6 Hurdles to Redevelopment in Calgary

Growing within existing communities comes with considerable challenges.

Calgary’s inner city is sprinkled with construction cranes, marking the spots where new multi-family projects are going up, and residential streets in developed communities are seeing more new construction than ever before. These projects don’t just sprout up like flowers in spring; it takes years of planning to successfully build in established areas.

From land use bylaws, infrastructure and traffic questions to existing residents’ concerns, redevelopment often comes with a host of hurdles and surprises.

Here are six issues that make redevelopment a challenge:

1.) Aligning Goals With Reality

Making sure a project lines up with existing land use bylaws, local area plans and The City’s overarching Municipal Development Plan (MDP) can be a difficult juggling act. If all the dots don’t connect, it can take years to sort through policy questions and community readiness.

2.) Every Project Stands Alone

Redevelopment projects are assessed one by one, reducing efficiency. Building permits typically fall into one of two categories: “permitted use” or “discretionary use”. The first designation applies to a narrow range of projects and requires less planning and management. The second is more common and requires extensive reviews from policy makers, as well as community and infrastructure assessment that can delay projects.  

3.) Multiple Stakeholders

Existing communities have more than just The City and developers at the table. Residents, local businesses and community associations all have a say about redevelopment. Community engagement is vital. It also slows things down considerably when there are competing perspectives and priorities.

4.) What Will the Neighbours Think?

Even after extensive public consultation and city approval, local community individuals or associations with late appeals can heavily delay projects. This often results in increased prices due to longer-term financing and costly redesigns of the project.

5.) Invisible Infrastructure

Only after plans are made and the land is bought can builders understand what kind of additional underground infrastructure investment will be required. This lack of knowledge and inability to budget for these kinds of expenses can sometimes cause large spikes in redevelopment costs.

6.) What Else?

There are other costs developers must often bear when redeveloping. From new sidewalks to more bus shelters, there are a variety of other expenses that can be added to a project after the city’s assessment.

Redevelopment is a natural part of a city’s evolution and an investment in its future, so industry and The City are working together to find the most efficient ways to manage redevelopment projects. For more information on how this happening, see our publication Raising a Smart City.

November 27th, 2015
Updated: September 14th, 2017

Redevelopment is a key to urban evolution, but it's not an easy process.