Note: This blog was originally published in the Calgary Herald's Neighbours, January 30, 2014.
By Richard White, January 31, 2014
While there is much talk about the importance of densifying Calgary’s older residential communities (i.e. those built from 1950 to 1990), in reality, it makes good sense to create more housing on the edges of the city given that is where most of the new jobs located. If we want to reduce the length of commutes for Calgarians and encourage them to walk or cycle to work, the best way to do that is to integrate –not segregate - residential and commercial development.
This concept harkens back to the early ‘90s, long before Imagine Calgary, when the City approved the “Go Plan” which focused on the planning and policy initiatives that would entice Calgarians to live closer to where they work as a means of enhancing the city’s mobility. The idea at that time was to create mini-downtowns in the suburbs so people could “live, work and play” in their immediate area, rather than having to commute across town or to the downtown.
Until recently, most of Calgary’s residential development was on the west side while the vast majority of the commercial development (industrial, warehouse and offices) was on the east side, meaning most Calgarians had to drive across the city to get to and from work every day. However, with the creation of new communities like Cityscape, Walden, Seton and Legacy on the east side, more and more Calgarians can “live, work and play” without having to drive across the city or downtown.
New Suburban Home Design
Early in 2013, the City approved a new master-planned community in Calgary’s far northeast called “Cityscape.” Already homes are being built and the new community is taking shape. While there was controversy over its name, given it is so far from the “city,” developer Mattamy successfully argued the community name is appropriate given the “cityscape” vista the land offered.
Cityscape unlike suburban communities of the past has narrower lots, more variety of housing types, better connectivity with pathways and parks and retail centers. Mattamy alone will be offering Village homes (small condos), Townhomes (the hottest housing type in the city these days), Laned homes (rear lane garage) and single-family homes (SFH). And even the SFH are different from traditional suburban homes with front double car garages that are less protruding, allowing for a more attractive porches and a streetscape that isn’t dominated by big double garage.
When fully built out Cityscape will consist of 4,000 homes and a population of over 12,000 (similar to East Village) all within a few blocks of the 115-acre natural preserve encircled by a 2.5-kilometer pathway, with lookouts and nature interpretive areas at key places. It will definitely enhance Calgary’s reputation as the “City of Parks and Pathways!”