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Maggie Dycke: City Neighbourhood Coordinator
Evan Wooley: City Councillor
Nicholas Milliken: Provincial MLA
Kent Hehr: Federal MP


Richmond Knob Hill is experiencing a significant amount of redevelopment activity as we transition from a 1950s bungalow community to a denser infill community.  The RKHCA expects all redevelopment projects in our community to be respectful of the neighbouring properties, of the streetscape, and of the community as a whole.  To facilitate this goal, and ian effort to ensure both consistency and transparency, the RKHCA established a set of Residential Development Design Guidelines which it encourages new developments in Richmond/Knob Hill to follow.

Other documents relevant to redevelopment projects in our community include the following:

    1. Richmond Area Redevelopment Plan
    2. Marda Loop Area Redevelopment Plan
    3. City of Calgary Land Use Bylaw 1P2007
    4. City of Calgary Municipal Development Plan
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  • September 06, 2017 8:29 AM | Anonymous
    If you attended Marda Gras last month you may have come across a booth hosted by local developer RNDSQR promoting their proposed Courtyard 33 development, a 6 storey/22m mixed-use development they want to build at the west end of the 2200 block of 33 Avenue SW (across from the Petro Canada gas station).  RNDSQR will be hosting a community engagement BBQ for this project at the RKHCA Community Hall (2433 26 AV SW) on Friday, September 22 from 5:30pm to 8:00pm.

    The RKHCA Development Committee reviewed Vision Brief 2.0 for the proposed Courtyard 33 development and submitted a list of preliminary comments/questions to RNDSQR on September 5.  On September 14 RNDSQR provided us with an updated copy of the Vision Brief, Version 3.0, and suggested that it would answer most of our questions.  Below are the comments/questions that we submitted to RNDSQR on September 5, with annotations in red to reflect new or changed information that we found in Vision Brief 3.0:

