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Build Calgary - Glossary of terms

Growth Management

Growth management describes the process that City administration uses to provide Council transparent, consistent and reliable information about the timing and place for growth in our city.

Acreage Assessments

Refers to the recovery fees for building infrastructure associated with new development. This term is synonymous with development levies.


The four types of levies allowed under the MGA: Localized, Off-site Levies, Re-development Levies, Oversize.

  • Off-site Levy Bylaw: a levy imposed for the purpose of reimbursing The City for the capital costs associated with new developments where subdivision of land is required
  • Community Revitalization Levy: a levy imposed in respect of the incremental assessed value of property in a community revitalization levy area to raise revenue to be used toward the payment of infrastructure and other costs associated with the redevelopment of property in the community revitalization levy area
  • Transportation Levy: a levy imposed for new or expanded roads required for, or impacted by, a subdivision or development
  • Storm Sewer Levy: a levy imposed to fund new storm infrastructure required for Greenfield development (levy note to be used to fund retrofit projects)
  • Water and Wastewater Levy: a levy imposed to fund the expansion of water and wastewater infrastructure to accommodate future growth

Tax Increment Financing/Community Revitalization Levy

Tax Increment Financing is a financial tool that allocates future increases in property taxes from a designated area to pay for improvements only within that area.

Developed Area

Considered to be all communities that were completely constructed prior to the approval of the MDP in 2009. On MDP Map 1, this is the Centre City, Inner City, Established Area, Standard Industrial, and Industrial – Employee Intensive typologies, plus any Major Activity Centres, Community Activity Centres, Urban Corridors and Neighbourhood Corridors within these areas. Growth in these areas comes through redevelopment of existing land.

Developing Area

Considered to be all communities and that had no or only partial urban development prior to the approval of the MDP in 2009. On MDP Map 1, this is the Planned Greenfield with Area Structure Plan (ASP), Future Greenfield, and Industrial Greenfield typologies. Growth in these areas comes through development of agricultural land or other reserve land.

Inner City

The area defined as Inner City on MDP Map 1, generally corresponding with lands outside of the Centre City that were built out prior to the 1940s.

Centre City

Considered to be all lands covered by the Centre City Plan, the business and culture core of the city. This includes the communities of Beltline, Downtown Commercial Core, Downtown East Village, Downtown West Village, Eau Claire, and Chinatown.


The term ‘suburban’ is often used to describe areas that are either (1) new residential developments located on the city’s edges, or (2) characterized by master planned, low to medium residential development with supporting commercial, schools and green space. They are often both.

Area Structure Plan

An area structure plan refines and implements The City’s broad planning objectives and policies of the Municipal Development Plan, Calgary Transportation Plan, and other plans and policies promoting logical, compatible and sustainable development for a specified area in the city’s Developing Areas. It is a statutory plan approved by City Council, developed by Administration in consultation with landowners, other levels of government and agencies, and citizens.

Area Redevelopment Plan

Like an area structure plan (ASP), an area redevelopment plan (ARP) is a statutory plan approved by City Council that refines and implements The City’s broad planning objectives and policies. It is also developed by administration in consultation with landowners, other levels of government and agencies, and citizens. Unlike an ASP, an ARP is used to guide growth and change in existing, built-up areas of the city as they redevelop over time.

Building Permit

A building permit is required to erect a new building or structure, or demolish, relocate, repair, alter or make additions to an existing building or structure.

Development Permit

A development permit is needed for most new construction or changes of use.

Subdivision approval

Refers to the authority of The City to subdivide (make more or smaller ownership parcels) land. See Subdivision below.

Growth Overlay

When a new Local Area Plan is approved by Council where some or all of the land lacks leading infrastructure (water, transportation or Fire services), a growth overlay is applied over the unserviced or partially serviced lands. To remove the overlay, it must be demonstrated that the required leading infrastructure is funded, either through City budgets or through an accepted developer proposal.

Standard Development Agreement and special clauses

The standard development agreement sets out the rules and the legal agreement between The City and the developer for the construction, maintenance and dedication of public infrastructure by the developer to The City. This includes all Council-approved development levies and fees.


Subdivision is the process where a parcel of land is divided into two or more parcels in order to obtain separate legal titles for each parcel.

Catchment area

Defines the service area for a piece of infrastructure (water, storm, sanitary, transportation, fire.

Benefitting area

Defines the area that receives service or value from a piece of infrastructure.

