The City of Chestermere received the Growth and Servicing Plans from the Calgary Metropolitan Region Board (CMRB) for information during the May 11 Committee of the Whole meeting.
The CMRB’s mandate is to support the long-term sustainability of the Calgary Metropolitan Region, including the City of Airdrie, City of Calgary, City of Chestermere, Town of Cochrane, Foothills County, Town of High River, Town of Okotoks, Rocky View County (RVC), Town of Strathmore and Wheatland County.
“There’s a lot to be gained through cooperation, and the growth plan really tries to emphasize these benefits. It is a globally competitive world now and to be globally competitive the region needs to do its best and create great communities so people and talent are attracted to come here, and it will grow the economy,” said Senior Planner of HDR Calthorpe, Jonathan Schmidt.
The CMRB has found that young talent is looking for great places to live first and finding employment second.
The HDR Calthorpe team undertook an extensive planning analysis and review of existing plans, through that analysis it was discovered there’s approximately 50 years of regional growth already approved in Area Structure Plans (ASP).
“Not all planned growth areas are created equal. Some may never develop due to various factors, such as market interest,” Schmidt said.
“New opportunities are still needed to adapt to the market, send a positive message to the market, and to showcase new collaborations and types of development,” he said.
The goal of the Growth and Serving Plans is to accommodate the next one million people in the area, and a half million jobs.
To achieve the goal three scenarios were reviewed.
The first scenario was business as usual, looking at if the CMRB did nothing what would happen, the second was transit-oriented development which focused on concentrated growth, and finally, compact development.
Through discussions, a hybrid synthesis scenario was created of the transit-orientated development and the compact scenario that better reflected the needs and values of the Calgary region.
If the region moves towards the synthesis scenario which focuses on compact growth, and transit orientated development, the region could see benefits including a 36 per cent reduction in the amount and cost of new infrastructure, 41 per cent reduction in land consumption, 31 per cent reduction in vehicle kilometres per household, 27 per cent reduction in carbon produced per household, and 23 per cent reduction in water consumption per household.
The synthesis scenario was dependent on changing development patterns from traditional subdivisions to other place types, such as infill redevelopment, mixed-use centre, and masterplan communities.
“There would be a mix of jobs and housing, they are more diverse in land uses, it’s not just a subdivision,” Schmidt said.
The findings of the synthesis scenario indicated that the municipalities in the Calgary Metropolitan Region have generally done a better job of land use planning compared with other comparable regions. However, there is still sprawl and incompatible land uses throughout the region.
“The comparison between the scenarios don’t show differences that are as dramatic as some regions, but they do show that doing things differently can save costs and reduce the negative effects of growth,” Schmidt said.
“There are many examples where municipalities are doing well and have achieved a strong focus on infill, mixed-use, and walkability. There are important decisions to be made regarding the joint planning opportunity areas between municipalities,” he added. “The extension of transit has the greatest immediate benefit for the communities north and east of Calgary. If successful, transit expansion and focused transit orientated development to the south will be a natural future step.”
The Growth Plan policies feature compact mixed-use place types,
directing urban development to key growth areas, and reinforcing traditional rural areas with clustered development, agricultural conservation, and appropriate commercial areas.
In addition to the Growth Plan, a Servicing Plan also exists in collaboration, which includes transportation and transit, a long-term water strategy, water and wastewater utilities, stormwater management, and recreation.
“We see the plan is evolving, and we’re happy to see the continued push to have a vision articulated in the plan is now materializing, which is very important, that’s a big accomplishment,” said the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Bernie Morton.
“Economic development and incorporation in the plan are important for us. We believe that working collectively on economic development as a region as opposed to independently serves everyone better,” he said.
Adding, “There are certainly some challenges to the rural and urban divide, but our position has always been that we are stronger when we work collectively together with a shared common purpose and focus, rather than cross purposes.”