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Guidebook for Great Communities

Creating great communities for everyone Guidebook for great communities

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 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.

​​​​​​​​​​​Read the guidebook​​


​​Guidebook update

The Guidebook for Great Communities gives citizens a stronger voice on how their community grows. It is the blueprint for our communities and their successful future. Working with our communities, it’s an important approach to supporting Calgary’s growth toward a strong economy and 2 million people.

March 22’s three-day public hearing of Council was the culmination of years of public engagement to help build the Guidebook. More than 130 citizens provided their feedback at the public hearing, with even more submitting letters. We want to acknowledge and thank everyone for their time and their passion for their communities. It’s exciting to see this level of interest and enthusiasm for Calgary’s future.

Next steps

As part of Council’s direction (see item 8.2.1) within the official minutes, the Guidebook team is taking the next month to summarize the feedback received through both the public hearing and the written submissions.

They will compile a What We Heard Report, which will reflect the many themes discussed at the public hearing and report back to the Standing Policy Committee on Planning and Urban Development on May 5, 2021. The Report will also demonstrate how the Guidebook addresses those themes, as well as provide options for changes to the Guidebook in response to the discussion this past week and input received prior to the public hearing.

Learn more about the Guidebook for Great Communities

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

The Guidebook 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 Guidebook 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

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

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

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

Keeping our communities thriving and great

Council and Committee results and upcoming meetings, 2021

The next Committee date is May 5, at SPC on Planning and Urban Development’s (PUD), when Administration will present on Council direction from March 22.  

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 and give three readings to the proposed bylaw, the proposed Guidebook for Great Communities.

Jan. 13: PUD voted 7-1 have the Guidebook team formally present the Guidebook on Feb. 3 at PUD, for further discussion. 

Your community and the Guidebook - the facts

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

Your community and the Guidebook

​​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 Guidebook in real life

The Guidebook is a tool in the local area planning process

The Guidebook 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 Guidebook’s policies to better reflect a community’s context.

Developers and industry will also use the Guidebook 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 guidebook

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. ​