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Community Involvement Toolkit

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Outreach tools and resources for citizens

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Community Involvement Toolkit

Outreach tools and resources for citizens

During any planning process, there’s usually a wealth of information to draw from. It’s important to take the time to review all of the information available, so you can better understand how and where to get involved and that you are in a position to provide informed input, where applicable.

This page aims to provide resources to help ensure community members and community associations can be successful in their roles when connected to community outreach in planning.

As a community association part of your role is as a connector, which means you share information and insights about a specific community or area to help increase understanding of the local context and to help inform community outreach plans for local planning and development projects.

Community members and community associations are also participants. Participants get involved in the outreach process. For more details visit Roles & Responsibilities in Outreach​.

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Communities change and evolve over the years. Buildings gain character, community demographics change, trees mature, local amenities and businesses change ownership and offerings. A big part of a community’s life cycle is redevelopment, which often begins when communities reach a certain age and homes, buildings and amenities need to be refreshed and revitalized or renewed and replaced.

Looking more broadly, across the whole city, we need to consider where and how growth and development should happen. We need to consider the sustainability and our city’s urban footprint, we need to ensure existing infrastructure can be maintained and amenities and facilities in established neighbourhoods have the population needed to support them to ensure they continue to thrive. We also need to balance the need to grow and develop with the need to retain and enhance the unique character of our neighbourhoods, historical resources and the natural environment.

The City is responsible for managing growth and development across Calgary and looks at how and where growth should happen. There are key areas where growth and development is encouraged and a city-wide plan for growth to be distributed between developed and new communities.

When getting involved in the conversation about growth and development there are a number of City policies, bylaws and plans that might influence the planning conversation at The City. Guidelines and parameters for individual development may already be outlined through existing policy and bylaws and it is important to have an understanding about the role they play in your community context and where Calgary is headed.

We have created a library of resources available below to help you better understand planning in Calgary.

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There are many ways citizens can get involved in the planning conversation at the city-wide and local community level.

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The graphic above is meant to represent the diminishing opportunity to influence decisions through the planning process as things move along to completed construction.

For each key stage in the planning continuum we have outlined below how you can get involved, what is considered at each stage, what are the roles and who are the decision makers.

For an overview of the tools available for citizen involvement in planning outreach, view Outreach tools for citizen involvement in planning.

Citizen involvement in policy development

There are a number of City policies that guide development. These include:

  • The Municipal Development Plan – outlines goals and targets for city-wide, long term growth.
  • The Guidebooks - provides direction on development and redevelopment within developed areas, new areas and within the Centre City. (New Communities Guidebook, Developed Areas Guidebook & Centre City Guidebook for those areas.)
  • Local Area Plans provide local-specific direction to indicate and guide where growth and change should happen within a specific local area.

Together, these layers of City policies outline a future vision and provide guidance on where/how land should be used. Ultimately, landowners and builders decide if/when to propose to build something new. The policy stage is where citizens have the opportunity to have the greatest amount of influence over how growth and redevelopment occurs in their community.

How can you get involved?
When public feedback is actively being sought on City policy plans, The City reaches out to let people know in a variety of ways. Details about the engagement process and current opportunities can be found on the Engage portal​. Generally there are a mix of in-person and online opportunities through multiple iterative phases to support engagement on policy development. The public is also able to communicate with City Council through the public hearing (through writing or attending to speak in person).

What’s considered at this stage?
Broadly, policy plans guide long-term planning in the city and looks at where and how growth and development should happen from a City-wide scale down to a policy for a specific area. At a high-level, policies will look at where should growth happen? What local/custom policies are needed to realize great development in this area? If growth occurs, what physical and social investments are needed?

What are the outreach roles when new policies (such as local area plans) are being developed?

​City Administration ​Lead
​Community Groups or Member-based Organizations ​Connector & Participant
​Community ​Participant
​Development Industry ​​Participant

Who makes the final decision?

​​Recommendation & Review
  • City Administration
  • Calgary Planning Commission
  • SPC on Planning & Urban Development​
​Decision maker
  • City Council​
  

​​​​​​​​​Infographic: Policy Process & Involvement​​​​​​​

Citizen involvement in land use applications

A land use redesignation application proposes to change the land use district of a property to allow for a different set of uses than currently allowed. This can also be referred to as rezoning. Any site owner or their authorized agent may apply to have the land use designation changed through a land use redesignation application. Sometimes land use amendment applications may also require a policy plan amendment for the area.

