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April 01, 2018 8:24 AM | Anonymous

1.     R-CG Spot Rezoning in Richmond/Knob Hill

Spot rezoning of existing R-C1 (1 home) or R-C2 (2 homes, or 1 home + 1 suite) corner parcels to R-CG (up to 4 homes + 4 suites on a standard 50ft wide parcel) is becoming an issue in Richmond/Knob Hill (RKH), and in other communities in our area.  Unlike inner-city communities such as Banff Trail, Capitol Hill, Inglewood and Bridgeland/Riverside, RKH has not yet been provided with a community engagement opportunity to review the aging Richmond Area Redevelopment Plan (ARP) and provide input on where in our community it might be appropriate for parcels to be upzoned to R-CG or other higher-density or mixed-use land use districts.  Until recently this was not a particular problem, as it seemed that the only upzoning applications that we were seeing were for corner parcels located along one of our collector roads or otherwise in a location where higher density developments made sense, so we were not opposed.  However, in the last few months we have begun to receive applications to upzone non-collector R-C1 or R-C2 corner parcels to R-CG to allow 4-unit rowhouse developments to be built, in locations that to us, and to many of the surrounding residents, do not seem appropriate for higher density developments.  The first of these applications, for the corner parcel at 2403 28 Avenue SW, was approved by the Calgary Planning Commission in February, without even any discussion or debate despite thoughtful letters of opposition being submitted by the RKHCA and several surrounding residents, and is now scheduled to go to City Council for a public hearing and a final decision on April 16 (the “28 AV Application”).  Despite the fact that there is nothing about the 2403 28 Avenue SW corner parcel that makes it any more suitable for higher density developments than any other corner parcel in our community, based on what we are seeing it would appear that the 28 AV Application is likely to be approved by Council, without hesitation.  If so, then that would suggest that that ANY corner parcel in RKH could be upzoned to R-CG and redeveloped as a 4-unit rowhouse development.

We also understand that developers have complained to the City that the R-CG rules as currently written make it impossible to get 4 units in on a standard width mid-block parcel, and even 3-unit developments on mid-block parcels end up with units that are so skinny that they are difficult to sell.  The developers are therefore lobbying to have changes made to the R-CG rules that would allow 4-unit developments with adequate width units (eg. 2 in the front, 2 in the back over the garages) to be constructed on mid-block parcels.  If these changes end up being made, then it would seem that ANY yet to be redeveloped parcel in RKH, whether corner or mid-block, would become a target to be upzoned to R-CG and redeveloped as a 4-unit rowhouse development.

We do not consider it to be appropriate for the City to be making such radical changes to what can be built in our community without first going through a community engagement process that:

  1. establishes the need for our community to take on more densification than it already is (the population of RKH has increased 23% in the last 9 years since the City’s Municipal Development Plan (MDP) was put in place, more than triple the growth rate expected of established communities under the policies of the MDP); and
  2. gives the residents of our community a say on how and where we would like to accommodate that additional densification, instead of letting developers decide.

Please share your thoughts on the 28 AV Application, R-CG spot rezoning generally and the need for the City to engage with RKH residents over how much denser our community should be expected to become, and how and where that additional densification should be accommodated, not only with us (development@richmondknobhill.ca), but also with City Council (publicsubmissions@calgary.ca).  To be included in the materials for the April 16 City Council meeting at which the 28 AV Application is to be considered, submissions must refer to land use redesignation application LOC2017-0325 (2403 28 AV SW) and be received by the City Clerk no later than noon on Monday April 9.  Members of the public may also address City Council at the April 16 public hearing for the 28 AV Application.  We look forward to receiving your input!

