Yes to one and no to the other - responses are actually consistent
All parts of the City change but in our established neighbourhoods, the change can be more dramatic as tiny, post-war homes and early commercial developments and warehouses change over to our contemporary uses. The key to ensuring residents are treated fairly and that developments welcome new people to our established neighbourhoods is working transparently and thoughtfully with neighbours.
Erin Waite weighs in on two developments, just a few blocks apart, that offer lessons in smart growth.
All parts of the City change but in our established neighbourhoods, the change can be more dramatic. Tiny, post-war homes and early commercial buildings and warehouses change over to our contemporary uses.
How we steward that change is the challenge.
Smart development can welcome a diverse, varied population to our established Ward 7 communities. Erin's happy to support smart development that increases population along higher traffic corridors, including adding needed amenities, to ensure we have enjoyable places to live in, and walk through, with protected trees and greenspaces.
Here are two different development proposals, a few blocks apart, which provide an opportunity to share Erin Waite's perspective on Ward 7 development.
Development on former CBC land approved at July 5 City Council meeting
On July 5th, City Council unanimously approved a townhouse development on the former CBC site at Westmount Blvd. and 16th Street NW.
The proposed townhomes use an abandoned location to add density to Ward 7 along a key community corridor. The developer has done its homework to meet with neighbours and respond by making changes where possible, or to explain why other changes couldn’t be accommodated. Years of thoughtful engagement have taken place.
The development is forward-looking specifically addressing climate resilience and taking on the needed site contamination issues the developer inherited.
The collected comments by the West Hillhurst Community Association are sensible, providing the experience of neighbours on likely traffic flow and the need for the City to address those pressure points for both pedestrians and car traffic. As long as those are addressed to support the project, this is a development that should allow us to welcome a variety of individuals and families to Ward 7. That, in turn, is great for our small businesses and our schools.
A connector pedestrian pathway under threat highlights when development doesn't work
In June, Erin joined her neighbours by submitting a letter to express concern for a development only a few blocks away that would remove a beloved pedestrian pathway. The small, charming walk-through connects neighbours and families to Queen Elizabeth Elementary, Junior and Senior High Schools. It's a path that Erin has used daily in her +30 years living in the area. This pathway has impact far beyond the area it covers - it's exactly the kind of small connector space that keeps neighbourhoods walkable and ensures neighbours connect with each other.
The 19th Street development had many red flags compared to the former CBC land development:
- Little to no community consultation,
- Insensitivity by changing a beloved pedestrian pathway to parkade access for cars,
- Lack of physical buffer for neighbouring houses because of no alley and a site that is on a much smaller 19th Street compared to Memorial Drive.
Erin weighed in on the 19th Street NW development to support neighbours’ concerns because stewarding development to add population where it makes sense is key to adding to an area’s vibrancy while retaining or improving liveability.
Why it matters
Great development is essential to Calgary’s vibrant future. Welcoming new and varied populations – from recent graduates starting out, to growing families, to empty-nesters and seniors – is important for established neighbourhoods. These additions to the population keep small businesses thriving and schools populated. With added population, new amenities and good services make sense – there’s a reasonable population to share the tax base. A healthy, active population also reduces opportunistic crime.
Erin is a champion for neighbourhoods that are safe, welcoming, liveable, accessible and that consider short-term and well-being for generations to come.
As a passionate Ward 7 resident and a first-time candidate, Erin still has many questions she'll keep asking and seeking good answers:
- Will the Riley Communities Local Area Plan set a target population range? The area bordered by Memorial Drive, 14th Street, 16th Avenue and Crowchild Trail has seen significant population added through multi-family developments in the past five years. In specific areas, like a few blocks of 19th Street, those additions risk overwhelming the neighbourhood. When is added population enough? At what point do these additions result in added amenities to serve these populations?
- Will development plans ensure our Ward 7 neighbourhoods are affordable, diverse and interesting? Is it possible to add a mechanism to multi-family projects so that some homes are priced below-market? These mechanisms exist in other markets. Should we have a Calgary-made solution for our established communities to ensure equity and accessibility? Could we convene developers and planners to craft a mechanism that works?
- How will Local Area Plans function as living documents? How much of the Plan should be changeable, to respond to the community, and how much should stand to be an appropriate guide for developers who are making major investments and carrying risk?
As a +30-year resident of Ward 7 and future Ward 7 Councillor, Erin will champion development that will fit the neighbourhood. She looks forward to your vote to continue this work as your councillor for Ward 7.
Note: Erin has no personal interest in either development, nor are the proposed structures within a block of Erin's home. Endorsing or rejecting either plan does not benefit her.
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