Share this page Print

Local Area Planning in Calgary

The City has over 200 plans and policies  about planning and development in Calgary.

  • Many plans are old and outdated, their communities have changed a lot since they were written.
  • It’s hard to keep these plans up to date because they’re complicated and inconsistent.

The City is taking a proactive and strategic approach to planning for growth and change in our established communities. By undertaking local growth planning processes within multiple communities at a time, up-to-date local area plans can be created for all of Calgary’s communities – providing a clear and comprehensive vision for growth and change at a local level across our city.

  • Through local growth planning, we look at the fabric of a specific local area, the community’s vision for the evolution of the area, the ideal places to accommodate growth, and how to make the best use of limited land – balancing the need to increase density, improve mobility and enhance places and spaces to live, work and play.
  • As local growth planning projects are initiated, The City will work together with interested and impacted stakeholders including: residents and landowners, local businesses, community associations and builders/developers to create a local area plan.
  • A local area plan identifies and guides where and how future growth and (re)development should happen within a specific area. A local area plan aims to integrate and enhance the existing fabric of the area and ensure the area is vibrant and thriving in the future.

Why are multiple communities planned together?

Our daily experiences are not confined to our immediate community. For example, perhaps you live in a community without a grocery store so visit a neighbouring community to buy groceries, travel along a main road through multiple communities to get to and from work, or go to a neighbouring community to take yoga, eat at a restaurant or walk your dog.

When looking across our city, there are shared connections and catchments (such as local businesses, transit stations and schools) that naturally join people and communities together as well as physical boundaries (such as major roads, rivers and large natural areas) that naturally separate us.

By grouping communities based on physical boundaries and shared connections, multiple communities can be grouped, discussed and planned together.

Taking a multi-community approach to local growth planning has the following benefits:

  • Creates stronger linkages between communities and to key amenities and infrastructure.
  • Allows for better identification of common issues, opportunities and solutions.
  • Enables a more holistic discussion about where and how new growth should happen across a larger geographic area.
  • Includes a broader citizen and stakeholder perspective in each plan.
  • Allows for more effective engagement and plan development, which is essential towards replacing obsolete and ineffective plans with modern planning tools.
  • Results in fewer plans across the city, enabling plans to be updated more frequently to ensure they continue to address currently conditions.

How are local area plan boundaries determined?

Local plan areas are primarily established by using large roads (such as Crowchild Trail, Deerfoot Trail, Anderson Trail, Mcknight Boulevard, Shaganappi Trail) or geographic features (rivers, major parks such as Nose Hill, Confederation or Fish Creek parks) as boundaries between plan areas. These features are not only easily identifiable on a map, they really shape the way we go about our daily lives. Our daily experience is not confined to our immediate community. If you see someone at the park, library or grocery store, you probably use similar amenities, face similar challenges and love the same things about the area you live. It only makes sense to plan communities with these shared experiences in mind.

Local Plan Areas map

Prior to launching each new local growth planning project, we first meet with community associations, neighbourhood partnership coordinators and other stakeholders to discuss the proposed local area plan boundary. While some boundaries are obvious (Deerfoot Trail for example), others are not, and some communities may fit equally well into a neighbouring plan area. Establishing the boundaries of a local area plan is the first step in the process. Ultimately, every community will be included within a local area plan with neighbouring communities.

What is a local area plan?

A local area plan identifies and guides where and how future growth and (re)development should happen within a specific area. A local area plan aims to integrate and enhance the existing fabric of the area and ensure the area is vibrant and thriving in the future.

A local area plan includes the following sections, aiming to answer the accompanying question and includes the associated key components:

  1. VISUALIZING GROWTH – What is the vision for th​e area and what type of growth makes sense where? (vision and land use maps)
  2. ENABLING GROWTH – What local/custom direction is needed to realize great redevelopments in this area? (development policies)
  3. SUPPORTING GROWTH – If growth occurs, what physical and social investments are needed? (future infrastructure and amenity goals)

Does being in the same local area plan mean that communities will be treated the same in these areas?

No. Just as being part of the same city does not mean that all communities are treated the same, being part of the same local area plan does not mean all communities are treated the same. Geographic features, infrastructure requirements, mobility networks, community layout, history and market forces will continue to shape the unique trajectories of each community, and local area planning processes will take those factors into account. Just like each community will have different areas that have unique characteristics, communities within each local plan also have unique characteristics that help shape the role they play.

Why are local area plans needed?

Local area plans provide guidance and direction as new communities are being built and when they reach their natural redevelopment lifecycle stage.

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.

See a larger image

Looking more broadly, across the whole city, we need to consider where and how growth and (re)development should happen.

We need to consider:

  • People’s changing housing needs and preferences
  • The sustainability and urban footprint of our city
  • The need to balance the cost of new and maintaining existing infrastructure, amenities and facilities to support both new and established communities
  • The need to balance our population across both new and established communities to ensure local schools, facilities and businesses are supported and can be sustained within our established communities.

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. Learn more about Calgary’s Municipal Development Plan.

What is the Guidebook for Great Communities and how does it relate to local area plans?

The Guidebook for Great Communities (The Guidebook) is a document that directs how Calgary will evolve and change to achieve great communities for everyone. The Guidebook lays out how to create local area plans and outlines the tools they use to plan for growth in communities. The Guidebook is essentially a manual of how to create local area plans.

The Guidebook lays out common urban form categories (such as neighbourhood commercial major, or neighbourhood housing local) and modifiers (such as building scale or active frontages) that can be used in all local area plans. The Guidebook also sets out common policies (such as landscaping, site design and building design, parking and heritage) that apply to all built-out areas of the city. Finally, the Guidebook establishes the considerations that local area plans should account for with regards to funding and financing public infrastructure and amenities.

Does the Guidebook for Great Communities imply that all local area plans are the same? Does the Guidebook restrict the tools available to local area plans?

No. Think of the Guidebook as a toolbox for creating a local area plan. Each local area plan will use different tools from The Guidebook in different areas to create a unique plan that responds to the local context. Additionally, there may be some tools that are not set out in the Guidebook that a local area plan may make use of. Local area plans have the ability to create specific policies that addresses unique features, characteristics and attributes of an area.

What is the timing and schedule for local area plans?

The City aim is to eventually complete local area plans that cover all communities in Calgary. However, in the short term, the areas experiencing the greatest growth pressures will be the focus. These will be areas closer to the Centre City, areas close to transit stations, or other strategic areas of high anticipated growth.

Local plans will take anywhere between 12 and 24 months to complete.

What communities are currently involved in a multi-community planning process?

North Hill Communities (Areas 5 & 6) –  Highland Park, Mount Pleasant, Tuxedo Park, Winston Heights-Mountview, Crescent Heights, Renfrew, Rosedale, Capitol Hill and Thorncliffe Greenview (south of Mcknight Blvd).

Heritage Communities (Area 31) – Eagle Ridge, Kelvin Grove, Kingsland, Fairview, Haysboro, Acadia, Southwood, Willow Park, Maple Ridge and Chinook Park.

Westbrook Communities (Area 10) – Wildwood, Spruce Cliff, Westgate, Rosscarrock, Shaganappi, Glendale, Killarney/ Glengarry, Glenbrook and the portions of Upper Scarboro/Sunalta West and Richmond that are west of Crowchild Trail.​​​​