods on weekdays
  • Prohibit left turns onto John Laurie Boulevard and through movements crossing John Laurie Boulevard from both Brisebois Drive N.W. and the parking lot on the north side during the morning and afternoon peak periods on weekdays

The decision to make these changes came after The City analyzed collision data along this stretch of road and found that all three intersections had a high number of collisions, including injury collisions.Most concerning was the data for John Laurie Boulevard N.W. and Charleswood Drive N.W. which showed that 21% of the collisions at the intersection resulted in injuries. This compares to a city average of 10% at other intersections.

“As traffic safety is a paramount concern for The City and our citizens, we have determined that we need to go ahead with these improvements as soon as possible,” says Senior Traffic Engineer Pat Grisak. “Once the upgrades have been made, we will monitor their effectiveness and make changes if necessary.”

Installing the new traffic signal will create some delays for traffic on John Laurie Boulevard, however, it is anticipated that traffic operations will remain acceptable.  Operation of the signal will be monitored by the Traffic Management Center to ensure that it operates as efficiently as possible.

It is also important to note that the new signal will not include pedestrian crossings across John Laurie Boulevard.  The Parks Department considers Nose Hill Park north of the Charleswood Drive intersection as a sensitive area and does not want to encourage pedestrian activity to the area.  Park users can use established crossing locations or parking areas to access Nose Hill Park.

This project is part of The City’s Traffic Operational Improvements program. For more information, visit Calgary.ca/toi

Building Better Density

One of the most intriguing and controversial comments I ever read about City Planning was that “other people are annoying”.  The context is important, and this statement was made as part of a rationale to explain why greater density and closer living spaces require careful planning and design.  The closer you live to other people, the more potential there is for socialization and friendships, but also for aspects that cause disagreements and conflict.  Apartment or condo buildings need to be carefully constructed and public spaces become more important.

Densification requires more than just building multi-plex units or towers:  we have to consider that “other people are annoying” and try to mitigate some of the issues that may arise when people live closer together.  The City of Calgary faces a constant battle between expanding the city boundaries (as per the recent Council meetings regarding new communities on the outskirts) and trying to densify (for environmental and cost reasons).  Calgarians have predominantly chosen single-detached houses as their preferred housing type.  In 2021, about half of occupied private dwellings in Calgary (55 per cent) were single-detached houses while about one in four (24 per cent) were apartments. https://www.calgary.ca/csps/cns/research-and-strategy/calgary-data.html

You’ve likely read about the City’s efforts to fill some of the vacant downtown buildings by converting some into residential buildings.  However, that’s only half the battle:  the challenge lies in filling those buildings.  As someone I spoke with put it, “are we going to push or pull people downtown?”  Pushing people implies a certain reluctance, for example, it might be their only option or it’s the cheapest apartment they found.  Pulling people, on the other hand, means that there is a lure of the downtown, with compelling reasons that people actively seek out downtown as a place that they want to live.

What might make you want to live downtown?  Possibly a myriad of reasons:  proximity to work, access to transit options, access to shopping, arts facilities, a great Central library, restaurants and pubs, river pathways and so on.  But what features of a specific apartment building would draw you there?  Maybe it’s a great fitness facility, rooftop decks and gathering spaces, coffee shops and restaurants on the main floor, concierge or parcel delivery service and so on.  If there are amenities and features that you can’t easily duplicate at home (an indoor pool or a bowling lane, for example), that might entice you to consider a higher-density location and building.

Sounds ideal, but what disadvantages might there be?  Noise, odours, parking, smoking rules and so on.  Maybe there should be more attention on mitigating some of those common issues.  What if there were more stringent building codes or guidelines to deal with common complaints?  For example,

  • Living closer together means sounds may travel from one unit to another.  It’s annoying to hear footsteps from the unit above you, even if the person isn’t being loud.  If sound-proofing materials were used, or cement floors, or thicker insulation, those sounds could be greatly lessened, if not eliminated.
  • Smelling onions frying next door may not be your favourite way to wake up.  Better venting, high-quality quiet fans, good indoor air circulation would mitigate this.
  • Smoking, pets, parking…… all these items require collaboration and compromise to ensure that neighbours can live together harmoniously. Each condo board or apartment management can set their own rules for these kinds of potential issues which cannot (or are not) addressed through building or development codes.

Of course, these measures come with a cost, and therefore they may raise the costs of rent or the purchase price. Building for greater energy efficiency or climate-related measures also raises the costs.  Still, if people are going to live closer together, there has to be greater attention paid to the factors that may annoy them when they do.  If we start with the premise that other people’s behaviours will impact us more if we live closer together, then we’re more likely to find solutions, and that is important if we want to fill the downtown towers.

Many of those measure are equally important if you live outside of the downtown core in a higher-density building.  There are some obvious advantages to closer living, and socialization is one of them.  It might be lonely in a detached house, but you run into more people every day in a condo or apartment.  One of my friends participated in safe “hallway gatherings” during Covid:  each resident moved a chair into the hallway in front of their own door and they all grabbed a coffee or drink and chatted amongst each other down the hallway.  What a great idea!

As the City moves towards greater densification, I think there should be more focus on discussing both the advantages and disadvantages of living closer together.  If we can resolving some of the common complaints (such as through improved building materials or standards), then there might be more people interesting in moving into such buildings.

As with most planning topics, there are no “right” answers.  The only certainty is that you will likely be hearing more about downtown office conversions, higher-density dwellings, and ways to encourage people to live in closer proximity.  If you are interested, Calgary Public Library has some thought-provoking books on City Planning, including:

  • “Soft City: Building Density for Everyday Life” by David Sim
  • “Sustainability Matters: Prospects for A Just Transition in Calgary, Canada’s Petro-city” by Noel Keough
  • “Restorative Cities: Urban Design for Mental Health and Wellbeing” by Jenny Roe.

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  Please contact the BCA for more information at office@brentwoodcommunity.com or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

Building Better Density

One of the most intriguing and controversial comments I ever read about City Planning was that “other people are annoying”.  The context is important, and this statement was made as part of a rationale to explain why greater density and closer living spaces require careful planning and design.  The closer you live to other people, the more potential there is for socialization and friendships, but also for aspects that cause disagreements and conflict.  Apartment or condo buildings need to be carefully constructed and public spaces become more important.

Densification requires more than just building multi-plex units or towers:  we have to consider that “other people are annoying” and try to mitigate some of the issues that may arise when people live closer together.  The City of Calgary faces a constant battle between expanding the city boundaries (as per the recent Council meetings regarding new communities on the outskirts) and trying to densify (for environmental and cost reasons).  Calgarians have predominantly chosen single-detached houses as their preferred housing type.  In 2021, about half of occupied private dwellings in Calgary (55 per cent) were single-detached houses while about one in four (24 per cent) were apartments. https://www.calgary.ca/csps/cns/research-and-strategy/calgary-data.html

You’ve likely read about the City’s efforts to fill some of the vacant downtown buildings by converting some into residential buildings.  However, that’s only half the battle:  the challenge lies in filling those buildings.  As someone I spoke with put it, “are we going to push or pull people downtown?”  Pushing people implies a certain reluctance, for example, it might be their only option or it’s the cheapest apartment they found.  Pulling people, on the other hand, means that there is a lure of the downtown, with compelling reasons that people actively seek out downtown as a place that they want to live.

What might make you want to live downtown?  Possibly a myriad of reasons:  proximity to work, access to transit options, access to shopping, arts facilities, a great Central library, restaurants and pubs, river pathways and so on.  But what features of a specific apartment building would draw you there?  Maybe it’s a great fitness facility, rooftop decks and gathering spaces, coffee shops and restaurants on the main floor, concierge or parcel delivery service and so on.  If there are amenities and features that you can’t easily duplicate at home (an indoor pool or a bowling lane, for example), that might entice you to consider a higher-density location and building.

Sounds ideal, but what disadvantages might there be?  Noise, odours, parking, smoking rules and so on.  Maybe there should be more attention on mitigating some of those common issues.  What if there were more stringent building codes or guidelines to deal with common complaints?  For example,

  • Living closer together means sounds may travel from one unit to another.  It’s annoying to hear footsteps from the unit above you, even if the person isn’t being loud.  If sound-proofing materials were used, or cement floors, or thicker insulation, those sounds could be greatly lessened, if not eliminated.
  • Smelling onions frying next door may not be your favourite way to wake up.  Better venting, high-quality quiet fans, good indoor air circulation would mitigate this.
  • Smoking, pets, parking…… all these items require collaboration and compromise to ensure that neighbours can live together harmoniously. Each condo board or apartment management can set their own rules for these kinds of potential issues which cannot (or are not) addressed through building or development codes.

Of course, these measures come with a cost, and therefore they may raise the costs of rent or the purchase price. Building for greater energy efficiency or climate-related measures also raises the costs.  Still, if people are going to live closer together, there has to be greater attention paid to the factors that may annoy them when they do.  If we start with the premise that other people’s behaviours will impact us more if we live closer together, then we’re more likely to find solutions, and that is important if we want to fill the downtown towers.

Many of those measure are equally important if you live outside of the downtown core in a higher-density building.  There are some obvious advantages to closer living, and socialization is one of them.  It might be lonely in a detached house, but you run into more people every day in a condo or apartment.  One of my friends participated in safe “hallway gatherings” during Covid:  each resident moved a chair into the hallway in front of their own door and they all grabbed a coffee or drink and chatted amongst each other down the hallway.  What a great idea!

As the City moves towards greater densification, I think there should be more focus on discussing both the advantages and disadvantages of living closer together.  If we can resolving some of the common complaints (such as through improved building materials or standards), then there might be more people interesting in moving into such buildings.

As with most planning topics, there are no “right” answers.  The only certainty is that you will likely be hearing more about downtown office conversions, higher-density dwellings, and ways to encourage people to live in closer proximity.  If you are interested, Calgary Public Library has some thought-provoking books on City Planning, including:

  • “Soft City: Building Density for Everyday Life” by David Sim
  • “Sustainability Matters: Prospects for A Just Transition in Calgary, Canada’s Petro-city” by Noel Keough
  • “Restorative Cities: Urban Design for Mental Health and Wellbeing” by Jenny Roe.

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  Please contact the BCA for more information at office@brentwoodcommunity.com or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

What I Learned on my Summer Vacation

Did you travel outside of Calgary this summer?  If you travelled to a place where you have been before, did you notice any changes?  Any new buildings or developments?  Did you wonder about how they came to be or the situations behind the changes?

Once you start looking through a Planning lens, there are so many stories!  This article mentions Revelstoke, Naramata and Kelowna as examples.  Why does it matter what is happening there?  Because we are experiencing the same situations closer to home and because we can learn from other jurisdictions.

In Revelstoke, I had a very interesting conversation with a sporting goods business owner.  He was lamenting the lack of staff, saying he had only been able to hire about half the staff that he needed for the summer.  At a nearby café, the hours had been reduced, with the sign on the door stating, “limited hours due to a lack of staff”.  I asked why there were so few summer students filling the available jobs, and was told it was due to a lack of available rental housing. (Banff and Canmore are experiencing the same situation.)

The business owner proceeded to tell me about the controversial Council meetings that had been held in Revelstoke in 2021 / 2022 regarding Short Term Rentals (STRs) such as Airbnb.  (According to the Revelstoke Review, a review during “December 2021 showed 278 advertisements for STRs on online platforms.”)  That means that 278 rooms were potentially available for tourists seeking short term stays (less than 30 days), but not available for rent on a seasonal or yearly basis.  https://www.revelstokereview.com/news/residents-come-head-to-head-over-revelstokes-short-term-rental-regulations/

At Revelstoke Council meetings, the opinions were divided. Multiple residents said they rely on STR revenues to earn their income, and they did not want limits on how they could use their homes.  Other residents felt that STRs were changing their “small town” feel, and were limiting the rental options for those who want to stay in the community for longer than a quick visit.  Still others said that it should be the problem of businesses and developers to create long-term rentals for their staff, not the individual property owners.

All valid points.  What has changed is that the Internet has made it possible for STRs to exist on a large scale because anyone can book one from anywhere in the world.  While hotels used to be the only possibility for an overnight stay, now there are other options.  Still, I couldn’t help but feel that the town is losing out if they cannot get staff for the summer because the places which would have previously been filled with staff are now rented out more lucratively to tourists.  Also worth considering is that hotels provide employment for staff for front desks, cleaning, maintenance and restaurants, plus they pay business taxes, hotel taxes and other costs, all of which add to the City coffers.  Surveys in Revelstoke showed divided opinions on whether hotels and STRs were competing on a “level playing field”.  (Follow up note:  As of September 1, all STRs will require a Business License with an annual fee, as well as other conditions depending on zoning and so on.)

While biking through orchards and vineyards in Naramata outside of Penticton, I noticed signs stating “Preserve Naramata Bench”.  Being curious, I looked up more information.  A developer proposed a land use rezoning to allow for more than 300 new homes, which the community opposed, even arranging for a tractor rally to City Hall.  Council opposed the original plans, and the developer has since returned with a new proposal featuring 112 homes, only about one-third of the density in the original plan.  The outcome is still to be determined.

While biking in Kelowna, we saw developments under construction seemingly everywhere.  Plans are in place for some very tall towers – including some over 30 storeys.  Opinions are divided:  some residents feel the new towers are much too tall, too invasive and overshadowing the area, while others feel that more housing is desperately needed in the City.  One project was originally proposed as a 13-storey building, but then “grew” to 25-storeys when an affordable housing component was added.

https://www.kelownacapnews.com/news/kelowna-council-approves-25-storey-doyle-avenue-tower-amid-controversy/

What I learned on my summer vacation is that development issues never take a rest!  Every community is struggling with how to best accommodate new developments or redevelopments.  Opinions are divided and unfortunately, this may also divide the community depending on your stance.

The most important thing that we can do is stay informed.  Join your Community Association.  Attend an open house regarding a project in your area.  Learn about the pros and cons about any new proposal.  Talk to your Councillor or your MLA and let them know how you feel.  Don’t be afraid to write letters or pick up the phone.  Your voice matters!

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  We meet at 7:00 p.m. on the first Monday of every month in the Sportsplex Boardroom.  Contact the BCA for more information at office@brentwoodcommunity.com or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

On behalf of the BCA Development and Transportation Committee

Affordable Housing

(In June, through the Federation of Calgary Communities, I participated in an Affordable Housing seminar.  That course is the source for notes in this article.)

You’ve probably heard or read a lot recently about the rising costs of living, especially when it comes to food and shelter.  Homelessness in Calgary is very real, as are the wait lists for affordable housing.  In the Affordable Housing session, we did an exercise where we were given a fictional family and budget, then had to try to find an apartment or home for them using online rental websites.  We quickly discovered that it is not easy to find a place to live when you have a limited budget, are working minimum wage jobs, or have special needs (such as requiring a wheelchair-accessible dwelling).

The obvious initial question is what defines “affordable housing”?  I learned that the definitions vary across governments and jurisdictions.

  • According to the City of Calgary’s definition, “a household is in need of affordable housing when it earns less than $60,000 per year, AND pays more than 30% of its gross income on shelter costs”.
  • The CMHC (Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation) definition of affordable is “housing that has shelter costs equal to or less than 30% of total before-tax household income”.
  • The City of Edmonton defines affordable housing as “rental or ownership housing that requires government money to build or operate”, with “rents or payments below average market cost. It is targeted for long-term occupancy by households that earn less than median income for their household size.”

There is an affordable housing continuum, ranging from being homeless or in an emergency shelter, to social housing, to affordable rental or ownership, and finally market rental or ownership options.  While definitions vary, the one thing everyone seems to agree on is that there is not enough affordable housing.

All levels of government have a vital role to play.  Federally, the government of Canada funds various programs, although funding may not be optimized for Calgary’s context.  Provincially, there may also be grants or funding available, but again it has to trickle down to reach the intended targets.  The City of Calgary has the most direct impact through its Corporate Affordable Housing Strategy with multiple roles:  funder, builder, enabler and regulator.

Some of the incentives the City can provide include:  a Housing Incentive Program, non-profit land sales, density bonuses for development, expedited application timelines, and others.  As well, there are many agencies and organizations who are working to provide assistance or shelter, either rental or owned, including well-known ones such as Habitat for Humanity or Attain Homes.

There are multiple causes and no easy solutions.  Check out the City of Calgary website at www.calgary.ca and type in Affordable Housing to learn more.  From that website:

Affordable Housing is about people. People with hopes, needs, dreams, and the drive to succeed.

However, with market rental rates among the highest in Canada, it’s difficult for some Calgarians to pursue their dreams while affording a place to live.”

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  We meet at 7:00 p.m. on the first Monday of every month in the Sportsplex Boardroom.  Contact the BCA for more information at office@brentwoodcommunity.com or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

On behalf of the BCA Development and Transportation Committee

Let’s Talk about “Zoning” Changes

One of the most challenging aspects of writing a monthly development-focused column is determining a topic that might be interesting to readers, and then wondering if anybody will actually read what you have written.  There is also a risk of being misinterpreted or taken out of context, as at a recent City Council Committee meeting in September.  While listening to some of the public presentations, I was stunned to hear a presenter I’ll identify only as “J” plagarize word-for-word the initial paragraphs of my previous Bugle article on “Missing Middle”, and then use it to justify his support for some major proposed land use changes.  Unprofessional, but not worth pursuing further.

By the time you read this in November, there will have been some Land Use changes brought forward to Council on October 4th, so some background is necessary.  Most people know the term “Zoning”; in Planning jargon it’s called “Land Use”.  The City of Calgary uses LUB1P2007 (Land Use Bylaw), which was written in 2007, although there have been many, many revisions and upgrades.  (www.calgary.ca/lub)

The LUB is the basis for all Planning decisions:  as per the website, “It outlines the rules and regulations for development of land in Calgary for each district (zone) as well as the process of making decisions for development permit applications.”  These rules and regulations vary depending on the District (Residential, Commercial, Industrial, Downtown, and so on).  What is “allowed” to be built in each district is specified in the LUB; for example, the maximum heights, setbacks, or lot coverage.

These are some of the most common Residential categories in the Land Use Bylaw.  All of these are considered Low Density housing forms, with the next category being Multi-Residential and applying to 3 or 4 storey or higher buildings.

You will notice that there are 2 versions of each, R-1 and R-C1, with the “C” referring to Contextual;  one is for “developing” areas and one is for “developed” areas.  In Brentwood, R-C1 would apply.

R-1 and R-C1 – One Dwelling District – a residential designation that is primarily for single detached homes.

R-2 and R-C2 – One / Two Dwelling District – primarily for single detached, side-by-side and duplex homes. Single detached and side-by-side homes may include a secondary suite.

R-2M – Low Density Multiple Dwelling District (R-2M) – primarily for side-by-side homes and rowhouses.

R-CG – Grade-Oriented Infill District, (R-CG) – primarily for rowhouses but also allows for single detached, side-by-side and duplex homes that may include a secondary suite.

There is one more category that is important:  Direct Control (DC) defined as “a customized land use designation. It has a list of allowable uses and a set of rules specific to a particular property or development. Most DC designations include a cross-reference to the rules of one of the standard designations of the Land Use Bylaw (e.g. R-1, R-2, I-G, etc.).”

