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Ward 7 News: Blog: Contextual Monitoring Report Update

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infill housing

Infill development brings investment and new residents to our established communities. It can also bring challenges. In particular, communities and their planning committees struggle with Contextual Development Permits. Unlike standard Discretionary applications, Contextual applications are not circulated to planning committees. They are automatically approved if they meet the bylaw rules and cannot be appealed. The original concept was that Contextual would generally be more modest than a full Discretionary application, and would therefore represent few concerns for residents. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Communities have consistently identified issues with Contextual applications, and I share their concerns. As many residents point out, Contextual applications do not ensure that we see developments that are contextual! The building envelope for Contextual is too generous and does not ensure that developments fit within the built context of a neighbourhood. It also fails to promote important features like front porches and tree retention. Despite the Federation of Calgary Communities, planning committees, and my office voicing concerns on many occasions, the Planning Department has failed to make necessary changes.
Every year, the Planning Department brings forth a Contextual Monitoring Report that evaluates the current state of Contextual applications and recommends minor adjustments. The recommendation from Planning this year was to cease the Monitoring Report and instead move into an inter-departmental evaluation of infill development in general. While I support a review of both Contextual and Discretionary processes (Discretionary applications also have persistent issues), not enough direction was provided to address concerns. As such, I brought forward the following motion:
That Council direct City Administration, through engagement with the Federation of Calgary Communities and community associations, to prepare Land Use Bylaw amendments and policy changes that address recurring and emerging issues with infill redevelopment, including, but not limited to, restrictions and/or incentives on:

1. Eave and peak height differentiation
2. Massing
3. Front porches
4. Subterranean structures extending beyond above-grade footprints
5. Hardscape coverage
6. Green landscaping
7. Tree retention in the Demolition Permit, Development Permit, and Building Permit stages
8. Drainage
9. Materials
10. Vehicle storage/loading
11. Non-conforming/non-standard lots

And report back to Council through the Standing Policy Committee on Planning and Urban Development no later than Q3 2018.
All Councillors that see infill development in their communities supported my motion. Community associations also sent in letters of support for addressing the persistent issues with infill development. Unfortunately, many on Council have little to no experience with infill. As such, instead of passing my motion as-is, Council elected to push for a scoping report first. Administration will report back by the end of 2018 with an evaluation of time and resources required to address the issues identified above. Following this report, and with Council’s further support, the Planning department will bring forward bylaw amendments/policy changes identified in my motion.
Thank you to community associations who wrote letters to Council and to all communities that advocate on this issue. Your support helped make the case to Council that this is an important issues for established communities. I will continue to push for infill development that is more compatible with existing communities, and brings value to current and future residents.

This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.

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