Jul 7, 2014

Bringing the grid to new community planning

Gridded street networks: versatile and efficient for communities old and new
The grid network provides many route options and
direct access to destination points.

Many of Calgary’s oldest communities were designed around a grid – a street pattern that allows for pedestrians, motorists, and transit users to access their destination (parks, shopping, pathways, etc.) using multiple, direct routes that flow up and down linear corridors, with multiple connection points. Gridded streets also connect neighbouring communities more directly to one another and to other areas of the city, without dead-ending.

If you take a drive or stroll through some of my favourite neighbourhoods like Sunnyside, Marda Loop, or Parkdale, you’ll notice they were all built using this grid network. This planning tactic is what makes these places desirable to many.

The modified grid network provides multiple route 
options and convenient access to destination 
points, although less so than the grid network.

As a part of my job as a City Planner, I take in to account what works elsewhere and try to incorporate it into new project plans. Two recent new community projects my team is working on include Cornerstone in the northeast quadrant, and Rangeview in the southeast. 

In the southeast, for example, a grid network would allow 52 Street SE to continue south into the Rangeview area allowing direct access to amenities and shopping destinations along that corridor. In Cornerstone, a grid pattern could connect 60 Street NE north of Airport Trail. The grid would also allow these communities to adapt to change in market trends over time by establishing an adaptable street network from the beginning.

A curvilinear network often provides fewer route
options and less convenient access to destination
While there can be some challenges to implementing this grid style, such as the drainage corridors in Rangeview or the wetlands that are found throughout the land where Cornerstone is being planned, there are opportunities to modify it slightly to preserve and protect what’s precious (as in the example of a modified grid above).

We can also angle the grid, which is an option being considered in Rangeview to preserve stunning views of the Rockies to the south and west for future residents who will surely come to love that aspect of their community. Alongside the grid planning work, we’re also looking at park spaces and local retail and pathway networks linking natural areas, all within a 10 minute walking distance of the residential areas. These are all feature elements that the inner city communities mentioned above are also known for.

As a planner, I’m excited to be working on plans for new areas of Calgary that emulate what we’ve all come to love about our city.

Jill Sonego  is a Planner in Planning, Development and Assessment who is part of a team working on the Area Structure Plans for Rangeview and Cornerstone.

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