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WHAT KIND OF COMMUNITY SHOULD RKH BE?

May 26, 2017 1:47 PM | Anonymous

When Richmond/Knob Hill was originally developed in the 1950s it was essentially a suburban residential community on the outskirts of Calgary. Row after row of modest bungalows were built on 50ft wide lots laid out in a modified grid pattern. Commercial development was confined to the 17th Avenue and 33rd Avenue strips, plus a few small pockets here and there.

Fast forward 60 or so years and RKH is now an inner-city community which is experiencing significant redevelopment activity. Many of those 60-year old bungalows have been demolished and replaced with a pair of 2- or 3-storey single or semi-detached homes on subdivided 25ft wide lots. The shops on 17th Avenue and 33rd Avenue are gradually being replaced with 3 to 10-storey commercial, multi-residential or mixed-use buildings.

RKH’s old bungalows were a very adaptable form of housing — affordable for first-time home buyers and young families, suitable for families with older children (who often ended up in basement bedrooms), not too large for empty nesters, and few stairs so easy on the knees for seniors — but they were not a very efficient use of land. The new 2- and 3-storey infills on 25ft wide lots use land much more efficiently, but they are much larger, much less affordable, and full of stairs, so not particularly senior-friendly. If RKH’s bungalows continue to be replaced by 2- and 3-storey infills, there is a risk that our community will end up with lots of upper middle class “double income no kid” couples and empty nesters, but relatively few lower income types, young families or seniors.

One view is that we should make an effort to preserve our community’s diversity and the ability of our residents to “age in place" by seeking opportunities to have more affordable, family-friendly and senior-friendly housing options built here, instead of continuing to build tall, skinny and expensive infills. Another view is that it is perfectly okay for RKH to become a community of tall, skinny and expensive infills — lower income types, young families and seniors can find suitable housing options elsewhere.

What do you think? 

Comments

  • May 31, 2017 4:39 PM | Anonymous
    I think this article is drafted with a biased view in favor of those who wish to turn the community into a low income community, although attempting to be passed off as a "neutral" request for our community's thoughts. If true opinions are to be sought, it should be done in a more neutral/bias-free format.

    The area redevelopment plan currently in place for the neighborhood clearly contemplates that the neighborhood continue to develop as it has over the past few years - with infills. Those who have recently purchased homes in the neighborhood would have reviewed the ARP in considering whether to purchase homes in our neighborhood and with the amount of money that was paid for such homes, would expect that the ARP would continue to be followed. To purchase an expensive home to later find out that the neighborhood has plans to re-designate itself to become a lower income neighborhood seems to be a serious misrepresentation to newcomers to the neighbourhood.

    As I understand, there are lots of new developments currently underway or approved in the Marda Loop area (a 5-10 minute walk away) that are less expensive than the infills in our neighborhood that would seem to allow lower income seniors and families to stay in the neighborhood if that's what they would like do to. This seems to be a good compromise vs. changing trying to completely change the current landscape of our community.
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  • May 31, 2017 4:50 PM | Chris
    Unlike anonymous, my wife and I only recently moved into RKH. One of the tall, skinny infills. Mostly I do not agree with the premise of your post. Granted, the community does not have many options for "low income types", though I do not understand why it needs to. As far as I can tell there is not the same degree of low income jobs within RKH like you might see in the beltline, Mission or Kensington for instance, nor is there particularly strong public transit in the area (no C-train), so in some important ways it is not an ideal place for a low-income person.

    Regarding families, as far as I can tell from walking through RKH each evening, it is full of young families. Coming from the Mission area, RKH seems far more friendly for young families. If you don't agree, swing by one of the ice cream parlors this evening and see for yourself.

    Finally, regarding seniors, there is nothing stopping a senior from buying - or remaining in - one of the many available bungalows still standing in the neighborhood. So I do not understand why the development of the community is an issue for them. If you are suggesting that it is a cost issue, then you are perpetuating the fallacy that seniors are economically disadvantaged. A simple google search will show that seniors in Canada are far more economically advantaged than the typical demographic that is now buying into the community (i.e. millennials like my wife and I) - to the point of being a legitimate national concern that continues to be ignored by politicians. If anyone can afford the expensive bungalows still standing in RKH, its seniors.

    So in my view the direction of the community (which we like and which is a reason why we chose to settle here - we studied the ARP in great detail before making an offer) is fine as is and is welcoming to many different groups including young families, dual income no kids, and seniors. Any attempt to change it at this point would appear to be purely self-interested.
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  • June 01, 2017 1:12 PM | Nick
    It may be beneficial to look at community development and housing objectives from a “macro” point of view. Each specific community does not need to build every conceivable housing option. That would be inefficient. Calgary planners recognize this, and have already increased density in areas where applicable (Google: “Calgary Main Streets”, “Calgary MDP”, “Calgary Inner City Plan” and “Calgary Transit Plan”).

    Calgary has done well creating housing options for all residents. Communities across Calgary vary in their development objectives. For an interesting contrast between communities, compare the Richmond ARP and the Bankview ARP (Richmond’s neighbour to the east). Bankview generally has a medium-density development objective, while Richmond generally has a low-density development objective. The two communities, when viewed together, offer a wide variety of housing options, in close proximity.

    On another note, I think the term “double income no kids” carries some historic implications that no longer apply. Given the economic challenges of today, having two breadwinners is common. Employers know this and make efforts to accommodate this dynamic, including maternity leave and paternity leave. Today, if both partners work full-time, they can, and do, have children.

    People move into RKH everyday for reasons that include the parks, schools, the community feel and the low density ARP. They move to RKH because of what the community already is, not what some people believe it should or shouldn’t be.
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  • June 05, 2017 8:44 AM | Liz
    When thinking about my community I vision tree lined streets, engaging safe playgrounds for children of all ages, community gathering spaces throughout the neighbourhood, diverse housing types that are respectful of neighbours homes, nearby restaurants and businesses, quality transit options and streets that are safe for all.

    Recognizing our community is undergoing constant change, my hope is that these qualities will be preserved and enhanced.

    I support the addition of cycling infrastructure and wish to see future integration within the Marda Loop business district.

    I'd like to see more attention paid to a quality public realm as the Marda Loop business district is re-developed. The recently approved ML ARP should be respected. It is only 2.5 years old and already we are seeing re-zoning applications beyond its original scope. Further the City is not enforcing the public realm improvements contemplated in the existing ARP. I believe more attention should be paid to the impact of shading and sunlight on creating a sustainable streetscape.

    I support medium density (max 4 stories) along major roads where we generally have better transit. 5-6+ stories should only be permitted in areas where there is a staged transition to single family homes (R1 & R2).

    Finally, while recognizing my home is a significant percentage of our family's net worth, I still think of it as a home and not an investment. I value the relationships with my neighbours and the community as a whole. I welcome opportunities to introduce greater diversity of all kinds.
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