Housing - Land Use changes

There are new homes being proposed in older neighbourhoods that add variety and choice to Calgary’s housing market. In general, two or more homes are being combined and configured on a parcel of land to create a new housing form. They can range between a semi-detached home to a small apartment building.

These homes are being developed in Calgary, mainly in our older neighbourhoods, and are sometimes referred to as missing middle housing. Some examples are:

City Council’s Direction

The current Land Use Bylaw was written in 2007 and did not anticipate demand for these types of homes. Our land use rules don’t currently have the flexibility to regulate homes of all shapes and sizes. This has required applications to use “Direct Control” zoning, where city staff and the applicant write different rules for every project. This makes the approvals process take longer, cost more, and is inconsistent in balancing the needs of existing residents, future residents and the builder or contractor.

In April 2022, Calgary City Council directed city staff to change the Land Use Bylaw to reduce the use of Direct Control applications through a Motion Arising (item 8.1.4):

That Council direct Administration to minimize the number of Direct Control districts proposed for planning applications where R-CG does not fully serve the needs of the applicant and the community by bringing an amendment to the Land Use Bylaw to create a new land use district that addresses the shortcomings of the R-CG district in creating “the missing middle”, reporting back to Council through the Infrastructure and Planning Committee no later than end of Q3 2022.

The Infrastructure and Planning Committee has approved the recommendations on September 9, 2022. These recommendations will be presented to City Council at a public hearing on October 4. For more information, go to our Planning Matters website. 

Engagement

Engagement is an important part of the planning process and because of the technical nature drafting Bylaw changes, our engagement was focused on ensuring the right rules are crafted to make development in this district a success. Consultation focused on testing the technical changes with experts on the building code, waste & recycling, transportation, as well as local builders and designers.

From the Infrastructure and Planning Committee meeting on September 9, we heard that people want clearer understanding of the technical changes before it goes to Council on October 4. Soon, our recommended changes page will be updated to provide more clarity on our recommendation.  

In 2023 we will be launching conversations with Calgarians to understand experiences with market housing across our city. These vital conversations will help us identify how to improve planning policy, regulations, and development incentives are required to better support more housing choice in Calgary.

Preparing our recommendation

The City has a dedicated team focused on building our recommendation report. Their work includes: 

  • Reviewing direct control applications to understand the regulatory barriers for this form of housing
  • Evaluating what contributes to design quality for developments at this scale
  • Reviewing comments and concerns raised at Public Hearings of Council for recent direct control applications
  • Testing ideas through workshops with local builders and designers

What changes are we recommending?

We’ve heard a lot of interest from Calgarians about the regulatory changes that were presented in September.

We took a holistic approach to address Council’s Motion Arising by researching and testing the impacts our ideas have to the Land Use Bylaw. Our recommendation proposes multiple changes to the bylaw to address Council’s objective and have regulations that encourages successful redevelopment

Read more

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. ​