The proposed plans for Highland Village Green have been evolving since the technical review process began with The City of Calgary in December 2014. These FAQs have been developed to help address some of the most commonly heard questions from the community.
The development includes the potential for taller buildings along Centre Street North and within the northwest corner of the project. Based on the input received at the March 14 Open House, the maximum height of the buildings planned along Centre Street North was reduced from 18 storeys to 15. During the most recent review, the two 18-storey towers planned to back McKnight Boulevard NW have each been reduced to eight storeys. One or two 12-storey buildings are now planned for along 40th Avenue NW.
Most of the other buildings will accommodate between four and eight storey buildings.
The proposed plan meets The City of Calgary’s Direct Control Land Use District rules for height, floor plate size and design considerations.
It’s important to note that these are maximum heights and depend on market demand and the state of the economy at the time they would be built.
When the initial version of the plan was developed, the Green Line LRT down the Centre Street North alignment hadn’t yet been approved. Those planning decisions changed the standards for development on the land along Centre Street North as it is now within a Transit-Oriented Development area. The new building heights focus density close to a potential future LRT station, and incorporate the Main Street program initiatives for development along Centre Street North.
Initially, the plan had 46 buildings at 4 storeys across the site. The community’s priority for open space led the team to reduce the number of buildings to 21*. Based on community input, the decision was made to grow up rather than out to preserve open space.
*Please note: the last edition of the reimagining newsletter contained a typo, noting 12 buildings instead of 21.
No. In fact, the plan will increase the amount of publicly accessible green space in the community by more than 30 per cent.
Right now the site is private property, and actually provides no publicly accessible green space to the community. People who currently walk through the site are technically trespassing, and there are safety/liability issues associated with public access at this time.
With the latest version of the plan, approximately one-third of the site will be green open space. The central open space is now 2.6 times larger than it was in the CPC-approved plan.
The development plans include a regional pathway extension from 40 Avenue NW to Centre Street North and other pedestrian pathway connections across the site. The plans also include functional parks, and a soccer field, which will provide the community with a wide variety of outdoor recreational opportunities that currently don’t exist in Highland Park.
With the development of Highland Village Green, the estimated total number of trees is expected to be more than three times the number of trees that are presently growing on the site. The following are the estimated quantities of new trees to be planted in the different locations of the proposed development:
- Residential areas: 964 trees
- Commercial areas: 36 trees
- Residential buffers: 616 trees
- Public parks: 98 trees
- Streetscapes: 154 trees
The developer is also planning to retain as many existing trees as possible. With development, however, most of the existing trees will be impacted and will have to be removed. Transplanting is not a viable option given the trees’ size, age and condition.
Based on the development design, approximately 10 per cent of the existing 600 trees could potentially be retained. These trees will not be impacted by grading or servicing and are located for the most part along the perimeter of the development and parallel to the proposed regional pathway.
The plan allows for 2,071 residential dwelling units. This level of density is supported by City planning policy for Transit-Oriented Development and Urban Corridors, and will provide support for the Main Street (Urban Corridor) initiative. It will also make the project economically viable.
This is the maximum number of dwelling units, and there may be less based on market demand and/or economic considerations.
The planned number of units for the development — 2,071 — has not changed since the initial plan was developed in August 2014. This density level reflects approval of the Green Line LRT along Centre Street N and the fact that Transit Oriented Development standards now apply to the site.
The two site concepts presented for community feedback in early 2014 contained 1,600 and 1,900 units.
We already have traffic problems in Highland Park. What will the addition of 2,071 more households do?
A key priority for the plan was to protect traffic conditions in existing neighbourhoods. The proposed plan connects roadways within Highland Village Green directly to the major surrounding roadways, with no direct connections to existing residential streets, outside of the addition of an access point on 1 Street NW. This access will ensure availability/flexibility of access around the Green Line along Centre Street North and the future widening of McKnight Boulevard NW. The plan also leverages the extensive transit services already available on all sides of the site.
Most of the planned units are within 400m (a five-minute walk) of transit service along Centre Street North and 4 Street NW, and almost 70 per cent are within 600m of the approved Centre Street LRT Green Line stations at McKnight Boulevard NW and 40 Avenue NW. By concentrating the density of the site closer to Centre Street North, the plan provides a strong connection to this major transit corridor, which is expected to substantially reduce the amount of new traffic generated compared to what would be seen in a typical suburban neighborhood in Calgary.