    1. Overall design — Appears quite striking from the renderings, although proposed height, density and intensity all significantly exceed that contemplated in the Marda Loop Area Redevelopment Plan (the “MLARP”) for this location — 6 storey/22m proposed height vs 4 storey/16m MLARP maximum height — proposed FAR of 4.0 vs. MLARP contemplated FAR of 2.5 — proposed net intensity of 820 population & jobs per hectare (P&J/H) vs. MLARP contemplated net intensity of 409 P&J/H.      [No changes made, no response provided]
    2. Uses — Ground floor and some 2nd storey retail, with residential above — consistent with the “commercial/mixed use” area provided for in the MLARP.     [No changes made]
    3. Proposed courtyard-style plaza — Interesting concept, although:
      • Accommodating it appears to require significant increases to the building’s overall mass to make up for the lost interior space, including 2 extra storeys, a front facade that pushes out over the public realm and a rear facade that pushes out towards the single-family homes across the rear lane.     [No changes made, no response provided]
      • It was not immediately apparent to some of our Committee members, nor to several others that we have spoken to, that the proposed plaza would be at the 2nd storey level, rather than at ground level.  Please ensure that this aspect of the proposed development is made abundantly clear at the September 22 engagement event.     [New image added on Page 26 showing close up of large staircase leading up to 2nd storey plaza]
      • How would mobility-challenged people gain access to the plaza?  We don’t see any ramps.  If by elevator, would public access be available at all times, or only during certain hours?     [No changes made, no response provided]
      • It would seem to us that the flow-through passage would be more beneficial if the plaza was at ground level and the building was mid-block and backed onto a lane with better “mews” potential.     [No changes made, no response provided]
      • Our understanding from sources such as Gehl’s “Cities for People” is that grade-separated plazas often don’t work particularly well, as the grade separation acts as both a physical and visual barrier.  What makes you think that the proposed grade-separated plaza would work well?     [More information about the courtyard plaza provided on Pages 29 & 30, but no response provided.  Also, on Page 29 Image 3 in Figure 2.1 says "shift density to building perimeter" and the image shows 2 extra storeys added to the top of the building -- the image does not show that above the ground floor the building's front facade has also been extended forward and cantilevered out over the front sidewalk, and its rear facada has been similarly cantilevered out towards the lane]
    4. On Page 11 we would point out that the image is not up-to-date — for example it does not show the Garrison Corner or Odeon developments — and the red boundary labelled as “Main Streets Study Area” does not match the boundary shown in the City’s current 33 Avenue SW Main Street map — see attached.  Please correct for the September 22 engagement event.     [No changes made]
    5. On Page 12 the current level of transit service along 33 Avenue SW and Crowchild Trail is overstated — currently there is no transit service along this portion of 33 Avenue SW and the transit service along Crowchild Trail at 33 Avenue SW tends to have head times of 12-15 minutes during peak periods and 20-30 minutes during off peak periods.  Please correct for the September 22 engagement event.     [No changes made]
    6. The proposed development does not appear to accommodate the MLARP’s public realm zones, as:
      • The proposed 2nd to 5th storey front cantilever, which is shown in Figure 1.9 as being 3.5m back from the curb, would not appear to leave sufficient room for street trees, which the MLARP contemplates being planted approximately 1.75m back from the curb; and
      • The support posts for the proposed front cantilever (not shown in Figure 1.9) would appear to fall near the middle of the MLARP's 3.0m wide sidewalk zone, which the MLARP provides “must be kept clear”.
        [No changes made, no response provided]
    7. MLARP Section does not appear to support an increase to the 4-storey/16m maximum building height at this location, as:
      • This corner is not identified on MLARP Map 4.1 as a potential plaza/increased height location;
      • The intent of that section is to encourage the provision of sun-drenched plazas, whereas it does not appear that the proposed development’s courtyard-style plaza would receive much sun; and
      • It only contemplates a potential increase to 5 storeys, whereas the proposed development is shown as being 6 storeys.    
        [No changes made, no response provided]
    8. The proposed step-back at the top of the proposed development's 5th storey would appear to:
      • Be at least 1 storey higher than the maximum height provided for in MLARP Section;
      • Based on the side view in Figure 1.9, not even be sufficient to bring the 6th storey’s front setback back to the MLARP’s 6.0m minimum front setback, let alone back a further 3.0m as provided for in MLARP Section;
      • Do little to “allow for views of open sky” as provided for in the opening words of MLARP Section 4.2, as pedestrians’ skyward views would be blocked by the proposed 3m front cantilever.    
        [No changes made, no response provided]
    9. The proposed rear cantilever would appear to bring the 2nd, 3rd and 4th storey rear-facing units closer to the single-family homes across the rear lane than contemplated in MLARP Section, creating increased massing and overlooking issues for those residents.    
      [No changes made, no response provided]
    10. Proposed unit mix includes studio, 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom, but does not appear to include more family-friendly 2-bedroom plus den or 3-bedroom units.  Is it intended that the residential units be separately titled and sold as condominium units, or that they be rental units?    
      [No changes made, no response provided]
    11. The renderings appear to show:
      • Front and side balconies with angled walls or windows — how much useable space would these balconies have?
      • Solid (opaque) balcony railings, which on the rear facade should help to reduce overlooking of the single-family homes across the rear lane.    
        [No changes made, no response provided]
    12. The Section Diagrams on Pages 33-35 appear to exaggerate the amount of shadowing that would be caused by the garages of the single-family homes across the rear lane, as the representative garage appears to be located unrealistically close to the home and its roof peak and eaves are both unrealistically high — see attached photo for comparison.  For the September 22 engagement event please provide revised Section Diagrams that include:
      • A more realistically located and sized representative garage (roof peak not exceeding 4.6m and eaves not exceeding 3.0m); and     [Requested change made]
      • An extra set showing shadows as at February 21/October 21.     [Not provided]
    13. With respect to the Shadow Studies on Pages 36-38:
      • In Figure 2.5 the 4:00pm study appears to show the same shadows as the 1:00pm study; and     [Correction made]
      • In Figure 2.7 there appear to be areas that are coloured dark grey which at 1:00pm on December 21 are not currently shadowed by any existing building, and therefore should not be coloured dark grey (eg. the south-facing and west-facing surfaces of the roofs of the single family homes across the rear lane from the proposed development) but would potentially be shadowed by either the proposed development or an ARP-compliant building, and should therefore be coloured either yellow or blue, respectively.    [No changes made, no response provided]
      For the September 22 engagement event please provide revised Shadow Studies that correct these errors and provide an extra set showing shadows as at February 21/October 21.     [Not provided]

