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September 06, 2017 9:27 AM | Anonymous

Land Use Redesignation (Rezoning) Applications, and the Role of the Ward 8 Councillor

Lately we have received a number of applications to redesignate (rezone) parcels in RKH to a different land use district, to allow something to be built on the parcel that would not be allowed under the parcel's current land use district.

Historically, the following land use districts were commonly found in RKH:

  1. Residential - Contextual One/Two Dwelling (R-C2) — allowed developments include single detached dwellings, semi-detached dwellings and duplexes — wide lots (eg. 50ft wide) can be subdivided into 2 narrow lots (eg. 25ft wide) — single detached dwellings on wide lots can have a suite, but semi-detached, duplexes and narrow-lot singles are not allowed to have a suite — this is by far the most common land use district in RKH;
  2. Residential - Contextual One Dwelling (R-C1) — allowed developments include single detached dwellings — no suite allowed — R-C1 areas of RKH include the “Wedge” and the area north of 20 Avenue SW between Crowchild Trail and the Richmond Diagnostic Centre;
  3. Direct Control (based on R-2) — Direct Control is a term used to describe a non-standard land use district created to address a specific situation — in this case the district is similar to R-C2 except does not allow single detached dwellings on narrow lots — this land use designation was put in place many years ago in an attempt to prevent narrow lot infill development but was not entirely successful, as it still allows semi-detached developments — blocks with this land use designation can be found west of Crowchild Trail;
  4. Multi-Residential - Contextual Grade-Oriented (M-CG) — allowed developments include singles, semis, duplexes and 4-plexes — M-CG parcels can be found backing onto the west side of Crowchild Trail, and a few elsewhere;
  5. Multi-Residential - Contextual Low Profile (M-C1) — allowed developments include singles, semis, duplexes, 4-plexes and condo/apartment buildings up to 14m tall — M-C1 parcels can be found on the north side of 33 Avenue SW and in the first block south of 17 Avenue SW; and
  6. Commercial - Corridor Two (C-COR2) — allows auto-oriented commercial developments, such as the Merchants/Macs strip mall on 33 Avenue SW — mainly located along 17 Avenue SW and 33 Avenue SW;
  7. Commercial - Neighbourhood One (C-N1) — allows small-scale commercial development, such as Volo's Pizza on 26 Avenue SW — scattered here and there.

Recent land use redesignation (“LOC”) applications in RKH have primarily been from R-C2 to M-CG, to allow a 4-plex to be built, or from R-C2 to Residential - Contextual Grade-Oriented (R-CG), a new land use district that is primarily designed for rowhouse-type developments (such as the 4-unit development on the east side of 20 Street SW at 31 Avenue SW).  RKHCA tends not to oppose these LOC applications as long as the parcel is in a location that is suitable for slightly higher density, such as along one of our corridors.

We have also seen LOC applications to redesignate a parcel from R-C1 to R-C1s to allow the single detached dwelling to have either a basement suite or a garage/backyard suite.  RKHCA does not generally oppose these LOC applications either, as the City has waived the usual fee for this type of application to encourage more legal suites to be built to increase the inventory of safe, affordable housing options.  Despite this fee waiver, RKHCA is only aware of 2 parcels that have made this application to date, so it does not appear that RKH’s R-C1 areas will be seeing a flood of suites anytime soon.

One recent LOC application of note was a request to redesignate a South Calgary corner parcel on the east side of 20 Street SW from R-C2 to a form of Direct Control based on R-C2 but with a few special conditions.  In RKHCA's view there was nothing special about the corner parcel that would have prevented the owner from redeveloping it in a reasonable fashion, and the application was a thinly disguised attempt to circumvent two previous decisions of the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (the “SDAB”) which found the proposed development to be inappropriately massive and out-of-context, and to effectively prevent the directly affected neighbours from being able to successfully appeal a third time.  Even though the directly affected neighbours all spoke in opposition to the LOC application at the public hearing, and our views regarding the application were passed on to the Ward 8 Councillor during the meeting, the application still ended up being approved by City Council.  Very disappointing.

Finally, we are also seeing LOC applications to redesignate parcels in the Marda Loop business district, in most cases to allow residential, commercial or mixed-use developments that are larger than would be allowed under the parcel's current land use district.  In this case RKHCA tries to ensure that the proposed land use district is consistent with, and respectful of, the provisions of the new Marda Loop Area Redevelopment Plan (the “MLARP”), which provides, among other things, that developments along the north side of 33 Avenue SW should not exceed 4-storeys/16m in height.  However, in the last 18 months approvals have been issued for LOC applications that, at least in RKHCA’s view, were not overly consistent with the MLARP, and a new LOC application is now in the works for a proposed 6-storey/22m high development at the west end of the 2200 block of 33 Avenue SW, across from the Petro Canada gas station.

Unlike development permit (“DP”) applications, which are approved by City Administration and can be appealed to the SDAB, LOC applications go to City Council for a public hearing and then final approval.  The Ward 8 Councillor plays a critical role on LOC applications for parcels in RKH and elsewhere in Ward 8, as once the public hearing has concluded the members of Council tend to place a significant amount of weight on whether the application before them is supported or opposed by the local Councillor.  For larger developments where the LOC and DP applications are submitted concurrently, City Council’s decision on the LOC application can also have significant implications for the DP application, as both City Administration and the SDAB may find themselves reluctant to order changes to DP plans that were before Council when it approved the LOC application.

As RKH is currently experiencing a significant amount of redevelopment, and is likely to continue to do so for several years to come, it is important to this community that the Ward 8 Councillor be someone who has a solid understanding of development issues, and who is prepared to listen to, and advocate for, the residents of RKH on proposed developments in our community.  We encourage all residents of RKH to find out more about the development acumen and philosophy of each candidate for Ward 8 Councillor, and to REMEMBER TO VOTE ON OCTOBER 16!

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