Top view of Calgary city skyline – December 31, 2018. DARREN KRAUSE / LIVEWIRE CALGARY
The guide to the city’s large communities met with stiff opposition at a public hearing on Wednesday, but city councils continued to approve the document.
The Guide is a planning document designed to help shape the future development of established Calgary communities undergoing local planning work.
At Wednesday’s planning and urban development meeting on Wednesday, city councils heard from the public, and of the 59 people who contributed, about two-thirds were against the document.
After a relatively brief debate, the city councils approved Document 7-1 in committee with Coun. Jeromy Farkas is the only one who thinks differently. Coun. Farkas had tried to postpone the approval until after the local elections on October 18. That failed.
The document will now be forwarded to the Calgary City Council meeting on March 22nd.
Ward 9 Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra said he was elected to the council 10 years ago with a mandate to change the development of the city. He believes this document is a culmination of that effort.
“I think this is a really important moment in Calgary’s planning history,” said Coun. Said Carra.
“It is a turning point where we are making a major commitment to operationalize the major commitments we made 11 years ago when we passed a community development plan that recognized that we could not continue to build the city like we did it had done decades in the last few years. “
Opposition to the public has been expressed in both the travel guide and the North Hill Local Area Plan. As already mentioned, more than two thirds of those presented were against the documents.
Concerns centered on four main areas: loss of single-family homes, loss of cultural heritage, misalignment of the climate change plan and public engagement.
Julie Punt of Ward 11 said her family chose the southwest Calgary township of Mayfair because it was a single-family home.
“There’s a place for high density living and a place for single family homes. By rededicating all parts of the city, the chance of maintaining this diversity in our city will be greatly reduced, ”she said.
“One of Calgary’s many treasures is the quaint, older single-family homes in the downtown area. This is something we need to protect, not delete. “
Hugoline Morton, a resident of Elbow Park, raised the issue of restrictive agreements on houses, particularly those related to cultural property. She said they include kickback counseling, one house per lot, and limited commercial activity.
“They are a legal cornerstone of the heritage of the neighborhoods they apply to and they ensure context-sensitive development,” she said.
The public, the city administration and the city councils discussed the merits of restrictive agreements, their legality and their relevance for today’s development.
Others felt the climate was not a big part of creating the guide.
One speaker made the point that climate was mentioned only a few times in the document.
Those who voted in favor of the plan said it creates a system that can be applied fairly to all parts of the city but still respect the individuality of the community.
Jeanne Kimber, who lives in Highland Park, said she listened to speakers for most of the day and read many of the public posts.
“I understand the fear that the guidebook will somehow create the conditions for steep and undesirable changes in the community,” she said.
“I would argue that much of this fear is unfounded.”
Others, like Court Ellingson of Calgary Economic Development, said this could be an economic catalyst. Ellingson said if you look at the principles of the guide and those of Calgary in the new economy, they are aligned.
“Our understanding is that your talent, innovation, and business environment are closely related to placement,” he said.
“It is an opportunity for engagement and for citizens to build the city that is best for them, and that will help us advance our economy in the future.”
City refutes concerns
After consulting the public, the city strongly responded to citizens’ concerns.
Lisa Kahn of the City of Calgary addressed inheritance first. She said the document contained some of the “most forward-looking tools for cultural heritage,” especially in areas where there was a concentration of cultural assets.
Specifically in the North Hill Plan, Kahn said they had identified cultural assets for protection. That is what the documents are supposed to do.
“The plan includes a policy to prevent renaming in these areas, thereby recognizing that in these areas the future instruments for cultural heritage will help to incentivize the preservation of cultural goods,” she said.
At this point, perhaps the most pointed comment in town was made. When it comes to preserving heritage and “character” in communities, Kahn is referring not just to buildings, but to people as well.
“It’s about the parks, paths, trees and facilities, and most of all, community character is mostly about people,” she said.
“We often use the characters’ attention as an argument as to why change shouldn’t happen. It’s a euphemism for exclusion. “
Loss of single family homes, climate problems
Kahn also addressed concerns about the alleged removal of single-family homes. She said Calgary’s single-family home inventory was about 56 percent – 20 percent more than other Canadian cities. Kahn said they would continue to be the dominant form of housing in Calgary.
“I’ve said this many times before, but the travel guide won’t remove individual detached apartments. It also doesn’t rule out the possibility of building new detached houses, ”she said.
Regarding the climate, Kahn said the principles themselves are based on the goals of sustainability and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Later, in his presence, Coun. Gian Carlo Carra said this is in itself a climate document.
“The reality is that this entire document is a climate document. It’s a financial risk management document, it’s a business diversification document. It is a socially fair, inclusive, anti-racist document, he said.
“It hits everything we tried to do.”