What is a Multi-Community Area Plan?
The Multi-Community Area Plan is a new tool proposed by the City of Calgary to guide growth and new development. The area plan uses two dimensions to guide re-development: (1) urban forms define a relative mix of residential-to-commercial activity and (2) a scale modifier determines the height of new structures (the lowest scale is three storeys or less; the highest scale is 27 storeys or more).
Once an area plan is completed, City planners will refer to the policies used to create the area plan when assessing applications for new development permits and land use re-designations. These policies are contained within The Guidebook for Great Communities and they also provide the foundation for a new Bylaw for “Local Neighbourhood Housing,” expected to be proposed and to be made statutory by 2021 or 2022.
The new residential bylaw could combine the zones of R-C1, R-1, R-C2, R-2, R-CG and M-CG all into one “local neighbourhood housing district.” This new district is meant to better align future development with the goals of the Municipal Development Plan, adopted by Council in 2009. When the new district is adopted, there could be applications in Scarboro for multi-family dwellings, such as townhouses and multiplexes, without the need for land use re-designation.
City Administration is also providing policies in the new Guidebook that would enable more “contextual” Development Permits (DP) to move through the application process. A contextual DP follows a strict set of design guidelines, allowing no relaxations to the Land Use Bylaw. In the case of a contextual DP application, there is no need for public notification (no sandwich board goes up in front of the property) and the City is not required to notify adjacent owners or the Community Association. There is no framework to give “community feedback” before an application is approved.
In summary, the multi-community area plan will give city planners access to a set of new policies for land use in our area. Once the City of Calgary has adopted a new low density residential district, then there will be a much broader range of building forms allowed in Scarboro without the need for land use re-designation.