    [Pages 42-44 now contain a summary of the Transportation Impact Assessment (TIA) that RNDSQR has had prepared for this project.  The RKHCA Development Committee has not yet had an opportunity to review the TIA in detail, but notes that:

    • The authors of the TIA are under the mistaken impression that the proposed Courtyard 33 project is located in the community of South Calgary, rather than in the community of Richmond/Knob Hill (in fact, our community doesn't even appear to exist in their minds);
    • The traffic counts were conducted during the summer holiday season, a few days after Stampede ended (Tuesday, July 18), and therefore are not reflective of normal traffic volumes -- in this regard we would point out that the traffic counts are in all cases lower, and in some cases significantly lower, than the traffic counts that were done in 2015 for the ML33 TIA;
    • The projected traffic volumes purport to take into account not only additional traffic projected to be generated by the proposed Courtyard 33 development, but also by ML33 and 5 other redevelopment projects in the area, yet again they are in almost all cases lower, and in some cases significantly lower, than the projected traffic volumes in the ML33 TIA;
    • The TIA concludes that the additional traffic projected to be generated by the Courtyard 33 development, even when combined with the additional traffic projected to be generated by ML33 and 5 other redevelopment projects in the area, will not result in any area roads exceeding their design capacities -- however, this does not take into account the ongoing densification that is taking place in the adjacent residential communities, nor the further densification expected to take place in the Marda Loop business district in the near future; and
    • The TIA makes references to several Appendices, but none are attached]

    The RKHCA Development Committee has extended several invitations to RNDSQR to meet with us to discuss the proposed Courtyard 33 development, but to date they have chosen instead to focus on interacting directly with the public, including through the Marda Gras booth and the upcoming community engagement BBQ on September 22.  We would encourage all RKH residents to attend the September 22 engagement event to learn more about the proposed Courtyard 33 development, and to provide informed feedback thereon to RNDSQR.  Thank you in advance for taking an interest in the future of this community.

  • September 01, 2017 2:12 PM | Anonymous

    In early August, we learned the City of Calgary is in discussions with The Odeon regarding a request to install additional parking stalls on the northeast corner of 20 St and 33 Ave SW. The additional parking stalls are to be accommodated by narrowing the west sidewalk, narrowing the proposed centre median and narrowing the north and southbound bike lanes to 1.25m from 1.5m. 

    Recent research has determined that typical North American Transportation standards require minimum 1.5 m bike lane width bordering parked cars and recommend wider if on a busy street. RKHCA has concerns with regard 1) safety of residents, 2) achieving the streetscape and walkability goals articulated in the recent Marda Loop ARP and 3) lack of public notification of changes to an approved plan following a year long engagement.

    What do you think? Would you like to see parking stalls returned next to Odeon? Do you have concerns about the proposed width of the bike lanes? On balance, do you feel the proposed changes to the approved Bikeway plan are an improvement, neutral or detract from the general safety in this intersection for drivers, cyclists, pedestrians?

  • July 05, 2017 11:00 AM | Anonymous

    If you are contemplating carrying on a business from your home in Richmond/Knob Hill you will require land use approval, either a home occupation : class 1 or a home occupation : class 2.

    The basic rule for a home occupation - class 1 is that the home-based business must not be visible from outside the home. The business must be conducted in the home by a resident and have minimal impact on the surrounding neighbourhood. If your business follows the rules, this application is approved and issued instantly. A home occupation - class 1 clearance form specifies the rules you must follow and is valid for as long as you operate that business from the same location. Some examples of home-based businesses that may fit under a home occupation - class 1 are desk and telephone occupations, web-based businesses or a consultant's office.

    General rules for home occupations - class 1:

    • You must live in the home associated with the home occupation.
    • Only two home occupation - class 1 businesses are allowed at the home.
    • Businesses can use up to 20 per cent of the floor area of the home or 30 square metres, whichever is less.
    • A garage cannot be used for the business.
    • No outside storage of material, goods or equipment can be on or near the site.
    • Businesses cannot be visible from the outside.
    • Businesses cannot create any kind of nuisance detectable from outside the home (electronic interference, dust, noise, odour, smoke, bright light or anything of an objectionable nature).
    • Employees and business partners cannot work at the home, if they do not live at the home.
    • No more than three visits per week by clients, staff or couriers to the home.
    • No more than one vehicle associated with the business can be parked at or near the home (maximum 4536 kilograms gross vehicle weight).
    • You cannot directly sell goods at the home, unless they are incidental and related to the service provided by the business.
    • No form of advertising related to the business is allowed on the site.
    • The address of the home occupation cannot be advertised to the public.

