Why do we need a Regional Growth Plan?

    When the needs of the region are addressed as a whole, we can better identify opportunities and efficiencies to reduce the costs of growth, attract investment to the region, and realize sustained prosperity.

    Big infrastructure projects have an impact on more than one municipality, and we can better plan for and execute these major changes in our communities when we are all working together.

    How is the Regional Growth Plan being developed?

    Over the last year, representatives from the ten municipalities in the Calgary Metro Region have been working together to lay the foundation for the Regional Growth Plan.

    The CMRB has selected the internationally-recognized regional planning firm HDR|Calthorpe to develop the Growth Plan in consultation with member municipalities under the leadership of the Board. HDR|Calthorpe is a pioneer in the development and implementation of regional plans that support diverse, walkable, sustainable, vibrant, environmentally responsible, mixed-use communities across the world. The firm’s long history of high-quality urban design and regional planning give their designers, planners and engineers the skills and vision to build the Growth Plan for the Calgary Metro Region.

    The Regional Growth Plan process revolves around three main stages:

    • Stage 1: Information Gathering and Visioning

    • Stage 2: Regional Scenarios

    • Stage 3: Policy Draft and Adoption

     

    We are currently in the middle of Stage 3. Between July 24 and September 4, 2020, we received public input on three potential scenarios for managing growth in the region. 

    Based on what we heard from the public, input from municipal staff, and best practices for regional planning, HDR|Calthorpe is recommending an approach for managing growth in the Calgary Metro Region. The proposed approach will inform policy development for the final Regional Growth Plan that will be presented to the CMRB for approval in early 2021.

    How was public input used in the development of the proposed approach?

    In the first phase of public engagement, we offered a number of ways for community members to tell us what matters to you in planning for the next million residents to come to the Calgary Metro Region. A full “What We Heard” report will be made available, but the key themes that we heard from the public that informed the proposed approach are listed below:

    • Create more density and decrease sprawl

    • Work with what we have

    • Maintain choice and diversity of options for residents

    • Transit that is well-planned and affordable

    • Stronger collaboration between municipalities while maintaining autonomy

    • Consider environmental implications of development

    • Provide guidelines for developers 

    • Leverage regional scope to promote economic development

    In the Discussion Forum topics, we describe how different elements of the proposed approach reflect key themes from the first phase of public engagement. 

    How will public input be used in the development of the final Regional Growth Plan?

    This phase of public engagement is less about “what” should be included in the growth plan, and more about “how” community members would like to see the proposed approach implemented. What we hear through the Discussion Forum topics and Survey will help guide what’s included in the policies for managing growth in the region.

    Why should we approach growth differently than we have in the past?

    In the first phase of public engagement, we heard that members of the Calgary Metro Region community want us to manage growth differently than we have in the past. Citizens want to see us grow differently to decrease environmental impact, decrease costs associated with urban sprawl, support vibrant communities, and be generally more efficient with our resources.

    The proposed approach included in this phase of public engagement combines elements of the scenarios that were shared in phase 1 of public engagement, with the most contribution from what was Scenario 3 (Transit Oriented Development or TOD). 

    Based on the analysis of Scenario 3 - TOD against growing the way we always have (Scenario 1 - Business As Usual), we expect to see a number of economic and environmental benefits for our region, shown below. 

    Please fill out the Survey to tell us which of these benefits matter most to you!

    What is the proposed approach for managing growth in the Calgary Metro Region?

    Leading regional planning expert Peter Calthorpe and the team at HDR|Calthorpe recommends the proposed approach, which applies a core belief that successful places – whether neighbourhoods, towns, urban districts or metropolitan regions – must be diverse in uses and users, must be scaled to the pedestrian and human interaction, and must be environmentally sustainable. 

    These values were matched with input from the public and municipal administration to arrive at a proposed approach that has three key characteristics: Place Type Allocation, Transit-Ready Corridors, and Joint Planning Areas.

    PLACE TYPE ALLOCATION

    The proposed approach includes a recommended mix of “place types” for each municipality. Each “place type” reflects a variety of buildings, streets, and amenities, and represents a different type of development with different levels of density for residential and employment use.

