Ward 9 Great Neighbourhoods Calgary – Gian-Carlo Carra

This is the official website for Gian-Carlo Carra, City Councillor for Ward 9 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

From Demolition to Inspiration - Inglewood and the IDI

Inglewood is an inclusive urban village in the heart of Calgary, defined, connected and sustained by its history, culture, industry, commerce, nature and people. 

IDI photo.jpg

By: Gian-Carlo Carra

Published on April 19, 2018

The Inglewood Design Initiative was formed at the 2004 Inglewood Community Association AGM. The new committee was tasked with advocating for and deeply engaging the community surrounding the project of a new, forward-looking, and deeply integrative master plan to replace our aging ARP. The first engagement session in early 2005 was a World Cafe (a relatively new engagement technology at the time - thanks Bob Chartier!!!) where around 200 Inglewood residents, business owners, and institutional leaders shared their thoughts about our community’s best future.

The committee took that data and crafted a vision statement and five supporting mission statements pertaining to heritage, the environment, mobility, commerce, and culture which were subsequently ratified by the community and formed the basis of the IDI’s work - work that ultimately propelled me to City Hall to turn our aspirations into action. In honor of this month’s feature of local business leader and arts patron Jim Hill, I thought I’d reflect a moment on the intertwined role commerce and culture play in the living heritage of our beloved Inglewood.

Today Inglewood is a center of our City’s music scene through the many venues that form the Music Mile; the Esker Gallery anchors our visual arts street cred and is bolstered by the many commercial galleries along 9th Ave, as well as many crafting places such as Workshop Studios; our food and craft brewing culture reflect our historic agricultural connection to our landscape; our Treaty 7 roots span from Fort Calgary to the Piitoayis Program in the Colonel Walker School building and are inextricable from our bend in the Bow situation in the heart of Moh-Kins-Tsis; our faith communities are not only cultural anchors in their own rights, but, led by the Lantern, use their buildings to foster all manner of additional culture expression; and our institutional landscape from the Alexandra Centre to the new YW not only care for our most vulnerable, but are engines of culture as well. Amidst this rich cultural tapestry, creative class industries foment the emergence of Calgary’s next economy.

I had the opportunity to tour heritage professionals from across Canada through Inglewood in 2016 when the National Trust’s annual conference was held in Calgary. I was asked by these legitimately amazed professionals how one small neighbourhood could have so much going on. My answer is that Great Neighbourhoods, like Inglewood, are the best hardware humans have ever invented to run the interconnected software packages of a diversified economy and a vibrant culture.

 Official subdivision plan for Inglewood west of 11th Street SE and the north end of Ramsay c.1890. - Historic Image from the Glenbow Archives.

Official subdivision plan for Inglewood west of 11th Street SE and the north end of Ramsay c.1890. - Historic Image from the Glenbow Archives.

This was something that was inherently understood by our forbearers - that it takes an ecosystem level of complexity to unleash the interplay of commerce and culture to drive prosperity and (the now problematic but important project of) progress. A.E. Cross understood it when his Calgary Brewing and Malting Company put Calgary on the map and in the process delivered Calgary’s first park, our fish hatchery, our pool and lawn bowling pitch, the first echo of the Stampede in the Horseman’s Hall of Fame and ultimately the Stampede itself - our City’s most renown cultural institution. Burns and his colleagues understood it when they invested in real estate ventures along our Main Street and bequeathed to us not only the backbone of our heritage legacy, but the adaptive cradle of all the cultural activities that set Inglewood apart today.

And Jim Hill deeply understood that when, asking himself whether an architecturally significant stand-alone museum or gallery would best fulfill his dream for the Esker, he rejected that instead for a cultural institution embedded in the creative ecosystem of a creative industry-focused mixed use building, embedded in the complex ecosystem of a Great Neighbourhood. We are lucky beyond belief that successive generations of captains of industry and patrons have invested so heavily in our community and created the spaces that have employed and inspired thousands upon thousands of creative Inglewoodonians over the decades.