    If you cannot comply with the above rules, you may qualify for a development permit for a home occupation - class 2.  This approval allows for more flexibility and has specific conditions attached. Before receiving this permit, a sign will be placed on the property to inform neighbours of the proposed use, and the approved permit will be published in the local newspaper.  Home occupation – class 2 development permits are approved on a temporary basis, with the length of the approval determined before the permit is released.  Some examples of home-based businesses that may fit under the home occupation - class 2 rules are hairdressers, music teachers and a consultant's office (more than three visits per week).

    General rules for home occupations - class 2:

    Same as for class 1 but with a few differences including:

    • Only one home occupation - class 2 business is allowed at the home.
    • A garage may be used for the business, provided it can still be used to park a vehicle.
    • The business cannot generate traffic to and from the home that is uncharacteristic of the neighbourhood.
    • A maximum of 1 employee or business partner working at the home who does not live at the home.
    • A minimum of one parking stall is required for the business, in addition to the motor vehicle parking stalls already required for the home.
    • A maximum of 5 business-associated vehicle visits per day and a maximum of 15 visits per week.

    In addition to land use approval, some home-based businesses also require business licensing. Visit calgary.ca/mybusiness for licence types and the required approvals.

    Some homes in Richmond/Knob Hill have one or more restrictive covenants registered against the title, and in some cases those restrictive covenants include a provision prohibiting any business from being carried on from the home.  Accordingly, before starting a home-based business it would also be a good idea to check your title to see if any such restriction applies to your home.

    RKHCA Development Committee

  • 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  more efficiently, but they are larger, 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 relatively few housing options which are affordable or suitable for seniors. This could leave us with relatively little demographic diversity -- lots of upper middle class “double income no kid” couples and empty nesters, but not very many young adults, young families or seniors.

    One view is that we should make an effort to preserve our community’s demographic and economic 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 just more tall, skinny, expensive infills. Another view is that it is perfectly okay for RKH to become a community of tall, skinny, expensive infills, and that those seeking more affordable, family-friendly and senior-friendly housing options can find them in neighbouring communities or elsewhere.

    What do you think? 

  • April 12, 2017 12:38 PM | Anonymous
    In April members of the RKHCA Development Committee, as well as representatives from our neighbouring communities of Killarney/Glengarry, Rutland Park/Currie Barracks and South Calgary/Altadore/Garrison Woods and from the Marda Loop Business Improvement Association (BIA) met with representatives from Calgary Transit to receive an update on the Southwest BRT, and provide feedback thereon.  If you participated in the City’s online public engagement process for the Southwest BRT back in February/March you may have noticed some of the same things that gave us cause for concern, including:

    1.  Although the route map still showed a red “station” dot at the Crowchild Trail and 33 Avenue SW interchange (the “33 Avenue Stations”), that dot was now labelled as the Currie Barracks station, instead of as the Marda Loop station, and there was no longer a red “station” dot in Currie Barracks; and 

    2.  Despite the fact that the website indicated that construction of the portion of the route north of Glenmore Trail would begin this year, there was still no information to be found regarding various key issues relating to the 33 Avenue Stations, including:

    • exactly where the NB and SB stations would be located, and what they would look like;
    • what changes, if any, would be made to the Crowchild Trail and 33 Avenue SW interchange to make it safer and more comfortable for Southwest BRT users to walk and cycle across;
    • whether secure bike parking would be available at the 33 Avenue Stations; and
    • exactly where the new Quesnay Woods Drive coming north out of Currie Barracks would intersect with 33 Avenue SW, and what type of intersection it would be.

