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The Guide for Local Area Planning

Creating great communities for everyone The Guide for Local Area Planning

A successful Calgary starts with its communities. Our goal is making sure Calgary remains a great place to live for citizens living here now and people who will move here in the future. It’s important our communities are vibrant and inclusive, with more choices to live, move and gather.

The Guide 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 Guide 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.

​​​​​​​​​​​Read the guide​​


Guide update

May 2021 update

Following the Standing Policy Committee on Planning and Urban Development (PUD) on 5 May, below is an update on the Guide for Local Area Planning (formerly known as The Guidebook for Great Communities).

What happened at PUD?

The Guide for Local Area Planning was considered and accepted by SPC on Planning for Urban Development (PUD) on May 5, 2021.

We will use the document, including the 62 changes, as a best-practice guide as we work together (with citizens and other stakeholders) to plan our communities through the local area planning) process. We’re excited to begin using the Guide with you in this capacity. In our continued work together, we are committed to ensure our documents, including the Guide, are reflective of communities’ needs and we are committed to refining, learning, educating and engaging with Calgarians as we advance the planning system. A refreshed version of the Guide for Local Area Planning will be available online in the coming weeks.

Connected to Committee direction, we’ll create a work plan and schedule outlining which LAPs will be completed in the next budget cycle (2023-2026). We’ll bring this work plan and schedule to PUD no later than March 31, 2022 and expect to begin our next round of LAPs in late 2021 to early 2022.  To ensure ongoing improvements and sustainment of the Guide, lessons learned through the local area planning process – including feedback from citizens involved in developing each LAP – will be captured and the findings will be presented as each proposed LAP is brought forward to Committee.

What does this mean?

The Guide is a best-practice planning document that PUD directed Administration to use in the creation of local area plans.  The Guide has established a common language and toolbox, allowing for clear and consistent interpretation and resulting direction as well as flexibility for communities to shape the local area plan to address local context and needs. 

As an administrative document, policies from the Guide will be pulled directly into local area plans to create a single document with all policies located in one place.  Policies and tools that are included in the local area plan, taken from the Guide, will be statutory policies if/when that local area plan is adopted/approved by Council. Opportunities to update and improve the Guide will be ongoing and captured through the local area planning process. Potential Guide refinements will be brought forward to Committee with each proposed local area plan.

What are the next steps?

Council will need to vote on abandoning the Bylaw that was originally intended to make this Guide statutory at the 31 May 2021 meeting of Council.  There is not a public hearing on this item as it will be on the consent agenda and the public will not have an opportunity to speak to this matter.

Moving forward, this Guide will be used as a best-practice document to guide local area plans that are already underway, including North Hill Communities Local Area Plan, Westbrook Communities Local Area Plan, and Heritage Communities Local Area Plan.  The North Hill Communities Local Area Plan is scheduled to return to a Council on 21 June 2021.  More information on the Westbrook and Heritage Communities Local Area Plans and the use of the Guide will be shared with stakeholders later this spring.  Administration will continue use the Guide, as directed, in future local area planning processes, with ongoing opportunities for engagement and refinement.

Thank you

Finally, we would like to thank Calgarians for the time you have dedicated to engage with us through the evolution of the Guide over the years.  Many citizens, community associations, business owners, planners, developers, builders, and organizations have been involved in many workshops, engagements, and information sessions.  You shared your expertise, experience, input and ideas to help create this document.  We appreciate the time and dedication that you have to our city and communities.