Direct Control was intended to apply to a unique site, for example a mall where there unlikely to be another identical setting or model.  However, recently developers or property owners have applied to Council to “rezone” their properties to approve special rules to allow them to build rowhouses on their property, a DC application.  Most have been approved.

As a result, the City is recommending some changes to the existing R-CG category as well as a new Land Use category called H-GO, Housing – Grade-Oriented.  Why? Well, the current LUB states that every home must face a street, which works on corner properties (4 townhouses placed “sideways” on an existing property), but it doesn’t work for mid-block parcels of land.

In order to allow for multiple units on a mid-block location, the proposal allows for half of the homes to be street-facing

while the remaining homes might face into a shared backyard or the lane.  Essentially, there would be a front dwelling unit(s) with another one set behind it, sort of 2 rows of dwellings.  Examples can be found in communities such as Marda Loop or Altadore, among others.

Parking becomes an issue for mid-block locations because there is simply not enough frontage or rear garage space to accommodate 6 or 8 units (or more, depending on the parcel size).  For this reason, the City proposal is to allow for 0.375 parking stalls for every unit and suite. According to this formula, if there were 8 units, there would be 8 x .375 parking stalls, or a total of 3 parking stalls.  Part of the rationale is that this provides more flexibility for the developer,  encourages residents to use other forms of transportation (transit, bike, walking), and can make the dwellings more affordable.  At the time of writing, it is not known whether Council will support this recommendation or not.

Part of the discussion at Council have also included where these changes would apply.  There are considerations such as proximity to transit that enter into the discussion as well as if the community already has a Local Area Plan.  It is complicated!

However, many communities have taken great offense to the City of Calgary’s statement that according to the Aministration report,

Public engagement was not accommodated in the scope of this work for two reasons:

  1. Citizens would not have the technical expertise to contribute to the writing of land use districts; and
  2. Due to the urgency of Council’s Motion Arising to return no later than Q3, 2022, public education could not be accommodated within the timeframe.”

When there are issues that affect our communities, we need and want to be informed, engaged, and to have the chance to voice our opinions.  That was not done in this case, leaving CAs scrambling to try to learn about these proposals, and leaving us without even enough lead time to include the information in our community newsletters.

City Hall Public Hearing – Results on Missing Middle

First, I would like to thank a reader who recently sent me an email about my Bugle articles.  She commented that she always reads the articles and finds them informative, and thanked me for writing them.  That was an unexpected treat on a day when I felt discouraged about some recent Planning experiences, including a Public Hearing at a Council meeting.  There is an old adage that “you can’t fight City Hall”, and sometimes it does feel like there is no point in trying.  But then again, that goes against the idea that citizens DO have a say in what happens in their city and in their community!  Our choices are to either be active participants or to passively accept what goes on around us.  Thank you to the reader for helping me make the decision to stay involved.

Last month’s column focused on proposed Land Use changes for the “Missing Middle” being brought forward to Council on October 4th.  (For previous articles, go to www.brentwoodcommunity.com and click on the Bugle image on the home page).  The Council Hearing stretched out for 2 long days and well into the evening on the second day.  The end result was that there were some “Land Use” (zoning) changes approved to the existing R-CG category as well the addition of a new Land Use category called H-GO, Housing – Grade-Oriented.

What the changes allowed for is mid-block multi-housing building forms.  You’ve likely seen examples of R-CG homes on 19th Street, for example, in the form of 4 townhouses placed “sideways” on an existing property.  Because that doesn’t work for mid-block parcels of land, the H-GO category was created to allow for 2 rows of dwellings – a front dwelling unit(s) facing the street with another one set behind it, facing into a shared backyard or the lane.  There is a complex matrix that applies to consider where H-GO might apply, specifically inner-city communities which have a Local Area Plan or are within designated areas, such as on Main Streets or close to transit.

During the public hearing, a common theme was that many presenters strongly opposed the process because the City undertook engagement with developers, but not with the general public.  The Administration report stated that “Public engagement was not accommodated in the scope of this work for two reasons: “Citizens would not have the technical expertise to contribute to the writing of land use districts; and ……. “public education could not be accommodated within the timeframe.”The best comment I heard from a speaker with regards to the process was something along the lines of “WE (the general public) are the missing middle.  You (Administration) missed consulting with us.”

This is where it gets interesting.  One Councillor requested a reconsideration of the vote late in the evening.  That meant Councillors reopened the Agenda item, debated again and then voted again, which ultimately resulted in a reversal of a key element:  the change from “Discretionary” to “Permitted” for the new H-GO Development Permits.  It was discouraging to see such an unpredictable process, in which at first it was approved, and then turned down about an hour later.

Regardless of where you stand on this “Missing Middle” building form, what was also disappointing was the manner in which some councillors dismissed or disregarded the input from some public speakers.  Any resident or community representative who takes the time to come out to speak at a Public Hearing should be encouraged to do so, not treated with disrespect.

After the vote, Council directed Administration to develop a communications plan outlining and clarifying the changes.  This is to target community associations directly, and also be available to other members of the public on The City’s website.  In addition, Administration is to “Prepare a report on Administration’s practices for public engagement on planning and land use matters, and to report back to Council no later than Q2 2023.”

We will await these updated documents, and then report back on the report!

On behalf of our Development and Transportation Committee, we wish you the best of “plans” for a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

On behalf of the Development and Transportation Committee

2021

The Subdivision and Development Appeal Board:  Appealing a Development Permits Decision

The Brentwood Community Association (BCA) and the Development and Transportation Committee (DTC) receive a copy of each Development Permit (DP) submitted in our community.  Residents next to a new DP application may notice a signboard placed on the property by the City of Calgary; this includes basic information about the application as well as a contact number.  The DTC also posts information on the BCA website and delivers Neighbour Notifications to the residents who live closest to a proposed development.

Once a DP has been submitted, there is a deadline for submissions from residents and the CA.  After this, the file manager reviews each application (during which time there may be some revisions or modifications to the submitted plans) and the DP is either approved or denied.

What happens if a DP is approved near you but you have objections to the decision?
The recourse available to affected parties is to file an appeal with the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB).  The appeal must be filed within 21 days of the notice, costs $200.00, and a Hearing will be held to determine if there are grounds for the appeal.  You can find more information on the SDAB website:  www.calgarysdab.ca.

Who is deemed to be an “affected person”?
The term affected person is not defined in the Municipal Government Act. The Board determines affected persons on a case-by-case basis. For example, an affected person could be someone who feels the enjoyment, use or value of their property may be affected by the proposed development. The onus is on the person to show they are affected by the development.”  (SDAB website)
Anyone wishing to comment on the appeal may write a letter to be included in the SDAB Report or may choose to speak at the Hearing.  Note that during the pandemic, SDAB Hearings are held online and further details can be found on their website.

What happens at an SDAB Hearing?

The applicant, the Development Authority and affected parties present their cases and their reasons why they think the DP should or should not be approved.  All persons involved in the Hearing will have a chance to present their case as well as provide a rebuttal.
Note that the SDAB is not an evidence seeking body:  it does not gather information for the appeal.  The onus is on the appellant to provide information, support their information and include any materials (photos, maps, etc.) that would be helpful as evidence.  Only relevant Planning considerations will be used in the SDAB Decision.

What are Relevant and Non-Relevant Planning Considerations?

Examples of relevant considerations include compliance with the Land Use Bylaw, site context, privacy, shadowing, building mass, etc.  (see the SDAB site for additional examples).

Examples of non-relevant considerations include precedence, financial impacts, whether the development is occupied by renters or owners, etc.

What happens after the Hearing?

The SDAB will deliberate in private the outcome of the appeal and make a ruling on the appeal:  either allow or not allow the DP to proceed, or impose conditions on the application.  The Board’s written Decision is not final until it is signed and issued.

Further Information
The SDAB Website provides details for the relevant planning resources as well as the procedures during a Hearing. It is also helpful to look up previous decisions and examples prior to any Hearing.  The SDAB website contains a “Decision Search” heading leading to the “CanLII” (Canadian Legal Information Institute) website; this has an excellent search engine to look up other similar cases.

Stay safe.  Follow Province of Alberta and City of Calgary Guidelines.

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  Our meetings will be determined in accordance with AHS guidelines.  Please contact the BCA for more information at office@brentwoodcommunity.com or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

It’s Never to Early to Develop an Interest in Community Planning!

This month’s column was inspired by a conversation with someone who told me her school-aged children were studying famous architects as part of their online learning during Covid.  The children had read about Frank Lloyd Wright and the famous home he designed, Fallingwater, and from there, they were branching out into other buildings and designs.

I was surprised that buildings and architecture would be of interest to children, but maybe that shouldn’t be surprising at all.  Right now, most children are spending more time than ever at home and in their own neighbourhoods, with many learning at home and sports and other activities cancelled.  Children (and their families) have time to take leisurely walks in their neighbourhoods, and to look around in new ways.

Ask questions and spark an interest in your children (or grandchildren!).  What makes a community?  How are the houses and buildings planned?  Who figures out where the roads and pathways go?  What do you like or not like about where you live?  What could make it even better?

There are some wonderful books about cities and buildings, all geared to children. Brentwoodians are very fortunate to have the Nose Hill Library in our community.  Most of the following books are available through Calgary Public Library, plus of course bookstores.  (Supporting local stores is always appreciated, so please check with them before ordering online.)  At the time of writing, libraries are still closed to the public, but they are still offering curbside pickup.  If you don’t have a card, you can also apply online at www.calgarylibrary.ca.

Here are some Juvenile titles to “check out”:

  • Fallingwater: The Building of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Masterpiece (Marc Harshman, 2017)
    Fallingwater is one of the most famous houses ever built. It was built on top of a waterfall fitting in perfectly with its surroundings.  This is a children’s book about Fallingwater; if interested, follow up with the photography book “Fallingwater” (editor Lynda Waggoner, 2011).
  • Frank Lloyd Wright for Kids: 21 Activities (Kathleen Thorne-Thomsen, 2014)

Geared to budding architects or kids interesting in building, some interesting hands-on projects.

  • A Place Called Home: Look Inside Houses From Around the World (Kate Baker, 2020)
    A lift-the-flap book geared for younger children; they can lift the flaps to see inside different types of houses from around the world. Fun for little ones to consider how each house is different yet also contains the same elements.
  • Discovering Architecture (Eduard Altarriba, 2019)
    A good look at buildings around the world, including a look at the people who created them as well as the different building materials used (mud, steel, reinforced concrete, etc.).
  • LEGO Micro Cities: Build your Own Mini Metropolis! (Jeff Friesen, 2019)
    For LEGO enthusiasts, great ideas for building your own city.  A great way for children to recognize some of the elements that are needed in a city, plus they have to figure out where to place roads or parks and trees. (Check out the many other Calgary Public Library LEGO books as well by entering “LEGO” as a subject on the library catalogue.)
  • Walking in the City with Jane: A Story of Jane Jacobs (Susan Hughes, 2018)

Jane Jacobs rose to prominence when a proposed development threatened her neighborhood and she led her community in protest.  She is the reason for “Jane’s Walks” that are held in Calgary and around the world.  A good introduction to planning and to the power of activism.

  • Calgary’s Best Walks (Lori Beattie, various editions)
    Although not a planning book, a great guide to walking around Calgary. Take a walk through a different are to see how neighbourhoods are different, and ask children what they like or don’t like.
  • A Walk Around the Block: Stoplight Secrets, Mischievous Squirrels, Manhole Mysteries & Other Stuff You See Every Day (and Know Nothing About) (Spike Carlsen, 2020)

Not a children’s book, but one that would interest older children:  Each chapter features a different aspect in our community that we take for granted: sewers, recycle bins, roads and even grafitti.  Reading a chapter and then walking around to look for sewers or road signs or counting trees would be both entertaining and educational.

  • Stephen Biesty’s Incredible Cross-sections (Richard Platt, 2019)
    If you’re not familiar with Stephen Biesty’s books, they all include amazing cross-section drawings of buildings, castles, machinery, and even transportation vehicles. The building drawings will inspire kids to look at the buildings around them in a new light.
  • City: discover the Story of the City– From Ancient Settlements to the Modern Metropolis (Philip Steele, 2011)

A book in the excellent “Eyewitness” series; large format books with many pictures.  Older children can read the text, younger ones will be fascinated by the many photos.

  • Cities: Discover How They Work : With 25 Projects (Kathleen M. Reilly, 2014)

Well-illustrated and interesting look at the elements that are needed to make a city.  This is a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) book that is great for further learning.

  • Cityscape: Where Science and Art Meet (April Pulley Sayre, 2020)
    Another STEAM book with appealing photos that emphasis shapes, art and form. Simple text for younger readers.
  • How a City Works (D.J. Ward, 2018)
    Another book geared to younger readers; part of the Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science series.

Perhaps one of these books will inspire a child to dream of building, creating or planning. They may look at their neighbourhoods with more understanding or how they were planned or created.  Or they may just have fun reading something new!

Next month:  Planning books for adults to enjoy.

Stay safe.  Follow Province of Alberta and City of Calgary Guidelines.

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  Our meetings will be determined in accordance with AHS guidelines.  Please contact the BCA for more information at office@brentwoodcommunity.com or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

City Planning Books to Enjoy!

Last month, my Bugle article featured Planning books for kids; this month some adult selections.  These are not technical Planning books, but rather just some that I found interesting or relevant to our community.  Most are available through the Calgary Public Library.  (At the time of writing, libraries are closed to the public, but you can place a hold and arrange for curbside pickup at the Nose Hill Library.  If you don’t already have a card, apply online at www.calgarylibrary.ca.)

Planning is not static, that is, ideas about what makes a great community or a great city change over time.  Brentwood was developed in the early 1960s and changes are evident.  The resident composition changes over time (for example, the average family size or the number of seniors) and this impacts potential redevelopment.  Large houses or smaller condos?  Yards and gardens or maintenance-free living?  Cars or transit?

In most cases, there are no “right” answers.  The challenge for residents is to learn about the relevant Planning “rules” and how they may apply to and impact our community.  City-wide, numerous documents guide redevelopments:  the Municipal Development Plan, the Land Use Bylaw, the proposed Guidebook for Great Communities, and others.  Beyond the specifics of those documents, it is helpful to learn about Planning ideas and experiences from other cities.

In no particular order:

  • Underwater: How our American Dream of Homeownership Became a Nightmare  (Ryan Dezember, 2020).

The best book I’ve read in a long time!  “A cautionary tale of Wall Street’s push to turn homes into assets”; the commodification and financialization of housing.  We’re all familiar with the US foreclosure crisis, but this book looks at the fallout.  Houses are no longer just homes and places to live, but rather commodities.  The author uses his own experience with buying a home that went deeply “underwater”, i.e. the remaining mortgage is worth more than the house.  A very readable book.  Look up some of the developments on Google maps to get a sense of the area (the Alabama coastline) and the scale of some of the buildings.

  • Walkable City Rules: 101 Steps to Making Better Places (Jeff Speck, 2018)
    Another very readable book with 101 short ideas about walkability, parking, making interesting places.
  • The 99% Invisible City: A Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design (Roman Mars, 2020)
    A current best-seller for the “urban curious” about everything that makes a city work, with many drawings to make the topics clear.  This is a book that you can jump into at any section, or skip ahead to the items that interest you most.  There is also a 99% Invisible podcast that ties in with the book.
  • Next: Where to Live, What to Buy, and Who Will Lead Canada’s Future (Darrell Jay Bricker, 2020)
    Demographic data and forecasts about what Canadians will want and need in the coming decades, including discussion on housing markets and urban / rural divides.  While some charts or data can get a bit overwhelming, the overall predicted trends are definitely relevant, especially in light of Covid’s impacts.
  • Expansive Discourses: Urban Sprawl in Calgary, 1945-1978 (Max Foran, 2009)
    Local history about how neighbourhoods in Calgary were developed.  Includes an interesting section about how Nose Hill was designated as a park instead of being developed for housing.
  • Unbuilt Calgary (Stephanie White, 2012)
    A look at a number of planned projects in Calgary that were never built, including drawings and maps.
  • The Death and Life of Great American Cities (Jane Jacobs, 2011)
    The classic book first published in 1961 that set a standard for city planning. Jane’s Walks are in honour of Jane Jacobs.  Jacobs introduced us to the ideas of “eyes on the street” and the “ballet of the sidewalk”.
  • We Shall Not Be Moved: Rebuilding Home in the Wake of Katrina (Tom Wooten, 2012); The Trouble With City Planning: What New Orleans Can Teach Us (Kristina Ford, 2012); We’re Still Here Ya Bastards:  How the People of New Orleans Rebuilt Their City (Roberta Brandes Gratz, 2015)

These books are about planning and rebuilding New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.  Although the events occurred in 2012, they are still relevant today with a look at mistakes that were made and how some people were dismissed in the rebuilding process.

  • Vancouverism (Larry Beasley, 2018)
    Well-illustrated with many examples of development in Vancouver and the planning processes involved. Anyone familiar with Vancouver areas such as False Creek will recognize the photos;  the book provides details on the process to create these areas.
  • The Iconic American House: Architectural Masterworks Since 1900 (Dominic Bradbury, 2020)

Not a planning book, but I had to include it because it’s such a beautiful new book with stunning classic homes, including Fallingwater and other architectural marvels.  This is a great book to leave on the coffee table to peruse over a few weeks time.

With colder weather, you may have time to read more and hopefully you may enjoy some of these book suggestions.   You may even look at our community with new interest when you are out walking around!

Stay safe.  Follow Province of Alberta and City of Calgary Guidelines.

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  Our meetings will be determined in accordance with AHS guidelines.  Please contact the BCA for more information at office@brentwoodcommunity.com or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

Parks and Greenspace

 Usually this column features topics of development and building applications, but this month, the focus is on our greenspaces and parks.  In the summer when you stand on top of Nose Hill and look down into Brentwood, you can barely see the houses for all the trees!  (It may not look very green right now in the winter, but I’ll refer to them as greenspaces, meaning open spaces and trees.)  We’re very fortunate to have these areas for recreation, along with the birds and wildlife they attract.

The green areas can be viewed as fitting into three categories:

  1. Officially designated parks, such as Blakiston Park and Nose Hill Park.
  2. Public areas such as school fields, small crescent parks or even the grassy, treed boulevards.
    The tree canopies along Northmount Drive or Charleswood Drive are good examples of spaces that are not a park but certainly add greenery to our community.
  3. Private spaces / residential properties.
    Much of the reason Brentwood is so green is that the large property sizes allow for lots of room to plant trees, shrubs, lawns and gardens. Historically, when Brentwood was built in the 1960s, houses were small and detached garages were often just single-car.  This left a lot of room for trees, especially large fir or spruce trees which like to spread out.  (Many residents have told me that the large evergreens in their front yards were the little saplings their children once brought home from school on Arbour Day.)  Since properties are large and houses are spaced far apart, sunlight can pentetrate our yards, allowing plants and trees to grow well.

As redevelopment takes place, how do we ensure that we keep our greenspaces?  In part, it depends on who owns the land.