    We feel that well designed and conveniently located BRT stations at the Crowchild Trail and 33 Avenue SW interchange are key to supporting the higher-density and mixed-use development that is planned for the Marda Loop business district — we want all those Marda Loop area residents and employees to have convenient access to high-quality transit so that they don’t all feel the need to drive cars to and from home and work in Marda Loop.  We also feel that convenient access to high-quality transit in Currie Barracks is critically important to minimize the traffic impact of the thousands of people that will soon live and work in that new high-density mixed use community.  So what were we to take from the disappearance of the red “station” dot in Currie Barracks and the renaming of the red “station” dot at Crowchild Trail and 33 Avenue SW — was the City looking to save money by locating a single pair of BRT stations part way between Marda Loop and Currie Barracks, instead of giving each activity centre its own pair of stations?  If so, then neither activity centre would end up with convenient access to high-quality transit, with the result that most residents and workers in both areas would end up driving, making area traffic and parking congestion even worse.

    The updated information presented at the meeting included the following:

    1.  The current plan is to have the Southwest BRT up and running by the end of 2018;

    2.  There are still plans for Currie Barracks to have its own BRT stations at Quesnay Woods Drive and Flanders Avenue, and for Quesnay Woods Drive to be extended north to intersect with 33 Avenue SW, but given the current economic conditions those portions of the Southwest BRT route will be deferred until sufficient development has been constructed and occupied in Currie Barracks to warrant it;

    3.  Until such time as Currie Barracks comes “on line” and the Quesnay Woods Drive extension has been built, the Southwest BRT buses will bypass that area and instead use the new Flanders interchange to travel between the 33 Avenue Stations and the Mount Royal University stations;

    4.  The NB 33 Avenue Station will:

    • be located part way down the ramp from 33 Avenue SW onto NB Crowchild Trail, adjacent to the “bulb” at the end of 32 Avenue SW (see image below -- the NB station is neither circled nor labelled, so you will have to look closely to see it);
    • be located on the Crowchild Trail side of the sound wall and accessed through a gap in the sound wall located part way between the station and 33 Avenue SW;
    • have a partially open/partially sheltered design (see image below), and include one or more bike racks; and
    • be constructed in early 2018;

    5.  The SB 33 Avenue Station will:

    • be located on WB 33 Avenue SW, 1/2 block or so west of the Crowchild Trail interchange (see image below -- the SB station is circled in red and labelled "Future Station");
    • have the same partially open/partially sheltered design, and include one or more bike racks; and
    • not be constructed until Currie Barracks comes “on line” and the Quesnay Woods Drive extension has been built, so until that time SB BRT buses will use the existing bus stop at the top of the ramp from SB Crowchild Trail to 33 Avenue SW (circled in green and labelled "Temporary Station" in the image below);

    6.  No changes are currently contemplated to make the Crowchild Trail and 33 Avenue SW interchange safer and more comfortable for pedestrians or cyclists to cross; and

    7.  In terms of parking restrictions on the streets adjacent to the 33 Avenue Stations the plan is to “wait and see” to what extent complaints are received from the residents in those areas once the Southwest BRT is up and running. 

    Our feedback to Calgary Transit included stressing the importance of both Marda Loop and Currie Barracks having convenient access to high-quality transit and expressing concern that the proposed locations of the 33 Avenue Stations (particularly the SB station, which will be in the middle of nowhere and require BRT users to cross two dangerous right slip lanes to get to or from the Marda Loop business district) and the lack of any plan to make the Crowchild Trail and 33 Avenue SW interchange safer and more comfortable for people to walk and cycle across, will make it less likely for Marda Loop residents and workers to use it, leading to more cars and congestion on our streets.  We asked Jeff Speck, the author of the bestselling book “Walkable City:  How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time” about incorporating BRT stations into a freeway interchange adjacent to a Main Street and he recommended that the stations be located very close to the Main Street, so that the walk to it was excellent and not exposed to the freeway — we are concerned that the current plan will not achieve those key objectives.

    Unless you never leave your house, this issue will affect your day-to-day life as this area continues to densify, so we encourage you to become engaged and make your thoughts on this issue known to Calgary Transit, to the current Ward 8 and Ward 11 Councillors, and to all candidates for Councillor in the new Ward 8 (with its adjusted boundaries) in the upcoming 2017 municipal election.

