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Guidebook for great communities: myths and facts

Guidebook for Great Communities: myths and facts

The Guidebook for Great Communities gives citizens a stronger voice on how their community grows. Whether your community is still building out, or it’s been established for more than a century; as your neighbourhood matures, kids leave home, people become empty-nesters. Sooner or later, you’re going to start thinking about how it will redevelop.

The Guidebook brings into one place best practices for neighbourhoods as they mature, drawn from across Calgary and around the world. It doesn’t change the zoning on a single piece of land. It does however provide a reference to save time and money when your neighbourhood is ready to co-create a plan for growth together.

Over the past year, we’ve heard many questions and assumptions (some false) from citizens about the Guidebook. Here are some myths and facts based on those questions and to correct some of those assumptions. 

Myth: The Guidebook will create homogenous communities. The Guidebook wants all communities look and feel the same way. The Guidebook will take away community identity.


The Guidebook helps to maintain and enhances a community’s unique traits. We work with community members – the experts on their respective communities – through an inclusive engagement process called “local area planning”. Additional policy, such as Heritage Guideline Area or Special Policy Areas may also be applied during this process to ensure a community’s unique sense of place is honoured.

Myth: With the Guidebook in place, development will become haphazard and go everywhere.


The Guidebook together with a community local area plan will provide more certainty and predictability for redevelopment in communities than the current Area Redevelopment Plans or communities without a plan. The local area planning process is when we, together with the community, determine where growth should go in the right places. 

Myth: The Guidebook promotes multi-unit homes and demotes traditionally housing, like single-detached homes. The Guidebook places preference on apartments and condos and deters single-family homes.

Fact 1:

The Guidebook does not prevent single-detached homes from being built. They are a valued part of Calgary communities and are preferred housing option of some. The Guidebook supports the additional choice to build a new single-detached home and/or other types of low-density homes, typically three storeys or less. 

Fact 2:

Three storey homes are currently allowed through the Land Use Bylaw. The Guidebook is reflecting what already exists today. 

Myth: Once approved, the Guidebook will automatically allow for certain types of buildings without a review process.


The Guidebook does not pre-approve zoning nor change the development process or rules for homes or any other building type. Current zoning will remain in place. Property owners wishing to redesignate or develop their property must go through the same planning application processes that are in place today. The same public notification and approval process that exists today for redevelopment will exist after the Guidebook is approved.  

Myth: Single-detached homes will no longer be built under the new Guidebook.


The Guidebook supports single-detached homes as an option in every community in Calgary outside the centre city. We expect and plan for this housing option to continue to be a popular choice of home for citizens. 

Myth: The Guidebook will force existing communities to change.


Communities in Calgary are always changing. They’re changing right now. The Guidebook works with community residents through the local area planning process to establish a vision for community growth and change. It’s how we can get a head of that change and work with communities so they can help determine where best to focus that change. 

Myth: The Guidebook is a declaration of war on cars.


The Guidebook encourages mobility options, so people can choose how they want to travel around the city and in their communities. Motor vehicles will always be a normal part of our lives. traveling around our communities and Calgary. Supporting more people living closer to more mobility options, means citizens won’t have TO rely on just one way of travel. That’s important for all Calgarians.

Myth: The Guidebook will force communities to change their make-up by allowing for different types of development than what there is today.


The Guidebook encourages diverse housing, amenity, and employment options in our communities. That means we can better retain our current talent and youth, while attracting talent from outside of Calgary. It also allows people to stay in their community as they grow older and through different life stages.

Myth: The Guidebook is all about moving forward and forgetting about the past. It does not consider heritage as an important part of a community.


The Guidebook helps protect and enhance heritage assets in Calgary’s communities through Heritage Resource Policies and the Heritage Guideline Area Tool for Communities.

Myth: The Guidebook promotes densification.


The Guidebook together with local area plans provides tools to plan resilient communities by encouraging choice in housing and mobility, and enhancing parks, natural areas and outdoor recreation places in communities. It not about density everywhere. It’s about making sure more people are closer to those areas where there is the most potential for redevelopment, such as our Main Streets, Primary Transit Network and our busier areas that offer more commercial, retail and employment opportunities. 

Myth: The Guidebook will decrease green spaces and natural areas.


The Guidebook ensures that, as our communities grow and change, there are best-practice amenity and landscaping policies to keep our communities beautiful and vibrant, and to ensure that there are places for people to gather, socialize, play and relax.

Myth: The Guidebook will be used to force change and dictate what communities should be.


The Guidebook provides more tools for citizens to use than we’ve ever had before. We use the Guidebook with citizens to talk about where growth and change makes most sense, how to protect heritage assets, how to support our businesses in our communities, and more. This enables Calgarians to shape the vision for their own community’s future through the local area planning process.