Won’t traffic be reduced to two lanes on Centre Street because of the LRT? And won’t that create more problems with congestion?
Centre Street North will remain a four-lane roadway through the traffic signal at McKnight Boulevard, to ensure adequate through-put for traffic. At the request of The City, the development will also provide enough land along Centre Street North to fit the LRT, four lanes of traffic, and wide pedestrian boulevards.
Plans for Centre Street elsewhere will be finalized as part of the LRT planning process, which will have separate public engagement opportunities from The City of Calgary.
The Direct Control Districts and City Land Use Bylaw require that all residential parking be provided on-site for each building. The Design Guidelines proposed for the site require a minimum of 50 per cent of each parcel’s parking is to be provided underground.
The project is designed to direct, control, and reduce or eliminate the current flooding that occurs on the site. Road grades will be set to permit surface drainage in a safe manner as set out by Alberta Environment. The building grades will be set throughout to ensure that no buildings are flooded during large rainfall events. The developer and City of Calgary are also evaluating possible regional improvements to the storm system throughout.
Storm water measures reflected in the plan include:
- A storm water dry pond to capture and lessen off-site flows during larger storm events
- Grading revisions that ensure overland drainage can safely pass through the site
- Space for twinning or upgrading the major existing storm water trunk line that runs through the site, if required by The City of Calgary to improve drainage in other northwest areas
The storm water management plan has confirmed that the development will not have an adverse impact on lands upstream or downstream of the site.
A small, intermittent stream used to run in the area before development began some 60 years ago. In the early 1970s, The City of Calgary removed the creek by installing a storm sewer. Today, there is no creek on the site and the storm sewer is used as a utility.
Since there is no existing creek, a new open channel would have to be created, engineered to the latest safety standards, and landscaped to look natural. In Highland Village Green, it would not be an extension of any existing creek as it would only connect to other storm sewers, and it is significantly isolated from other open channels such as the one on Confederation Park (which is also an engineered facility). An open channel would also take a significant amount of space and would make it difficult to service buildings with existing infrastructure (such as the sanitary sewer pipe) that runs through the site. As such, the project would not be feasible under these conditions.
The grades in the bottom of the site will be raised. This is necessary to permit the site to be serviced in the most sustainable way, to permit safe road connections to existing streets, and to help control the flooding that currently occurs on the site. The grades along the edges of the site will be retained as-is, made safe, or reduced to create as little impact as possible.
At the end of March, the Corporate Planning Applications Group (CPAG) made a decision to recommend the Calgary Planning Commission approve the revised plan. A meeting with the Calgary Planning Commission (CPC) took place May 5, with the commission voting to recommend approval of the plan. At its July 5 hearing, Calgary City Council tasked City Administration with working with the applicant and the community to develop bylaw amendments or potentially a new bylaw to:
- Establish a baseline density for the site that meets Transit-Oriented Development Principles;
- Ensure coordination with planning for the Green Line LRT and the Main Streets project and the storm water drainage study for the Highland Park area;
- Establish urban design principles and guidelines to supplement Direct Control Bylaw rules around street-oriented design and other matters; and
- Ensure the preservation of as much open space as reasonably possible.
The next step in the process is a public hearing at Calgary City Council scheduled for January 16, 2017.
Timing is dependent not only on approval of the plan, but also on market conditions. Construction preparation work could start within months of land use being approved by City Council. Construction could start on the east side of Centre Street North within a year of Council’s approval, with work on the west side of Centre Street North beginning the following year.
A Phasing Plan for the development is available on the Technical Documents page.
During the CPAG review process, between November 2015 and February 2016, access changes were made around 1 Street NW. At that time it was decided with the City of Calgary Transportation department that there was a need for a connection to the redevelopment site from 1 Street NW. This access was intended to allow The City to be able to provide existing residents with access to Centre Street North via the new Highland Drive NW, in the event that the Green Line LRT requires access closures for other area roadways.
In that case, the road would be used by existing residents to gain access through the new site, and not vice versa.
The applicant understands that the local roads to the north cannot accommodate traffic volumes from the proposed development, and would not support connecting 1 Street NW for the purpose of directing development traffic out to the north.
