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Heritage Local Area Plan approved by Calgary city council

Calgary city councillors voted to approve the latest local area plan after concerns were once again expressed at a public hearing.

The contentious item, first approved at committee in April, after hearing from the public there as well, was endorsed during the Public Hearing Meeting of Council on Tuesday.

The Heritage LAP is the third plan approved by council. Many of them had pockets of similar frustration from area residents. The previous plans approved were Westbrook and North Hill. Currently, four others are underway.

Once again, several residents from Chinook Park, Kelvin Grove and Eagle Ridge stepped up to oppose the local area plan. References to diminished property values, blanket density, restrictive covenants, community character and density in proper places came from residents who didn’t want to see the plan approved.

Ray Kettenbach, a 27-year resident of Chinook Park, said they chose to move to the area because of the nearby school, the amenities, and single-family homes on large lots with big trees.

“I believe the current Heritage LAP, which is aimed at bringing greater housing choices through density to the Heritage areas of the City of Calgary, actually limits choice in the near future,” he said.

“If the LAP is about adding housing choices, it is my opinion that it fails in the category of offering current and future Calgarians a choice for R1 living. That choice appears to be stripped away in this plan.”

Kettenbach said that if the current path is followed, there eventually be no R1 communities in south Calgary – or perhaps all of Calgary. He said that limits or restricts choice.

“Every community will be a hodgepodge of various types of housing with no individual community character,” he said.

“Send the plan back and get focusing on density solutions that are needed by the community.”

Residents in support of the plan

Elizabeth Duerkop, the Fairview Community Association’s representative on the Heritage LAP working group, said they supported the plan. They also included, in a letter to council, their expectations for implementation, including infrastructure, amenities and mobility routes.

“Fairview does not currently have a comprehensive area plan, something that both residents and developers have requested in recent years,” she said.  

“The Heritage LAP provides a much-needed vision for future development that speaks to the demographic and contextual changes affecting Calgary’s early suburbs.”

Ward 11 Coun. Kourtney Penner, who represents many of the communities in the Heritage LAP, said that this plan has been a long time coming.

Penner said this has helped create certainty among those groups that may have delayed plans due to uncertainty.

“That helps give them certainty in their plan, because they’ve been part of the consultation process and the community’s been part of the consultation process,” she said.

The real focus is along the Macleod Trail corridor and the ability to move people east to west through the communities. Further, she said the investment priorities brought forward by communities solidified her support for the plan.

“For those reasons, I mean, those are just a few, but that is why I can really get behind and support this plan and think that some great work has been done,” she said.

Coun. Sonya Sharp, who said it was the best LAP she’s ever seen, said she’s looking forward to the lessons learned reports later this year. But, she also said it would add development certainty in the area.

“As a city we’ve set goals to grow within our existing area and I think that’s what we’re doing very well,” she said.

“I think that we’ve also heard loud and clear that their desire from the community for smaller forms of homes and for some areas with less density, and that’s never going to go away.”

The item will need approval from the Calgary Metropolitan Region Board before the second and third readings of the bylaw for the Heritage LAP.