Endeavours to Assist

The use of City authority to facilitate/ensure fair and equitable development. Endeavours to Assist may be used to coordinate the costs of infrastructure among a number of landowners when no single proposal may trigger a piece (or size) of infrastructure, but the cumulative impact of the proposals will.

Construction Finance Agreement (CFA)

An agreement between The City and the developer whereby the developer agrees to pay for a piece of infrastructure that will allow development to commence The City agrees to pay back the developer at a given time in the future, subject to certain conditions.

Corporate Planning Applications Group (CPAG)

CPAG oversees the review of substantial planning applications (e.g., large development permits, Land Use Amendments, and Outline Plans)

Joint Use Coordinating Committee

A co-member group between The City, Calgary Board of Education and Calgary Separate School District to manage planning and operational issues associated with school sites.

Complete Community (as per MDP)

Complete communities are vibrant, green and safe places, where people of varying ages, incomes, interests and lifestyles feel comfortable and can choose between a variety of building types and locations in which to live, and where daily needs can be met. This strategy supports diversity to ensure a range of community retail and services, elementary schools, recreation facilities and community associations are more viable and accessible. The diversity within complete communities generates more choice, so that residents have the opportunity to live and remain in their own neighbourhood as their housing needs change over their lifetime.

Alternative Funding Solutions:

  • Special Tax Option: The result of a successful community petition to The City of Calgary requesting an enhancement. An example is enhanced landscape and boulevard maintenance.
  • Local Improvement Tax: Additional charges may appear on a property tax bill for previously approved local improvements, which include new or replacement construction projects intended to upgrade specific areas in communities throughout the city. Examples are street paving, driveway crossings, sidewalk replacement, lane paving, and curb and gutter replacement.
  • Public Private Partnerships: refers to a government service or private business venture which is funded and operated through a partnership of government and one or more private sector companies.
  • Permanent Area Contributions: Inter-developer financing and cost sharing of common infrastructure systems installed in a specified development area.
  • Municipal Issued Bond: a bond issued by a local government.

Municipal Development Plan (MDP)

Calgary’s MDP was adopted by City Council in 2009. It contains policies that will shape how Calgary grows and develops over the next 30-60 years.

Calgary Transportation Plan (CTP)

Calgary’s CTP was adopted by City Council in 2009. It contains policies that will shape how Calgary’s transportation system will respond to growth and transportation trends over the next 30-60 years.


imagineCALGARY is an award-winning initiative that represents the voice of 18,000 Calgarians. It represents a shared vision for Calgary and a detailed plan on how to get there.

Land supply

Refers to the full development capacity of land, subject to infrastructure capacity and land use planning policy. Often measured in population, units, development area, or land area. In Calgary, usually associated as planned land (Area Structure Plan in place) or serviced land (all leading infrastructure in place).


The number and geographic distribution of new communities around the city’s edges.


Defined developing area residential markets, used in The City’s Suburban Residential Growth report.


Greenfield land is undeveloped land at the city’s edges used for agriculture or other reserve purpose. Greenfield development is the process of building this land into urban development.


Brownfield land is previously used for industrial purposes or some commercial uses. Brownfield development is the process of undertaking the remediation and regulatory work required to redevelop this land from its previous use to another higher use.


The number of dwelling units divided by the specified area, usually stated as units per hectare. Usually, but not always, non-developable land is removed from the equation.

Prioritization and Sequencing List

The prioritization and sequencing lists were the final product of the Growth Management Framework, a project undertaken by The City in 2011-2013. Using Council approved criteria and weightings, new growth areas in the developing, developed and industrial candidate areas were evaluated and ranked against each other. These criteria reflected the principles of fiscal efficiency and MDP implementation. The highest ranking areas are recommended for infrastructure investment in order to meet serviced land supply targets, while lower ranked areas gain an idea of when required infrastructure may arrive.

Candidate Area

A geographically defined area that was evaluated and scored in the Prioritization and Sequencing List work. As a result, detailed infrastructure and planning information is available.

Multi family unit

Multi-family residential is a classification of housing where multiple separate housing units are contained within one building or several buildings within one complex. Examples are apartments, townhouse, and multiplexes.

Single family unit

A building that is typically occupied by one household and consists of one dwelling unit.

Duplex or Semi-Detached unit

A building that is typically occupied by two households in separate, but attached, dwelling units.