For private land, the City recognizes the value of trees, and effective July 1, 2019, Bylaw 46P2019 amended Land Use Bylaw 1P2007, requiring that for new development “trees (are) to be retained or planted in the Developed Areas of Calgary for discretionary duplex, single and semi-detached homes and an option to allow a new tree planting in the public boulevard to be part of the tree requirements, if feasible”. (LUB Section 346.1 General Landscaping Rules for the Developed Areas)

For existing homes, when mature trees reach the end of their life cycle, owners are encouraged to plant new trees.  If you are not sure whether a tree is within your property line, this map shows the inventory of every public tree within our community.  https://maps.calgary.ca/TreeSchedule/  Enter your address and zoom in on the map to see how every tree has been identified by species and size, as well as the dollar value placed on each tree.

For large public parks, the land is owned by the City.  Costs for maintenance and upkeep matter, especially during the current economic downturn.   You may have heard about public golf courses being under review, and one course, Richmond Green, was closed last year.  Comprising about 52 acres, the park was included in the Currie Master Plan as a Major park.  Currently, there is a proposal to sell off a 6-acre section of the park to allow for future high-density housing.

How does The City make land management decisions?  From the website https://engage.calgary.ca/RichmondGreen:

“Faced with a continued economic downturn and the impacts of COVID-19, The City of Calgary continuously seeks to deliver services more affordably and to strengthen our community’s future. This includes, where it makes sense, positioning surplus City-owned lands and real estate expertise to increase the tax base, generate revenue and leverage existing infrastructure in support of the growth of our city. This approach recognizes that City-owned lands are valuable assets that provide long term and strategic benefits – economic, environmental and social – to current and future generations.”

The benefit of selling off some land is that it provides revenue, and more significantly, once developed, it generates property taxes, which is a consideration during difficult economic times.  However, one obvious disadvantage is that once a park space is developed, it is lost forever.

What are the most important considerations to you?  You can fill out a survey on the Engage website link above.

To be clear, this is for the Richmond Green area only, and there is no concern right now for any of the parks within our area. However, it is worth learning about this proposal and providing your input.

The pandemic has proven how vital our parks and greenspaces are.  Look at the jammed parking lots at Nose Hill on the weekend or the number of people walking on the John Laurie pathway!  We are lucky to have these treasures within our community and they are worth preserving.

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  Our meetings will be determined in accordance with AHS guidelines.  Please contact the BCA for more information at office@brentwoodcommunity.com or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

Representing Brentwood on Planning Matters

There are currently 150 active Community Associations (CAs) in Calgary.  We all share a common mandate to provide programs, services and communications to our residents, relying mostly on many volunteers to achieve those goals.

With regard to City of Calgary Planning matters, CAs are considered to be “directly affected” by community planning items and are therefore entitled to have notice from, and to be heard by, decision makers.  In Brentwood, the Development and Transportation Committee (DTC) receives and comments on planning matters, most often Development Permits.

Planning items may have widely differing opinions and perspectives.  Differing opinions bring fresh ideas, discussions and reviews, which is welcomed.  DTC members present information for our residents through our website, articles in the Bugle, or direct mailouts to CA members.  There may not always be agreement on an issue, but we try to provide advice, background information, or community context to help clarify what factors are being used to evaluate the proposal (such as the relevant Land Use Bylaw sections).

What we do is try to make sure that people have as much information as possible about what is happening, and also clear information about how to participate in the Planning process.  What the BCA generally does not do is take a stance on City-wide issues; for example, flouride or changing speed limits to 40 kph.  We focus on issues that directly impact our community and trust that our residents will research and form their own opinions on others.  The recent debates around the Guidebook for Great Communities have been a challenge for us.

Going back as far as December 2019, many Bugle articles have been about the Guidebook.  The articles have been factual in nature, frequently with links to the City information sites.  However, trying to stay neutral seems to have meant that many residents were not aware of potential impacts on our community.  The Guidebook is 131 pages of information and much of it is in Planning jargon.  A resident said to me that he had downloaded the Guidebook, but he didn’t know what to look for, so he couldn’t really form an opinion on it.  He needed help to interpret the document.

Even though the information was presented on the City website, the average reader might be hard-pressed to figure out what it really means.  A comparison would be looking through a 130-page financial document:  unless you are an accountant, the information may be difficult to understand.

After hearing this, we posted additional links on the website, including a slide deck outlining our concerns.  https://developments.brentwoodcommunity.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Guidebook-for-Great-Communities-March-12-2021.pdf.  We tried to raise awareness on some sections of the Guidebook, providing information while respecting the rights of every resident to form their own opinion.  We included links to the City website and information sessions.  Then we heard from many of our residents.

Overwhelmingly, what we heard from residents was that they understood that the City should not keep sprawling, but that densification had to happen sensitively and in the appropriate locations.  Residents valued their R-C1 homes and had concerns about how redevelopment would happen near their homes.  We reflected that in the BCA submission to Council and in our presentations to Council.

There is a fine balance between representing our residents or leading them.  We will continue to try to present information accurately and to offer a balance.

Please consider joining the Community Association. http://brentwoodcommunity.com/

If we have your contact information, we can reach you with updates and mailouts.  The more members we have in the BCA, the more voices we represent, which is also important at Council Hearings.  By supporting the BCA, we can continue to try to support our residents, whether through Planning issues, Brentwood Cares or other programs that we offer.  Thank you.

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  Our meetings will be determined in accordance with AHS guidelines.  Please contact the BCA for more information at office@brentwoodcommunity.com or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

On behalf of the BCA Development and Transportation Committee

Watch your speed as of May 31, 2021!  Starting on that date, the default unposted speed limit changes from 50 km/h to 40 kilometers per hour.

Where does this apply? 

This applies primarily to residential roads.
– Residential roads are the roads in front of most houses, and typically have no centre line, and have less traffic. – For the most part, it will not apply to “collector” roads in Brentwood, such as Northmount, Brisebois, 52nd Street and Charleswood.  Collector roads typically have a centre line.  Collector roads are often bus routes and snow routes, and have residences, schools, business, and green spaces.  Please check the map if you are not sure.
– Higher classification roads such as Shaganappi, Crowchild, Northland or John Laurie will not be changed.
– Playground zones will not be changed:  the 30 km/h speed limit remains in place from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

Which roads are Collector roads in Brentwood?

You can find a map here:  https://www.calgary.ca/transportation/roads/traffic/traffic-safety-programs/residential-speed-limits.html

Will all residential roads have 40 km/h signs?
No, most will not.  Just as right now most 50 km/h roads are not signed, the City will not be installing new signs on most residential streets.  If you are not sure, the link above allows you to search each street address to check.

Why is the City reducing speed limits on neighbourhood streets?
From the City website:  this “will reduce collisions”, with an anticipated “90 to 450 fewer collisions” annually.

Will this increase my commute time?

Since this applies only to residential and collector roadways, “the impact for most Calgarians will be under two minutes”.

What about Street Play (Hockey, basketball, etc.)? 

On March 16, 2021, Council directed Administration to complete a full review to encourage safe street level play

including current bylaws and enforcement practices with a report back to the Standing Policy Committee on Transportation and Transit no later than Q1 2022 … with recommendations and funding sources, including but not limited to:

  1. Review provincial laws and legislation that currently limit The City’s ability to encourage safe street level play;
  2. Identify changes necessary to encourage safe street level play;
  3. Include an environmental scan of other municipalities that encourage safe street level play;
  4. Review all safety hazards and risks with proposed recommendations and provide mitigating strategies.

Please consider joining the Community Association. http://brentwoodcommunity.com/.  If we have your contact information, we can reach you with updates and mailouts.  The more members we have in the BCA, the more voices we represent, which is also important at Council Hearings.  By supporting the BCA, we can continue to try to support our residents, whether through Planning issues, Brentwood Cares or other programs that we offer.  Thank you.

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  Our meetings will be determined in accordance with AHS guidelines.  Please contact the BCA for more information at office@brentwoodcommunity.com or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

On behalf of the BCA Development and Transportation Committee

Local Area Plans – A District Model Planning Approach 

Good neighbours sometimes work together to achieve a desired result.  Maybe they are building a fence together, or maybe all the neighbours on a street are applying for parking permits or to pave their alley.  It makes sense for them to collaborate together to plan for a change or a redevelopment affecting their property.  The neighbours could be said to be using a “district model” to plan – a shared and collaborative approach.

Local Area Plans (LAPs) are based on district model planning and you’ll be hearing a lot about LAPs in the coming months and years.  Brentwood will be part of the District 14 LAP, which also includes the communities of Dalhousie, Charleswood, Collingwood (Triwood), Cambrian Heights, Highwood and Rosemont.

How are LAP boundaries determined?  Basically, the communities share some common features, such as

boundaries of large roads (John Laurie) or geographic features (Nose Hill) which shape the way we go about our daily lives within our area.  We share some common park spaces, shopping districts and other amenities – all aspects that we love about where we live.

Since we are sharing these aspects, it makes sense that we might want to plan for future redevelopment together as well.  For example, if there were a change on John Laurie, it would affect all of our communities, as would changes to building forms along Northmount Drive, and so on.  That is the basic idea behind a LAP –  having communities work together on redevelopment proposals that affect the broader area.

Of course, there are limitations as well.  Communities are not homogeneous groups.  Brentwood is different from Cambrian Heights or Rosemont, in features, ages of housing, build forms and so on.  Each community may have different goals and ambitions for future growth, and residents of one community do not necessarily want to follow the patterns in other communities.

One of the main concerns with a LAP is that the entire group works on plans for each community, so Brentwood would be one voice out of all the other coummunities.  If there are development changes proposed for some areas of Brentwood, how much say should other communities have?  Back to the neighbour example, two neighbours may work together to build a fence, but then each paints “their” side a different colour.  Neighbours may consult on a new shared retaining wall, but not on the lawn furniture or the colour of the geraniums!

For the City of Calgary, having one LAP for multiple communities results in fewer plans across the city.  However, for Brentwood, it means that our Station Area Redevelopment Plan (SARP) would be replaced by a LAP.  This is a benefit to the city as it enables plans to be updated more frequently and easily, but it means that our detailed plans for our community are now enveloped into a broader LAP.

Another concern is how the representatives for a LAP are chosen.  The City of Calgary selects the representation from applicants who include area residents, business owners, students and citizens who work in the area, as well as representatives of the Development Industry and CA representatives.  How much input should each of these members have into the LAP for our community?

Your opinion may depend on how much density or redevelopment is planned near you.  The North Hill Communities LAP is a pilot project that includes Crescent Heights, Renfrew, Highland Park and other communities.  In the NHCLAP, some communities are facing more development pressure than others.  There is a lot of information, as well as controversy, around the plan. Please take a look at the NHCLAP and some of the background information.  https://engage.calgary.ca/NorthHill

You will find maps that show how density for redevelopment projects has been applied in those communities.

You can find more information about Local Area Planning on the City of Calgary website.

https://www.calgary.ca/pda/pd/current-studies-and-ongoing-activities/local-area-planning-in-calgary.html

Brentwood is slated to be involved in an LAP process within the next few years, although that has not yet been determined.  The more we understand the process and the concerns, the better prepared we will be when it is Brentwood’s turn in the LAP process.

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  Our meetings will be determined in accordance with AHS guidelines.  Please contact the BCA for more information at office@brentwoodcommunity.com or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

On behalf of the BCA Development and Transportation Committee

Your Content Goes Here

Why Should You Get Involved in the Civic Election?

City Council makes decisions that impact your life!

Decisions about local bylaws, city planning and development, transportation, speed limits, funding for essential and emergency services (police, firefighters, garbage pickup, parks and recreation facilities, etc.) are all made by City Council.

Who makes up City Council?  The mayor and 14 City councillors, one representing each of Calgary’s 14 wards. The mayor is elected city-wide, whereas Councillors are elected by people in their individual wards. All are for four-year terms.

Those 15 individuals play a huge role in almost everything that happens in our communities.  They are the ones who vote, so they are the ones that have the final say.  For example, on a Change of Land Use application (rezoning), it doesn’t matter how many letters are written, how many people speak at Council or how much community opposition there might be to a proposed redevelopment, in the end, it all comes down to a “yes” or “no” vote by the 14 Councillors plus the Mayor.  Also note that the Mayor chairs the Council meetings, so that position does tend to set the tone for the meetings.

So, how can you decide among numerous candidates?  (For Mayor, at the time of this writing, there are 22 declared candidates!)

  1. Find out who your candidates are.  The City of Calgary Election page has a “Candidates for 2021” section.  calgary.ca/election  Under each candidate’s name, there is a link to their individual websites.  Read their platforms and find out more about each.
  2. Decide what you are looking for in a candidate. What experience or qualities would they bring?  What aspects of their platforms do you like or not like?  It’s unlikely that you will agree with every aspect of any candidate’s position, so decide which ones are most important to you.
  3. Gather materials. This might be flyers at the door, online materials or newspaper articles.  Learn as much as you can.  Sign up for updates on various candidates’ websites.
  4. Talk to others, especially if they have had first-hand experiences with the candidates. For the Mayor position, there are 3 current councillors who will be running (Farkas, Davison and Gondek).  This provides the rare chance to view how they have voted on issues over the past 4 years.  Look up an issue that is important to you (for example, the Event Centre, Richmond Green Park, the Guidebook debates), and see how each candidate voted.
  5. This election will have at least 10 new faces in Council Chambers – that is a huge turnover! Talk to people who follow civic politics and ask them what they see as concerns or problem areas at City Hall.
  6. Attend a candidate event or watch one on-line. Sign up for updates from Elections Calgary at calgary.ca/election
  7. Ask questions when candidates come to your door. Contact their campaign offices.  Decide who you would like to work with or who you feel would best represent your interests.  If you had a concern, how would that candidate help advocate for you or your community at City Council?

For Brentwood, attend the AGM on Wednesday, September 1, 2021.  There will be a brief summary of the year’s events from each committee (hockey, development, community garden, etc.), so this is a good chance to see what the community concerns might be.  Following this, we have asked each of the Ward 4 candidates to attend a Meet-and-Greet event in which residents can talk to the candidates in person.  Ask questions, find out more!

Keep checking the BCA website for updates:  http://brentwoodcommunity.com/

Election Quick Facts:

When is it?  Monday, October 18, 2021 with voting stations open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

When is advance voting?

Monday, October 4 to Friday, October 8 (8 a.m. – 7 p.m.)

Saturday, October 9 (10 a.m. – 7 p.m.)

Sunday, October 10 (10 a.m. – 3 p.m.)

Where do I vote?  At your designated voting station based on your home address.  A voter information card will be sent to each household.  See the City website for more information:  www.calgary.ca/election

Which Ward is Brentwood?  Ward 4

Who will we be voting for?  A new Mayor, a new City Councillor in each ward and School Trustees.

What other ballots will we receive?  There will be 4 plebiscite questions:  fluoridation of water, a provincially-mandated Senate nominee election, a referendum on equalization payments, and a question about whether to get rid of daylight saving time.

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  Our meetings will resume in September, usually on the first Monday of every month.  Please contact the BCA for more information at office@brentwoodcommunity.com or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

Summary for the Brentwood CA Annual General Meeting

Due to Covid, the Development and Transportation Committee did not meet in person for most of the

year, instead communicating via email or Teams meetings.  However, it was still a busy year!  This is a summary of some of the items.

  1. The Guidebook for Great Communities
    The greatest amount of time was spent on the GGC as a new City Planning document. Meetings were held at PUD (Planning and Urban Development) as well as Council, but also behind-the-scenes meetings with other CAs and City Planners, and the Connecting Calgary Communities group.

    • The end result: The GGC became “the Guide” and was approved by a majority of Councillors as a Planning document only, to be used by internal City staff to evaluate and review DPs or LOCs.
    • What it means for Brentwood: The core concept of the Guide is that a District Model will be used to create a LAP (Local Area Plan) to determine Land Use patterns, i.e. where should densification take place, what types of buildings are appropriate in which areas, and so on.
      – the lowest scale of buildings, the “low” building form includes single-family, attached homes (duplexes) and up to townhouses of 3-storeys (which also may include secondary suites).  This is in marked contrast to our existing predominently R-C1 Land Use, so the LAP when created will allow for substantial changes to the existing character as we know it today.
      – the District Model for Brentwood will include:  Dalhousie, Brentwood, Triwood, Collingwood, Charleswood, Cambrian Heights, Rosemont and Highwood.
  2.  Correction and Standardization of Brentwood, Triwood and Dalhousie community geographic boundaries.

The District Model led to some questions about the boundaries of Brentwood.  For example, Northland Mall is within the Brentwood community boundary but also still included within the boundaries of Dalhousie within the 1972 Dalhousie Design Brief.  There is also further clarity needed around the definition of communities included in “Triwood” (there is no Collingwood or Charleswood CA).  Standardization is important for density / population counts for communities as well as for future Local Area Plans.

  1.  Northland Mall Redevelopment
    Changes of Land Use and Development Permits were approved over the past several years and the BCA supported the applications at Council and in private meetings.
    There will be 2 six-storey purpose-built residential buildings with just under 300 units in total, purpose-built rentals with on-site management; a range of units from micro to 3-bedroom on each floor, plus amenities for the residents.
  2. Development Permits
    Time Period Jun 1/20 to May 31/21 (Submissions & Approvals)
  • Secondary Suites (34)
    • Basement (30), Backyard (4)
  • Residential
    • New Homes (3)
    • Additions (6) – 1 front porch; 1 second floor; 4 main floor
    • New Garage (1)
    • Various relaxations (9)
  • Business Permits
    • Home Occupation (2 – fashion jewellery, personal trainer)
    • Northland Mall:  Under Review: Revised Mall upgrade;  Approved: Parking Lot upgrade, Walmart garden centre & refurbish exterior; Residential development (2 buildings)
    • Northland Plaza:  Restaurant
    • Brentwood Common/University City:  F45 fitness centre, Cora’s restaurant, Wami Market, veterinary clinic
    • Norbrent:  Increased capacity at Braineer Academy
    • Brentwood Mall:  Approved Jamison’s outdoor patio;
    • Other:  Convenience store, Mimico Take Out (Northmount/Charleswood strip mall)
    • Brentwood Co-op area:  Wendy’s refurbish exterior
  • Signs
    • Approved (9)
  • Other
    • Since 2014, 99 Secondary Suite rezoning or development permits have been approved or are in the approval process
    • Since 2014, 62 Secondary Suites have been registered
  1. Transportation Items:
    • Paving of John Laurie Blvd from 14th St to Shaganappi Trail – ongoing
    • Paving of Charleswood Dr from Brentwood Rd to Northmount Dr – scheduled for 2022
    • Paving of Brisebois Dr from Crowchild Trail to John Laurie Blvd – scheduled for 2022
    • Paving of Shaganappi Trail from Northland Dr to 40 Ave – scheduled for 2022
    • Infrastructure for future traffic signals at several intersections along John Laurie was installed, although no immediate plans for lights.
  1. Parking issues
    Residents have noticed an increase in parking and traffic around local schools since Covid began; it appears many parents are now driving children to school.
    – Parking is also an issue for some homes with secondary suites. According to City Bylaws, a home with a suite must have 2 designated off-street parking spaces; one for the main dwelling and one for the suite.  The BCA was successful in appealing a DP at SDAB (Subdivision and Development Appeal Board) regarding a DP decision for a secondary suite that was deficient in providing parking as per the Land Use Bylaw (LUB1P2007) for Secondary Suites.
  2. Problem Properties / Criminal activity
    Constable Richard Marshall with Calgary Police Services has been helpful with problem situations: several properties were reported to SCAN (Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods) for suspected drug or other illegal activities.  For minor bylaw infractions, 311 should be contacted to register a complaint.  For more serious issues, call 911 for emergencies, or if the situation does not require immediate action, the non-emergency number is 403-266-1234.  For issues in our area, Constable Richard Marshall can be reached at 403-428-6342.  We all have a role to play in keeping Brentwood safe!