    “Place types” replaces the more traditional planning focus on density as the key metric for understanding how land should develop. Unlike density, “place types” provide a sense of the quality and experience, and include consideration for both people and jobs.

    The chart below shows the different mix of “place types” that are being proposed. The Regional Growth Plan will help provide direction to municipalities about what can be built, but detailed planning about land uses and location of development will remain the responsibility of each member municipality. The Regional Growth Plan will identify a “place type” allocation for each municipality that will guide land use and development decisions made at the municipal level.

    Visit the Discussion Forum to learn more about the mix of different “place types” that are being proposed, and tell us how your way of life and community would be affected by the proposed increase or decrease of place types in the Calgary Metro Region.

    TRANSIT-READY CORRIDORS

    The proposed approach includes identifying Transit-Ready Corridors supported by higher density development known as Transit Oriented Development (TOD). The first phase of public engagement included a strong interest in planning for and investing in effective and affordable regional transit options. The proposed approach identifies three major Transit-Ready Corridors that cross municipal boundaries (see map).

    By identifying areas for potential future investment in regional transit, the proposed approach encourages municipalities to plan for development with transit in mind. The proposed approach also encourages those municipalities in which Transit-Ready corridors are identified to work together to coordinate planning, investment, and development. 

    JOINT PLANNING AREAS

    The proposed approach recognizes that there are some parts of the Region where municipalities have overlapping interests, such as areas for key transit or industrial development. The proposed approach identifies three “Joint Planning Areas” that encourage municipalities with common interests to work together in sub-regional groups. 

    Specifically, the proposed approach identifies the following sub-regional groupings:

    • Airdrie - Rocky View County - Calgary

    • Calgary - Rocky View County - Chestermere; and

    • High River - Foothills - Okotoks (existing partnership)

    Having proposed Joint Planning Areas, or sub-regional collaboration areas, would be new for some areas of the Calgary Metro Region. Please take the Survey to let us know if you think this is a valuable part of the proposed approach to manage growth in the Region.

    What does “infill development” or “higher density development” mean?

    Infill and higher density can mean many things.

    Infill means redeveloping existing areas with new housing and employment. The East Village in Calgary is an example of infill. But replacing a single family home with a duplex is also infill. 

    Infill can happen in both urban and rural contexts. The Watermark development in the community of Bearspaw is an example of infill development in a rural setting. It could also be considered infill when a 20-acre parcel of land is subdivided into five 4-acre parcels.

    Higher density for transit-oriented development means a mix of townhouses and smaller-lot single family homes. Transit-oriented development does not need to be the 25-storey condominium towers we see in Vancouver.

    What are "place types"?

    The proposed approach includes a recommended mix of “place types” for each municipality. Each “place type” reflects a variety of buildings, streets, and amenities, and represents a different type of development with different levels of density for residential and employment use. 

    “Place types” replaces the more traditional planning focus on density as the key metric for understanding how land should develop. “Place types” provide a sense of the quality and experience, and include consideration for both people and jobs. The six “place types” that are considered in the proposed approach are described below:

    City and Town Centre or Transit Oriented Development (TOD)

    This “place type” is characterized by medium-density mixed use development with many day-to-day services within walking distance. These areas have a variety of housing types, employment types, and retail land uses within them. New growth in these areas create value while minimizing associated congestion, environmental, and infrastructure impacts. They are designed to create a sense of place and encourage a vibrant pedestrian environment.

     

    Masterplanned Community

    The masterplanned community “place type” is characterized by its comprehensive and integrated approach to land use. This “place type” is often designed so residents have retail, commercial, civic, and recreational amenities conveniently located within a short walk of their homes. It is generally designed to emphasize sustainability, community, and convenience to live, work, shop, and play within the masterplanned community.

     

    Residential Subdivision

    The Residential Subdivision “place type” category represents areas that are predominantly residential and mostly in suburban locations often on the urban edge. Single family homes are the dominant housing type with other housing types sometimes included. This “place type” is generally auto oriented as the development pattern allows few shopping, employment, and open space destinations to be conveniently made via walking or biking. 

