SBHCA Making Progress with the City on our Request for Changes to the Draft Community ASP

Mar 28th, 2017 | By | Category: SBHCA News
The Planning Committee of the Springbank Hill Community Association have been working diligently to review the City of Calgary’s plans for our area and representing the wishes and concerns of our residents. As we have previously communicated we were disappointed with the Area Structure Plan (ASP) that the city presented at the Open Houses in January of this year. We sent our list of concerns to the city following those Open Houses, as well as sent them to the community via email. Since then we have been working with the team of planners from the city to recommend improvements to the draft ASP. The city held a second round of open houses on March 16 and 20 at Westside King Church on 69th Street, and members of our planning committee were present at both sessions. We are generally pleased to see that the latest version of the ASP has addressed several of the concerns raised by SBHCA including, reducing building heights, re-introducing transition/buffer area and clarifying language of appropriate use in the mixed-use designation.
The ASP will go to the Planning Commission for review on April 20, and to City Council for approval on June 2nd. We plan to attend both events to ensure our community’s wishes are respected.
Your support of our efforts are greatly appreciated, and would value your feedback to : 
Springbankhill Community Association 
Councillor Pootmans 
City Planning & Development​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

The 4 concerns we originally communicated to the city, along with updated comments :

1 : MR – Specifically the 189 acre of land south of 17th Avenue between 85th and 77th street :

  • Given that the 189 acres of land, is the last large parcel of developable land, and given that many of the other MR area’s noted in the ASP, have already been used for schools, or housing development, there is a concern, that the ASP does not clearly note requirement of programmable MR space.
  • The community association relies on revenues from our soccer programs to fund our annual budgets. We have been losing soccer fields within our community, as JUS noted in the ASP, have large footprint schools developed (CBE k-9 on 26 Ave) and we need replacement soccer fields in our neighbourhood. Failure to receive programable MR will put the primary revenue source for our community association at risk.

The CA requests a minimum of 4 acres, out of the required 18.9 acres MR required be set aside as programmable space for the community.  The site is to be a square or rectangular parcel (maximum width to depth ratio of 1:1.5).  Site grading should be less than 2.0 per cent.

 While supportive of the request, the city departments are unsure how the ASP process could contain this request given the multiple developers. We  are continuing to work with the city to have language in the ASP specifically requesting this. 

2 : Traffic  – Specifically the 189 acre of land south of 17th Avenue between 85th and 77th street :

  • Given the increase in density, the unique grades, and ER, the Community Association, is very concerned that the cities goal to provide a community that must be well connected, through convergence of streets, pathways and active modes crossings, to allow for short, direct and convenient access for pedestrians, cyclists, transit-users and automobiles is not attainable.
  • The CA has requested, from the city, what the target density for doors are in the 189 acre parcel, and to understand if this goal is supportable by the planned traffic infrastructure.

 The City has verbally provided this information to the CA. Our understanding is that it will be on the website the week of April 27th. We are asking for this information to be included in the ASP, to ensure at the outline plan and development proposal stage, this information would be readily available to developers, file managers, and council. 

3 : Contextual Sensitivity

  • The CA is fully supportive of the language used in the ASP :

Contextual sensitivity should be achieved through careful site layout, orientation, building design and architecture to ensure seamless integration of new developments within existing areas already developed to suburban densities.

But we feel, by many other statements in the ASP this is not accomplished

  • Retaining walls and drainage
    • The CA is concerned that within the 189 acre area, retaining walls will need to be utilized. Large retaining walls, are both not desirable in the community from providing a connected multimodal community,  as well there is concern with appropriate drainage.
    • In the remaining ASP, new higher density developments are causing numerous flooding issues to existing homeowners.
  • Building Heights
    • The community does not have any 10 storey mixed use retail, 6 storey apartment blocks.
    • There is a concern that given the grades, shadowing with such large buildings could be substantial, and are unsure how this type of development would seamlessly integrate with existing areas
  • Buffering for existing developments in the community
    • Wording in the ASP is concerning in the 189 acre area :
      • The upper density figure in the density range should be achieved, to the extent that the topography (slope and natural areas) allows. Special attention to the layout and design of the development may be required in order to achieve higher density ranges on sloping lands, and lands that are identified as environmentally significant causes concern that the topography, ER, MR will be sacrificed for the sake of density.
      • Removal of previous classifications in the south end of the 189 acre development
        • Low density infill 1 – 3 upa, Standard Density infill 3 – 5 upa, Low Density Urban – 4 – 7 upa