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  Our meetings are usually held on the first Monday of every month.  Please contact the BCA for more information at office@brentwoodcommunity.com or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

Should Secondary Suites “count” towards Density?

If you’ve ever driven from Brentwood to the far south end of the city, you know that Calgary spreads out over a large area.  Often people will say that the city has “sprawled” too far.  We hear that sprawl is costly in terms of providing services when City Council makes decisions on snow removal, fire / police resources, or other city services.

Since the Calgary population continues to increase, either the City keeps growing outwards at the edges, or some of the growth has to happen within the current boundaries in established areas.  But where should the growth go and how should it be managed?  It’s for that reason that the Municipal Development Plan (MDP) set targets for growth – a balance between new suburbs and existing established communities such as Brentwood.

In 2009, the MDP target was to have 50 per cent of all population growth between 2009 and 2069 within established communities, rather than new suburbs.  Since this is a very long time frame, an interim goal was set as 33 per cent by 2039.  This is the challenge facing all established communities:  since they are “established” and existing, most of the land has already been built out.  There simply aren’t vacant parcels of land waiting for building.

Meeting the goals of the MDP means redevelopment and densification.  The MDP applies city-wide, so a community cannot simply opt out of densification measures.  Since we can’t add more land into our community, we either have to build upwards (like the towers at the Brentwood LRT area) or we have to increase the usage of existing properties (for example, secondary suites).

The problem is that secondary suites do not “count” as increased density.  Density is defined in  the Land Use Bylaw (LUB) 1P2007, Section 48:  “density” means the number of Dwelling Units and Live Work Units on a parcel, expressed in units per hectare or in units  per parcel, but does not include Secondary Suites or Backyard Suites.

There have been 99 Development Permits (DPs) for Secondary Suites in Brentwood since 2018.  (The BCA supports safe and legal suites as long as the requirements are met:  things like the required suite parking space, adherence to bylaws, and so on).  The Land Use Bylaw 1P2007 (LUB) defines secondary suite as “..a second, self-contained unit…”  The 2006 Alberta Building Code (ABC) defines a secondary suite as a “…second self-contained dwelling unit that is located within a primary dwelling, where both dwelling units are registered under the same land title”.

Since secondary suites are a second self-contained dwelling unit, it stands to reason that a house with a suite serves as a home to two sets of residents:  where there was once a single family unit, there are now 2 family units (with “family” being loosely defined as any group of occupants who share the premises).  As far as density though, a R-C1 house remains a “single-family” dwelling regardless of whether it has 2 separate units or not.  This even applies to backyard suites, which are a totally separate building from the main house.

If there had been 99 houses converted from R-C1 (“single family”) to R-C2 (duplexes), Brentwood would have “added density”, but as it it, there is deemed to be no change.  Population increases should show up on the census population counts, but it’s hard to know if they do because of both timing (students often move back home in the summer) and reporting (are owners admitting to short-term rentals or occupants in illegal suites?).

Secondary suites should count towards density.  We tracks statistics on our applications, and the average number of bedrooms over a 4 year period stands at 2.2 bedrooms per basement suite.  Doing the math, 99 x 2.2 = 218 bedrooms.  This is the equivalent of adding a multi-storey tower (the newest Brio tower in Brentwood has about 180 units).

As another example, you may have noticed new townhouses being built along 19th Street in Banff Trail:  most appear to have 4 units (R-CG zoning) that have been turned sideways on the property.  Some of these townhouses also have secondary suites, so really 8 separate dwelling units in total, but they also do not “count”.   In terms of parking, garbage, and services such as sewer and water, it matters.

Secondary suites are currently where we are seeing the majority of redevelopment or densification in Brentwood.  Each DP application is on a small scale, but overall the numbers add up….. or at least, they should!  What do you think?

In next month’s column, the focus will be on the larger scale areas for potential redevelopment, such as Northland Mall (where two 6-storey residential buildings are currently under construction) and the Brentwood Mall area.

Stay safe.  Follow Province of Alberta and City of Calgary COVID Guidelines.

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  Our meetings will be determined in accordance with AHS guidelines.  Please contact the BCA for more information at office@brentwoodcommunity.com or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

2020

SO, WHAT IS THE DTC ANYWAY?

By Lee Hunt

Our community is fortunate to have a number of volunteers who serve on the Brentwood Development and Transportation Committee.

When Brentwood was a newer neighbourhood, there were not many applications for re-development of malls, homes, or secondary suites in Brentwood, so BCA members Casper Valstar and Kirk Osadetz were able to review and reply to the City on them.  However, that changed a few years ago when Brentwood Village, Dalbrent Mall, Northland Mall, and Northland Plaza all proposed redevelopment intentions at about the same time.  Around the same time, numerous Brentwood homeowners began applying to construct basement and backyard suites, as well as renovate or rebuild existing homes.  It soon became evident that a dedicated team was required to oversee all of the development being proposed.  Thus, in 2017, the Brentwood Development and Transportation Committee (DTC) was initiated. I recently had an opportunity to interview two DTC members – Melanie Swailes and Peter Johnson.

The DTC now consists of about a dozen people representing a considerable range of ages, occupations, and interests.  All bring enthusiasm to the committee and use their varied skills in various aspects of the committee’s work.  For example, three of the members have recently completed a “Community Values Document” to be used as the foundation for the DTC’s work.  Others have attended meetings with the police and the City regarding such topics as parking rules, while another is in charge of the website, https://developments.brentwoodcommunity.com/

Many DTC members have also taken a number of workshops through the City of Calgary and the Federation of Calgary Communities (FCC) on topics as diverse as bylaws, assisted living, and backyard suites.  Peter and Melanie wanted me to be certain to mention that FCC “Partners In Planning” workshops are free to those who are interested in learning more about planning.  For information on topics being offered, please go to www.calgary.ca and search for “partners in planning”.

Melanie and Peter explained to me that when the BCA receives a Development Permit application from the City for a Brentwood property, they create a “Neighbour Notification” which is then delivered in person to nearby affected residents and businesses. This gives people the opportunity to learn about the proposed redevelopment and provide input to the City.

The DTC team then evaluates every proposed DP according to the Land Use Bylaw, planning rationale and comments received from neighbours.  On behalf of the BCA, a response is then sent to the file manager at the City.  It is important for the City to hear back from the residents in a community, and the DTC ensures that our community has a voice in the redevelopment of houses, retail and commercial spaces in Brentwood.

The DTC posts all new Development Permits on its website so that residents can see what is proposed for our area.  DTC members also interact with City Planners, Councillor Chu, or other individuals who are involved in a proposed development.

We in Brentwood owe considerable thanks to members of the DTC for all of their dedicated volunteer work on our behalf.  The group meets monthly at 7:00 on the first Monday of every month upstairs in the Boardroom at the Sportsplex.  All Brentwood residents are most welcome to attend. Contact the BCA for more information at office@brentwoodcommunity.com or at 403–284-3477.

TO ALL BUGLE READERS – Thanks for reading and all the best in 2020!
Lee Hunt

Guidebook for Great Communities

Part of the difficulty in writing about Planning updates is that articles for the Brentwood Bugle have to be submitted far in advance.  In the December issue of the Brentwood Bugle, I wrote about the Guidebook for Great Communities which, at the time of writing, was slated to go to City Council in December 2019.  Numerous groups including Community Associations and the Federation of Calgary Communities asked for a delay, citing the need for greater community awareness and understanding of the document.

Prior to going before Council, the Standing Policy Committee on Planning and Urban Development (PUD) reviewed the Guidebook, and directed City administration to adopt the Guidebook with refinements that included in part:

  1. Build awareness among Calgarians about the changes being proposed and to allow Calgarians to participate in the community conversation on long-term planning and supporting growth with infrastructure and amenities.
  2. Communicate the vision and intent of the document within Calgary communities in partnership with stakeholder groups, before the document becomes statutory.
  3. Prepare a clear engagement process for statutory planning work going forward, making expectations clear to all stakeholders about when to engage, what type of engagement is required, and what the outcomes of the work will be.
  4. Provide clarity to the relationship between this work and the City’s shift to larger local area plans.

What does all this mean?

Basically, before the Guidebook can be approved, Calgarians should know more about it!  The proposed changes in the Guidebook include significant changes to low density districts such as Brentwood.

The Guidebook is now expected to go before City Council for approval in March 2020.  Once approved, the Guidebook will be a stand-alone statutory policy that guides future developments (or redevelopments).  It will apply to every community in established areas, and it will override current statutory documents in place for our community, for example, our Brentwood Station Area Redevelopment Plan.

What does this mean for Brentwood residents?

Please try to learn about the Guidebook!  There may be some events or information sessions that you can attend.  Dates have not yet been determined but we will post information on the Brentwood CA website as it is made available to us.  Also keep an eye out for possible City of Calgary events or advertising.

Where can I find more explanations and background?
On the City website, enter “Towards a Renewed Land Use Bylaw”.

https://www.calgary.ca/PDA/pd/Pages/Current-studies-and-ongoing-activities/Toward-a-Renewed-Land-Use-Bylaw.aspx

You will find answers to questions such as “What does this mean for low density districts?”, as well as illustrations of what potential redevelopment might look like.

Where can I read the Guidebook?

A complete copy of the 147-page Guidebook is on the City of Calgary website at www.calgary.ca, then enter “Guidebook for Great Communities”. https://www.calgary.ca/_layouts/cocis/DirectDownload.aspx?target=http%3a%2f%2fwww.calgary.ca%2fPDA%2fpd%2fDocuments%2fCurrent-studies-and-ongoing-activities%2fguidebook%2fdeveloped-areas-guidebook-proposed.pdf&noredirect=1&sf=1

We will try to post updates on the Brentwood CA website (www.Brentwoodcommunity.com), with a link to our Development and Transporation Committee website.

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  We meet at 7:00 p.m. on the first Monday of every month in the Sportsplex Boardroom.  Our next meetings are on February 3, March 2 and April 6.  Please contact the BCA for more information at office@brentwoodcommunity.com or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

On behalf of the BCA Development and Transportation Committee

 What does the Guidebook for Great Communities mean for Brentwood?

In previous issues of the Brentwood Bugle, I have written about the Guidebook for Great Communities.  The Guidebook (once approved by Council, likely in April) will be a stand-alone statutory policy that guides future development in every community in established areas, including Brentwood.  It will override current statutory documents in place for our community, for example, our Brentwood Station Area Redevelopment Plan.

Where can I read the Guidebook?

A complete copy of the 147-page Guidebook is on the City of Calgary website at www.calgary.ca, then enter “Guidebook for Great Communities”. https://www.calgary.ca/_layouts/cocis/DirectDownload.aspx?target=http%3a%2f%2fwww.calgary.ca%2fPDA%2fpd%2fDocuments%2fCurrent-studies-and-ongoing-activities%2fguidebook%2fdeveloped-areas-guidebook-proposed.pdf&noredirect=1&sf=1

What does this mean for low density districts?

On the City of Calgary website, enter “Towards a Renewed Land Use Bylaw”.

https://www.calgary.ca/PDA/pd/Pages/Current-studies-and-ongoing-activities/Toward-a-Renewed-Land-Use-Bylaw.aspx

This illustration shows some of the housing forms that would be allowed in low-density districts, including rowhouses.  This would be a significant change to low density districts such as Brentwood.  It is important for you to learn about the proposed changes before they are implemented so that you can provide your feedback.

Why are these changes proposed?

The Municipal Development Plan encourages growth and change in low-density neighbourhoods by increasing the mix of housing types such as accessory suites, semi-detached, townhouses, cottage housing, row or other ground-oriented housing (Policy 2.2.5a). However, in many communities, including Brentwood, existing R-C1 land uses do not allow for built forms other than a single detached home unless a Change of Land Use (rezoning) is approved by Council.

The Guidebook seeks to make it easier to create a variety of housing types within established communities. Right now most of the homes in Brentwood have R-C1 land use (“single family”).  Allowing for duplexes, rowhouses or other built forms might provide greater variety of housing types and choice for those who wish to live in Brentwood but not in a detached home.

The Guidebook provides the overall framework for future development and Bylaws would need to be amended to accommodate the proposed changes.  The Guidebook would allow for a comprehensive way to allow for changes across all established communities instead of on an individual basis.

What are District Models?
Community planning would occur on a district model, rather than each community creating its own Local Area Plan.  Brentwood will be part of District 14, which also includes Dalhousie, Triwood (Collingwood and Charleswood), Highwood, Rosemont and Cambrian Heights.  Our communites have similar characteristics, and are linked by Northmount Drive.
Representatives from those communities, along with developers, builders and City of Calgary planners will work together to determine where it makes the most sense to have the greatest density, what form those buildings should have, etc.
This is important because the Guidebook would take precedence over any existing Area Redevelopment Plans; communities each still want to have some say in how development proceeds within their boundaries.

Where can I learn more?  Please try to learn about the Guidebook!

  • The City of Calgary has an interactive display at the Create Space on Level 1 of the Central Library, to the end of February, with Planners at the Library installation Saturdays and Sundays, from 1 – 3 p.m. to answer your questions.
  • The City of Calgary will also be at the upcoming Calgary Home and Garden show, Feb. 27 – Mar. 1. Check the City of Calgary website for other events or information.
  • We will post information on the Brentwood CA website as it is made available to us. Also check the Development and Transportation Website at https://developments.brentwoodcommunity.com/ for links or updates.
  • Join the BCA so that you are on our email list for future events or information. http://brentwoodcommunity.com/registration/

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  We meet at 7:00 p.m. on the first Monday of every month in the Sportsplex Boardroom.  Our next meetings are on March 2 and April 6.  Please contact the BCA for more information at office@brentwoodcommunity.com or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

On behalf of the BCA Development and Transportation Committee

Updates on the Guidebook for Great Communities

The Guidebook was presented at the Standing Policy Committee on Planning & Urban Development (PUD) on March 4, 2020.  Some minor changes may be made to the Guidebook after the PUD meeting, but the document is scheduled to go before City Council on April 27.

The Council meeting will be a public hearing; residents can speak or submit letters for consideration by Councillors.

A complete copy of the 147-page Guidebook is on the City of Calgary website at www.calgary.ca, then enter “Guidebook for Great Communities”. https://www.calgary.ca/_layouts/cocis/DirectDownload.aspx?target=http%3a%2f%2fwww.calgary.ca%2fPDA%2fpd%2fDocuments%2fCurrent-studies-and-ongoing-activities%2fguidebook%2fdeveloped-areas-guidebook-proposed.pdf&noredirect=1&sf=1

For updates, check the Development and Transportation Website at https://developments.brentwoodcommunity.com/.
Past Brentwood Bugle articles regarding development and transportation are now available on the website as well.

for future events or information on the Guidebook and other topics, please consider an annual membership to the BCA to support our community and so that you are on our email list.  Our community is stronger with more members! http://brentwoodcommunity.com/registration/

Update on Short Term Rentals & Lodging Houses

A new City bylaw requiring all short-term rental (STR) hosts to hold a valid business licence came into effect on February 1, 2020.  “The bylaw was developed to help keep communities safe and enjoyable for hosts, guests and neighbours alike.” (all quotes from City of Calgary website for Short Term Rentals & Lodging Houses at www.calgary.ca/shorttermrentals)

What is a Short Term Rental?  A STR “is defined as the business of providing temporary accommodation for compensation, in a dwelling unit or portion of a dwelling unit for periods of up to 30 consecutive days.”  Airbnb is perhaps the most well-known platform, although there are many others.

Business Licence Bylaw – Every host must have a business licence and must comply with the regulations.  Fines can be levied for non-compliance.
If you have a short-term rental unit in your home, you may apply online or in person for a license.  If a secondary suite is being used as a STR, the host must meet all the requirements for a legal secondary suite plus they must have a STR license.

Overlapping Bookings – ​“A host cannot allow overlapping bookings of two or more bookings for the dwelling at the same time. This means an host cannot rent out separate rooms to separate guests under separate reservations but can rent out multiple rooms as part of one guest reservation.”

Advertising

Under bylaw Section 58.1(7), a host must include the business licence number in any advertising for the short term rental (such as on Airbnb).  The purpose of this regulation is to discourage “unlicensed hosts and advise guests that properties require a business licence in Calgary.”
As a guest, if the ad includes a business license number, there is an assurance that the suite has met at least the minimal standards of the bylaw.

How to be a Good Host or a Good Guest

With an increase in the popularity of STRs, regulations have been put in place prevent STRs from creating a nuisance that disturbs the surrounding community.  Two guides have been created to clearly outline the expectations for both hosts and guests.  Both are available on the City website (at the link in this article), and both are worth a look!

The good host guide provides hosts with an overview of regulations and processes, including tips and a checklist.
The good guest guide​ provides knowledge on expectations, accommodation practices and support through booking to stay.

Lodging House

A lodging house is defined as “the business of providing sleeping or lodging accommodation for compensation for three or more persons in the same dwelling unit for periods of 30 or more consecutive days, where each person has entered into a separate rental agreement.”

The owner of a lodging house must have a business license.  The owner must keep a permanent record of all guests, duration of stay, etc. and must provide that information to the Chief License Inspector upon demand.  This is to “ensure transparency of operators for guests and the Chief Licence Inspector”.  In addition, the home must have a Fire Inspection and an Alberta Health Services Inspection.  The City website provides details on STRs and Lodging Houses, including aspects such as noise bylaws, parking and safety.

Bylaw Contacts
For all of the above, you can find more information on the City website (address above).  If you have problems or concerns regarding a Short Term Rental or a Lodging House, contact 311 by phone, online or through the 311 app.

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  We meet at 7:00 p.m. on the first Monday of every month in the Sportsplex Boardroom.  Our next meeting is on April 6.  Please contact the BCA for more information at office@brentwoodcommunity.com or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

On behalf of the BCA Development and Transportation Committee

COVID-19 and City Planning

This month I am writing an opinion piece rather than about specific City policies or plans.  These are my opinions, not necessarily those of BCA or DTC members.  This article was submitted at the end of March but you will be reading it in May: there may have been significant changes during that time period which are not reflected here.

The COVID-19 pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020.  Our lives changed so suddenly and so drastically on the following days as our schools and libraries closed, followed by city facilities, then restaurants and businesses, and finally almost everything except for essential services such as grocery stores, gas stations and of course, our hospitals.  Many people lost jobs and most of those still working were doing so from home.

Our homes become our 24 hours per day boundaries, with only short trips out for essentials or for a bit of fresh air.  This is a radical change to the way we live, work and spend our lives.  Parents, children and other household members were spending every moment of the day together, which could be either beneficial or stressful depending on the circumstances.