 Diagram by PlaceMakers Canada

Diagram by PlaceMakers Canada

I took the opportunity to read and reread Jane Jacobs’ works over the Christmas break, as well as her biography. The distilled essence of her message that I took from that deep dive is her assertion that there are no causes of poverty; there are only causes of prosperity. In Inglewood we are incredibly lucky to have inherited the living legacy of what happens when commerce and culture interplay together to form an engine of civilization. It is our solemn duty to care for and grow that engine for the benefit of our children and their children and so on.

 

Law Day at the Calgary Courts Centre - Guest Blog

Law Day is a free, all-ages event held across Canada every spring to commemorate the signing of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

 Law Day offers opportunities for everyone to be entertained and educated about Canada’s legal system and the legal profession. (Source: Canadian Bar Association)

Law Day offers opportunities for everyone to be entertained and educated about Canada’s legal system and the legal profession. (Source: Canadian Bar Association)

Published: April 17, 2018

Have you ever wondered what goes on inside the Calgary Courts Centre. Calgarians will have the chance to find out on Saturday, April 21 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Law Day!

Law Day is a free, all-ages event held across Canada every spring to commemorate the signing of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Law Day offers opportunities for everyone to be entertained and educated about Canada’s legal system and the legal profession.

This year’s activities include live mock trials featuring favourite storybook characters from Alice in Wonderland and “Herry Phother,” courthouse tours, 50+ booths and exhibitors, and more! Attendees can also receive free 20-minute legal consultations at Ask-a-Lawyer or check out one of the self-representation clinics on topical issues like surrogacy, divorce, and family law.

If you can’t make it to the event but would still like legal advice, Dial-a-Lawyer offers members of the public free 20-minute legal consultations over the phone! Call 1-888-644-8950 on April 21 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

For more information and a full list of activities, please visit www.lawdayalberta.com.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Councillor Gian-Carlo Carra, the Ward 9 Office or The City of Calgary. 

Helping Heroes, Residents, and The City Find A Way Forward

East Riverside has the largest concentration of affordable housing in Calgary. After many years, we recognize that we want and need seniors to be integrated into their communities rather than in big facilities that fail to do this adequately.

Published on April 16, 2018

As you know, right now the community of Bridgeland-Riverside, The City of Calgary, and I are working on the new area redevelopment plan which is being driven primarily by the great work the community did on the East Riverside Master Plan. We’re also working on the MainStreets program whose goal it is to transform 1 Avenue NE into a more thriving and vibrant high street for the neighbourhood. While discussing those medium- and long-term projects, we remain focused on day-to-day items as well, such as parking, social disorder and crime, mobility freedom and the ongoing crush of redevelopment proposals – whether they are residential or non-residential (such as the Bridgeland Complex Care Centre – you can watch my video on that development here).

There’s a lot going on in Bridgeland-Riverside and I know that people who are dealing with these things on a day-to-day basis are feeling a little bit overwhelmed, but we'll get through all of this.

Homes for Heroes’ Development Proposal

During the election period, it came to my attention that City Administration was negotiating with a group called Homes for Heroes to place them, as a sub-lessee, on a City-owned piece of land in East Riverside down in the corner on the Canadian National Institute for the Blind's site.

 The Canadian National Institute for the Blind land is located in the eastern most portion of Bridgeland-Riverside in East Riverside. (Source: Google Maps)

The Canadian National Institute for the Blind land is located in the eastern most portion of Bridgeland-Riverside in East Riverside. (Source: Google Maps)

That was news to me and a lot of people in the community who had been working hard on the master planning and the local area plan process.

CNIB’s Advocacy in East Riverside

The historic Riverside area of Bridgeland-Riverside is divided into three sub-areas: The Bridges in the middle; Riverside proper to the west of the Bridges; and, the institutional landscape of East Riverside. There is general consensus that Riverside, with the exception of some potential heritage streetscapes, that Riverside is the part of the community where the densities associated with transit oriented development (TOD) is most appropriate and two years ago residents, businesses, and community institutions started having a series of conversations about the future of the community with that consensus as a starting point. One of the community institutions that initiated this conversation was the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (the “CNIB”), which sits on a piece of land in East Riverside in a long-term lease with the City of Calgary.

