Missing Middle Housing
On October 4-5, 2022, City Council heard from 73 speakers and deliberated amendments to the existing land use district bylaw for rowhouse (i.e. Residential – Contextual Grade R-CG) and a new bylaw for a new medium density housing form (i.e. stacked townhouse, rowhouse, courtyard townhouse, and others) to allow for innovative “missing middle housing” expected in Calgary’s established communities. More information can be found at the City of Calgary’s website at calgary.ca/housingchoice.
Rowhouses, townhouses, and multi-residential buildings all have important roles for creating more housing for a growing Calgary. A more vibrant Calgary with a range of housing options is The City’s and my Ward 7 goal to address housing demands. The City must balance the needs of future generations with the current population.
The proposed land use bylaw amendments were approved in a 9-6 Council vote; I voted against for reasons outlined here. I did not feel that the proposed amendments had enough technical nuance to account for the uniqueness (i.e. character, heritage, culture) of each community. I also believed that The City’s Administration did not fully engaged citizens prior to bringing forward these proposed changes. As the Ward 7 Councillor, I will always advocate for Calgarians because they have a great wealth of lived experiences and knowledge to shape the rules that are approved by Council.
The original Notice of Motion raised by Ward 10 Councillor Chabot on April 12, 2022 was for City Administration to report back by Q3 2022 on changes to the Land Use Bylaw which would see a significant reduction of Direct Control (DC) land use bylaw requests. The prime reason for these DC’s were to address both missing middle housing types and request for mid-block development locations. Over the course of this review, citizens had less than a week to review the amendments before they were presented to the Infrastructure and Planning Committee on September 9 and three weeks more time before it was presented at a Public Hearing of City Council on October 4-5. I had supported a request for a deferral again by Councillor Chabot until Q2 2023 to allow for more public engagement, but this was defeated. I subsequently asked and received additional engagement between September 9 and October 4th which was facilitated by Question and Answers to the Federation of Calgary Communities and an online forum through The City of Calgary. Again, I strongly believe that there was not sufficient time to engage deeply with communities on where these changes would be occurring and to review and better understand the proposed Land Use Amendments in a localized and community-specific context.
Land use regulations, clear long-range planning standards, and inclusive engagement opportunities are key to setting community expectations and reducing uncertainty for all parties involved. Over the past month and up to the day of the vote, I have had rich conversations with individual constituents and community associations, City of Calgary Administration, and development industry subject matter experts; I had personally taken time to review hundreds of written Public Submissions and answer inquiries where time permitted.
There was great consternation and a perception from community members that the new H-GO (Housing Grade-Oriented) district can be applied for an approved indiscriminately in all inner-city communities that have not yet gone through the Local Area Plan (LAP) process. The LAP process is the tool in which communities have input on where Neighborhood Connector or Neighbourhood Flex Urban Form Categories should be located in their communities. The categories are the ideal locations for the new H-GO land use district. However, not all Ward 7 communities have an approved LAP.
If a LAP does not yet exist where these Urban Form Categories have been engaged by communities and set in policy, a H-GO land use district (i.e. zoning) can be considered on properties in one of the followings:
· 200m from a City-defined Main Street or Activity Centre;
· 400m from a Bus Rapid Transit stop (frequent bus transit) or
· within 600m from an LRT station within the Centre City and Inner-City area as classified in Calgary’s long term land use and mobility plans
In all situations though, a property owner must apply to change from the land use to H-GO which involves a process of application, city planner review, Calgary Planning Commission review, Public Hearing of City Council, and then ending with a Council decision.
Currently, the North Hill Communities are the only communities that have an approved LAP. An LAP provides definitive locational criteria for H-GO. In communities without an LAP, I advocated to restrict H-GO to one of the 200m, 400m, or 600m buffer areas cited above with early community consultation of where the Neighbourhood Connector and Neighbourhood Flex urban form categories could be considered. The categories are typically where a bus transit line or higher traffic volumes exist; not in quieter low residential areas where a Neighbourhood Local urban form category would apply (this is 90% of residential areas). This rejected unanimously by City Council unfortunately as the will was to allow the market to define the locations. While my proposed amendment was unsuccessful, I will continue to listen, learn, and advocate for balanced outcomes for Ward 7.
My team and I have open lines of communication with residents and community association leaders in Ward 7. We always encourage constituents to provide feedback and if there are future projects in the 21 communities and 5 business improvement areas in my ward, my door is always open to hearing their feedback, and so we can advance concerns directly to City Administration.
Map 3 of the North Hill Communities Local Area Plan shows where H-GO can be applied as denoted by the orange and deep yellow blocks.
Categories: Updates, Ward 7