  • February 01, 2017 7:00 AM | Anonymous

    The City of Calgary's Main Street initiative has identified 24 streets in Calgary as "Main Streets", and is looking to encourage growth and vibrancy along those streets and in the surrounding areas. The community of Richmond/Knob Hill is bordered by two such Main Streets, being 17 Avenue SW and 33 Avenue SW. The City has selected the area along the portion of 17 Avenue SW that runs from Crowchild Trail to 37 Street SW as one of the first areas to be assessed by the Main Streets group. Several Open Houses were held last year to obtain public input, and taking into account that input the Main Streets group is now proposing to create two new mixed-use land use districts for use along Main Streets, and then to rezone properties located along 17 Avenue SW to these new land use districts, and to up-zone properties in the adjacent area to allow higher density developments. 

    The two new mixed-use land use districts are proposed as follows:

    1. Mixed Use – Flexible (MU-1) District
    • Intended to be located along commercial streets where a mix of different uses could be located at the street level including commercial, residential or office type uses.
    • Allows flexibility in terms of which uses are located at the street level
    • Accommodates a mix of uses within a single building or within multiple buildings throughout an area.

    2.  Mixed Use – Commercial (MU-2) District

    • Intended to be located along commercial streets where commercial uses are located at grade in order to promote activity at the street level.
    • Requires that every building have commercial type uses, such as shops and restaurants, at street level.

    Development supported in both of these districts would typically consist of street-oriented midrise buildings between four and six storeys in height and generally not exceeding ten storeys. The proposed districts focus regulation on the interface of the building with the street rather than on the floor area of uses. Design standards at the street level include requirements for clear glazing at eye level, maximum frontage length per use, and individual entrances for each use. Requirements include a building stepback on street facing facades for buildings that are taller than six storeys in height. On upper storeys, separation distances for windows, balconies and towers provide access to light and air. When new buildings back onto a lower scale residential property, an angular plane steps the building height down to minimize visual mass and shadowing.

    The City-initiated rezoning of properties along 17 Avenue SW and adjacent areas is proposed to include the following:

    1. properties along the south side of 17 Avenue SW:
    • from 24 Street SW to 29 Street SW would generally be rezoned to MU-1 with a 23m (5 - 6 storey) height limit;
    • from 30 Street SW to 37 Street SW would generally be rezoned to MU-2 with a 26m (7 - 8 storey) height limit;

    2.  properties on the remainder of the first block south of 17 Avenue SW will generally retain their existing M-C1 zoning, which has a 14m (3 - 4 storey) height limit;

    3.  properties immediately south of 19 Avenue SW would generally be rezoned to R-CG with an 11m (3 storey) height limit; and

    4.  properties on the north side of 17 Avenue SW from 24 Street SW to 29 Street SW would generally be rezoned to MU-1 with a 22m (5 - 6 storey) height limit, and the next properties to the north would generally be rezoned to R-CG with a 11m (3 storey) height limit.

    The RKHCA Development Committee is concerned that allowing 22m - 26m tall buildings (similar to the 23m/6 storey tall Shoppers Drug Mart building in Marda Loop) along this stretch of 17 Avenue SW, and particularly along the south side, will result in a "Main Street" that is not "human scale" and is in shadow much of the year, and therefore not a place where people are likely to want to spend time year round. Rather than putting the tallest building heights right on 17 Avenue SW we would prefer to see them set further back, such as in the middle of the first block south of 17 Avenue, tapering down to 3 - 4 storeys on the south side of 17 Avenue SW. This would allow 17 Avenue SW to retain a more human scale and would allow more sunlight to reach the sidewalk on the north side of the street during the shoulder seasons. We have communicated this concern and suggestion to the City's Main Streets group, but to no avail.

    The changes proposed by the City's Main Streets group are scheduled to go to the Calgary Planning Commission on February 23, to the Standing Policy Committee on Planning and Urban Development on March 8 and then to City Council for a public hearing on April 10. We encourage residents of Richmond/Knob Hill to learn more by going to calgary.ca/mainstreets and then share their views on these proposed changes with Ward 8 Councillor Even Woolley and the rest of City Council either at or in advance of the public hearing.

  • January 01, 2017 7:00 AM | Anonymous

    The Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB) has now issued its written decision in respect of RKHCA's appeal of the approved development permit for a 5-storey, 135-unit condo development at 2418 33 AV SW.