Several years ago, CNIB approached me and they indicated that as an institution that sits on a giant lot, next to an LRT station and beautiful park space, that they were in a building that did not adequately serve their purpose. They also indicated that as an institution that serves many Calgarians and Albertans, they wanted to put themselves on a stronger financial footing and to have a conversation with the City of Calgary about extending their lease and finding a private sector partner who would develop this land with them to provide them with a better space and the City with an actual tax base of TOD dwellers.

Silver for Seniors in East Riverside

At the same time, I was approached by Silvera for Seniors who identified the same opportunities as CNIB. Like CNIB, they indicated that their operation represents a previous era's best practice for working with vulnerable populations. Silvera for Seniors would would like to better care for the low-income seniors in their care by building a state-of-the-art facility with an economy of scale which stops the cycle writing a cheque annually from the government to keep the lights on and keep these citizens fed.

The Over-Representation of Low-Income Housing, Seniors Housing and Social Ills in East Riverside

Bridgeland-Riverside in general, and East Riverside specifically, has the largest concentration of affordable housing in the City of Calgary. The folks who live in East Riverside are disconnected from the life of the community. After many years, we as a society after recognize that we want and need seniors to be integrated with children, brought into their communities to join in celebrating and enjoying them rather than building big facilities that fail to do this adequately.

East Riverside’s Development Impact on Seniors and Social Disorder

During the East Riverside Master Plan development planning process, one of the things that was being talked about was better integrating seniors into their community and their main street on 1 Avenue NE. It was realized that a lot of these seniors’ mobility freedom was challenged and that for so many of them, the journey from East Riverside to 1 Avenue NE was simply too far.

Bringing the Community to a Prosperous East Riverside

An amazing idea emerged from this discussion - what if we brought the community to the seniors?

1 Avenue NE peters out as a commercial street at around 9A Street NE and becomes more residential. Instead of looking to change residential areas to commercial areas, there was massive support for continuing the main street by running it down 9 Street NE and then along McDougall Road NE, and supporting that main street by creating a pathway system that ran along Bow Valley Drive NE and connects to the LRT station.

With this idea, all of a sudden, East Riverside becomes a center of community where the largest concentration of affordable housing in the city of Calgary gets diluted and enhanced by young families and young people and adults achieved through density and working with the community institutions to better support their clients who too often were forgotten and too far away to participate in their communities and have their happiest and most prosperous life in a great community.

 Photo of the East Riverside Master Plan planning area (Source: East Riverside Master Plan document by B&A)

Photo of the East Riverside Master Plan planning area (Source: East Riverside Master Plan document by B&A)

This idea incorporated into the East Riverside Master Plan provided a lot of wins – wins for the institutions, wins for their clients, wins for the residents of Bridgeland-Riverside and wins for the City and Calgarians at large. The East Riverside Master Plan had strength behind it because Bishop O’Byrne, CNIB, and Silvera for Seniors were all at the table and invested in taking East Riverside from a “big box”, under-used, demographically-uniform (and sometimes social-disorder affected part of the) community to a mixed-use, mixed-income community for people of all ages, all wages, and all stages in life.

It's a win for the city and, with that thinking, the East Riverside Master Plan was born, and we had CNIB at the table. We had Bishop O'Byrne at the table. We had Silvera for Seniors. We had the City of Calgary and some of our lessees in this area, and early on we had Alberta Health Services, which is one of the reasons why we're pushing back on the BCC as being ... another institutional use is not a good idea.

The Left Hand v. The Right Hand

All of those ideas came together in the East Riverside Master Plan that was assisted, supported, and championed by The City of Calgary’s Planning and Development (P & D) which resulted in the next generation local area plan for Bridgeland-Riverside. That work towards a denser, more mixed use, more enriched, mixed-income future for East Riverside was finally being worked towards.

