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New Community Growth in Calgary

Creating great communities for everyone New Community Growth in Calgary

Our newest communities need to be successful now and decades from now. That success relies on developers and The City working together to realize the vision of the Municipal Development Plan. The New Community Growth Strategy supports strategic growth in new communities by aligning planning policy, market demand, servicing needs and City budgets.

Program Update – November 2020

The New Community Growth Strategy 2020 included the submission and review of 11 business cases for new community growth. Administration brought forward a recommendation to the Priorities and Finance Committee on Oct. 19, and debate and decisions occurred at the Nov. 2 Combined Meeting of Council.

Council did not approve any of the 11 business cases. Proponents will be invited to resubmit these applications during the next evaluation cycle, which is expected to be in 2022, ahead of the 2023-2026 service plan and budget cycle.

Council made several amendments to Administration’s recommendations, and also added a number of motions arising. They included encouraging developers in currently approved business cases to maximize development, to look at the potential of right-sizing some road standards in order to redirect savings to established communities, and to better integrate climate resilience considerations into the business case process. 

2020 Evaluation: New Community Growth Strategy

Council provided clarity on the process for the New Community Growth Strategy 2020 through the 2019 Growth Monitoring Report PFC2019-1062 (Item 7.12) in 2019 November.

Through this report, Council approved a modification to the established process of receiving business cases for new community growth from development proponents. These modification were meant to recognize The City of Calgary's current financial constraints.

As part of the modified process, proponents first submited proposals that demonstrate how their business case area will meet the following entrance criteria:

  1. No required capital costs from The City of Calgary to initiate development;
  2. No required operating costs in the current One Calgary (2019-2022) budget or the next (2023-2026) budget cycle, without a proposed mitigating solution, that does not include tax and utility rate increases using the existing model and any improvements made by the date of review;
  3. Completing areas of previously approved communities and leveraging capital investments already made in 2018 and prior years;
  4. Property tax generation potential; and
  5. Levy generation potential that funds new and established areas.

Full business cases were reviewed using this Evaluation Criteria. These criteria help to ensure that when a new community is approved, it is because it can move forward and grow into a great place for future residents and businesses to call home.

Location of proposed 2020 business cases

This map shows the location of actively developing communities that are expected to be completed within or beyond the next 8 years. The New Communities that were approved by Council in 2018 are also shown. The location of the additional 11 proposed 2020 business cases are identified.

Looking forward

If new community business cases are approved by Council, Administration will bring forward an Area Structure Plan amendment to remove the Growth Management Overlay for the respective business cases to a Public Hearing of Council. The anticipated public hearing date would be in December 2020 to allow sufficient circulation time and advertising notice.

Removing a Growth Management Overlay allows the landowner to take the next steps towards realizing the development of their community, including stripping and grading, land use redesignation, subdivision, and construction. It also requires that The City will provide the off-site services that support the development of that new community. 

The next opportunity for proponents to submit new business cases for consideration by The City is expected to be in 2022, ahead of the 2023-2026 service plan and budget cycle. An Integrated Citywide Growth Strategy will be brought forward in 2022 recommending a balanced growth portfolio with investments in established areas, industrial areas and new community areas.

The New Community Growth Strategy is just one component of the Citywide Growth strategy. The following links provide information on the ongoing work for the established and industrial area components.

Looking back

In 2018, a new framework for strategic growth decision making in new community areas was created. Business cases for new growth areas were prepared by proponents, recommendations were brought forward by City staff, and decisions were made by Council. The result was an approved portfolio of investments for 14 new communities and 27 actively developing communities for inclusion in the One Calgary (2019-2022) service plan and budget. This represents an approximate $489 million investment in 2019-2022, and it set forward a path for strategic growth in these areas for the next 10-30 years. 

The 2018 process also introduced the three growth decision making factors:

  • MDP/CTP Alignment – how does the decision bring Calgary closer to the vision articulated in the Municipal Development Plan and Calgary Transportation Plan?
  • Market Demand – how does the decision align growth capacity with market demand, and maximize the success of public and private investment?
  • Financial Impact – how does the decision impact The City`s finances and how does it benefit the broader Calgary economy?

Since 2018, as the Citywide Growth Strategy has moved onto established areas and industrial areas, these three factors continue to be the foundational considerations for process and investment recommendations made to Council.

2018 Council reports

As outlined in the 2018 March Council report PFC2018-0200, funding considerations for new community business cases will be considered on a two year cycle in alignment with the beginning and mid-cycle of the four year budget timeframe. Establishing a two year evaluation cycle provides certainty in process, with enough flexibility to meet market demand while allowing The City to consider financial impacts at budget time.

The Strategy also relies heavily on monitoring and analysis, and a Growth Strategy Monitoring Report is prepared annually:

  • 2019 Growth Strategy Monitoring Report - Item 7.12

Frequently asked questions

Why do we need a New Community Growth Strategy?

We’re planning and building our city now and for the next 60 years, so it can thrive and prosper as we grow to 2 million people. It’s important we ensure our newest communities are successful during this growth. That success relies on the amenities and infrastructure that they require, from both developers and The City.

The New Community Growth Strategy also provides an opportunity for developers to showcase their proposed development, and demonstrate economic and social benefits.

The Strategy ensures The City can fully support and invest in these new communities, not just as they're being built in the short-term, but also once they are completed and established, for decades to come.

Why is the criteria important and how was the evaluation criteria developed?

Council has prioritized seeking growth opportunities that are aligned with the Citywide Growth Strategy and the Municipal Development Plan, in order to boost economic activity and city building efforts.

The evaluation criteria was developed by City Administration and has been reviewed each time with industry representatives to assess new business cases submitted by private developers, and is focused on the following well established growth planning factors:

  • Municipal Development Plan/Calgary Transportation Plan (MDP/CTP) Alignment
    • such as achieving more housing choices for where people can live and options for how people can move and travel in Calgary; and municipal investment in infrastructure
  • Market Demand
    • such as ensuring supply and demand are in balance so that new communities can quickly build to potential; that healthy choice and competition are present; that housing affordability is considered
  • Financial Impacts
    • such as considering the economic benefit of new development while also prudently managing The City`s finances and risk exposure

What happens after Council approves a new community?

After Council approves a new community, a developer continues to proceed through the development approvals continuum and then begins stripping and grading and servicing of the development. Once utilities have been installed, building construction begins, ending with home owners taking occupancy of their new home.

The City will also begin to coordinate new community infrastructure and services, including planning and construction, timed to development and City budgets.

Does The City monitor growth after a new community has been approved?

Administration brings forward to Council an annual growth monitoring report to provide Council and stakeholders an update on how growth in all areas of the city is progressing. The monitoring report provides Council with information to make informed decisions on growth.

What was the timeline for the 2020 evaluation cycle?

Below is a schedule of key dates for the 2020 evaluation cycle.

Key Dates Description
December 2, 2019 Proposal direction to proponents 
December 12, 2019 Amended proposal direction and template to proponents after receiving stakeholder feedback
January 6, 2020 Deadline for proponents to submit proposals responding to criteria
January 31, 2020 Administration responds to all proponents indicating which proponents will be able to submit a full business case
March 13, 2020 Full submission deadline for invited business cases
May 29, 2020 Review of full business cases completed
June - July 2020 Administration and proponents review findings, opportunity for information clarification and adjustments
October 19, 2020 Administration brings forward business case recommendations to Priorities and Finance Committee
November 2, 2020 Final decisions expected from Council

Will there be future opportunities to submit business cases?

The next opportunity for proponents to submit business cases for consideration by The City is expected to be in 2022, ahead of the 2023-2026 service plan and budget cycle.