Many Brentwood residents have expressed to me that they are very glad and very fortunate to live in a house, a place with a basement for the kids to play in and a backyard with space to just get outside, even if quarantined.  How would the experience be different if you lived in a micro apartment or in downtown New York or Paris?  It’s a lot easier to isolate if you have space in which to spread out.  Even things like storage space make a difference: in many countries around the world, daily or frequent shopping at markets is the norm, not stockpiling in a freezer.

From a planning standpoint, how will this pandemic affect our lives when we get to the other side of the crisis?

Isolation / quarantine and density appear to be conflicting ends of the spectrum.  Is it possible to have both?  A “sprawled out” city is less efficient in terms of transportation, public connectivity, and even land use itself.  On the other hand, it is much easier to isolate in a home without shared access or facilities (i.e. elevators, shared hallways, laundry rooms, parkades, etc.).  A primary benefit of densified living is that common amenities can be provided:  for example, an apartment building may have a fitness center, a pool, a common entertainment area, rooftop decks or other features.  In part, those features may be the trade-off for the apartment size.  It is easier to live in a small apartment or studio because you gain amenities that can be used by all residents.  You are close to theatres,  live entertainment venues, indoor shopping or even plus 15s.  You may opt to not buy a car because you have great access to public transit.

What happens when public or shared facilities are forced to shut or when common access is not only restricted, but possibly dangerous as in the COVID-19 outbreak?

In Calgary, according to the 2019 City census, 929,000 people live in either a single-family or duplex home, representing 72% of all Calgarians.  The proposed Guidebook for Great Communities and the Municipal Development Plan encourage increased densification within our established areas. Is there a conflict between what a majority of residents have chosen for a housing form (built environment) and City sustainablity or even climate change?  Most of us have never really considered a pandemic as a possibility.  Now that we are living through it, will this change how we look at our homes and even our city as a whole?

Market forces will determine where residents want to live.  Beyond looking at amenities, safety has become paramount.  Physical distancing, keeping 6 feet apart at all times, is difficult when you are sharing elevators or common entrances. City sidewalks can be crowded and even our National Parks were shut down when residents seeking an outlet escaped to the countryside.  Suddenly, every day life in the suburbs and private backyards may carry more appeal.

Will we see a resurgence of movement towards suburbs, or will the appeal of the inner city remain? Large cities seem to take on a life of their own, as Vancouver and Toronto have shown.  Despite high costs, traffic jams and congestion, they continue to grow, which means people want to move there.  Even after 9/11, although there was a lull in travelling and building towering high rises, it proved temporary and the city rebounded.

Some things will likely require a rethink.  Public transit relies on a high volume of people, especially in peak periods.  Is it feasible to run buses with empty seats or to clean frequently throughout the day?  If people are hesitant to use public transit, will more of them drive and make the roads more crowded?  Or would it be better to close down some roads and encourage walking and biking?

Large-scale businesses or City facilities such as convention centers, movie theatres, Flames games or exhibitions will have to determine how they can resume activity while at the same time lessening risks.  Such facilities rely on large crowds, yet every individual may pose a risk to the others around him.  However, maybe we will all be so tired of physical isolation that we will eagerly want to be together en masse again.

We’ll almost certainly see some changes from brick and mortar stores to online, including groceries, take-out, even schooling.  Some of this could be beneficial, if for example, on-line learning means greater sharing of facilities so that fewer physical classrooms need to be built. Individuals who have been forced to work from home may decide that is a feasible option going forward.  Companies may decide they don’t need as much square footage after all, which would be detrimental to the many already empty office spaces in Calgary.

Nobody knows what our new normal will look like.  Each of us will make difficult decisions on what our working futures look like, how we will weather the economic crisis, and where we will live.  The choice in what type of housing we feel best suits our needs will play a very large role in determining the built form of our city in the coming years.  Developers will build what people will buy.  Experiencing a pandemic may play a large role in that decision.

Stay safe.  Follow Province of Alberta and City of Calgary Guidelines.
Thank you to the many Brentwood residents who have reached out to help each other during this pandemic.

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  Our meetings have been temporarily suspended until further notice.   Please contact the BCA for more information at office@brentwoodcommunity.com or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

Why get involved in your community?

Since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020, we’ve all seen major changes to our lives.  Children are no longer in school, many people have either lost their jobs or are working from home, and other than grocery stores, few buildings are open.  All of the large public attractions or events are closed and will likely remain closed for many months.  Trips or holidays outside of our own areas are discouraged, if not completely impossible.

What this means is that our lives are now focused on our homes and our immediate surroundings.  Our community has become the place where we live, work, home-school and play.  Brentwood is a great area for long walks or bike rides and we are fortunate to have so many greenspaces and trees to enjoy.  I’ve never seen so many people just out for a stroll in the evenings, and during the day, there are always kids outside playing, riding their bikes or creating sidewalk art.

The Brentwood Community Association has stepped forward with a Brentwood Cares initiative so that residents can get help if they need it and others can volunteer their time and energy. http://brentwoodcommunity.com/covid-19/

Although the monthly BCA meetings have been cancelled, the Board is still working on financial updates and planning ahead.  The Development and Transportation Committee (DTC) is still receiving and evaluating Development Proposals.  The BCA has many volunteers who all do a lot of work behind the scenes in order to keep our community active!

But we also need your input. Now that many of you are spending so much time in your own neighbourhood, what have you come to appreciate?  What would you like Brentwood to look like in 20 years time?

The City of Calgary is asking the same questions as part of “Next 20: Municipal Development Plan & Calgary Transportation Plan review”  https://engage.calgary.ca/next20.  From the City website regarding Stage 1 of the survey:  “The survey was live on the calgary.ca/engage portal from March 1 to April 8, 2019, and 543 surveys were completed.”  Out of a population of well over one million people, only 543 people completed the survey last year!  You can now still provide input; due to Covid-19, the current survey questions are open for an indefinite period (as of the April deadline for this article).

Another proposed document that will guide future redevelopment in established neighbourhoods is the Guidebook for Great Communities. (You can find archived development articles from the Bugle at this BCA link:  https://developments.brentwoodcommunity.com/bugle-articles/.)

The Development and Transportation Committee reviews Development Permits (DPs) based on planning rationale, but we also want to reflect the views of our residents.  For example, when we deliver Neighbour Notificaitions for DPs, neighbours often write to the BCA with new information about the site:  information that we would not otherwise know, and which we can then include in our comments to the City file manager.

The same applies to the Guidebook since it proposes some major changes to what types of buildings could be built in current low density areas.  If you have time right now, please consider reading some of the above documents, and then write a letter to the BCA to let us know what you think. All communities and buildings have a lifecycle and will evolve over time.  Make sure you have a say in how that redevelopment happens.

Public participation can have an effect on a community.  We often hear people say “why bother?” or “they will just do what they want anyhow”.  Sometimes this appears to be the case, but by submitting our input, we at least can help the CA, our Councillor or elected officials, or the City understand what is important to us in our community.  It also helps them to understand that we want to be involved in decisions that affect us.

Covid-19 has restricted our movements and brought our focus to a local level.  The pandemic is world-wide, but each of us experiences it in our own little area:  our house, our street, our community.  Many of us have come to really appreciate our Brentwood area even more than we did before. Getting involved in planning surveys, community events and joining the Brentwood Community Association are all ways that we can help to make our community strong and resilient!

Stay safe.  Follow Province of Alberta and City of Calgary Guidelines.
Thank you to the many Brentwood residents who have reached out to help each other during this pandemic.

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  Our meetings have been temporarily suspended until further notice.   Please contact the BCA for more information at office@brentwoodcommunity.com or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

Next 20:  Making Life Better for Calgarians
The State of the City Report

Calgarians are going to be hearing a lot about “Next 20” in the coming months.  The City of Calgary has detailed information on its website, so this is just a brief overview.  (Go to www.calgary.ca, then enter “Next 20” for links to the Engage site and links to other planning documents.)

What is Next 20?

Next 20 is a review of current plans and policies that guide growth and development in Calgary: the Municipal Development Plan (MDP) and Calgary Transportation Plan (CTP).  The existing MDP and CTP are long-range land use and transportation plans that were developed in 2009.

As it has been over 10 years since the MDP and CTP were finalized, the City is now reviewing these documents:  for example, what is working and what might need revisions?  The aim of this review is to develop a set of goals that will guide the City’s focus for the next 20 years.

The first stages of the review process have been completed and a report summarizes the key findings and the recommended changes.  The State of the City Report can be found here:  https://www.calgary.ca/engage/Documents/Next20/MDPCTP-state%20of-the-city.pdf

What are some of the key findings of the report?

The report findings fall into three main categories:

  • our economy
  • our environment
  • our communities

First, some miscellaneous statistics from the State of the City Report that you might find interesting from 2009 to 2019:

  • Calgary’s population grew by 220,000 people.
  • Most of the growth in population has been accommodated in the developing areas on the outer edges of the city, particularly in the southeast and north areas of the city.
  • The established communities (which includes Brentwood) in the city did experience a net increase in population of about 10% of Calgary’s growth since 2006 in these areas.
  • Growth in established communities has fluctuated with the overall health of the economy. The population in established communities increased when the economy was growing and decreased when it declined. This suggests that redevelopment opportunities in Calgary are tied to the city’s economic growth. Growth in the outer edges of the city also fluctuated, but they never lost population, even during the economic decline.
  • 57% of Calgary households lived in Single Family Housing in 2019.
  • Adults 65+ increased from 10% to 12% of the population, while ages 20 – 24 decreased from 11% to 6% of the total. This decline may be a sign that young adults are leaving Calgary, but it may also be related to natural demographic shifts.

The report details economic and environmental core indicators, but I’ll focus only on the third category, our communities.

In the section on “Revitalizing Established Communities”, a key feature of the redevelopment of existing areas is to shape

a more compact urban form.  “Accommodating some population growth through redevelopment of wide land parcels with single-family homes into multi-family homes like duplexes, townhomes and multistoried buildings can help make it more affordable for people to live in established communities. It also enables people to find different types of homes in the neighbourhoods they live in,  as their needs change.” (page 24 of the State of the City Report)

Brentwood is an example of a community with “wide land parcels with single-family homes” so this will affect redevelopment within our community.  How do you envision Brentwood in the next 20 years? How do duplexes, townhouses and multistoried buildings best fit into your vision?

Keep in mind that one goal of the MDP was to have 50% of all new growth in the City within established areas within 60 years (from 2009).  Right now, only 10% of new growth is in established areas, which means 90% of growth is still happening in greenfield areas, the outer edges of the city.

This is the challenge we face in Brentwood:  how does growth or redevelopment take place within our community, while still retaining the character of our neighbourhood so we don’t lose the things we love most?  There are no easy answers.

The report does acknowledge the “inter-related challenges Calgary communities face. These include: a continued focus on redevelopment in key intentional areas, supporting communities undergoing significant change, clarifying the role of identity and character as communities change, and advancing social equity through increased opportunities and access for everyone.”

Right now, as Covid-19 has restricted our movements, our jobs and our lives, we may see long-term changes that are not reflected in the State of the City Report.  Certainly, our downtown may look different if some workers continue to work from home, and this also affects commuting and transportation.  On a local level, many more people are outside during the day enjoying their own communities and maybe experiencing them in a new way.  This is a huge opportunity to ask people what is important to them.

What do you want the Next 20 to look like?  Get involved, read up on City documents and provide your input!

Thank you to the many Brentwood residents who have reached out to help each other during this pandemic.

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  Our meetings have been temporarily suspended until further notice.   Please contact the BCA for more information at office@brentwoodcommunity.com or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

Brentwood Development and Transportation Committee

Despite the slow-downs caused by Covid-19, there are still many things happening in Brentwood and in the City as a whole.  The Community Association Building has been closed for the past few months, but office and maintenance staff as well as volunteers on the various committees have been active.

For the Development and Transportation Committee, we continue to evaluate and submit comments on Development Permits that we receive, as well as respond to questions or comments from the community.

Here are some recent items and updates.

Crime in Brentwood
A resident sent a query about crime statistics for Brentwood.  Generally, crime rates have been down since the start of the Covid-19 lockdown.  This makes sense since with more people at home during the day, there are more eyes on the street.

For more information, Calgary Police Services compiles Crime Statistical Data which you can access at https://www.calgary.ca/cps/statistics/calgary-police-statistical-reports.html.
Specifically for Brentwood, an excellent monthly summary can be found on the My Calgary website under “Brentwood Crime Statistics Update”.  https://mycalgary.com/crime-statistics/brentwood-crime-activity-update/  (Note that My Calgary.com is owned and operated by Great News Media, which also publishes the Brentwood Bugle.)

Roadwork and paving around Brentwood
Wondering about when roads in our area will be repaved?  Check out the City of Calgary interactive map:
https://maps.calgary.ca/RoadwayActivities/

Of course paving work is impacted by budget, weather conditions and other factors, but the interactive map lets you see that for example, John Laurie Blvd is slated for 2021.

Development Map

If you are curious about a building or project near you, the City of Calgary continues to update and add more information to its Development Map:  you can find information regarding permits, land use designations, or contact information if you have questions.

https://developmentmap.calgary.ca/

At the same website, for larger projects such as the Northland Mall redevelopment, you can find a list of the Development Permits (DPs) or Land Use applications, as well as details about their status, dates of any Council hearings, and so on.

Registered Secondary Suite Map

Another City of Calgary map lists legal and safe secondary suites in Calgary which have obtained all necessary permits and have been inspected to meet Alberta’s Safe Code requirements.

https://secondarysuites.calgary.ca/  All secondary suites are required to be included on the Registry, although there may be a time lag between the initial DP application and the completion of the work needed before the suite can inspected and on the registry.

Website
The Brentwood Community Association maintains a website at www.brentwoodcommunity.com.  Check it out for news in the community and check under “Developments” as well.   The DTC group will post new development permits, updates and information about upcoming events.  We welcome your comments and suggestions.

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  We meet at 7:00 p.m. on the first Monday of every month in the Sportsplex Boardroom although our meetings have been suspended due to Covid-19.   Contact the BCA for more information at brntwdca@telus.net or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

On behalf of the BCA Development and Transportation Committee

Brentwood Development and Transportation Committee

What’s Happening at Northland Mall?

You’ve likely seen machinery and digging in the parking lots at Northland Mall.  That is just the start:  major changes are coming to Northland Mall!

Since space is limited for this article, you can find further information and links, plus plans and illustrations on the Brentwood Community Association website at www.brentwoodcommunity.com.  Under the heading “Developments”, go to “Current Developments” and Northland Mall.

What Changes are Proposed for Northland Mall?

The biggest change is the addition of a multi-residential development on the east side of the mall, in the current parking lot area directly across from St. Jean Brebeuf Junior High School.

The proposed new residential building will have a maximum height of 26 metres, approximately 6 storeys, and will likely have about 250 rental units.

Why was a Land Use Amendment required at City Council?

The current land use proposal results in a significant adjustment to the redevelopment concept for Northland Mall which was already approved in 2016. Originally, the residential units would have had commercial or retail units on the ground floor, but this was amended to standalone residential uses (i.e. no stores on the main floor).
On July 20, 2020, at City Council, this Land Use Amendment was passed.

This website contains the Master Concept Plan, the submissions by the applicant and City Administration, as well as the Brentwood CA Application comments:  go to item 8.1.4, and you can also listen to the Council Hearing for this item. https://pub-calgary.escribemeetings.com/Meeting.aspx?Id=8ccd6091-9ff5-4339-a435-04b9262b6da7&Agenda=PostMinutes&lang=English&Item=41

Why does the Brentwood CA support this Application?

This is a good site for increased residential density within the Brentwood area.  There is excellent access via three major roads (Shaganappi, Northland and Crowchild), there is wide separation from existing houses (unlikely to be any negative shadowing effects or parking spillover), there are excellent facilities nearby (schools, library, recreation facilities, shopping), and the proposal conforms with the applicable policies of the Municipal Development Plan.

In broader terms, traditional malls are likely to have to undergo changes to stay viable in today’s climate.  In Calgary, there is a current glut of office space, so additional office space is not required.  For retail spaces and restaurants, as a result of Covid, nobody can predict what mall users may want to see; for example, outdoor entrances might be preferable, or restaurants may need to have more space or outdoor patios.  These types of details will be determined at the Development Permit stage.

What are the next steps?

A residential builder intends to pursue a Development Permit application for multi-residential development in the near future.  At this stage, details of the residential building will be determined.

What features does the Northland Mall Master Concept Plan include?

The south end of the mall (the Walmart) will remain, as will the north end (the current Best Buy, and the 2-storey building with the Winners, previous Future Shop), but the middle section of the mall will be torn down.  In its place there will be a new urban street grid with wide, landscaped sidewalks.  There will be outdoor public spaces such as a plaza and smaller pocket parks which will connect through a wide pathway system across the site.  The challenge will be to work with the residential developer and Primaris to ensure that the overall development becomes an active and vibrant asset to our community.

Where can I view the overall plans for the mall?

For further information, check out the details we have posted on our website.

A complete set of drawings can also be viewed here:  https://pub-calgary.escribemeetings.com/filestream.ashx?DocumentId=136619

Members of the BCA Development and Transportation Committee look forward to working with the developer and with Primaris, the mall owners, on the next stages. (To date, we have held virtual meetings online due to Covid-19, and likely we will have to continue in this manner in the near future.)

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  We meet at 7:00 p.m. on the first Monday of every month in the Sportsplex Boardroom although our meetings have been suspended due to Covid-19.   Contact the BCA for more information at brntwdca@telus.net or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

On behalf of the BCA Development and Transportation Committee

Parking Challenges and a Proposal to Eliminate Minimum Parking for Businesses

One of the common complaints that we receive from residents is regarding parking.  If you live close to the Brentwood LRT Station, you may already have restricted parking in front of your house:  either 2-hour parking limits or parking permits.  In other areas of Brentwood and Charleswood, there are no posted parking restrictions, although City of Calgary Traffic Bylaws still apply.

Under Calgary Traffic Bylaw 26M96, owners/residents are responsible for ensuring that vehicles parked on their property and adjacent streets are registered, insured, operable and properly equipped.

  • Parked vehicles must not block access to driveways, sidewalks or boulevards, waste containers, fire hydrants or streets.
  • A vehicle must be operable and moved within 72, hours or it may be considered abandoned and removed as such.*

*This regulation is a part of Alberta’s Traffic Safety Act and is enforced by the Calgary Parking Authority.

  • Unless allowed by specific markings or signs, always park with the vehicle’s right side parallel to the curb or edge of

the roadway.

  • Recreational vehicles or RVs (e.g. motor homes, campers, travel and tent trailers) can be parked on the street adjacent to the owner’s or driver’s residence for no more than 36 consecutive hours.
  • Trailers or detachable camping vehicles should not be left on the street or in an alley if not connected to a vehicle.

For a home with a secondary suite, there must be one off-street parking space for the tenant(s) on the parcel. The parking may be in a garage or on a pad, but the tenant must have at least one space for their exclusive use.  Street parking does not count toward the requirement, nor do tandem parking stalls located directly behind or in front of other required stalls.

You will note that the bylaws do not address parking in front of your own house (unless there is a restricted parking area in place).  Residents don’t own the road space in front of their house.  Anybody can park any anywhere on the street as long as they’re parked legally, including obeying all posted signage.

