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Calgcouver

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One thing I'd caution, and perhaps ask as far as the Vancouver experience: In Calgary everything in the ARP, height and density restrictions, and other guidelines, are regularly ignored and developments which don't follow ARP guidelines are often proposed and approved. This has led me to believe that any 'guideline' is useless in the Calgary context, particularly if it is listed in a guidance document as a 'guideline' and not a severe and hard restriction. What has been the experience in Vancouver?
Sorry, missed this question. In my experience, the City of Vancouver focuses on policy that has more teeth and they are more willing to enforce it and be choosier about what they allow. Sure applications come in over height, or non-compliant with area plans, but developers are held accountable for what they present in a way that they don't seem to be in Calgary. I've seen developments in Chinatown in Vancouver die at heights and massing that was completely in line with Local Area Plans, because people didn't feel the building materials and design were up to snuff (and it was a pretty nice building). Not to say this is good, but Vancouver doesn't really just accept any old application and they tend to be more critical about what they allow. If i had to venture a guess why that is, I think that Calgary council and the general vibe of the City is that everyone is afraid to be perceived as 'anti-business' and that kind of morphs into an attitude that all investment/development is good, and being too critical is presenting 'unnecessary red-tape'. Being from the Vancouver market, this perplexes me, because if i went in with a lot of the applications that I see get approved in Calgary, I would know for sure that application would die in Vancouver. In Calgary it seems no one is all that picky about what they want, neighbourhoods don't have plans that include a cohesive vision for what they really want to see (ARPs) and have policy that allows it to be enforced, and everyone seems to accept that applications shouldn't be as heavily scrutinized. Also, everything in Vancouver is pretty much a DC.

It is pretty nuts that someone can come in with a land use redesignation only, no concurrent DP, that is basically double the height and FAR allowed in a local area plan, it sails through council, the developer never submits a DP and sells the land for a profit. You'd get killed by council and the public if you tried that shit in basically any Vancouver neighbourhood.
 

haltcatchfire

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Opening in all caps irrational analysis of the situation is certainly not the best plan.

Inglewood newsletter said:
IN RESPONSE TO the outrageous proposals of THREE SEPARATE TOWERS (ranging from 38m to 50m), representing 2 to 2.5 times the currently by-lawed height of 20 metres, you may have seen or heard of a community-initiated change.org petition objecting to this assault on Inglewood’s Ninth Avenue.

These developments do not contextually fit in with heritage in scale or style and will change the face of the community forever. City Council repeats a mantra of how “world class” our city is but has not squared that with the result that if even one of these glass towers is built, Calgary would be the only major Canadian city to lose its Heritage District, which could prove a critical blow to our business community, not to mention the loss of millions of dollars in revenue from film and heritage tourism industries.

We have attempted to communicate both these economic and planning principles to Council, but this has been unsuccessful. The City should not be surprised that many citizens are opposed to these dramatic changes. As Council has demonstrated its unwillingness to listen respectfully or with an open mind to the community’s viewpoint and concerns, we have had to seek out an alternative means of delivering our message.

Most Calgarians don’t realize the City’s current Administration’s agenda is to change the entire planning policy for the City. Its end goal appears to be an elimination of the single-family typology (single detached, duplexes, and rowhouses will all become one land use) and significant up-zoning City-wide with a loss of local area planning that is specific to each neighborhood. The City has not been honest or forthcoming with citizens about their agenda or how it will impact each landowner.

A city-wide overhaul of area-based planning bylaws (i.e. area redevelopment plans (ARP’s)), in which we and other city-centre communities (such as Bridgeland) are test cases, has been marked by a superficial consultation process. After having been asked to invest years of time in outlining our individual neighbourhood character for reflection in updated legislation, the City has done an about-face and intends to deliver watered-down district plans, where references to local character are omitted entirely. Through the Inner-City Coalition (a group of Inner-City Community Associations and representatives from the City), it has been agreed that we need to band together to make any impact – we can start by agreeing that communities have the right to self-determination.

