At the same time I was actively volunteering as President of the Haysboro Community Association and was on multiple working groups with the City of Calgary around growth and change in established neighbourhoods. I sat on those committees not because I was pro-density but because I am pro-community. Being pro-community meant advocating for plain language, clarity on definitions and descriptions, and supporting a vision which focused on community amenities, parks, green spaces, and expectations alongside growth and change.
I also wrote an op-ed for Live Wire a while back. I acknowledge that currently detached dwellings are outpacing condo sales and that covid has caused a shift in how and where we want to live. I would take this moment to advocate for denser housing with three or four bedrooms. This can include apartments, condos, and row-housing.
One thing I heard from candidates over and over this election cycle is the jargon of the ‘single-family’ neighbourhood. Ward 11 has 27 communities. Three of those have exclusively detached dwellings (Bel Aire, Mayfair, and Meadowlark Park). City wide those three communities are also an anomaly. Neighbourhoods aren’t defined by housing type. Communities have a boundary in which 89% of Ward 11 communities include a spectrum of housing. When we talk about ‘single-family (detached) neighbourhoods’ in exclusion of attached housing we do ourselves a disservice. That language is exclusionary and belittling of neighbours who for whatever reason live in housing that is not single detached.
Below are four photos of Palliser, showing a variety of housing type within a two block radius. Some existing Ward 11 neighbourhoods have done a good job mixing uses, like Palliser, Windsor Park, and Kingsland. These are good examples to model and use as a starting point for neighbourhoods to understand that multiple housing types can co-exist in the same neighbourhood and the sense of community isn't negatively affected.
I have met a great number of good people in the past ten years doing incredible work building community in Ward 11 and across Calgary. This spirit and energy is what we need more of. Good neighbours are not defined by their stage of life, income, or living situation. There are active and engaged people in all types of housing. I have yet to hear on the doors that housing type is the number one thing people love about their neighbourhood. I hear parks, schools, and people.
Calgary cannot continue to grow exclusively on the edges of our city. It is not an affordable or sustainable version of a city. The most fiscally responsible and best use of our tax dollars is to place more people near the infrastructure that already exists - transit, recreation, schools, emergency services, parks.
I want to work with communities through their growth and development. I want to have honest conversations about which areas of neighborhoods are most likely to absorb a change in zoning and housing type due to factors such as proximity to transit, parks, as well as market value. The city has actively worked to provide a framework for this conversation (Guide to Local Area Planning) and has committed to working with communities through the Local Area Plan process.
The Guide also has direction for transit oriented development, light industrial, and commercial planning. Ward 11 has all of these in our communities and we can take advantage of best practices to support a revitalization of our city to benefit the build out of Ward 11 as part of the overall growth goals for Calgary. There are empty and dead sites in Ward 11 which should be prioritized for development. Development will come in time as we continue to grow in population adding new residents to the city and as we see economic recovery or stabilization.
I want to support communities in providing affordable and appropriate housing for all stages of life. I want seniors to be able to age in place which may mean their neighbourhood, not their house, so they have a familiarity of services. I want children to be able to walk to neighborhood schools because the population can support operations.
Ward 11 has a choice. We can work with the process of change to shape our communities thoughtfully in a way which benefits residents, asking for delivery of amenities, services, and programs which foster community. Or we can resist and lose out on the opportunity to build relationships with local businesses and new neighbours. We will lose out to communities willing to accept the change. I don’t want this for Ward 11. I want our schools to be full, our playgrounds to be replaced, our sidewalks and intersections to be repaired. I want to protect a high level of service for our parks, snow clearing, transit service, and emergency services.