    As you may recall, the issues raised in the appeal included:

    1. excessive density/intensity: the number of residential units on the parcel would be increased from 15 to 135, well beyond the maximum allowed under the parcel's previous M-C1 zoning or contemplated under the recently approved Marda Loop Area Redevelopment Plan (the "MLARP"), which is intended to govern, and establish a vision for, the redevelopment of the Marda Loop business district;
    2. excessive size/mass: the building would not comply with the side setback and side and front upper storey stepback requirements under the Land Use Bylaw and the MLARP, its Floor Area Ratio (FAR) would exceed the maximum FAR contemplated under the MLARP and it would have no significant articulation along its extremely long front facade;
    3. excessive overshadowing: single family homes across the rear lane would receive no sun in their south-facing main floor windows for an estimated 2.5 months per year, from early November to late January;
    4. inadequate public realm: the minimum 6m wide front boulevard/sidewalk as called for by the MLARP is not provided for;
    5. main floor uses: no retail/commercial uses on the main floor, and not designed to allow for future conversion to retail/commercial, as called for by the MLARP;
    6. traffic, vehicle access and transit: the proposed relocation of the existing NB restrictor at the intersection of 33 Avenue SW and 22 Street SW would likely lead to increased traffic tie-ups on 33 Avenue SW and increased cut through traffic on 22 Street SW; and
    7. trees: inadequate proposed trees -- mainly Swedish Columnar Aspen, which would never have a meaningful canopy, and Siberian Larches, which although coniferous would not provide any winter colour or windbreak as they lose their needles in the fall.

    The SDAB decision allowed the RKHCA's appeal in part by requiring the following changes to be made to the plans for the proposed development:

    1. trees: replace the Siberian Larches with another species of coniferous tree that does not lose its needles in the fall.

    That's it.

    No changes to address the excessive density/intensity.

    No changes to address the excessive size/mass.

    No changes to address the excessive overshadowing of adjacent single family homes.

    No changes to address the inadequate public realm.

    No changes to address the lack of main floor retail/commercial, or even future convertibility to retail/commercial.

    No changes to address the traffic, vehicle access and transit issues.


    Apparently, it doesn't matter that the proposed development fails to comply with several key provisions of the MLARP, and fails to even come close to satisfying the overall "vision" for the Marda Loop business district, as set out in Section 2.1 of the MLARP (annotations added):

    “Marda Loop is envisioned to become a vibrant, successful area that will cater to both residents and visitors alike. Through mixed-use development (NO) and modest increases in density (NO), the area will incorporate a desirable mix of residences (NO), shops (NO), and offices (NO) that enhance the livability of the area during the day (NO) and at night (NO). A high standard of urban design will respect the existing community character through human-scaled buildings (NO) and by providing sensitive transitions to the adjacent residential streets (NO). The area will feature a pleasant, walkable public realm (NO) with wide sidewalks (NO), street trees (A FEW), attractive lighting (NO) and street furniture (NO). Marda Loop will continue to be a desirable place to live, work and play (QUESTIONABLE).”

    This is the first major development proposal to be submitted for approval since the MLARP was approved by City Council in 2014, and therefore is the first major development that should have been designed to comply with the MLARP vision and requirements. Unfortunately, this developer decided not to follow the MLARP vision, but rather to maximize both the size of the building and the total number of units. That is disappointing, but not entirely unexpected, as developers are business people and as such maximizing profits is often their primary objective. What is incredibly disappointing is that neither City Administration, nor Ward 8 Councillor Woolley, Ward 11 Councillor Pincott and the rest of City Council, nor the SDAB were willing to step up and require this developer to change their plans to make the proposed development consistent with the MLARP vision.

    If you get the sense that we are unhappy, you are correct. The MLARP may not be a very robust Area Redevelopment Plan, as it was developed through what was referred to as an "ARP-lite" process rather than a full and proper ARP process. However, the MLARP is (at least in part) the product of considerable public and community engagement, and at the moment is all we have to work with to help the Marda Loop business district achieve its potential and become a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly Main Street. To see City Administration, City Council and the SDAB allow this developer to run roughshod over the MLARP is just heartbreaking, and hugely disrespectful to the Richmond and Marda Loop communities.

    We will leave you with a couple of questions to ponder. Why does the City bother taking communities through the costly and time-consuming process of putting Area Redevelopment Plans in place if it doesn't care whether developers pay attention to them or not? And why didn't our Ward 8 and Ward 11 City Councillors do more to defend the MLARP's vision for the Marda Loop business district?

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