If we can capture a groundswell of opposition to these profit-centre-based towers and prove that Calgary values our heritage, we hope to demonstrate to those Councillors who really wish to represent their constituents, that the heart of Calgary is at risk. There are case studies all over North America showing how walkable, pedestrian-scale inner-city neighbourhoods become victims of their own success, once they are embraced by developers who seek to exploit their charm and livability. Many Calgarians are taking a stand to indicate that they will not allow politicians to turn Inglewood’s quintessential urban village into another casualty of greed.
 

zagox

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Sorry, missed this question. In my experience, the City of Vancouver focuses on policy that has more teeth and they are more willing to enforce it and be choosier about what they allow. Sure applications come in over height, or non-compliant with area plans, but developers are held accountable for what they present in a way that they don't seem to be in Calgary. I've seen developments in Chinatown in Vancouver die at heights and massing that was completely in line with Local Area Plans, because people didn't feel the building materials and design were up to snuff (and it was a pretty nice building). Not to say this is good, but Vancouver doesn't really just accept any old application and they tend to be more critical about what they allow. If i had to venture a guess why that is, I think that Calgary council and the general vibe of the City is that everyone is afraid to be perceived as 'anti-business' and that kind of morphs into an attitude that all investment/development is good, and being too critical is presenting 'unnecessary red-tape'. Being from the Vancouver market, this perplexes me, because if i went in with a lot of the applications that I see get approved in Calgary, I would know for sure that application would die in Vancouver. In Calgary it seems no one is all that picky about what they want, neighbourhoods don't have plans that include a cohesive vision for what they really want to see (ARPs) and have policy that allows it to be enforced, and everyone seems to accept that applications shouldn't be as heavily scrutinized. Also, everything in Vancouver is pretty much a DC.

It is pretty nuts that someone can come in with a land use redesignation only, no concurrent DP, that is basically double the height and FAR allowed in a local area plan, it sails through council, the developer never submits a DP and sells the land for a profit. You'd get killed by council and the public if you tried that shit in basically any Vancouver neighbourhood.

Agree with the difference in approach. Why the difference?

The City of Vancouver represents 25% of Metro Vancouver's population - basically the core inner city. The City of Calgary is almost 90% of Metro Calgary's population, stretching all the way to literal farm fields. That makes the political centre of gravity completely different.

A council representing inner city voters - Wards 7 (Druh Farrell), 8 (Evan Wooley), and 9 (G-C Carra) would likely be very strict in enforcing heritage and local area plans. However, the political centre of gravity with another 11 suburban councillors added to the mix just isn't that concerned about the fine details of inner-city streetscapes, especially since we don't have a tradition of Chicago or New York-style deference to the local councillor's views.

Instead, the political consensus basically is an all-of-the-above approach to development - whether you are asking for a new fringe suburb, a massive tower with a marginal podium design, or an over-height tower adjacent to heritage, you probably will get to yes if you push hard enough. You can't be a total jerk to your opponents (ahem, Terrigno) but you can probably overwhelm them with the votes of councillors from other parts of the city that mainly want to see investment, whatever form it takes.
 

Calgcouver

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Agree with the difference in approach. Why the difference?

The City of Vancouver represents 25% of Metro Vancouver's population - basically the core inner city. The City of Calgary is almost 90% of Metro Calgary's population, stretching all the way to literal farm fields. That makes the political centre of gravity completely different.

A council representing inner city voters - Wards 7 (Druh Farrell), 8 (Evan Wooley), and 9 (G-C Carra) would likely be very strict in enforcing heritage and local area plans. However, the political centre of gravity with another 11 suburban councillors added to the mix just isn't that concerned about the fine details of inner-city streetscapes, especially since we don't have a tradition of Chicago or New York-style deference to the local councillor's views.

Instead, the political consensus basically is an all-of-the-above approach to development - whether you are asking for a new fringe suburb, a massive tower with a marginal podium design, or an over-height tower adjacent to heritage, you probably will get to yes if you push hard enough. You can't be a total jerk to your opponents (ahem, Terrigno) but you can probably overwhelm them with the votes of councillors from other parts of the city that mainly want to see investment, whatever form it takes.

I agree that the fact that Calgary is a uni-city is a big reason why this culture exists. But the interesting thing to me is suburban municipalities in the Lower Mainland (Coquitlam, Surrey as two examples) also have Local Area Plans and Guidelines that are very strict/prescriptive by Calgary standards. Virtually everywhere in the Lower Mainland has 'Form and Character' DP submission guidelines, here is Surrey's which is considered to be one of the most lenient; https://www.surrey.ca/files/14_DP1_Form and Character_BK3_18787.pdf

Additionally IMO, an old guard of planners seem to exist at the City of Calgary that are just not form-based at all. They create policy that has little teeth, describes things very loosely to allow for loads of flexibility in what can be built. Also developer-led ASP's are a pretty surefire way to make sure things meet the bare minimum in urban design standards for new greenfield. Developer's are consulted in the creation of ASP's in BC, but ultimately they are shaped by the municipality and will contain language that will actually force developers to build to a plan, typically anyways.
 