During this time, another branch of the City of Calgary, namely, the Real Estate & Development Services (REDS) department was negotiating with Homes for Heroes to find a place for a very special approach to working with veterans who have serious issues with post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction issues, and some who may have fallen into homelessness.

When Real Estate & Development Services was approached by Homes for Heroes, REDS, looking at City-owned land, realized that CNIB was sitting on a giant piece of land and they weren't using anywhere near all of it. From their point of view they believed that it was a good idea to place small clusters of tiny-houses on the land. What they failed to realize was their colleagues in P & D already had plans for the future of this land.

The Mission of Homes for Heroes

Homes for Heroes is an organization whose mission is to create small and beautiful cottage clusters that give people their own home but are connected to the life of a mini-village, in a caring environment. The organization aims to rescue heroes who have fallen into homelessness and addiction issues.

 Homes for Heroes has a proposed concept for how a parcel will be turned into a community to support veterans experiencing homelessness. (Source: Homes for Heroes)

Homes for Heroes has a proposed concept for how a parcel will be turned into a community to support veterans experiencing homelessness. (Source: Homes for Heroes)

Homes for Heroes originally reached out to the City of Calgary and was looking at a site close to the downtown, on the pathway system, in the Eau Claire area. It was recognized that that location was not an appropriate place. Homes for Heroes indicated that they needed a location that is close to everything, while isolated enough for their clients to undergo treatment and start on their path back into civilian life.  

The Inappropriateness of the CNIB Land for Homes for Heroes

While the planning and development concerns are very real for East Riverside, there is also a much more pressing issue with respect to the use of this land for Homes for Heroes whose intention would be to remain on the CNIB land for 15-20 years. What the Homes for Heroes in Bridgeland-Riverside proposal does not take into account is that there currently is a tremendous concentration of vulnerable people, affordable housing and considerable amounts of social disorder in this area. We know that it is not best practice to concentrate potential social issues into more and more density. What we now know is that it is a much better idea to dilute these social services and institutions into the general population, and actually create a much more robust and integrated community.

CNIB and Homes for Heroes’ Contrasting Visions for the East Riverside Lands

When I started to dig in and speak with the leadership of the CNIB, they indicated that they were in a tough spot and couldn’t readily and easily say no to their landlord – a landlord whom they would be asking for a lease extension. Additionally, they were sympathetic to the goals of Homes for Heroes. As you may know, CNIB was initially founded to help veterans who were coming back from the trenches of World War I who are suffering from blindness, and while this proposal would not be in their interest, they were relying on the process to work through these concerns.

A Proposed Solution to Creating the Best Possible Future for All

Quite frankly, the right hand of The City didn't know what the left hand of The City was doing and in so, got us to where we are now.

So I weighed in.

I love what Homes for Heroes is about and I understand how the location on the CNIB lands in East Riverside meets their locational criteria. Upon taking all the information we now have, we know that this location is not the best place for their work, and finding them a more appropriate site must be top of mind. In order to find a solution to this challenge, my office met and we had a thorough conversation about all the files within Ward 9 and we found what could be a brilliant idea.

Changing an Industrial Use to a Compassionate Use and Realizing a Long Desired Dream

This conversation is not about whether or not Homes for Heroes can do their great work in Ward 9. This is a conversation about the appropriateness of the location for them to do their work and having a thoughtful conversation about how we, working together, can effectively realize the goals, aims, and aspirations of as many stakeholders as possible and realizing multiple wins.

 Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, Inglewood Wildlands and Steele's Transfer and Canadian Polar Steam. (Source: Google Maps)

Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, Inglewood Wildlands and Steele's Transfer and Canadian Polar Steam. (Source: Google Maps)

The brilliant idea that I spoke of above is in Inglewood. The new site being proposed is next to amazing parkland which has recently been subject to a major regional planning process to create a grand new park for Calgarians and Albertans – the Bend in the Bow.

 Bend in the Bow project scope Phases 1 and 2 (Source: City of Calgary)

Bend in the Bow project scope Phases 1 and 2 (Source: City of Calgary)

The Inglewood Bird Sanctuary was set aside by the Federal Government in the 1920s when the country started to wake up to the importance of creating land where migratory birds could partake in their migratory lifestyles.

