Grow Together, Now

Calgary’s approach to planning considers multiple communities at once.

What is the basic unit of urban change? Do cities grow lot by lot, street by street or community by community?

The answer, of course, is “all of the above.” And it’s an answer that illustrates the complexity of the planner’s task. Growth has to be monitored and guided at all these scales. In turn, this explains the variety of documents and policies in place in Calgary.

The Municipal Development Plan governs how the city grows. It contains goals for growth and sustainability. It also contains 3 guidebooks. These apply to new communities, developed areas and Centre City.

While operating within the framework established by these documents, the City of Calgary has also been taking an approach known as “multi-community local area plans.” It’s a bit of a mouthful but a pretty simple concept. Instead of a patchwork, community-by-community approach, the City realizes that neighbouring areas have similar characteristics and challenges. 

This approach just makes sense. It’s an acknowledgement that neighbouring communities have shared challenges and solutions. This type of planning is at work in several areas, including the North Hill Communities, Inglewood and Ramsay and South Hill.  The approach was applied earlier along International Avenue with impressive results. The City recently received an award from the Canadian Institute of Planners for the work along the 35 blocks of 17th Avenue S.E.

That road links the communities of Forest Lawn, Applewood Park, Penbrooke Meadows, Albert Park, Radisson Heights and Southview. It is an example of what the MDP calls a main street. The plan envisions increased density and activity along these corridors.

The MDP is currently under review. But it’s a safe bet that multi-area planning will continue to be used. That’s because it’s not a one-size-fits-all-approach. Instead, it aims to find a place for everyone in a growing city.

July 17th, 2019

A new approach to planning means communities grow together.