Planning and Development Master Plan Project

What is this project about?

The Master Plan project was undertaken in fall 2019 to help clarify and streamline master planning tools used in planning applications through:

  • a standard set of definitions of the types of plans used,
  • criteria for when they would be used and why,
  • consistent minimum requirements, and
  • a documented process and approval status.

The goal is to improve consistency and clearly communicate the process and intent for applications requiring comprehensive planning. 

Currently there are a number of terms that are used for these types of documents that may or may not mean the same thing.  Examples include area concept plans, master concept plans, master plans and master site development plans. Additionally, there is no standard way that these are accepted, approved, or revised, which leads to uncertainty over what these plans mean for the actual development that happens on the ground.

Who is involved?

As part of this review, the Master Plan Team engaged a stakeholder group of industry members, BILD, Calgary Planning Commission, Urban Design Review Panel, the Federation of Calgary Communities and targeted Community Association planning representatives, as well as nextCity (a committee comprised of Councillors and City leadership).

Recommendations

As part of the main recommendations, the master planning terms have been reduced to:

  1. Concept Plans, and
  2. Design Framework

Concept Plans are a supporting piece of information. They will be submitted as part of the complete application requirement list items for standard applications—Outline Plans, Land Use Amendment, and Development Permit—when certain criteria are met.

The Design Framework is a new optional application type that is intended to clarify expectations around the long-term site plan layout of a proposed comprehensive development that will typically will feature multiple buildings and an internal private street layout (build out will be over multiple development applications).  This plan will illustrate design principles for the development and identify parts of the plan that will be built as shown (Set Areas) and parts of the plan that can be modified in the future (Flex Areas) to allow for implementation flexibility in the long-term build out of a  site.

A Concept Plan is a supporting high-level plan that illustrates the initial long-term vision for development of a neighbourhood, urban block or site. The Concept Plan shows how a place will function and feel to people based on the integration of land uses, streets, open space, urban block sizes and types of buildings.

A Design Framework is a plan that provides for the long-term layout and design intent for larger development/re-development sites which will be used to guide subsequent development applications.

Pilot Period

The recommendations of this project include an application type - Design Framework - that would function as a type of non-statutory site plan approval, in lieu of what might be called a “master plan”. The Design Framework provides formality around the plan and makes it different from Concept Plans as there is an approval status and thus expectations around the development outcomes.
Anticipated benefits to the Design Framework include:

  • Facilitating more streamlined reviews of subsequent development permit applications as many of the larger infrastructure and site design concerns will have been identified in advance and resolved. 
  • Cost savings as the Design Framework does not require detailed building drawings during this review which allows those details to be left to the development permit. This could reduce the number of revised plans or revised development permits that are required over the build out of the project.
  • The use of “Set Areas” and “Flex Areas” in the Design Framework help to communicate and focus efforts on the key outcomes of a development and are also used to inform whether and how the Design Framework is revised when changes are needed.

Prior to widespread implementation of this plan, a pilot period to the end of 2022 will be undertaken to ensure that the level and type of information required as part of the plan is right, the process makes sense, and it looks like it will achieve a balance of flexibility and certainty.  Learnings from the pilots will enable refinements to the framework for full implementation following the end of the pilot period.

We are actively seeking projects to pilot through this process to gain a better understanding of the above. Administration support will be provided throughout the process (and there is no additional cost for these supporting applications). For questions or comments about this project and the attached pdfs, please contact Coleen Auld, Project Manager at Coleen.Auld@calgary.ca.


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. ​

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