The Inglewood Wildlands is a former Gulf Oil refinery site, and its land that is being remediated from an industrial zone and converted into a conservation landscape.

From the photo of the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary you'll notice there's one last remnant piece of industrial land which is sitting there and they're not quite happy there, as obviously a park setting doesn't work well for industrial practices.

Parks’ Policy on the Vision for the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary

The City’s mission over time supported by City policy is to acquire this industrial land and turn it into parkland. It’s a difficult purchase because industrial land can be expensive. When looking at this entire matter from a birds’ eye view (no pun intended) we saw that as the ‘secret sauce’ in creating a multiple win situation for all parties.

  1. Instead of buying the industrial land, we could do a land swap (The City owns a lot of industrial land;
  2. Replacing the industrial use with a lower intensity use and footprint would be much better for the residents, and flora and fauna in the neighbourhood;
  3. The Homes for Heroes tiny-home clusters would be temporary (15-20 years) and would allow The City to begin converting the land to park space as identified in City policy; and
  4. It would meet all of Homes for Heroes’ criteria.

What’s Next and Where Do We Go from Here?

Right now we have some organizations that are on ‘path dependency’. What my job is going to be as the City Councilor for Ward 9 is to break out of that path dependency and pursue a better way.

I've had this very conversation with Homes for Heroes and they are not disinterested. Rather, they are two years and tens of thousands of dollars into looking for a site, doing their due diligence and trying to make it work.

With all of this, I am happy to say that Homes for Heroes participated in The City’s first tranche of a program where City land is given to not-for-profits that do social housing and they have secured a site on 36 Street SE in Forest Lawn that I think will be great.

However, Homes for Heroes wants to do another city and I believe that the best site for their second venture would be in Inglewood as opposed to East Riverside.

Starting the Conversation with Bridgeland-Riverside and Inglewood Residents, Steele’s Transfer, Canadian Polar Steam and Identifying All Stakeholders

This article is meant to begin a broad conversation about this issue. There are no hardened plans, only proposals. We still need to engage and discuss this with all potentially affected stakeholders and ensure that we come out on the other side of this stronger and with clear successes for all of our communities.

I’ll be updating Bridgeland-Riverside and Inglewood residents and stakeholders through my everybody on my email list, social media, Ward 9 Community Reports, and newsletters. If you aren’t on my email list, please sign up and click here.

Thank you so much for your interest. Don't hesitate to get in touch with the Ward 9 Office and I regarding this, or any other issue.

Improving Public Safety and Social Integration in Calgary

For close to 25 years, MCRC has proven to be instrumental to the success of refugee resettlement in our city and, in many cases, has helped to prevent homelessness for newly arrived individuals and families.

 The Calgary Catholic Immigration Society's (CCIS) Magaret Chisholm Resettlement Centre in Bridgeland-Riverside is one of the most important and impactful elements  of their Resettlement Assistance Program. PHOTO CREDIT:   Rajitha Sivakumaran

The Calgary Catholic Immigration Society's (CCIS) Magaret Chisholm Resettlement Centre in Bridgeland-Riverside is one of the most important and impactful elements  of their Resettlement Assistance Program. PHOTO CREDIT: Rajitha Sivakumaran

Published on April 11, 2018

By Fariborz Birjandian, CEO Calgary Catholic Immigration Society

Dear City Council Members,

My name is Fariborz Birjandian, and I am the CEO of the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society
(CCIS). It is my understanding that on April 23rd, 2018, the Calgary City Council will be tabling a resolution regarding the donation of 2 parcels of City Calgary Land to CCIS’ Margaret Chisholm Resettlement Centre (MCRC). In preparation for this meeting, I wish to share more information with you regarding the potential impact of this decision, and the role that MCRC plays in the Calgary community.