How can you get involved? If/when a landowner decides to develop and propose a new land use, they are encouraged to be a good neighbour and start reaching out to the community early to discuss their intention to propose a new development. The landowner determines the details of the application and proposed development and their outreach process.

When a land use redesignation application is received by The City, a City outreach process is initiated and includes:

  • Notification (on site signage)
  • Development Map Comments
  • Circulation & Additional Comments
  • Participation in applicant-led outreach (if it occurs)
  • Public Hearing

For more details on how to get involved at the land use stage and other development applications, please review this help guide: How to respond to development applications.

What is considered at this stage? At a high-level a land use will look at: Massing (density, height, parcel coverage etc.), setbacks and permitted and discretionary uses

What are the outreach roles in land use applications (Land Use Redesignations, Development Permits, Policy Amendments?

​Applicant ​Lead
​City Administration ​Support
​Community Groups or Member-based Organizations ​Connector & Participant
​Community ​​Participant

Who makes the final decision?

​​Recommendation & Review
  • City Administration​
  • ​Calgary Planning Commission
  • SPC on Planning & Urban Development
​Decision maker
  • ​City Council

​​​​​​​​​Infographic: Land Use Application Process & Involvement​​​​​​​

Citizen involvement in development permits

A development permit confirms that all the rules and planning policies have been considered. Not all projects require a development permit.

The Land Use Bylaw lists the projects that do not require a development permit. Projects not included in the list of exemptions require a development permit because they pose a change to the property or are outside the standard rules established for that district.

How can you get involved? If/when a landowner decides to propose a new development, they are encouraged to be a good neighbour and start reaching out to the community early to discuss their intention to propose a new development. The landowner determines the details of the application and proposed development and their outreach process.

When a development permit application is received by The City, a City outreach process is initiated and includes.

  • Notification (on site signage) ** not all development permits are posted
  • Development Map Comments
  • Circulation & Additional Comments
  • Participation in applicant-led outreach (if it occurs)

For more details on how to get involved at the development permit stage and other development applications, please review this help guide: How to respond to development applications.

What is considered at this stage? The City focuses on ensuring new developments align with the rules and regulations set out in both the Land Use Bylaw and the Alberta Building Code. At a high-level a development permit will look at: Bylaw review and alignment to policy, permitted vs. discretionary uses, relaxations, design related details, impacts to adjacent neighbours and parking.

What are the outreach roles in development permit applications?

​Applicant ​Lead
​City Administration ​Support
​Community Associations ​Connector & Participant
​Community ​​Participant

Who makes the final decision?

​Reviewer​
  • City Administration
​Decision maker
  • Calgary Planning Commission
  • Or Subdivision Development Appeal Board

​​​​​​​​​Infographic: Development Permit Process & Involvement​​​​​​​

Citizen involvement in building permits

A building permit is authorization from The City of Calgary showing that proposed construction work is approved and complies with the Alberta Building Code. Work may include construction, demolition, alteration, relocating buildings, and sometimes repairs to buildings.

How can you get involved? There is limited involvement from an outreach perspective at the building permit stage. During this stage you might experience construction concerns, there should be a construction notice sign with contact information for the builder. This should be your first step to contact, if that does not resolve your concern you can contact The City at 311 or Calgary Police at 911 for emergency situations.

Partners in Planning

Planning a city is not a simple task and it involves many different laws and complex processes. It can be tough to learn how development is regulated in Calgary, and can be even tougher to know how to effectively participate in the urban planning process.

Partners in Planning is a program that The City and the Federation of Calgary Communities offers to help you learn how development gets planned and approved. It is open to anyone and if you complete the certificate, you will learn the necessary skills, knowledge and tools you need to actively and effectively participate in the planning process.

For more information on Partners in Planning, please contact:
Federation of Calgary Communities
Phone: 403-244-4111
Email: planning@calgarycommunities.com​​​

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Now that you have a better understanding of how and where you should get involved in the planning process, The City has created a couple of resources that provide more detail and helpful tips to keep in mind when you are responding and getting involved.

​​Resource: How to respond to development applications​​​​​​​

​​Link: How to present at Committee meetings​​​​​​​

​​Resource: Tips for presenting to Council​​​​​​​

​​Resource: Outreach tools for citizen involvement in planning​​​​​​​​​

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For a list of active policy projects in the City of Calgary, visit Planning & Development current projects.

Interested in seeing what City projects are currently collecting input? Visit the Engage portal​.

Visit the Community Outreach for Planning & Development calendar​ to see what events are upcoming.​​

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