     

    Country Residential

    The traditional Country Residential “place type” is characterized by its larger lot sizes (often acreages), low density, and single-family detached housing type. The “place type” is located in rural and suburban areas. 

     

    Office Commercial

    The Office Commercial “place type” is characterized as an area with stand-alone office buildings. This “place type” is typically separated from adjacent uses although it can be located next to residential areas. This “place type” is an employment centre with supporting uses for workers such as food and business retail uses. There are usually no residential land uses in this “place type”.

     

    Industrial

    The Industrial “place type” is characterized by a variety of non-residential, industrial, and commercial land uses. This “place type” includes warehousing and manufacturing uses. There are no residential land uses in this “place type”.

    What does a Regional Growth Plan do and what does it not do?

    A Regional Growth Plan builds a framework to help municipalities in the region work together. It includes policy to guide coordinated growth. 

    It does not replace local planning or the authority of individual municipalities to make decisions that consider the needs of local residents and businesses.

    What is the mandate of the Calgary Metropolitan Region Board (CMRB)?

    The CMRB’s mandate is defined in the Municipal Government Act (Alberta Regulation 190/2017).

    The Calgary Metropolitan Region Board supports the long term sustainability of the Calgary

    Metropolitan Region by:

    • Ensuring environmentally responsible land-use planning, growth management and efficient use of land;
    • Developing policies regarding the coordination of regional infrastructure investment and service delivery;
    • Promoting the economic wellbeing and competitiveness of the Calgary Metro Region; and
    • Developing policies outlining how the Board shall engage the public in consultation.

    Click here to view the Regulation.

    Who is the part of the Calgary Metropolitan Region Board (CMRB)?

    The Calgary Metropolitan Region Board is a government corporation made up of elected officials from each of the Region’s 10 member municipalities:

    • Airdrie 
    • Calgary 
    • Chestermere 
    • Cochrane 
    • Foothills County 
    • High River 
    • Okotoks 
    • Rocky View County 
    • Strathmore 
    • Wheatland County (portion) 

    From Phase 1 - How will my input be used to develop the Regional Growth Plan?

    The Quick Poll, Discussion Forum, and Survey questions on this website are asking you to share your priorities and values related to choices for how we approach growth in the Calgary Metro Region. The answers you provide directly relate to specific choices that might be made about growth, like higher density, transit-oriented development, and land use.

    We believe that the Calgary Metro Region is a great place to live, work, and play. We’re trying to uncover common values from residents across the region so that we make informed choices about growth that reflect the values and priorities of our communities.

    The values and priorities shared through this public engagement process will be used by the CMRB to help choose an approach to regional growth as we welcome the next million people to the Calgary Metro Region. 

    From Phase 1 - What is a "scenario"? Will you end up picking one of the three proposed scenarios?

    The scenarios show different results that might happen if we make different choices about how to approach growth in the region.

    The scenarios are not options and we don't need to pick just one. 

    We're asking you to help us understand what parts of the different scenarios you like and what you don't like so that we can make choices that reflect the priorities and interests unique to our communities in the Calgary Metro Region. This feedback will help us to pick parts from each of the scenarios to develop the best plan for the Calgary Metro Region.

    From Phase 1 - What choices are reflected in Scenario 1 (Business-As-Usual)?

    Scenario 1 shows how growth would happen if today’s mix of land uses and densities continue, and there is no major expansion of transit in the region. 

    Scenario 1 illustrates what may happen if we keep doing what we've been doing.

    From Phase 1 - What choices are reflected in Scenario 2 (Compact)?

    Scenario 2 shows how growth would happen if much more of our future growth is infill development, creating higher density development, particularly in urban centres like Calgary.

    The choices reflected in Scenario 2 are about aggressive higher density development in key urban areas, and minimal new development in areas of the region that aren’t currently developed.

    From Phase 1 - What choices are reflected in Scenario 3 (Transit-Oriented Development)?

    Scenario 3 shows how growth could happen in higher density clusters around future transit stations and city or town centres. This scenario would require major regional transit extensions (bus rapid transit or light rail transit) to Airdrie, Chestermere, Cochrane and Rocky View County. 

    The choices reflected in Scenario 3 are about spreading higher density development out across expanded transit networks in the region.