zagox

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I agree that the fact that Calgary is a uni-city is a big reason why this culture exists. But the interesting thing to me is suburban municipalities in the Lower Mainland (Coquitlam, Surrey as two examples) also have Local Area Plans and Guidelines that are very strict/prescriptive by Calgary standards. Virtually everywhere in the Lower Mainland has 'Form and Character' DP submission guidelines, here is Surrey's which is considered to be one of the most lenient; https://www.surrey.ca/files/14_DP1_Form and Character_BK3_18787.pdf

Additionally IMO, an old guard of planners seem to exist at the City of Calgary that are just not form-based at all. They create policy that has little teeth, describes things very loosely to allow for loads of flexibility in what can be built. Also developer-led ASP's are a pretty surefire way to make sure things meet the bare minimum in urban design standards for new greenfield. Developer's are consulted in the creation of ASP's in BC, but ultimately they are shaped by the municipality and will contain language that will actually force developers to build to a plan, typically anyways.

Those Surrey DP guidelines are way more precise than I would have expected - it does look like the Inglewood CA revolutionaries would be happier with Surrey rules rather than Calgary's current system.
 

Disraeli

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Sorry, missed this question. In my experience, the City of Vancouver focuses on policy that has more teeth and they are more willing to enforce it and be choosier about what they allow. Sure applications come in over height, or non-compliant with area plans, but developers are held accountable for what they present in a way that they don't seem to be in Calgary. I've seen developments in Chinatown in Vancouver die at heights and massing that was completely in line with Local Area Plans, because people didn't feel the building materials and design were up to snuff (and it was a pretty nice building). Not to say this is good, but Vancouver doesn't really just accept any old application and they tend to be more critical about what they allow. If i had to venture a guess why that is, I think that Calgary council and the general vibe of the City is that everyone is afraid to be perceived as 'anti-business' and that kind of morphs into an attitude that all investment/development is good, and being too critical is presenting 'unnecessary red-tape'. Being from the Vancouver market, this perplexes me, because if i went in with a lot of the applications that I see get approved in Calgary, I would know for sure that application would die in Vancouver. In Calgary it seems no one is all that picky about what they want, neighbourhoods don't have plans that include a cohesive vision for what they really want to see (ARPs) and have policy that allows it to be enforced, and everyone seems to accept that applications shouldn't be as heavily scrutinized. Also, everything in Vancouver is pretty much a DC.

It is pretty nuts that someone can come in with a land use redesignation only, no concurrent DP, that is basically double the height and FAR allowed in a local area plan, it sails through council, the developer never submits a DP and sells the land for a profit. You'd get killed by council and the public if you tried that shit in basically any Vancouver neighbourhood.
It would be interesting to contrast Vancouver's planning policies of the 80s-00s to today. I imagine city planning in Van has become a-lot more self assured and willing to turn down developments that don't adhere to their vision. Calgary by contrast, seems to have this underlining concern that they will scare away development if they don't allow for developer friendly policies or approvals.
 

JoeUrban

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Agree with the difference in approach. Why the difference?

The City of Vancouver represents 25% of Metro Vancouver's population - basically the core inner city. The City of Calgary is almost 90% of Metro Calgary's population, stretching all the way to literal farm fields. That makes the political centre of gravity completely different.

A council representing inner city voters - Wards 7 (Druh Farrell), 8 (Evan Wooley), and 9 (G-C Carra) would likely be very strict in enforcing heritage and local area plans. However, the political centre of gravity with another 11 suburban councillors added to the mix just isn't that concerned about the fine details of inner-city streetscapes, especially since we don't have a tradition of Chicago or New York-style deference to the local councillor's views.

Instead, the political consensus basically is an all-of-the-above approach to development - whether you are asking for a new fringe suburb, a massive tower with a marginal podium design, or an over-height tower adjacent to heritage, you probably will get to yes if you push hard enough. You can't be a total jerk to your opponents (ahem, Terrigno) but you can probably overwhelm them with the votes of councillors from other parts of the city that mainly want to see investment, whatever form it takes.

Which has been one of my concerns about Calgary's uni-city approach. Yes it is good that we're not competing with the Cities of Bowness, Montgomery, and Forest Lawn for new head offices and other job creating projects. But it also guarantees that over time suburban development ideals will always outvote inner-city needs.
 

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