This sometimes creates conflicts, especially in cases where there may be numerous cars from one property “spilling over” onto the adjacent homes.  Sometimes talking to the neighbours helps.  One area resident told me she asked neighbours to leave her a spot for visitors as she was not able to get out much but enjoyed having company.  In such a case, it is not about “owning” the street, but rather showing consideration and just trying to be a good neighbour.  That said, if there are ongoing problems or if your driveway is being blocked, you can call 311 which will pass on the information to the Calgary Parking Authority.

For non-residential uses (retail stores or commercial businesses), the Bylaw currently prescribes parking minimums.  The amount of parking that is required varies by the type of business;  for example, a medical clinic usually requires more parking than a similar-sized retail store.

Right now, the City of Calgary is proposing the removal of minimum parking requirements for non-residential uses from the Land Use Bylaw.  “Eliminating vehicle parking minimums for certain uses citywide will enable those who are most familiar with their own parking needs to determine the amount supplied”, i.e. the business or developer would determine how many parking spaces they think they need.  The idea is that businesses know that their success hinges on patrons being able to get to their stores, whether by transit, walking and cycling, or driving, which requires parking options.

There are possible advantages and disadvantages to this proposal and the following options were identified on the City survey in August: https://engage.calgary.ca/parking

What do you see as the advantages of The City allowing businesses to choose how much parking they need?

  • Supply and demand of parking will be more closely aligned
  • Could help to conserve space/reduce urban sprawl that leads to higher taxes
  • May encourage a more active lifestyle
  • Discourages people from owning cars, which is better for the environment
  • Coupled with the investment that The City is making into transit, will provide more travel choices
  • Will allow for greater focus on designing places for people rather than for cars
  • Development of more walkable communities
  • Will reduce costs to businesses, making small businesses more viable

What do you see as the disadvantages of The City allowing businesses to choose how much parking they need?

  • Businesses don’t necessarily know how much parking they require
  • Businesses may choose to supply less parking to reduce their costs
  • Could result in not enough parking for customers which could lead to spillover into other areas
  • Could result in people preferring to shop online than to look for parking
  • May discourage people from owning vehicles
  • Calgary doesn’t yet have the transit networks to support reduced parking
  • We don’t know what the future holds and whether transit will be less viable with future pandemics

What do you think?  Public engagement comments were gathered in August, and this item will go to a Public Hearing of Council on November 2, 2020.  Let your City Councillors know how you feel.  More information and some FAQs can be found on the link:  https://engage.calgary.ca/parking

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  Our meetings have been temporarily suspended until further notice.   Please contact the BCA for more information at office@brentwoodcommunity.com or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

Where to find City of Calgary Information and Links

Clip this column and save it for a cold and dark winter evening when you are looking for something to do!  This month, I am going to provide some guidance on how to access City of Calgary information or data.  While some of this relates directly to Development and Transportation, much of the information is broader in nature.  It all is part of Calgary as a whole, and therefore also part of our community so it’s worth taking a look.

Why might you want to do this?  Well, for starters, on October 18th, 2021 elections will be held to elect the next Mayor, 14 Councillors plus School Trustees.  The more you know, the better:  you’ll be familiar with the issues with which the City is grappling, you’ll be able to ask questions of the candidates, and it beats watching endless cat videos on Youtube!

What is the main site for City information?

First, go to www.Calgary.ca for the home page. You’ll see a banner with “Programs and services, News, Events” and so on.  Right now, Covid-19 updates are also posted on this page.

Programs and Services:

This is the general headline for topics such as Environment, Animal Services, Parks and Recreation, etc.  This is a good starting point for frequently accessed information.

As an example, under “Environment”, click on “Calgary’s trees”, then “City Tree Map”.  Did you know that there are 2,869 trees on City property within Brentwood?  The estimated value of trees in our community is $18,979,429!  Zoom in on the map and every tree has been identified by species and size.  If you enter your address, you can see if the trees in front of your property are within your own property line or if they are actually “City” trees.  Look up a small neighbourhood park and see how many trees or varieties are present!

News:

News releases, updates from Police and Fire departments, or other current items can be found here.

Events:
The calendar on this page lists every meeting or event held at the City, with a focus on Council or Committee meetings.  You can even sort by “Event type” and by “Quadrant”.

Did you know you can watch Council meetings live?
You can also read the reports presented to Council as well as public submission letters from residents, developers, community associations or other interested parties.
If you click on an upcoming meeting, you will find “Additional Information:  Agenda – Minutes – Video”.  Scroll down the page and you’ll find all the posted information for the upcoming meetings, including the Agenda.  The Agenda will have live links to all the background information.
For example, you can look up a contentious issue that will be debated at Council (everything from cannabis to residential speed limits) and you’ll find all the background materials.  You can also watch the debates live, or if you miss it, these videos will be posted several days after the event.
It is very interesting to watch Council while in session!  Some Councillors are more vocal than others, the Mayor chairs the Council Hearings, and sometimes there is a lot of action.  Right now, the Hearings are held online with only minimal attendees in Chambers, but it is still interesting to see what goes on and how decisions are made.

Engage:

This is your chance to comment on City issues while they are still just being considered, and before they go to Council or further study.  You’ll find a number of topics which are “Open for Input”, and each of those will have background information and some kind of survey for you to complete.  These surveys are then used as a basis for further work, review, or for Council’s consideration.  For example, recent topics included e-scooters, black bin usage and a pet ownership bylaw review.

Further down the page, you can also look at previous “Engage” sessions and read the reports and results of the surveys.

Council:

This is where you can find information about each of the 14 Councillors, including “Sign up for Ward News” under “Ward Information”.  Note that you can sign up for Ward News from any Councillor or area in which you might be interested, not just for Ward 4.
This is also where you will find contact information for the Mayor and Councillors or find out more about how Council works, elections or other legislative matters.

Our Organization:

This is a broad area, including “Our strategy”, “Our services”, “Our Finances” and event the Plans and Budgets for 2019 – 2022.  The financial data alone will occupy you for hours!

Maps:

This is the most entertaining and easiest to navigate section.  “Calgary Imagery” shows current and historical aerial imagery, and “Pathways, Bikeways and Walkways” will show you every pathway in the city, including construction closures.

The ones our Development and Transportation Committee uses all the time are the “Development Map – current applications” and the “myProperty” (sic) map.  These show information about Building or Development Permits, the Review Process, Land Use (zoning) designations, and so on.

311:

All questions or complaints to the City are intially handled through 311.  You call telephone “3-1-1”, complete a form online or you can use the 311 mobile app.  This section also includes a good FAQ, as well as information about services in other languages and services for the deaf.  If you have ever wondered how to contact the City for a Bylaw complaint or for more information, it all starts with 311, and this provides a good overview.

Finally, don’t forget about the Brentwood Community Association website and the link for the Development and Transportation Committee.  https://developments.brentwoodcommunity.com/

We post all DPs on this site, as well as Archived DPs.  We try to post information of interest to the community and we are always interested in hearing from you.

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  We meet at 7:00 p.m. on the first Monday of every month upstairs in the Sportsplex and our next meeting is on November 2, 2020.  Contact the BCA for more information at brntwdca@telus.net or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

On behalf of the BCA Development and Transportation Committee

Let’s support our Community in 2021

As we near the end of 2020, most of us are probably wishing for a much better year in 2021.  None of us could have predicted the events of this past year:  the necessary restrictions, working from home or wearing masks, to say nothing of washing our groceries when we returned from the store!

For most of us, our everyday world became a lot smaller and more localized.  Instead of flying somewhere for holidays or visits, we drove to the mountains. Banff and Canmore were filled with Calgarians instead of overseas visitors.  Instead of going to sporting events, movies or other gathering places, we had to stay further apart, and find our own entertainment.

Our neighbourhoods became our entertainment!  Bikes became a coveted item, gardening was a new hobby and many of us walked for hours within our community.  Especially those who worked (or are working) from home suddenly saw their community in a different light.  Maybe instead of driving downtown, you now spend the whole day in Brentwood.  Instead of travelling around the entire city, our community is the focus.

As such, the community takes on an increased importance.  It becomes the place where we live, work, play, and shop.  So what determines how that community looks and feels to us?  How do we plan for the future and how do we create a place where we really want to live?

The City of Calgary has recently completed an update for the Municipal Development Plan (MDP) and the Calgary Transportation Plan (CTP), two documents that guide the planning for the City for the coming decades. These are extensive statutory documents which will impact all communities in the City, and yet, for most of us, what we experience day-to-day relates more to the little things, to our immediate surroundings.

That is where we each have the power to make a difference.  We can’t control the pandemic but we can do little things to create happy moments in our community.  That’s how many of the great aspects of our Community Association came about in the first place:  because residents saw a need or desire and got involved.

In Brentwood, years ago, eager gardeners got together and created a wonderful Community Garden.  A group of moms with babies and young children started a very successful Playgroup.  Scrabble players put their letters in a row and organized a group.  We have volunteers who organize and run the annual Community Clean-up, an Events Committee that plans skating events or Easter egg hunts, residents who edit and write for the Bugle, sports such as hockey, figure skating and soccer, Bridge club and Seniors’ Tea and more.

Right now, some activities are on hold so we have to find other ways to help make our community strong.  Maybe 2021 is the year you decide to join a new group (even if on-line right now).  Maybe you bring cheer to a shut-in neighbour by shopping for groceries for them or writing a chalk message on the sidewalk.  Maybe you become a snow angel and shovel your neighbour’s walk.

Despite all of the restrictions and stresses of the pandemic, we all have the ability to act in some small positive way.  By supporting each other, we share the load, and I think that makes us all feel just a little less helpless.

It’s also very important to support the businesses and stores in our neighbourhood as much as we can.  Brentwood was voted the #1 community two years in a row by readers of Avenue magazine, and the businesses and services in our area are a huge part of that.  The importance of shopping locally was expressed very well in a recent editorial in Avenue, and with permission, I am including this excerpt here:

“We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating, local businesses need our support now more than ever.  If you want there to be such a thing as Calgary fashion designers, local furniture makers and distillers for example, you need to buy their wares.  Yes, you will likely pay more than what you would pay at Amazon or a multinational chain.  That’s because what you’re buying is not just the product – it’s also the future city you want to live in.

The economy is created with the money we each spend – so spend it on the future you want.  If you’re like me, that future includes local coffee roasters, cheesemakers and beauty products as well as a vibrant arts and culture scene and interesting local retailers.  It includes complete communities full of a diversity of people all involved in creating a city that welcomes us all.”

—Käthe Lemon, editor-in-chief, Avenue magazine

That is a very powerful message:  help create the future city or community in which you want to live!

We all have to plan for a very different Christmas this year, one without parties or large festive events, and that will be very difficult and somewhat sad.  But maybe, just maybe, we can make it a little less sad by supporting our local businesses and most of all, supporting each other.

On behalf of the Development and Transportation Committee, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season.

Stay safe.  Follow Province of Alberta and City of Calgary Guidelines.

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  Our meetings will be determined in accordance with AHS guidelines.  Please contact the BCA for more information at office@brentwoodcommunity.com or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

2019

Brentwood Development and Transportation Committee

Business in Brentwood

The Development and Transportation Committee (DTC) usually deals with and evaluates proposed new developments in our area, often commercial or retail spaces.  It is also important to remember and support the many existing businesses which we already have in Brentwood.  A Development Permit allows a business or building to be built, but after that, it is up to the local residents in the community to support the business and keep it running.

Brentwood is very fortunate to have so many facilities and businesses within our own boundaries.  Without having to leave the community, you will find medical offices (dentist, physician, physiotherapy, etc.), grocery stores (Co-op, Safeway), shopping centers (Northland, Brentwood Mall), fast food outlets and restaurants.

Sometimes I think we take them for granted because our community has grown up around all these businesses and services.  Many new communities take years to establish such a base, or they have one central shopping area but not nearly as much choice.  Our local businesses appreciate our support, and when we do support them, we make our community thrive!

Clarification Regarding Original Joe’s Restaurant:

Some of the information that appeared in the December Bugle requires further clarification. While a Development Permit has been approved for a cannabis store at the Original Joe’s site, a permit does not have to be immediately acted upon, and generally an applicant has three years in which to start construction. In addition, as of June 2017, the Land Use Bylaw allows an applicant to apply for commencement extensions which can be an additional number of years.

The owners of Original Joe’s would like to assure Brentwood residents that they plan to remain up and running for the foreseeable future. This is good news for us, as the DTC received many letters that opposed the cannabis application specifically because of closure of the restaurant.  Many stated they thought of OJ’s as “our” Brentwood restaurant and loved to go there to eat.  Original Joe’s has a strong base of loyal customers, so if you haven’t ever been, check out this local business.

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  We meet at 7:00 p.m. on the first Monday of every month in the Sportsplex Boardroom.  Our next meeting is on January 7, 2018.  Contact the BCA for more information at brntwdca@telus.net or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

On behalf of the BCA Development and Transportation Committee

The Village:

On the corner of Crowchild Trail and Brisebois Drive, you will find one of Brentwood’s hidden treasures, “the Village” (the former Rocky Mountain College).  The Village offers everything from music and dance lessons, to acupuncture and therapy practices, learning centres, meeting spaces and others.  If you are looking for a pleasant and welcoming spot to meet with a friend for coffee, don’t miss Joyful Java, a community café with a free library, lots of board games and an all-round great place to meet and mingle.

There are many other great businesses that would be pleased to serve you.  Flower shops, pizza and other take-outs, salons and barber shops, we’ve got it all!  Support your local business and support Brentwood!

The Brentwood Development and Transportation Committee (DTC) was formed in 2017.  We recognized that there were many new Development Permits being proposed for our area and we needed a team to help evaluate and provide input on these proposed developments.  We also try to keep community residents informed about what is happening in our neighbourhood.  (Visit our website at brentwoodcommunity.com, then click on Developments.)  Since we try to reflect and represent the community on development issues, it’s important that we hear from you.

The Development Permit (DP) process for the City of Calgary allows for public input on Discretionary DPs.  A DP confirms that all the rules and planning policies have been considered. It provides a means through which neighbours, community associations and other affected individuals and organizations can provide feedback.

How can you find out about a proposed development in Brentwood?

  1. Notice posting – The City of Calgary will place a sign on the DP property to let you know about the application. The sign will remain in place for at least one week.  It provides details about how you can send your comments to the File Manager.  Typically, you have 21 days in which to submit your comments.
    If you choose to comment, also please send a copy to the Brentwood Community Association as well as to Councillor Sean Chu so we know what you think or how a DP will impact you and your property. The City of Calgary asks the CA for comments, so it is helpful to us if we hear from the affected neighbours.
  2. Online Posting and DP Map – The DP application will also be posted on-line. Go to the City of Calgary website (calgary.ca) and enter “Development Permit Public Notice”.  You can also view a map with every DP listed at https://developmentmap.calgary.ca/#map
  3. Neighbour Notification (NN): Whenever we receive a DP, we try to make sure the neighbours to the site know about the proposal.  We deliver a Neighbour Notification with some details and further information as well as the names of the contact people.  If you receive a NN in your mailbox, it does not mean there is a problem with the development, but rather just that we want to make sure you know about it.
  4. The Brentwood DTC website: We post details and information on our website.  Go to Brentwoodcommunity.com and click on “Developments”.  You will find current and archived DPs as well as topics such as secondary suites, cannabis store regulations and other general planning information.

What other resources allow for public input or provide updates?
The City of Calgary has numerous websites that provide good updates and information.  Here are a few that are recommended for anybody with an interest in civic affairs:

  1. Engage Calgary at calgary.ca has a list of city-wide projects that you can comment on. Issues range from Parking Permits to Off-Leash Areas to Flood Mitigation.  This is a very readable site that lets you simply click to find out more about current city issues and proposals and it’s definitely worth a look.
  2. Citizens’ View is a City of Calgary online panel to collect input from citizens on a wide variety of topics. You will have the option to participate in online surveys approximately once a month.  The website ca has links to join up and FAQs about the site.
  3. Council News in Brief has short summaries on the major issues that have been before City Council. Each summary is only one paragraph in length, but you can click on the title to get more detailed information.  This is a good way to keep track of what’s been happening, although it only reports after the fact.  Enter “Calgary Council News in Brief” into a search engine or go to http://www.calgary.ca/citycouncil/Pages/CouncilWardNewsBrief.aspx

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  We meet at 7:00 p.m. on the first Monday of every month in the Sportsplex Boardroom.  Our next meeting is on February 4, 2018.  Contact the BCA for more information at brntwdca@telus.net or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

On behalf of the BCA Development and Transportation Committee

Who does the Brentwood Community Association Represent?

One of the best parts of being involved in our Community Association (CA) is the opportunity to meet with members from other CAs to exchange ideas or information.  We often discuss the roles of our respective CAs and how we can best represent our residents. The Bridgeland / Riverside CA has provided me with the basis for this month’s article, so thank you to Ali McMillan and Brian Beck.

We sometimes get asked what the role of our Community Association is regarding planning matters.  In Calgary, Community Associations are considered to be “directly affected” by community planning matters and are therefore entitled to have notice from, and to be heard by, decision makers.  In Brentwood, the Development and Transportation Committee (DTC) receives and comments on planning matters, most often on Development Permits.

Members of the DTC are volunteers.  We are all residents and members of the Brentwood CA.  Our goal is to ensure the widest possible dissemination of information (through our website, Neighbour Notifications, direct mail-outs or The Bugle), to collect feedback from residents or affected parties, and then to communicate the results to the City of Calgary.

We take steps to ensure that the DTC operates professionally, free from conflicts of interest, and we make sure that the process is transparent so that it fairly represents whatever diverse viewpoints may be forthcoming from the community. Meetings are open to the public, as are Brentwood CA meetings.

DTC members are responsible for educating themselves through courses, and through regular workshops put on by the City of Calgary and the Federation of Calgary Communities about the planning process generally, about the applicable bylaws, and about the appeals process. Committee members also must put in the work required to make sure they have a working knowledge of the Land Use Bylaw and applicable policy documents.

When we review an application, we must use sound planning principles.  For example, when we reviewed the recent cannabis store applications, we had to consider the specific locations, proximity to schools, parking and other factors, but we could not comment on whether or not we felt that cannabis should be legalized.  Similarly, since the City of Calgary has approved secondary suites as a discretionary Development Permit application, we must evaluate each application on its own planning merits:  does it meet parking requirements, have proper egress windows, etc.?  We cannot comment on whether secondary suites should be allowed or on renters versus owners.

Only if interested people communicate with the Brentwood CA (e.g. attend a meeting, send an email, make a phone call) can we possibly know to include that person’s comments in any analysis.  That is why we send out Neighbour Notifications to the neighbours directly affected by a Development Permit application:  we want to make sure you have the chance to comment on an application.  Once a Development Permit has been approved, unless it is appealed through the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board, it is too late.

When we receive feedback from the community, we pass along those comments to the City of Calgary Planning Department.  There may not always be agreement on an issue, but we try to provide advice, background information, or community context to help clarify what factors are being used to evaluate the proposal (such as the relevant Land Use Bylaw sections).

In Brentwood and Charleswood we are seeing a lot of change and renewal. Our DTC group tries hard to clearly represent a broad range of views on whatever planning issues the City sends our way. It is not the BCA’s primary goal to focus simply on the pros and cons of each file, but more fundamentally what we do is try to make sure that people have as much information as possible about what is happening, and also clear information about how to participate in the planning process.

