A PLACE TO HAVE FUN - A PLACE TO THINK BIG - A PLACE TO CALL HOME
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?
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