Providing green space that is accessible to the entire Highland Park community has been a priority from the community from the beginning, and a key part of the planning process. The linear pathway will connect Highland Park from 4 Street NW/40 Avenue NW over to McKnight Boulevard NW and Centre Street North, providing a safe and attractive way for pedestrians to get to their destinations.
As proposed, one-third of the plan area is open space. It will increase the amount of publicly accessible green space in the community by more than 30 per cent.
Key changes made as a result of the technical review include:
- Reduction in height of the buildings along Centre Street North, from 18 storeys to 15
- The addition of building setbacks and changes to heights to more sensitively integrate with the surrounding, low-density homes
- A focus on orienting the buildings with doors and windows facing the street to create a safer neighbourhood and walkable street
- The addition of a 10 metre landscape buffer to provide separation between the development and adjoining residences
- Increase in height on the most southwest parcel, from 26 to 40 metres to accommodate Transit Oriented Development standards (the area is within 600 metres of the approved 40th Avenue NW LRT station). This area is also being considered as a location for neighbourhood commercial development (as requested by area residents).
The owner started the development with a blank slate, using community input to develop initial concepts for the site. These initial concepts were reviewed by the community, with an overwhelming majority (91 per cent) selecting Concept A, for its linear pathways and green space.
All told, more than 1,270 Calgarians participated in the initial engagement process, which lead to the creation of the first version of the plan for Highland Village Green in August 2014. Since the plan has been under review with The City of Calgary process, engagement opportunities have included two information sessions in January 2015, and one in March 2016.
Since July 2016, The City of Calgary has hosted a series of meetings between the project team, area Community Associations and various City departments. This, along with the results of the Green Line design charrette process, resulted in several changes to the plan that were presented to the community during an information session December 8. The revised plan will be presented to City Council in January 2017.
Throughout the review process, the project team has continued to work with community members, through meetings as well as connections via the 24-hour phone line, website and project email.
The Plan began with The City of Calgary’s technical review process in December 2014. While the plan was under review, The City hosted two information sessions in January 2015, including presentation information from the reimagining project team. At the same time, The City undertook a survey, in which citizens noted they liked the plan’s green space, the increased density and the opportunity to revitalize the community. Concerns about the proposal focused on traffic congestion, building heights and reduced parking.
In March 2016, The City of Calgary hosted an additional open house, also attended by the reimagining project team. Another information session was hosted by The City in December 2016 to share the latest revisions to the plan.
Throughout the technical review process, the reimagining project team has provided updated information on the project website, has provided email updates, and has responded to questions received on the 24-hour phone line and email line. Ongoing meetings have also taken place with the Highland Park Community Association, and with members of the public who have requested additional information.
No. Fill will be required to upgrade infrastructure and service the site. The site will still have its general topographical shape you see today.
Community Enhancement Funds are used to help fund infrastructure improvements or to provide amenities when increased densities create new needs in a community. They are used in areas where there is no other way to gain the necessary infrastructure and public improvements.
For this development, the owner will spend more than $2.5 million on improvements that will benefit the community at large (5.36 hectares/acres 13.2 acres of enhanced public open space, for example, in a community that has very little publicly accessible green space at present).
The developer has committed to funding these improvements through Development Agreements with The City, which would provide similar results to a contribution to a Community Enhancement Fund.
In January 2016, City Council approved a new off-site levy for water and wastewater treatment. The developer will contribute to this levy.
No, the developer will be providing all the necessary infrastructure for the development at his cost. There has been extensive study of the regional storm water system to date, which has been paid for by the developer. The City of Calgary plans to do a further extensive study in coming years, but that work is regional in nature and not specific to the Highland Golf Course site.
Plans for the site have always focused on high quality multi-family residential. Because of the anticipated price-point, the units are likely to be owner-occupied.
The plan does include one access to 4 Street NW at 44 Avenue NW, which is the location of the existing road that goes east into the former golf course lands. There are several improvements that have been proposed for 44 Avenue NW as part of the application, including:
- Modifying the grade of the road east of 4 Street NW, going into the former golf course site, so that it is less steep than today
- Adding a new traffic signal at the intersection of 4 Street NW / 44 Avenue NW
- Adding a new bus shelter for the northbound bus stop
Along with signal optimization improvements and turn bays at 40 Avenue NW, these improvements are expected to provide similar operations on 4 Street as you would see today, once the development is complete.