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  We meet at 7:00 p.m. on the first Monday of every month in the Sportsplex Boardroom.  Our next meeting is on March 4, 2018.  Contact the BCA for more information at brntwdca@telus.net or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

On behalf of the BCA Development and Transportation Committee

New Development Permits in our Area

The City of Calgary Planning Department sends a copy of every Discretionary Development Permit (DP) to the Brentwood Community Association.  The Development and Transportation Committee has the opportunity to review the DP, make sure adjacent neighbours know about the proposal, and send our comments to the file manager for each application.

Recently, we have received some interesting commercial Development Permits for new businesses in our area.  Even though the economic challenges persist in Calgary, we are seeing some creative and innovative uses in available commercial spaces, especially in and around Northland Mall.  Some of the vacant spaces are being filled by new-to-market stores, which can test their ideas in a retail setting in our local market area.

We are happy to see the mall spaces being filled and encourage you to check out some of our local businesses.

  1. At Northland Mall, on the site of the former Futureshop, there is a new art-based venture called INKubator. The space is large, allowing for a multi-use facility with space for artists to display their work as well as open space for classes, parties or activities.  INKubator is an “Arts & Science Playground” and it appears the company will adapt to the needs and wants of area residents.
  2. Also in Northland Mall, a recent DP showed a creative solution for an outdoor amenity space for Rhyme & Reason Early Learning Center. A requirement for the business included an outdoor space for children, so on the back side of Northland Mall, near the Gold’s Gym entrance, the applicants came up with a unique idea.  Shipping containers will be used as the “walls” for a space accessed from inside the mall.
  3. An outdoor market will again be a feature of Northland Mall. The application included a fenced off area with canvas tent structures that will remain in place for the season.  The location will be on the eastern side of the mall facing Northland Drive.  At this time, further details are not available, but we look forward to a seasonal market.
  4. A new CIBC bank is being completed at the former Cheesecake Café site. As soon as this building is completed, the CIBC branch will move from Dalhousie (next to the Co-op) to the new location.
  5. At Dalbrent Plaza along 52nd Avenue, a new dessert café will be opening on the site of the former Registry offices. Snowy Village Dessert Café will feature Korean ice cream and shaved ice as well as other specialty desserts.
    You may notice a change in parking along 52nd Avenue this spring because of concerns with available parking in the area around the mall.  Currently, there is school bus only parking all along 52nd Avenue, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  We have requested a change to school bus parking only on school days, and during school hours.  This would open up parking along 52nd on weekends, school holidays, and during the summer, all times when an ice cream café will likely be popular.

Our neighbourhood appears to be a popular one for business and we are lucky to have so many shopping choices within walking or biking distance.  It’s great to see that the store fronts do not remain empty!

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  We meet at 7:00 p.m. on the first Monday of every month in the Sportsplex Boardroom.  Our next meeting is on April 1, 2019.  Contact the BCA for more information at brntwdca@telus.net or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

On behalf of the BCA Development and Transportation Committee

Brentwood’s Hidden Treasures

Sat May 4 10:00am (1.5-2 hours)

About this Walk

Find out more about Brentwood’s Hidden Treasures!

We’ll meet at the Community Center and walk to the Brentwood mural.  Find out why there’s a dog on the mural and the significance of the other painted items.  From there we’ll take a look at one of Calgary’s outstanding examples of Brutalism design:  the architecture of concrete at St. Luke’s Church.

As we walk along Northland Drive, we’ll stop to discuss the redevelopment and changes planned for Northland Mall.  Have you ever wondered why there are two major malls (Northland and Market Mall) so close together?  We’ll look at the development and planning history that resulted in that decision.

We’ll continue along Northland Drive and continue along Brenner Drive up to Whispering Woods, behind EW Coffin School.  We’ll walk on the hidden paths through the woods.  From there, we can see Nose Hill Park, and we’ll look at a map showing the hidden creeks that start at Nose Hill and run underneath parts of Brentwood.  Did you know that the creek in Confederation Park actually starts on Nose Hill?

We’ll walk back down the hill on Barrett Drive, then down 33 Street to the Brentwood Community Garden.  We’ll stop at the garden and look at the original Skate Shack and community building next to the garden.  From there, we’ll return to the BCA.

Members of the Brentwood Development and Transportation Committee will lead the walk.

Quadrant: NW

Meeting Place: Brentwood Community Association, behind SWC Pool

Finish Point: Brentwood Community Association

Walk Duration: 2 Hours

Areas of Interest: Architecture, History, Environment

Led By: Melanie Swailes, Peter Johnson

Look for: Meet at the Brentwood Community Association (near the Nose Hill Library, just behind SWC Pool)

Inner City: Yes

About the Walk Team

Brentwood Development and Transportation Committee members are passionate about their community! We love Brentwood and we hope you’ll join us!

Who was Jane Jacobs?

Jane was an urban activist and writer (1916 – 2006).  She revolutionized the urban planning profession through her observations and writings about how cities function.  She believed in creating communities with a strong sense of belonging and spent a lot of her time observing people, interactions and neighbourhoods.

Jane coined the phrases “eyes on the street” and the “ballet of the sidewalk”.

Eyes on the street meant that everyone felt safe because the presence of a crowd protected everyone.

She also referred to the intricate Ballet of the Sidewalk in which many different people “have distinctive roles and miraculously reinforce each other and pose an orderly whole”.  All these roles have a fundamental role of their own, and together they make our neighbourhood.

Jane’s Walks are a way of connecting to our own neighbourhood and seeing things in a new or different light.

Walk Route:

  1. Brentwood CA / Sportsplex building
  1. The Brentwood Mural
  • Created in 2016 through a grant from the Calgary Foundation
  • Artists: Daniel J. Fink & Katie Green plus many youth volunteers!
  • Celebrate the historical significance of this site, along with present-day references
    Left side:
    – tribute to Pauline, the woman who previously lived on a farm where the tennis courts are located. She had a brown house and an unpainted barn.
    – Penny, the border collie, was her dog and constant companion
    – Whenever Pauline would go to play bingo at the nearby community, Penny would be on Northmount Drive waiting for her return.Lower left:
    – Brown-eyed susans decorate Pauline’s barn with bright yellow.
    – They move across the mural intermingling with other native flowers such as the sticky purple geranium and harebells.

Center:
– Symbolic representation of Nose Hill.  The Nose Hill shape creates an arch through this visual landscape, connecting earth and Alberta’s open prairie sky.
– Within Nose Hill, you will see representations of grass, sage and other native plants.
– A neighbourhood rabbit sits as a central figure.  Its body integrates with Nose Hill, being and abstract pattern with repeating cell-like shapes.
– These cells represent the ecocsystem and reference the various life cycles that interconnect all things on earth.
– They may also be interpreted as a reference to the rich fossil deposits that exist in Alberta and a tribute to geological time.

Also included:
– Long-Eared Owl, a species which has been seen to nest on Nose Hill Park.
– Collage of abstract shapes and patterns.  They represent imagination as they developed from the creative input of the participating children.
– They are the connection point between land and sky.  They serve to remind us of our place as creative beings.

  1. The Nose Hill Library
    Opened in 1988, replacing the former Varsity Library (which had been in a mobile structure)
    – Trivia:  Confusion with Crowfoot library, which is on Nose Hill Drive!
  2. Luke’s Catholic Church
    – Brutalist style archictecture; a rare example of the Brutalist style used for a sacred institution.
    – A shift from traditional to modern church design.

This Change is a result of 2 things:
1.  A shift from traditional to modernism; the reflection of new, less formal modernist expressions for church design.  It was a radical new design.

2.  A result of the Second Vatican Council in 1962 – 1965.  Pope John wanted to “create an environment of dialogue, where the church would engage in all the forces of the modern world.”

Today, the council is credited with essentially shaping the modern Catholic Church.

– The Architects were Cohos, Delesalle & Evamy. Land set aside by 1964, church was dedicated in 1968.

Brutalism
– It is characterized by simple, block-like structures that often feature bare building materials.
Brutalist buildings are characterised by their massive, monolithic and ‘blocky’ appearance with a rigid geometric style and large-scale use of poured concrete. The movement began to decline in prevalence in the 1970s, having been much criticised as unwelcoming and inhuman.
– The term ‘brutalism’ was coined by the British architects Alison and Peter Smithson, and popularised by the architectural historian Reyner Banham in 1954. It derives from ‘Béton brut’ (raw concrete) and was first associated in architecture with Le Corbusier.

Examples in Calgary:

  • The old Public Board of Education building
  • The old Planetarium buildingAccording to Cynthia Klaassen, president of the Calgary Heritage Initiative Society, … one of the reasons why brutalism provokes negative reactions. “Brutalism is tied to the 1960s idea that, to make cities more liveable, we needed to destroy big swathes of neighbourhoods for these buildings,” she says. It was a utopian “just get rid of it and create something new” ideal that has since fallen out of vogue. Now, she says, we recognize that “new ideas do come from old buildings.”
    – Brutalism in many was responsible for creating the negative perception of downtowns and urban spaces as “concrete jungles.”

Unlike those who see brutalism as a conquest of nature, Jeremy Sturgess sees it as being in tune with its surroundings. “The thing about brutalism is that it’s a function of building organically to the landscape,” he says. “It used, typically, poured-in-place concrete to create heroic forms that are really sympathetic to the landscape.”

Planetarium is a building that is both responsive to its external environment and useful. “Brutalism allows architecture to be very expressive of its place and the ethos of its place,” he says. “Calgary has always been a raw, aggressive, and risk-taking kind of place. I think this building has always been a symbol of that.”

  1. Northland Mall
    “the poorer cousin to Market Mall”. We have 2 major regional malls very close together, not something often seen or allowed via planning zoning or regulations.

    How it came to be:
    – As early as 1962, Northland Mall was destined to become the first regional shopping mall in the NW
    – The Calgary Planning Commission deemed the project premature at this point.- Carma was developing the area around Varsity and expressed interest in creating a mall, now Market Mall.
    – By 1966, a planning study unexpectedly determined that not only was a regional shopping mall viable in the NW, but more than one could survive.
    – Much to the displeasure of the applicants, the CPC recommended that both proposals should proceed to the rezoning stage.
    – Both were presented to Council in January 1967.
    – Council ruled in favor of Carma, and Northland was temporarily abandoned.
    Why?  Possibly because:
    – more citizens opposed to Northland
    – Just before Council’s decision, Carma offered to put down a $25,000 bond and construct a golf course in the area (the Silver Springs golf course).
    – In 1969, Carma proposed transferring density from the golf course to multi-family complexes adjacent to Market Mall.  The City agreed to build Shaganappi Trail up to the mall, widen 40th, etc.
    – Criticism of the process, 40th avenue split the community
    – Northland ultimately ended up being built, but only after controversial changes to density on the Dalhousie side.Future Plans for Northland Mall
    – open air mall space in center, outdoor access buildings
    – similar to Deerfoot Mall renovation
    – outdoor stores, restaurants, etc.
  2. Sir Winston Churchhill High School
    – construction began in 1968, opened in 1970
    – has the IB program, over 2100 students
    Gross Area (sq. m): 19,936.90

Replacement Cost: $58,985,000 (2012)

  1. Wispering Woods Park
    opened in 2008 next to EW Coffin School
    – In September of 1995, the Dr. Coffin School community officially adopted Whispering Woods through the City of Calgary Parks and Recreation Adopt-A-Park program.
    – website:  http://www.natureground.org/wsigns_gps_on.html to find all the signs
  2. Nose Hill
    From EW Coffin, you can see Nose Hill
    Created in 1980 – I remember a march that was organized while I was in high school; a march to preserve the park instead of developing it.
    – 11 square Km, 4 largest urban park in CanadaDevelopment history:
    In 1954, Spyhill Development and Holding Company purchased 190 acres on the upper east slope of Hose Hill.
    In 1956, the company went to City Council with a proposal for 1000 – 1200 homes over a 4-year period.  The City Technical Palnning Board conditionally approved the proposal.
    Development would have gone ahead except for 2 factors:
  3. The Federal Aviation Commission, Airport officials and City: the upper 70 acres obstructed the clear flight path from the airport to the immediate east (the old McCall Field Airport).
    Jet planes were coming into use and needed a longer flight path, which would have extended closer to Nose Hill.  First jet plan in 1961. (land for new airport 1966, openend in 1977)

Utimately, there was a deal for a land swap in Collingwood, and a reprieve for Nose Hill.
(Note:  not based on the emerging concept of the area as a prime asset in its natural state.)

In 1971 Hartel Holdings planned to develop a residential community on the site of present day Nose Hill Park and requested amendments to the prevailing zoning by-law.
In the 1970s, a grassroots group consisting of members of local communities(most notably North Haven) and Calgary Field Naturalists’ Society, later known as Nature Calgary, worked together to lobby the city to protect Nose Hill from development.
In 1972 the City offered Hartel “$6873 per acre”. In 1972 the On July 3, 1972 the City passed a resolution to defer “development of the area in question until completion of a sector plan had been made.” By April 16, 1973 the City restricted urban development on 4100 acres in the Nose Hill area and began investigating acquiring the land.
The City adopted a municipal plan for development of Nose Hill Park on March 12, 1979. and a Master Plan for the park was incorporated in the City’s General Municipal Plan on June 17, 1980 created a regional park with 1,129 hectares of grassland.
In 1984 in Hartel Holdings vs the City of Calgary, the Supreme Court of Canada gave the City the “right to purchase land on Nose Hill at its own pace.”

In the 1980s Nose Hill Park was officially designated a protected area by the city.

Confederation Creek
– Why it’s relevant:  Brentwood is a catchment area for Confederation Creek; Nose Hill is the source

– Highland Park – City Council approved a land use change in 2017, ignoring residents’ concerns of overland flooding and pleas to stall approval until report is complete.
– The Confederation Park Regional Drainage study released June 2018, proposed construction of water storage sites to deal with flooding, at an estimated cost of $35,000,000 and requiring a significant chunk of the land slated for redevelopment.
– map of historical creeks from Nose Hill
– example of relevance: underground creek at Northmount / Brisebois

 Old Hall / Community Garden

Next 20 Years in Calgary
Municipal Development Plan & Calgary Transportation Plan review

There are two overall plans that provide policy and direction to guide decision-making in Calgary:  the Municipal Development Plan (MDP) and the Calgary Transportation Plan (CTP).  The City of Calgary is currently updating these long-range land use and transportation plans as part of the Next 20 plan.  Recently, Calgarians were able to submit their comments on-line in regards to what they feel are the most important aspects to keep in mind for future growth.  For more information, enter “Next 20” into your search engine or go to https://engage.calgary.ca/next20.

The following information is taken directly from the Mythbusters link on the City of Calgary’s Next 20 website.  See if you agree with these comments:

Myth 1: Calgarians love their cars and want to drive everywhere.

The City knows that driving will continue to be the most common way for Calgarians to get around, but it’s not the way for all Calgarians at all times. In fact, more Calgarians are choosing to walk and bike. The City’s goal is to provide transportation choices for all Calgarians, from ages 8 to 80, which are convenient, safe, affordable and attractive, including driving, walking, biking and transit.

Did you know? 1.1 million people use our sidewalks and pathways daily.

18,117 bike trips entered and exited the downtown in 2018, a 47% increase from 2015, when the downtown cycle tracks opened.

 

Myth 2: The things Calgarians need today will be the same in 20 years.

An aging population, more immigrants moving to Canada and our city, and changing lifestyles mean needs are shifting around housing, transportation and accessibility. This will have a growing impact on how and where people live and work.

Did you know? The number of seniors in Calgary is expected to double between 2014 and 2034.

In 2016, for the first time in Canada’s history, 1-person households surpassed all other types of living situations. More people are living alone, without children, or as part of a multigenerational family.

 

Myth 3: All Calgarians want to live in single-family homes.

Calgarians are looking for different types of homes to meet their needs. The number of people living in semi-detached and multi-family homes has increased. Semi-detached and multi-family homes made up 60% of units added to #yyc between 2011-2017.

Did you know? 53% of Calgarians expecting to change their type of home in the future see themselves in a semi-detached or multi-family home.

 

Myth 4: The City doesn’t care about addressing auto congestion.

In fact, Calgary is one of the least congested cities in the world, according to TomTom Global Traffic Index.

Did you know? The City allocated approximately 39% of its 2015-2018 transportation capital budget, about $185 million, to road infrastructure. (Source: Action Plan)

 

Myth 5: My community doesn’t need to redevelop; it’s fine the way it is.

Redevelopment is a natural part of a community’s life cycle. It helps neighbourhoods:

  • Maintain vibrancy and character
  • Support things like schools & shops
  • Accommodate changing housing needs
  • Improve transportation options

Did you know? As our city grows we need to consider our urban footprint & use land more efficiently. We need to account for the housing needs of our growing and changing population and what that will cost. This means balancing growth between developed and developing areas.

 

Myth 6: Good urban design is about making things look pretty.

Good urban design is about making places attractive for people to use. This considers the types of residential and commercial uses, how people get to, from and around the area, and elements like architecture, public art and landscape design.

Did you know? Good urban design contributes significantly to healthier communities and people. It encourages people to use outdoor places, which leads to increased economic activities and vibrancy, reduces social isolation, and promotes healthier communities.

 

Myth 7: Climate change will impact other places in the world more than Calgary, so we don’t need to plan for it.

Climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of extreme weather in Calgary. Climate modelling tells us that Calgary will experience more severe & frequent extreme weather events , which could impact our city water resources, cause damage to or failure of infrastructure, and threats to the health of our citizens.

Did you know? Eight out of 10 of the costliest disasters in Calgary have occurred since 2012. (Source: Insurance Bureau of Canada)

These are the types of things that will be considered in determining what Calgary’s next 20 years look like.  Your  opinions, ideas and concerns help make up the plans for our future.  Voice your opinion whenever you can!  You can also sign up for email updates at https://engage.calgary.ca/next20.

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  We meet at 7:00 p.m. on the first Monday of every month in the Sportsplex Boardroom.  Our next meeting is on June 3.   Contact the BCA for more information at brntwdca@telus.net or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

On behalf of the BCA Development and Transportation Committee

Multi-Unit Development Permits Around Brentwood


In the past month, several Brentwood residents have contacted me or the Brentwood CA with questions about what is allowed in Brentwood in terms of multi-unit residential buildings.  The questions have been prompted by the 4-unit corner dwellings that are being built along 19th Street or in other areas not too far from Brentwood.  In most cases, what was once a single house has been replaced by a fourplex unit, typically by facint the new building “sideways” on a corner property.

The residents with whom I spoke want to know why so many of these new fourplexes are appearing nearby.

Many of these units are currently being built in the community of Banff Trail.  There are two main reasons for those developments in that area:

  • Most of the properties in Banff Trail are already zoned as R-C2, which means a duplex could have been built, even if the properties were originally built with only a single home. Now that the homes are older, the property owner may decide to rebuild rather than renovate and may choose to build a duplex.  This would not require a Land Use Rezoning if there is an R-C2 designation, even though the built-form of the house is what we’d commonly call a “single-family house”.

