A Compact Calgary

Does a growing population mean we have to grow out?

Building a more compact city means a more efficient use of infrastructure, fewer long commutes and an increased sense of community – in short, a more sustainable, smart city.

The City estimates that we’ll need to add 80,000 new units to developed communities in the next 25 years to meet The City of Calgary’s Municipal Development Plan (MDP), population density targets. Where will they all fit?

Look around you – do you see room for more people? The City of Calgary report, Developed Areas Growth and Change shows that 15 of Calgary’s communities have fulfilled less than 50% of their population density capacity. For example, Glamorgan and Tuxedo Park both have ample space for new units and residents. On the other hand, some developed areas are closer to capacity, such as Sunnyside and Crescent Heights, both at 75% of maximum density.

The chart below shows the existing and potential development in a few recent local plan areas. Sections of Calgary that we think of as “full” or “complete” actually have room to grow, according to The City, and can accommodate population growth.

At the moment, The City of Calgary has identified space for only 50,000 units (of the 80,000 needed by 2041). Here’s the break down of where they’ll appear:


Cities are in a state of perpetual planning, adapting to growing populations and changing needs. As we surge forward, it’s important to understand how and why political leaders and market forces are driving redevelopment, and why welcoming more people into your neighbourhood is a good thing.

Together with industry and The City of Calgary, we’re all responsible for making sure that Calgary’s upcoming urban renewal and change is smart, for now and for the future.

Are you curious about the population density in your area? You can explore this interactive map of Calgary’s population density and see how your neighbourhood compares to other parts of the city.

Want more information? Check out our book Raising a Smart City.

December 14th, 2015
Updated: September 14th, 2017

Many of Calgary's existing and established communities still have a lot of room.