And the replacement with

        • Low Density Development 8 – 15 upa

Removes the buffer with existing homes in the south end of 189 acre parcel


The city is has been approving individual DPs in the ASP area higher than is shown on the ASP map, creating urban pockets outside of the community plan.

      • Area’s designated as Standard Urban Development, 3-7 upa, are being approved at from 11 – 15 upa or higher.
  • The CA requests :
    • Reintroduction of low density infill, standard density infill, low density urban, in the south end of the 189 acre development, while providing diversity of building models, would also provide sensitivity to existing developments
    • Additional DP requests exceeding the existing community density in other areas of the ASP be denied by CPC and council.
    • Maximum 4 storeys above grade throughout the mixed retail, medium density areas of the 189 acre parcel
      • Given the unique sloped environment, 4 storeys above grade will provide developers a mixture of above / below grade development allowing density, and architectural sensitivity to the community

While many aspects have been taken into account in the revised ASP : 

            Lowering mixed-retail building height from 10 storeys to 6 storeys

            Lowering medium density building height from 6 storeys to 4 storeys

                        Re-Introduction of transition area

            The CA notes and requests :  

  • The transition perimeter proposed in the “Low Density Contextual is very narrow.  In addition to being too narrow, the upper end of the Low Density Contextual at 8 upa is too high, and would not provide an adequate transition from existing neighborhoods.  

A proper transition is required with appropriate width of transitioning density, moving from Standard Urban (3-7upa) adjacent to exiting neighborhoods in the south, to Low Density (8-15 upa), to Medium 

Density (15 -60 upa) 

  • Discussion of appropriate retaining walls has been minimized to one statement :

Terraced retaining walls should be stepped within a site. The use of natural or natural looking materials is  encouraged.

Proper design must be enforced, to reduce large unsightly retaining walls, that are not contextual sensitive and    

have caused numerous issues in Springbankhill with drainage. The CA requests the city acknowledge this and state definitively in the ASP

  • The January version of the ASP section 7.4, and Map 8 detailed specific plans for stormwater management that the city had developed during technical workshops with interested parties. In the latest version of the ASP this has been replaced with the statement :

“At this time, Water Resources is undertaking water modeling for the Plan Area. Policies will be finalized when this work is complete”

It is critical that the ASP contain a coordinated stormwater management plan for the Springbankhill area. Given the number of developers in the 190 acre study area, without leadership from the city in this manner, cohesive management may not be developed, causing drainage and flooding issues within the area. The CA requests the ASP not proceed until the revised stormwater management plan has been completed, and details embedded within the ASP.

  • The CA requests that within the preamble of the ASP, the planning department acknowledges the time and effort of all parties to create this document, and respectfully request that at further stages of the development lifecycle, CPC, or council does not override the criteria set forth in this document and allow for additional densification within any area of the ASP. 

4 : Retail – Specifically the 189 acre of land south of 17th Avenue between 85th and 77th street :

  • In reviewing the ASP, conflicting information about the retail is presented. In certain places it discusses a “Mixed use residential / retail” in other sections it refers to single-use buildings, large scale retail, and auto-centric uses such as gas bar and drive through business. In addition, the maximum height of a mixed-use building shall not exceed 10 storeys.

      The CA requests that the city’s vision for retail on the 189 acres is clearly stated with no ambiguity as stated in section 3.3 :

  • Ideally, buildings will contain ground floor retail and/or commercial uses with residential, or office uses above. The mix of residential and non-residential uses will ensure vitality and vibrancy 
  • Any reference to auto-centric, drive through should be removed. In addition maximum above grade construction should not exceed 4 storeys.

The CA notes in the revised ASP, the building height has been lowered from 10 to 6 storeys, and refences to auto-centric, drive through have been removed.

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