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General Information

History of Community Associations in Calgary


The history of community associations in Calgary dates back over one hundred years.

Between the world wars, Calgary began to expand, and new neighbourhoods formed that needed the municipality to develop additional utilities and services to accommodate growth.1

Community Associations began to form, not only to promote services for neighbourhoods but also to formally organize local recreation and social opportunities.

Calgary community association began forming in the early 1900s. The first group to operate like today’s community association was the Bridgeland-Riverside Community Association (BRCA). Established in 1908, “The BRCA started as informal ‘get-togethers’ to organize community recreational activities, such as hockey and soccer.2 Scarboro was established soon after in 1920.

The Alberta Societies Act of 1924, allowed community associations to incorporate as non-profit societies further formalizing community associations. The first to be called a “community association” under the Societies Act was The Parkhill Rate Payers and Community Association of 1929, which was eventually struck and replaced by the current Parkhill Stanley Park Community Association in 1955.3

Sources


1 Herb Surplis, ed., Communities of Calgary: From Scattered Towns to a Major City (Calgary: Century Calgary Publications, 1975).

2 Province of Alberta, “Alberta Non-Profit Listing,” accessed on June 11, 2023, s, ed., Communities of Calgary: From Scattered Towns to a Major City (Calgary: Century Calgary Publications, 1975).

3 Corbet Locke et al., “Communities Six,” in Communities of Calgary: From Scattered Towns to a Major City, edited by Herb Suplis, (Calgary: Century Calgary Publications, 1975).

What is a Community Association?

A community association is a volunteer run non-profit organization that represents the interests and concerns of a community.

What does a Community Associations do?

Calgary’s Community Associations:

  • Provide an association for residents to join where they can work together to improve their community's quality of life.
  • Create opportunities for residents to participate in social events, recreational programs, and educational activities in their communities.
  • Develop and maintain facilities and infrastructure in their communities.
  • Promote the protection of their communities’ natural resources and beauty.
  • Foster a sense of community and civic pride, and promote inclusiveness, diversity, and respect for all their residents.
  • Partner with The City and other organizations to improve their community.
  • Inform community residents with a web site and newsletter.
  • Voices community concerns   on issues affecting their community.
  • Provides an association that brings residents together to work collaboratively to create a strong, vibrant, and resilient community.

Community Association vs Residents or Homeowners Association

This table shows the key differences between a Community Association and a Residents Association or Homeowner’s Association.

COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION (CA) RESIDENTS’/HOME OWNERS’ ASSOCIATION (RA/HOA)
Formed by the residents of an area Created by the developer
Run by a volunteer board of directors Run by paid staff; oversight by volunteer board of directors
Access to public land for public amenities Built on private land by developer
Host broad community and accessible events Primarily host private events
Voluntary annual memberships available Collect mandatory annual fees
Reliant on grants, rentals of community facilities (if applicable), programs, sponsorships, and casinos for funding Guaranteed source of revenue through encumbered fees. RAs/HOAs can generate facility rental income. Some developers provide financial support.
CA amenities are built through fundraising on public land and are operated by the CA.  HOA/RA amenities are in place when residents buy so can be enjoyed immediately.
Registered as a Not for Profit under the Societies Act Registered as a Not for Profit under the Companies Act.
Accountable to their membership Accountable to their Board of Directors, who in turn answer to the membership of homeowners.
Representative role to the City of Calgary of the needs and issues in their community and often regionally Private organizations with primary focus on the management and high-level maintenance of their assets

Responsibilities

Calgary’s Community Associations are responsible to:

  • Act in the best interests of its members and residents.
  • Act with transparency, prudence, and accountability to their Board, members and residents.
  • Build trust and confidence among its Board, members and residents to ensure long-term sustainability of their community and their Community Association.

How to establish a Community Association

If your community does not have a community association, and you would like to create one, the first step is to call 311 and ask to speak with a Neighbourhood Partnership Coordinator for your area or neighbourhood. The City NPC will ask you to: 

  • Identify the purpose of your community association. Please consider the needs and interests of your community by gathering input from potential members and residents.
  • Recruit members and build support by hosting meetings or events to build awareness and support for the association.
  • Develop bylaws: Bylaws must outline the structure, governance, and operations of the association.
  • Incorporate your community association as a non-profit association. To do this, the association must file documents with the Alberta Corporate Registry and pay the applicable fees. Incorporation is not mandatory, but it provides the association with legal status and limits the personal liability of its members. A non-profit association with the Alberta government provides tax benefits and may increase the association's eligibility for funding and grants.
  • Establish financial management practices. Develop a system for managing the association's finances, including policies and procedures, budgeting and maintaining accurate records.
  • Begin operations: Once the association is established, start planning and implementing activities and initiatives to achieve the association's goals.
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