As you know, Calgary receives between 1,000 and 1,200 refugees and refugee claimants each
year and these numbers have been steadily increasing. In a 24-month period, the Calgary
community facilitated the resettlement of over 3,000 refugees from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan,
Sudan, the Condo, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and other countries. It is important that we, as a community, continue to explore ways in which we can enhance our support for these individuals and families, and provide services and resources that are timely, relevant, and impactful. This is why CCIS is seeking the support of City Council in an initiative that will help us build our capacity as the first point of contact for the refugees who will be calling Calgary their new home.

Since our inception, CCIS has been the primary agency in the Calgary area responsible for
delivering Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) services to Government Assisted Refugees.
Through this work, we have assisted over 17,500 GARs. One of the most important and impactful elements of our RAP services is our Margaret Chisholm Resettlement Centre (MCRC). MCRC provides refugees with temporary accommodations during their first weeks after their arrival. 

Within MCRC, they not only receive necessities such as food, shelter, and winter clothing, but
also information, orientation, and support to ensure that they are prepared to launch their new
lives in Canada with a sense of belonging and a high degree of self-reliance. 

For close to 25 years, MCRC has proven to be instrumental to the success of refugee resettlement in our city and, in many cases, has helped to prevent homelessness for newly arrived individuals and families. Looking at recent trends and projections, however, we are confident that our facility will not be able to meet the logistical needs of the current and future refugees who will be resettling in Calgary. CCIS and our partners have therefore been exploring the possibility of expanding our resettlement facilities.

To do this, we will need to utilize the 2 small parcels of land that are adjacent to MCRC, and that are currently owned by the City of Calgary. City Assessors have appraised the land at $925,000. This amount would obviously be a significant and difficult amount for a non-profit organization to pay. CCIS, however, is committing to cover all costs of improvement and future development on this land, if the City of Calgary will follow donate these 2 parcels to CCIS to support refugee resettlement in our city.

Other Canadian agencies, that have faced similar struggles to accommodate and meet the needs of growing numbers of refugees, have received generous support from their local governments. The Immigrant Service Society of Vancouver, BC opened the doors to its welcome centre in 2016 with the support of the City of Vancouver, which provided $500,000 and donated the land. The total cost of the building was 20 million. The City of Winnipeg also donated a 35,000 s.f. building to a resettlement service provider to accommodate the growing numbers of refugees arriving in the city.

I firmly believe that this donation will greatly enhance our ability to accommodate and serve
newly-arrived refugees, and will bolster our city’s reputation as a welcoming and supportive community that strives to ensure that the resettlement and integration of refugees is a positive experience.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Councillor Gian-Carlo Carra, the Ward 9 Office or The City of Calgary. 

A Special Appeal to All Calgarians - A Guest Blog

Many women and their families depend on the Centres to secure their independence. WINS hopes to secure enough monies to keep the Resource Centres open and are asking all Calgarians to help. We need your help.

 PHOTO CREDIT: Women In Need Society (WINS) 

PHOTO CREDIT: Women In Need Society (WINS) 

Published April 11, 2018

Karen Ramchuk, CEO of the Women In Need Society of Calgary

Have you ever thought about what happens when you are in need, alone, and know no one who can help you? For thousands of Calgary women and their families, WINS is the answer every year.

However, at the end of April, the Women In Need Society (WINS) faces a very difficult decision that will impact thousands of Calgarian women living in need and in poverty (and their families). The decision will be to keep its four Resource Centres open - or not. Many women and their families depend on the Centres to secure their independence. WINS hopes to secure enough monies to keep the Resource Centres open and are asking all Calgarians to help. We need your help.

3.1-getinvolved-cashdonations-3.jpg

WINS has taken the drastic step of appealing to Calgary for the $500,000 needed to keep the Resource Centres intact and open. These funds will allow for the necessary time to rebuild our organization to self-sustainment. We are asking for a gift of $10,000 (or greater) to help with this appeal.

WINS is an award winning social enterprise model that is unique in the charity sector and has been a mainstay in Calgary for more than 25 years. WINS operates 5 Family Thrift stores and a donation centre which fund WINS 4 Family Resource Centres and our Free Goods program.