If approved, these improvements should help pedestrians, who would have traffic signals to help in crossing 4 Street NW and accessing transit services. Vehicles on 44 Avenue NW would have green lights to allows access onto 4 Street NW, which can reduce driver frustration compared to waiting for a gap in traffic at the stop sign today.
The traffic study recommended peak-direction parking bans near the intersection to provide through-put during rush hour periods (southbound in the morning, northbound in the afternoon). Additional turn lanes were not found to be needed at this time, however space is available on the roadway to mark turning lanes, if required in future.
There are some initial design concepts in place to illustrate the look and feel that’s planned for the site. Click here to view some example designs.
The population in Highland Park is now 20 per cent lower than it was just 50 years ago, and Buchanan Elementary and James Fowler High School are operating well under capacity. The Calgary Board of Education estimates that James Fowler High School will have 1,200 excess spaces when the Nelson Mandela High School is fully operational. Nearby Cambrian Heights School will have approximately 200 excess spaces when Evanston Elementary opens.
No. There will be no additional costs to Calgary taxpayers for the development of Highland Village Green. The developer is paying for all site-related improvements.
In fact, as planned, the completed Highland Village Green development would generate at least $6.6 million each year in property taxes for The City of Calgary.
The road alignment for Highland Village Green was influenced by practical realities on the site (steep grading, abrupt elevation changes, etc.), as well as direction received during community engagement (the community requested a design that limited traffic impacts on surrounding streets). The current alignment places the road over the regional storm trunk, and existing utility right of way. This allows for the concentration of the proposed roadway and all the utility infrastructure in one place, and reduces traffic impacts on surrounding residential streets. Future utilities would align along the existing storm sewer.
This approach provides the best and most appropriate use of the land, as it is not possible to build anything other than a road on the regional storm trunk.
At its July 5, 2016 meeting, Calgary City Council voted to delay review of the Calgary’s Planning Commission’s report recommending approval of the land use amendment for Highland Village Green. They also voted to have City Administration work with the applicant and the community to develop amendments to the proposed bylaws, or potentially a new bylaw, which would include:
- Establishing a baseline density for the site that meets Transit-Oriented Development Principles;
- Ensuring coordination with planning for the Green Line LRT and the Main Streets project and the storm water drainage study for the Highland Park area;
- Establishing urban design principles and guidelines to supplement Direct Control Bylaw rules around street-oriented design and other matters; and
- Ensuring the preservation of as much open space as reasonably possible.
For the past several months, the reImagining project team has been working with The City of Calgary and area Community Associations to respond to City Council’s requests to amend specific elements of the plans for Highland Village Green. Activities have included a series of meetings with area Community Associations, and a public design charrette process for the 40 Avenue Green Line station, both of which have resulted in change to the plan for Highland Village Green.
Based on the input received from the local Community Associations, the technical review team and the Green Line design charrette process, several changes have been made to plans for Highland Village Green. They include:
- The two 18-storey towers planned to back McKnight Boulevard NW have each been reduced to eight storeys.
- The amount of green open space has increased to encompass one-third of the site.
- The maximum number of units has been capped at 2,070.
- Green space has been consolidated and centralized in an 8.7 acre central park, which is 2.6 times larger than the original central park. Potential uses have been refined, and soccer fields have been added.
- A townhouse site has been added to provide more diversity in housing options.
- Two parcels along 40 Avenue and Highland Drive NW now allow for ground-floor commercial uses.
- The Highland Green roadway has been removed.
- Direct Control Districts have been amended to reflect the proposed plan changes.
- Opportunities to preserve existing trees will be reviewed during future development phases.
You can view an illustration of the latest plans here.
A series of Design Guidelines have been developed for Highland Village Green. These include:
- Density for the redevelopment is capped at 2,070 units
- A minimum of 50 per cent of each parcel’s parking is to be provided underground
- Requirements for the location and size of tall buildings
- Guidelines around shadowing, sunlight access and the sensitive integration with existing homes
- Street-oriented focus that is pedestrian-friendly
- Guidelines for commercial uses
- High-quality design standards for amenity spaces
- Sustainable streetscape and landscape
The full Design Guidelines are currently being reviewed, but will be posted on The City of Calgary’s project page once they are finalized.