May 19, 2014

Back to the Future: Building new communities to be more like our old ones

Posted by Scott Lockwood 

As the manager responsible for planning Calgary’s new communities, I often have people tell

me that they enjoy where they live but it would be even better if they could just walk to a store, or to a local restaurant, or to a transit hub, or even to work and their kids’ school. It is feedback we have heard over and over, and it’s something we have taken to heart at The City! We even have a name for it – we call this a desire for “complete communities.”

Building complete communities is something we used to do well in Calgary, but we drifted away from it in recent decades. When you look at some of Calgary’s oldest neighbourhoods (like Kensington, Inglewood and Bowness), there is a great mix of commercial areas, various forms of housing, and plenty of recreation space. People in those communities can get around without having to drive everywhere, and can stay in the same neighbourhood as they age or if they have a change in income because of the variety of housing options available.

There is quite a difference between the feel of those areas and many of the communities built in the ‘80s and ‘90s. During those decades, Calgary started building neighbourhoods that were largely one housing type with little or no commercial space and countless kilometres of winding roads. These communities worked well for our driving culture at the time, but times are once again changing. We are becoming more conscious than ever about our environmental impact, our need to make healthier lifestyle choices, and our need to build communities in a way that is both financially and socially sustainable.

All this has brought us to a new shift in The City’s planning department where we are once again striving to make sure all our new communities are complete communities, like we did in the past. Our vision is for residents of these new communities to have various options for housing, work and recreation right in their neighbourhood that they can get to on foot, by bike, by transit, or with a short drive.

The City and Calgary’s development industry have already started down this path with communities like Garrison Woods and McKenzie Towne, but our new direction is to provide an even greater mix of residential, commercial and other types of development in the new neighbourhoods we are planning. It’s a shift that I’m very excited about, and it’s an excitement that I hope you share! I truly believe this change will ultimately result in more vibrant and enjoyable communities in which Calgarians can live, work and play.  

Scott Lockwood is a Manager with The City of Calgary’s Planning, Development & Assessment department. 

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