2.     33/34 AV SW Streetscape Master Plan Project

Thank you to everyone who attended the 33/34 Avenue SW Streetscape Master Plan Project information session on the evening of Monday February 26 at the Marda Loop Community Hall, as well as to everyone who provided input through the online engagement portal.  It was great to see so many people reading the display boards, chatting with City personnel and providing their input.  We look forward to seeing a report from the City summarizing the input that was received, and then to working together with the City, the Marda Loop Communities Association (MLCA), the Marda Loop Business Improvement Area (MLBIA) and area residents and businesses to come up with a great Streetscape Master Plan for 33 and 34 Avenues SW from 14 Street SW to Crowchild Trail, and for portions of several cross streets.  With all the new development taking place along the Marda Loop main streets and surrounding area, a new pedestrian, bike, transit and vehicle-friendly public realm is sorely needed, and, if done well, will go a long way to helping Marda Loop become the best place in Calgary to live, work, shop and just chill out!  Stay tuned for the next engagement opportunity!

3.     33 AV SW Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Stations

On February 7 representatives of the RKHCA, MLCA and MLBIA met with City of Calgary Transportation officials to discuss the proposed 33 Avenue SW BRT stations, including where best to locate the stations and how best to provide safe and comfortable access to, from and between the stations, given that they will be located at or near what is currently a freeway interchange.  Below is a summary of the discussion:

  • The preferred location for the SB station is at the NW corner of the signalized intersection on the west side of the overpass
    • This is the same location as the existing transit stop.
    • Advantages of this location include:
      • Closer to the Marda Loop business district, the likely primary source/destination of station users
      • Eliminates the need for stations users travelling to/from the Marda Loop business district to cross the right slip lane from SB Crowchild Trail to WB 33 Avenue SW (which we understand cannot be eliminated due to the volume of vehicle traffic it handles during the evening rush hour period, which would otherwise end up backing up on to SB Crowchild Trail)
      • Allows the station to be used by other transit routes
  • The preferred location for the NB station is at the NE corner of the signalized intersection on the east side of the overpass.
    • To make sufficient room for the station at this location the existing right slip lane from WB 33 Avenue SW to NB Crowchild Trail would need to be closed
    • To compensate for the closure of the right slip lane:
      • The curb lane on WB 33 Avenue SW approaching the signalized intersection on the east side of the overpass could be turned into a forced right turn onto NB Crowchild Trail; and
      • The left turn bay on WB 33 Avenue SW approaching the signalized intersection on the east side of the overpass could be lengthened to accommodate more vehicles wanting to turn left onto SB Crowchild Trail
    • Advantages of this location include:
      • Closer to the Marda Loop business district, the likely primary source/destination of station users
      • Eliminates a dangerous right slip lane that has already left at least one RKH resident permanently disabled 
  • The preferred access would be via a separate pedestrian/cycle overpass connecting the NB and SB stations, allowing pedestrians and cyclists to access both stations from either direction without any need to interact with vehicles
  • If a pedestrian overpass is not possible, then:
    • The right slip lane from WB 33 Avenue SW to NB Crowchild Trail should be eliminated, as described above;
    • The WB curb lane on the overpass (which vehicles no longer have much need for since the interchange’s traffic signals were changed from the previous “first load the overpass then clear the overpass” approach to the current “free flow” approach) should be eliminated (or both WB lanes narrowed as much as possible) and the space repurposed to create a wider, buffered pedestrian/cycle pathway along the north side of the overpass between the NB and SB stations;
    • The right slip lane from SB Crowchild Trail to WB 33 Avenue SW should be reconfigured as a “Smart Right”, to make crossing safer for station users travelling to/from the residential areas on the west side of Crowchild Trail
  • All pedestrian and cycle access to, from and between the stations should be coordinated with, and may be partially funded from, the 33/34 Avenue SW Main Streets streetscape plan 

Our understanding is that the City of Calgary officials that attended the meeting will be looking into the feasibility of these station locations and potential access solutions and will be getting back to ourselves, the MLCA, the MLBIA and the Ward 8 Councillor’s office.

As always, we would love to hear your thoughts on these, or any other development-related issue in RKH.  Email us at development@richmondknobhill.ca.

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