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Contextual Dwelling Monitoring Review

For the past few years, City staff have been monitoring the process and effectiveness of Contextual Dwellings (permitted infill homes) in The City’s Developed Areas. ​ This monitoring has led to some changes such as the inclusion of semi-detached dwellings and modifications on calculating the height of a building on a corner parcel.

At the June 29, 2015 meeting, Council directed staff to engage community association planning groups and industry groups to get feedback and input on the current system.  At the September 20th, 2016 meeting, the City provided some of their recommendations. The meetings scheduled for February 21 and 22 will be an opportunity for the City to clarify these recommendations again with stakeholders before it is forwarded to Council. 

Engagement we’ve done to date

  • At the beginning of April 2016 we initiated contact with a number of community associations and their development/planning committee members to collect their viewpoints on Contextual Dwellings.
  • On June 7, 2016, we engaged more community association planning groups with the assistance of the Federal Communities of Calgary (FCC) via an input session.
  • On September 20, 2016, we held an update session to inform stakeholders on the findings from the most recent monitoring reviews.

All along this process, The City has also been attending community association development/planning committee meetings when requested, and having discussions with industry groups through the Urban Development Institute (UDI) of Calgary.

What we heard and found

There were a number of concerns raised from the latest monitoring review and we found that these concerns were consistent with ones that had been raised during prior reviews. Below are the most common concerns that have kept arising; please note however, that this is not an all-inclusive list:

  • There are some issues that relate to Contextual Dwelling rules that need further analysis. These are related to the “building envelope” which is the imaginary box that can be built within, including the maximum height of the dwelling. There are concerns both that the building envelope is too big and on the other side it is too limiting.
  • There are concerns surrounding the processing of both Contextual Dwellings (permitted) and discretionary permits.
  • There are concerns regarding the building/construction process of the dwelling.
  • When asked for examples of infill homes that were not sensitive and in character with their communities, the majority of the examples given were for Single and Semi-detached Dwellings that are under the discretionary permit process, not under the Contextual Dwellings permitted process.
  • The City has approved and implemented a number of land use bylaw rule changes for Contextual Dwellings in the past, but this has not eliminated some of the reoccurring issues noted above. We recognize that rule changes alone have not been the most effective tool to address some of these concerns.

Where are we now?

The City would like to take this opportunity to clarify the recommendations being put forward to Council based on the community feedback received on the Contextual Dwellings Monitoring. Please note this will be a discussion specifically on the recommendations being presented and not another general input session.

The concerns raised through previously collected community feedback are reoccurring issues that cannot be addressed through changes to the Land Use Bylaw on Contextual Dwellings. Most of the concerns raised were related to operational practices and single and semi-detached homes that are not contextual (and therefore not part of the Contextual Dwellings Monitoring Report process).
As a result, the report to Council scheduled for April 24, 2017 will recommend no changes to the Land Use Bylaw. However, the improvements to City operational practices and a review of issues related to all infill single and semi-detached homes will be actioned to address citizen concerns through an interdepartmental team of staff focusing on this in a coordinated fashion.
In order to ensure your feedback on this approach is heard in a constructive way, the Federation and the City of Calgary will host two round table discussions where attendance will be limited to 15 individuals per session. Two dates have been scheduled: February 21 and February 22.  Both sessions will be contain the same information, so please only register for one to provide your fellow community members with an opportunity to participate.  Should there be a lot of interest in this discussion and the first two sessions are full, additional sessions could be added.  

Other Important Information

Please note that as soon as these reports are ready, they will be uploaded onto this webpage. You can also subscribe to receive email updates on our Contextual Dwelling Monitoring Reviews.
For general information and matters to consider when building a Contextual D​welling​, please refer to our Co​ntextual Dwellings page​. For assistance on interpreting the contextual rules and how they may pertain to a development, please call 403-268-5311.

Contact Us

Should you have any comments or questions relating to the Contextual Monitoring Review, please contact:

Tammy Henry
Planner 2, Planning and Development​