The City of Calgary recently approved a new Banff Trail Area Redevelopment Plan.  The amended ARP allowed for greater density, especially on end properties.  The end properties were changed to an R-CG Land Use, which allows for low-density rowhouses.  On the map below, different colors on the same streets designate varying densities depending on the lot location.

  1. You can find more background information here.   https://www.calgary.ca/PDA/pd/Pages/Current-studies-and-ongoing-activities/Banff-Trail-Capitol-Hill-community-planning-project.aspx

In Brentwood, most properties have R-C1 zoning, not R-C2 or R-CG.  Secondly, the Banff Trail ART includes amendments that specifically allow for changes on the corner lots to permit low-density rowhouses:  Brentwood, and surrounding communities such as Triwood or Dalhousie, do not. (Brentwood has a Station ARP which applies specifically to the area around the LRT Station, such as the Co-op and the malls towards Charleswood Drive.)

Any change of land use in Brentwood would require the approval of City Council, and community residents and the Community Association would be able to voice their opinions.  Communities do change over time, but in Brentwood, for the reasons above, a change like that in Banff Trail is not something that is likely to happen in the near future.  If you are interested in learning more, you can find the Land Use designation for every property on this map.   https://maps.calgary.ca/MyProperty/

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  We meet at 7:00 p.m. on the first Monday of every month in the Sportsplex Boardroom.  We will not meet during the summer months, so our next meeting is on September 9, 2019.  Contact the BCA for more information at office@brentwoodcommunity.com or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

On behalf of the BCA Development and Transportation Committee

Staying Informed:  What’s happening in my community?

One of the challenges in any community is keeping residents informed about what is happening around them.  This applies to anything from construction to development changes or land use amendments.  That’s where the Brentwood Community Association Development and Transportation Committee (DTC) plays a valuable role.

What role does the DTC play in Planning decisions?

Although the DTC has no formal authority in planning matters, we are circulated on every Discretionary Development Permit (DP) submitted to the City.  That means that our group reviews the plans for every proposed development, and then provide comments and community context to the City of Calgary planning team.

Many members of our group have participated in planning sessions run by the Federation of Calgary Communities (FCC).  The FCC holds classes on a variety of planning topics, and provides background information to us related to reviewing a DP.  For example, a recent walking class featured a walking tour of Bridgeland, highlighting both accessibility and affordable housing.  On one part of the tour, we looked at how sidewalks and curb ramps could be built so that wheelchair users could navigate more easily.  Seeing examples in other communities helps us to evaluate or comment on similar items that we might see in our community, and that helps us in our DP reviews.

What role do residents play in Planning decisions?

Residents should have a say in what is going to be built around them.  The DTC writes up and delivers a Neighbour Notification to residents closest to a proposed new development (a secondary suite, a new building, a change of property use or a home-based business).  We started writing Neighbour Notifications in 2017 when it became apparent that residents were often not aware of a development proposed near them, and didn’t know that they were allowed to submit their comments on that application.

Residents can submit their comments directly to the file manager at the City of Calgary Planning Department.  It is also very helpful to us if the comments are also copied to the Brentwood Community Association and the DTC.  Why?  Because the DTC is representing the community, so we want to make sure we hear from you.

When we submit a response to the City on any DP, we first look at the responses or comments we’ve received from our residents.  We may then contact the file manager and ensure that those comments are taken into account, and we also include this feedback in our written review.  All comments have to be of a Planning nature (for example, dealing with height or setbacks, and not things like renters versus owners).

ow can residents stay informed?

  1. The DTC link on the Brentwood Community Association websitehttps://developments.brentwoodcommunity.com/

We post all DPs on this site, as well as other information such as Planning-related surveys.  Under the Archived DPs, you can find information about approved DPs such as the building currently being built at the old car wash site near the LRT.  We try to post information of interest to the community, so check it out!  You can also enter Brentwood Community Association into a browser to get the CA site, then look under Developments for the DTC site.

  1. Development Permit (DP) or Change of Land Use postings on site.  These are the signs that you might see on a signboard on the property next to you.  They are there to let you know that changes will be happening on that site, and there is information on the sign indicating where you can obtain further details or submit comments.
  2. Subscribe to Council News in Brief. These are short summaries on the major issues that have been before City Council.  Each summary is only one paragraph in length and you can click on the title to get more detailed information.  This is a good way to keep track of what’s been happening, although it only reports after the fact.  Enter “Calgary Council News in Brief” into a search engine or go to http://www.calgary.ca/citycouncil/Pages/CouncilWardNewsBrief.aspx
    You’ll find a link to sign up to receive the updates, typically every few weeks.
  3. Engage Calgary. This is a City of Calgary website at calgary.ca with a list of city-wide projects that you can comment on, such as parking reviews or smoking in public spaces.  You can also view more information, the background and updates for each project.  It’s a readable site that lets you simply click to find out more about current city issues and proposals, and then lets you submit your comments.

We’re always interested in hearing from you, so don’t hesitate to contact us or the Community Association to let us know what you think!

Melanie Swailes

Brentwood – We’re Number One!

Most of us Brentwood residents think our community is a pretty great place to live, and now it’s official!  Avenue magazine has ranked Brentwood as the top overall community in Calgary in their annual “Best Neighbourhood” edition.

Avenue magazine collected data on 185 established residential communities in Calgary.  A survey asked respondents to list and rank the characteristics that are most important to them in a place to live. Responses then underwent a max differential statistical analysis to determine just how important each amenity and characteristic is. Further information on each neighbourhood also included data collected from the Civic Census, Calgary Police Service and Open Calgary (the City of Calgary’s open data catalogue).

If you’d like to read about Calgary’s best neighbourhoods, a digital edition is available online at www.avenuecalgary.com.  For a print edition, a free copy is available at a number of locations across the city:  a full list of locations is at www.avenuecalgary.com/find-avenue/. Thank you to Käthe Lemon, Editor-in-Chief of Avenue magazine, for her willingness to help me with information for this article, as well as for explaining the survey and data collection methods to me.

What did residents consider most important?

  1. A High Proportion of Park Space and Pathways: Pathways were scored on proximity to regional (part of City-wide network), local (secondary route within communities) and trails (unpaved pathways recognized by the City). Parks were rated based on the size of parks, the number of smaller green spaces and the parks adjacent to communities.
  2. Good Access to Supermarkets, Grocery Stores and Food Markets: Using the City of Calgary’s business license data, varying points were given for supermarkets, grocery stores, specialty food stores and convenience stores licensed to sell food within a neighbourhood.
  3. Walkability: Walk Score measures the walkability of a neighbourhood based on the percentage of daily errands that can be accomplished on foot in the area.
  4. A High Number of Restaurants, Coffee Shops, Bars and Pubs: Again, City of Calgary business license data was used to determine the numbers of these types of businesses in Brentwood.
  5. Good Access to Major Roads: Brentwood has excellent access to Crowchild and Shaganappi Trails, as well as John Laurie Boulevard.
  6. Strong Community Engagement: A point system was used focused on the idea that a neighbourhood where neighbours run into each other more often is more engaged. Greater engagement opportunities included the number of households with a dog, the percentage of bike and walking commuters, the percentage of owner-occupied dwellings, access to pathways, the number of playgrounds, proximity to a library, and the community association membership levels and activities.

What else makes this a great community?

Brentwood residents really do have it all within our community!  On top of the items listed, we also have schools ranging from Kindergarten to High School, both Public and Separate.  There are several churches in Brentwood, as well as Northland, Brentwood, Dalbrent and Northland Plaza shopping malls.  You’ll also find many services such as dentists and doctors, lawyers, computer repairs, and even dog grooming and a registry office.

There is one more crucial element that makes Brentwood great:  resident involvement and volunteers!
On page ….. of this issue, you will see a long list of volunteers, everything from president to directors to representatives for figure skating or gardening or the environment.
Brentwood is very fortunate to have so many people involved with the Community Association (CA).  At our monthly meetings, guests from the City or other organizations have expressed surprise at the number of people who are always present.

Whether you are new to the community, or whether you’ve lived here for a long time, you are always welcome to join us.  If you’ve never been to a CA meeting, the best place to start might be with our Annual General Meeting on September 5th at the Brentwood Sportsplex (the ice arena building behind the SWC Pool and the Nose Hill Library).  Registration will begin at 6:30 with the AGM to start at 7:00.

Brief reports of the activities of the past year will be presented so it’s a great way to learn more about what has been happening in Brentwood and what is planned for the coming year.  Refreshments will be served after the meeting so that there will be time to socialize and meet some new neighbours.

We’re always interested in hearing from you, so don’t hesitate to contact the Community Association with questions or comments:  all the addresses and contact information are listed on page …..

I will end with a message from the BCA President, Bonita McCurry, who is always quietly active behind the scenes helping to make our community an active and vibrant one!

“As one of the board members and volunteers for the Brentwood Community Association, I am excited and honoured that Brentwood has been selected as the number one Community in Calgary.

Our residents are always willing to step up and volunteer when help is need. We are starting to get younger families back into the community which brings fresh ideas and suggestions for events in the community.

I want to thank everyone involved in this process of selecting Brentwood as the top community and hopefully we can keep moving forward with new ideas and plans.”

Submitted by
Melanie Swailes

What if I have a problem in the neighbourhood?

The Brentwood Community Association (BCA) sometimes receives calls or emails from residents who have a problem and are wondering what to do.  The nature of the problems can be diverse, ranging from parking issues, traffic (speeding), property upkeep (weeds or unkept lawns, snow removal or “messy” properties), noise (barking dogs, parties), or even wildlife (bobcats in the area).

Sometimes the BCA can directly contact someone to address the issue.  For example, we have a Community Resource Officer from Calgary Police Services, and a Neighbourhood Partnership Coordinator through the City of Calgary.  We may also contact our Councillor, Sean Chu, or one of his staff members.  We can pass on the information to them and sometimes they can advise us or resolve the issue directly.

If not, then what?

First, can you address the problem directly?  Ideally, talk to the responsible person / homeowner if possible.  Make sure they are aware of your concern and give them a chance to fix the problem.  If there are problems that a conversation does not solve, the appropriate way to deal with them is through 311 at the City of Calgary.

From the City of Calgary website:
“311 Citizen Services is your single point of contact for local government information and non-emergency services.  Whether you’re a resident, a business owner, or a visitor, your connection to The City is at your fingertips.”

Note that generally you cannot call most City departments directly, but 311 can advise you or forward your request. The City of Calgary wants 311 to be the entry point to all of its services and departments, so this really is the way to start.  311 operates 24 hours a day, through phone calls (dial 311), online submissions or via Mobile APP.  They will transfer your service request to the appropriate department for action.

Note also that Bylaw works on a complaint basis only.  Contacting 311 is the only way to register a complaint and seek action to resolve the issue.  If you say nothing, then nothing will or can be done.  (For example, bylaw officers do not generally drive around looking for unkept properties, illegal secondary suites or barking dogs.)

Many people have told me that they don’t want to complain, they don’t want to be on record and they don’t want to “tell on” someone.  All 311 reports are private and confidential.  The Mobile APP allows for anonymous submissions, but depending on the complaint, if you provide your name and address, you may receive follow-up information or be able to track your request.  You will be asked to provide a password and given a tracking number so that you are the only one who can request information about any follow-up on the complaint.

If you are unsure as to what the bylaws are with regards to noise, fire pits, pets, untidy properties or other issues, enter “Good Neighbour Practices Reference Guide” on the City of Calgary website.    https://www.calgary.ca/CSPS/ABS/Documents/Bylaws-by-topic/Good-Neighbour-Practices-Reference-Guide.pdf
This Guide is a very readable document.   What time can I start my leaf blower on a Saturday morning?  Where can my downspots drain water?  Can I park my RV in front of my house?  Does my dog need a license?  You can find answers in the Guide.

If you see a problem, likely other neighbours do as well and it benefits everyone to have the issue resolved.  It also sets an expectation for every property owner that he must maintain his property and comply with the existing bylaws.  Finally, if there truly is a problem property, calls to 311 are the only way to ensure that there is a record of complaints.  A bylaw officer will investigate and fines or penalties can be levied if necessary.

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  We meet at 7:00 p.m. on the first Monday of every month in the Sportsplex Boardroom.  Our next meeting is on October 7, 2019.  Contact the BCA for more information at office@brentwoodcommunity.com or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

On behalf of the BCA Development and Transportation Committee

The Brentwood Pathway  

It takes a village to raise a child, but it takes a great community to paint a pathway!  On September 14th, Brentwood residents came out in force and created a terrific work of art in our community.  We had so many eager volunteers that we had make a quick run to the Dollar Store to pick up more brushes!

The idea behind the project was to engage the community and create a meaningful shared space.  The Brentwood Pathway has certainly done that.  In the past few weeks, as I walk along the path, I have seen children proudly pointing out the sections that they painted.  I have also seen one of our local seniors walking along the path, then jumping for a few steps as she reached the hopscotch!

Lee Hunt has written more about the painters on page …. of this edition of The Bugle.  I’ll focus instead on some of the numbers and questions that I’ve been asked about the project.

By the numbers:

Number of participants:  60

Age range of participants:  from 2 years old to 89!

Gallons of paint used:  16

Cans of spray paints:  about 12

Brushes used: 32

Rollers used: 18

Number of giant stencils supplied by the City of Calgary:  5
Stenciled games painted on the pathway: Hopscotch, Mirror Me, Jump, Left/Right and Bullseye

Sponsors:  Coop ($200.00 gift certificate used for snacks and drinks), Panago (pizza for lunch), and Starbucks (coffee first thing to wake us up!)

Paint from:  Sherwin Williams (Ranchlands)

Total cost of supplies and materials, snacks and refreshments:  $894.74   (does not include donated items)

How did the Brentwood Pathway come about?

The project started with an application to ActivateYYC early in the summer.

ActivateYYC started in May 2017 as an “urbanism micro-grant initiative”.  ActivateYYC encouraged Calgarians to come together to complete projects that would be fun and would liven up their community.
In June 2019, Activate YYC joined forces with the Federation of Calgary Communities, Sustainable Calgary, The Calgary Foundation, and The City of Calgary to “reimagine spaces across Calgary as places of greater walkability, activity, and connectivity”.

How was the project site chosen?

After the Brentwood Community Association application was approved, the next step was deciding which of our potential projects to undertake.  A group of volunteers met with members from ActivateYYC, and we decided that painting a pathway would be fun.  The obvious choice was the area now known as the Brentwood Pathway.  Why?  Because it is used by students walking to and from the four schools in the area, because residents use the path to get from the community to Northland Mall, because it connects with the bike lanes on Northland, and because it is right next to the community garden, rink, Old Hall and playground.

What were the next steps?

A section of the pathway needed to be repaved since it was badly buckled and uneven.  Through the efforts of the City of Calgary, our Councillor Sean Chu, and our Neighbourhood Partnership Coordinator, Dru Mohler, that section of the pathway was repaved just in time for painting.
Brentwood resident Candace Krush enthusiastically stepped up to create designs and a vision for the pathway.  The night before the event, Candace, Jeff Swailes and I swept the path and base-coated some sections so it would be ready for Saturday.  Colleen Jones contacted local businesses for donations, then also purchased snacks and refreshments.  There were many other people who helped out behind the scenes to make this happen.  A special thank you to Linda at the BCA offices for handling the emails for volunteers and printing waivers and posters.

A huge thank you to everyone who participated in creating a beautiful Brentwood Pathway!

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  We meet at 7:00 p.m. on the first Monday of every month in the Sportsplex Boardroom.  Our next meetings are on November 4 and December 2, 2019.  Contact the BCA for more information at office@brentwoodcommunity.com or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

On behalf of the BCA Development and Transportation Committee

Jeff Swailes getting paints, rollers, brushes and supplies ready for the volunteers.

Candace Krush painting one of her sunflower designs.

How Should Communities Evolve and Grow?

When Brentwood was established in 1960, the population of Calgary was about 261,200 and the city covered 196 square kilometers.  (source: Glenbow Archives).  Today, Calgary has a population of about 1.3 million, and the city covers about 825 square kilometers.  Long-time Brentwood residents may remember when our community was a new suburb, seemingly far from the City core, but now we see development stretched out for many kilometers beyond our area.

As the Calgary population continues to grow, questions arise about the manner in which the city should expand.  Should we continue to grow outwards (commonly referred to as sprawl) or should the growth occur in already established communities?

In 2009, the City of Calgary approved a new Municipal Development Plan (MDP) which guides the planning process. That MDP set a very ambitious target that 50% of all population growth from 2009 until 2069 would be in older established communities called the Developed Area.  Of course, many things have changed in Calgary since 2009, including our economy, but even though the population growth has slowed down, the city continues to grow.  The City has set a mid-term target of about 33% of the cumulative population growth by 2039 to happen in established communities.  That includes communities like Brentwood.

In view of this challenge, the City is adopting a new Guidebook which directs how communities will grow and evolve. You’ll be hearing a lot about the Guidebook for Great Communities (“the Guidebook”) in the upcoming year.  At press time, the Guidebook is slated to go to City Council for approval on December 16, 2019.  To find a complete copy of the 147-page Guidebook go to the City of Calgary website at www.calgary.ca and enter “Guidebook for Great Communities”.

What is the Guidebook?  The Guidebook is the tool (statutory policy) that sets out guidance and a common understanding of how development will proceed. Part of this approach is to establish Multi-Community Local Area Plans that include policies for a group of communities instead of those stand-alone plans, as was the practice in the past.

What are Multi Community Plans (MCPs)?
There will be approximately 42 districts (MCP areas) representing the built-out area of the city.  For example, Brentwood, Charleswood, Triwood, Dalhousie and others might be included as one MCP.

Why is it important to you and your community? The Guidebook is the foundation for the future of planning in Calgary. This Guidebook will be a stand-alone statutory document and is an implementation tool for the MDP.

How will this affect communities?

  1. The Guidebook will be the foundation for all new Multi-Community Plans and will be the base for all policy for developments in our area.
  2. The Guidebook will apply to every community in the established area immediately, once approved by Council. Chapter 3 has policies like parking, site design, scale transition, building frontage, building design to name a few. These polices will override any current statutory document in place for our community, for example, our Brentwood Station Area Redevelopment Plan.

Why are some groups asking for a delay in approving the Guidebook?

Numerous Community Associations as well as the Federation of Calgary Communities feel that there has been limited consultation and awareness of this document.  The Brentwood Development and Transportation Committee also feels that there needs to be greater clarity and understanding of the document since it has major implications for all established-area communities in Calgary, including Brentwood. Since the Guidebook will sit at the highest level of Calgary’s planning hierarchy, if there is a discrepancy between a local area plan and the Guidebook, the Guidebook will prevail.

Please take a look at the Guidebook yourself (at www.calgary.ca).  There are numerous links that provide a great deal of information regarding future development in Calgary.  Thanks to the Federation of Calgary Communities for their efforts in evaluating and understanding the document, and for providing answers to questions.

If you are interested in community planning and redevelopment issues, we welcome new members to join us.  We meet at 7:00 p.m. on the first Monday of every month in the Sportsplex Boardroom.  Contact the BCA for more information at office@brentwoodcommunity.com or at 403–284-3477.

Submitted by Melanie Swailes

On behalf of the BCA Development and Transportation Committee