CFRD Update from Calgary Planning Commission Session Aug. 25th
On August 25, members of CFRD attended the Calgary Planning Commission (CPC) session, where they reviewed and approved Quantum Place Development Inc. plan to re-develop our Golf Course by destroying the greenspace.
CFRD believe that a lot of positive aspects resulted from this four hour meeting, and here are some reasons why:
- CPC has historically approved all developments and over the last few years has reviewed over 100 applications and has only rejected 2. Although we hoped they would reject this proposal; realistically we expected them to rubber stamp it.
- Secondly, and most importantly was the dialogue at the CPC session between the CPC members, the city planning department, the developer and at times themselves about this application. It did not get universal support and there was an obvious split in the CPC themselves about the degree to which they and city planning need to look at the full breadth of the MDP, and not just basic technical requirements when reviewing applications like this. Much more on this below.
- One of the most positive aspects of this was Gian-Carlo Carra taking the stand he did. He is a pro-density councillor and has almost always voted in favour of any project that densifies the city. He is also vice-Mayor so he is a person of influence in Council. Having him take the stance he did, is great news for responsible development.
The process to be followed at the meeting was to have the Calgary Planning Department present their report and recommendations on the proposed development plan. Following this, commission members then asked the cities team or Quantum Place Development questions to make sure they understood what the proposal was all about and what it lacked.
The meeting was filled with drama, intrigue as well as some very good dialogue. The intrigue was related to the presentation the City gave to the commission. The presentation had been posted on the city of Calgary website in preparation for the CPC meeting that was cancelled. The first meeting was cancelled because senior administration wanted to review the presentation. In the first presentation the developer was taken to task for lack of compliance with the City and residents requests to improve the plan. In the version that was presented to CPC last week was significantly sanitized to make QPD look like a great developer and the shortcomings or outstanding issues were downplayed or eliminated from the presentation. This has resulted in an ethics complaint by the Northern Hills Community Association (NHCA) against the City Administration.
This was a sideline to the great dialogue which was initiated primarily by Gregory Morrow, Gian-Carlo Carra and Jyoti Gondek. They tried to lift the level of the dialogue at CPC from checking to make sure basic technical components of the plan are met to an open discussion of how this proposal contributes to the vision of the city as expressed in the MDP.
Gregory Morrow, Gian-Carlo Carra and Jyoti Gondek were the primary advocates for taking a look at the development in context of the full vision of the MDP. They agreed that the MDP is about a lot more than increasing density and meeting the basic technical requirements. It is about shaping the future of our City. Some of the issues raised are:
- Conservation Based Design – This is something that the Developer has refused to take seriously.
- It involves maximizing the number of trees kept (developer says they will keep a few trees),
- Implementing LID (Low Impact Design) principles for storm water management. QPD says they may look at this later. It was also pointed out the developer was having trouble meeting the limits on storm water flow into Nose Hill Creek so the City granted them dispensation to exceed the limits one estimate put forward by Gregory Morrow indicated the city was allowing Quantum to have a flow that was 270% higher than the standard.
- Mobility options are limited since no routes are being changed and no additional transit is being added other than to add a few new bus stops. This is a City issue.
- Walkable Community – Although there are pathways being added it falls far short of creating a walkable community.
- This development does not contribute to making Harvest Hills a complete community.
- We are making a mistake allowing developments to move forward through the cracks in the MDP (basically by looking at a few technical requirements only).
- Everything in the city is not the same today. We have pre-war self-contained urban housing, post war automobile centric developments (suburban pods). The city wants to move to complete communities and this proposal is simply densifying a suburban pod (Harvest Hills).
- Gian-Carlo Carra said he used to say oh well and approve this sort of development but it does not support the MDP and just exacerbates the existing problems.
- We need to have developments that celebrate complete communities.
- The City is committed to preserving open spaces. In the Area Structure Plan (ASP) that governs Harvest Hills as the golf course is listed as open spaces.
- Jyoti Gondek asked some pointed questions about community space. She was concerned that there was no office/meeting space being allocated for the Home Owners Associations that the developer is proposing, nor for the NHCA. She was also concerned that there was no community gathering space such as a coffee shop, retail space or a day care. She then said if we are doing a retrofit of a neighborhood without a neighborhood activity center we have a problem with the MDP.
- We have an obligation to the surrounding community to add value, not just contribute the problem. A complete community is in our economic and social best interests.
So it is clear that opposition is increasing within City Hall as far as the proposal goes. CFRD is now optimistic that when it goes to council, we will have more support than we thought we originally did.
We have to gain momentum from the community. CFRD has done all it can to make city hall aware that this is not right for our community. It is time for our community to get involved and be prepared for October 3rd when this goes to vote.
Only when people come together as a community, can we make things happen.
Please read the following articles in the news this past weeks:
Newstalk 770 audio-on-demand
(August 9th at 2pm; 5 minutes in)
Herald – Community Group article
Sun – Community Group asks for Delay
Metro – Harvest Hills Residents Oppose Destruction of Green Space
We still strongly encourage you to continue writing to our Councillorjim.stevenson , to call his office and respectfully, but forcefully let him know that this community is against such destruction of recreational land. We can write letters to each individual on the Calgary Planning Commission (CPC) – emails are below. We can appeal to all Councillors on City Council, including Mayor Nenshi. Emails are below. We have the power to stop this – for the sake of this beautiful city we call Calgary.
Below is the list of emails for all Councillors, Mayor, his Chief of Staff and CPC members:
You can email us anytime at:keepharvesthillsgreenspace .
We need your help! Please make sure you support our fight on everyone’s behalf.
The Calgarians For Responsible Development