Learn more about the Guide for Local Area Planning

There has been a lot of discussion within the Calgary community about what the Guide does and does not do. The following items address some of those perspectives:

The Guide does:

  • Give citizens a stronger voice to the kinds of growth and where growth goes in their communities
  • Provide the language and options for how a community can grow through working with citizens during the local area planning process
  • Give certainty and predictability for redevelopment to go in the right places
  • Allow for a community to create a vision that reflects its unique sense of place
  • Provide tools to preserve heritage assets
  • Help develop investment opportunities for community improvements
  • Include single-detached homes among housing choices available to everyone
  • Support housing and mobility choices for people
  • Provide tools to protect and grow community parks, natural areas and outdoor recreation
  • Include pro-active policies to address climate change at the community and development scale

The Guide does not:

  • Eliminate single-detached homes
  • Promote a one-size-fits-all approach for communities
  • Change the zoning of your land when it and a local area plan is approved in your community
  • Take away the ability to choose how we get around the city
  • Change the existing land use redesignation or development permit process
  • Take away a resident’s voice or meaningful say in the vision for their community

Guide facts: You can read more details on how the Guide fits with your community, based on common questions and assumptions we’ve received through our recent Guide 101 sessions and over the past year.

Guide myths: You can read about common myths and facts to help inform you more on the Guide and its role with community growth in Calgary. 

The Guide works with Local Area Plans: review the draft North Hill Communities Local Area Plan, Calgary’s first local area plan to use the Guide.

Keeping our communities thriving and great

Council and Committee results and upcoming meetings, 2021

May 5 - Administration presents on Council direction from March 22 at SPC on Planning and Urban Development’s (PUD). Read the agenda, report and attachments, including the 62 amendments.  

Previous 2021 Council Committee dates:

March 22: Council directed Administration to report to 2021 May 05 PUD

Feb. 3: PUD voted 7-1 to hold a Public Hearing at the 2021 March 22 Combined Meeting of Council.

Jan. 13: PUD voted 7-1 have the Guide team formally present the Guide on Feb. 3 at PUD. 

Your community and the Guide - the facts

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

Your community and the Guide

Explore your community with us

Our communities should reflect the activity of the people who are there now and be attractive to those who will choose to move there in the future. Our communities are great and remain great by how they grow and how we experience them.

Tell us about your community – what's great and what's missing. This exercise is an introduction to how we work with communities. It's about making sure your community builds on what makes it great now, so it’s successful in the future. ​


Join our conversation

Applying the Guide in real life

The Guide is a tool in the local area planning process

The Guide is the key tool used by citizens, stakeholders and City planners to create community local area plans. It was used by citizens to develop the draft North Hill Communities Local Area Plan, and it’s currently being used to develop the Westbrook and Heritage​ Communities Local Area Plans.

Citizens and stakeholders work with City planners to determine the type of growth that’s appropriate for the different areas in a community. This growth is based on people and their activities in a community. The “Urban Form” categories and “scales” in Chapter 2 are customized for each local area plan, so future growth respects and builds on a community’s unique conditions and environments. If appropriate, the local area planning process can also augment the Guide’s policies to better reflect a community’s context.

Developers and industry will also use the Guide to develop sites. It provides them consistent policies and community design elements (built form) to keep the community’s long-term best interests in mind.

Read the guide

This version of the Guide is DRAFT and was published in January 2021. The current changes under review by Council have not been approved and therefore have not been included in this version. Once Council approves the changes, we will update and publish the final, approved, version of the Guide.

Planning for Calgary now and for the next generation

We’re improving the way we plan and develop Calgary, with the Next Generation Planning System (Next Gen.). It is way of planning that is both a more efficient process for planning and ensuring we can invest into the future success of our communities' and city's future. The Guidebook for Great Communities is one piece of Next Gen.

Next Gen. supports Calgary’s new and built-out communities and industrial areas to be vibrant and successful for decades to come. It also allows us to work closer with citizens and stakeholders.

Guided by the Municipal Development Plan (Next20), the Next Gen. policy initiatives give us the tools to plan and build a great Calgary:

  • Provides a coordinated and clear system, to plan the whole city
  • Removes outdated and redundant policy
  • Creates a more robust planning toolbox

You can find out more information about Next Gen. and where the Guidebook and the other Next Gen. policy initiatives fit in the system at


Contact us

Contact Planning & Development

Robyn Jamieson, Senior Planner​


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This information has no legal status and cannot be used as an official interpretation of the various bylaws, codes and regulations currently in effect. The City of Calgary accepts no responsibility to persons relying solely on this information. Web pages are updated periodically. ​