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Marda Loop residents launch petition to galvanize support for thoughtful planning

The Marda Loop Communities Association (MLCA) is trying to garner support via a petition against what they call a lack of thoughtful planning in two proposed developments.

The petition was prompted by the application for two land use changes that would result in two high-density developments.

The MLCA launched the petition to stop what they call overdevelopment in Marda Loop. The Association is comprised of the communities of Altadore, South Calgary and Garrison Woods.

The petition, at last look, had 980 signatures. They had aimed to reach 1,000.

The two items, heard at the March 29 Combined Meeting of Council, were approved for three readings.

The third reading didn’t receive unanimous consent. As a result, it will be done at council on April 12. At that meeting, the Marda Loop Communities Association isn’t permitted to speak further on the topic.

Density needs a cohesive plan: Pearce

Brett Pearce, director of planning and development for the Marda Loop Communities Association, said residents are concerned about the constant demand for density. 

“Part of [the concern] is just because of the densification that’s happening all over the place, we feel at least, without a cohesive plan around it,” he said.

Some of these concerns, he said, come from the development of micro suites. Units under 500 sq ft won’t come with parking spots. Residents in those suites won’t be able to obtain parking permits or visitor passes due to new regulations.

“It’s essentially forcing the rest of the community to have additional controls around them for parking,” he said.

Another issue with the developments is the waste management aspect, Pearce said. A lot of the developments can’t fit the proper blue, black and green bins, Pearce said. This means that city waste and recycling services will not be involved. It forces these units to utilize a private waste collection service.

“The concern is that if that company goes out of business or changes their strategy, there would be no waste management possibility for these properties. There’s a lot of risk there,” he said.

The community is also concerned about “significant loss of sunlight, privacy, green space & mature trees,” according to the petition.

Pearce wants more thoughtful conversation with the city and developers.

“What I want to see is more collaboration going forward with the community. Not just developers, but with the City. If they think that we need to keep having increased densification just in the lower densified parts of Altadore and South Calgary, that we actually look at the full plan and do proper rezoning upfront so that there’s certainty for residents.”

Area open house was held

The Communities Association held an open house in January to allow residents to express their concerns. Ward 8 Coun. Courtney Walcott didn’t attend.

“We were kind of shocked a little bit because we thought that he would have some interest in it,” Pearce said.

A later follow-up meeting was done with Walcott, Pearce said. Pearce felt he didn’t take any community comments forward.

At the March 29 meeting, Coun. Walcott encouraged his colleagues to vote in favour of passing the land use amendments.

“I understand that there is fear of the change these two applications propose. The loss of street parking for current residents, congestion, traffic safety concerns posed by more cars in the neighbourhood – these are valid concerns,” Walcott said. 

“Concerns over waste and recycling impacts like unsightliness or poorly managed waste and recycling solutions, they’re absolutely valid concerns. Just not here, right now. Not at the land use stage.”

Walcott said there’s a development permit process to assess and mitigate these concerns. He emphasized that community concerns he has received have no place in this stage of the applications. It is currently about land use.

Future hinges on new LAP, not on these specific applications: Walcott

During their awareness campaign, the Marda Loop Communities Association attached door hangers throughout impacted communities. Walcott said the door hanger read “that our ability to shape the future of our communities hinges on stopping the approval of these applications.”

Walcott said this isn’t true.

“The future of these communities hinges on collaboration in good faith. The future … hinges on a new local area plan,” Walcott said.

“The process for local area planning for these communities actually started last year, but the community opposition to participating in a local area plan put it on hold. That is where the future of these communities should have started.”

Walcott said when looking at the two applications, the developments fit within the goals of the city. He encouraged council to continue investing in the local area plan process to provide certainty to affected communities. 

‘Misuse’ of Direct Control zoning: MLCA

The Marda Loop Communities Association petition said the proposed applications involve “the misuse of Direct Control (DC) zoning to circumvent the current Land Use Bylaws.”

Walcott echoed Councillor Chabot who said the land use bylaw needs to be fixed. Walcott agreed, but said that issue isn’t what’s on the table.

“Our land use bylaw was built before our Municipal Development Plan. Before we started actually having serious conversations about where development goes in this city, we had already built our land use bylaw,” Walcott said.

Walcott acknowledged that a review of the land use bylaw is underway.

“I do understand that we need to take a look at the rules that we are playing by. And I just want to remind council that that’s actually something we’re doing this year,” Coun. Walcott said.

“It’s not really actually something that is up for debate because it’s just a fact of our plans that’s ahead of us for the rest of this year.”