While our retail stores are covering their respective operating costs, a decrease in general retail spending and an increase in client service needs, utilities, leases and wages has out our organization in a deficit financial position. In 2017, WINS had to introduce strategies to reduce the draw on the programs in light of the unprecedented demand in 2016. Although these measures have helped to control expenses, more cuts need to happen. This also means that less women and their families are receiving the resources they need.

WINS is working hard to further develop its social enterprise to maximize returns to support our operational and community program needs. WINS is confident those changes will improve the retail net revenues later in 2018. However in contrast to our financial resources, the demand for WINS’ community programs continues to grow. With your help, WINS would like to ensure that no woman who has made the decision to make a better life for herself and her family has to choose between putting food on the table and having a bed for her children.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Councillor Gian-Carlo Carra, the Ward 9 Office or The City of Calgary. 

Panda-monium is coming to the Calgary Zoo!

On May 7, 2018, the Calgary Zoo will be opening the Panda Passage exhibit. The excitement for the zoo's newest visitors can't be felt by the child in us all. 

 Councillor Gian-Carlo Carra, Ward 9 Councillor, is joined by students from Prince of Wales School to celebrate the Calgary Zoo's announcement of the opening of the Panda Passage on May 7, 2018. April 9, 2018 (PHOTO CREDIT: Kerianne Sproule/PostMedia) 

Councillor Gian-Carlo Carra, Ward 9 Councillor, is joined by students from Prince of Wales School to celebrate the Calgary Zoo's announcement of the opening of the Panda Passage on May 7, 2018. April 9, 2018 (PHOTO CREDIT: Kerianne Sproule/PostMedia) 

Published on April 11, 2018

The countdown for the opening of the Panda Passage exhibit at the Calgary Zoo is on. On May 7, 2018, the Calgary Zoo will open its doors to an exhibit that is expected to attached 1.5 million visitors and contribute $18 million dollars to the local economy and create 200 construction jobs. 

As a gem of Ward 9, the reality is that the Calgary Zoo is a world class institution which has a tremendous impact on Calgary's economy. 

If you get a chance, be sure to head out for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. For more information on the Panda Passage exhibit visit the Calgary Zoo's website. 

P.S. The Calgary Zoo also offers fee assistance for Calgarians through their ZooShare program. The program provides access to the Calgary Zoo through a 75% discount off regular day admissions. You can access the program by calling 3-1-1 for more information. 

Improving the Worst Intersection in Calgary

Based on the evaluation of the concepts, it is recommended that only concepts A and B2 move forward for further consideration after more is known about future development within the study area and the floodway policies have been updated.

 Many Calgarians have told us that the intersection of Macleod Trail and 25 Avenue S is the worst in Calgary. (Image source: Google Maps)

Many Calgarians have told us that the intersection of Macleod Trail and 25 Avenue S is the worst in Calgary. (Image source: Google Maps)

By City of Calgary (Published April 4, 2018) 

The City of Calgary conducted a functional planning study to grade separate 25 Avenue S.E. and the Red Line LRT tracks. The Red Line LRT tracks cross over 25 Avenue S.E. at-grade (street level) east of Macleod Trail. As a result, the traffic signals at this intersection are often interrupted by trains travelling to and from the Erlton LRT station. Grade separation of the LRT tracks will eliminate delays to the traffic signals due to the LRT. It will also improve travel through this area for people walking, cycling, driving and taking transit.

The concepts presented in Phase Two: Option Evaluation were refined and evaluated over the past several months. This was done using stakeholder feedback and technical requirements. A summary of the evaluation and concept revisions can be found on Calgary.ca/25avestudy.

 Option A (Image source: City of Calgary)

Option A (Image source: City of Calgary)

Through the evaluation process, short-term improvements that can be implemented through existing City programs were also identified. The recommended short-term improvements include things like:

  • installing a traffic signal with newer technology at Macleod Trail and 25 Avenue S.E.,
  • improving eastbound traffic flow on 25 Avenue S. by re-assigning one traffic lane as a dedicated right-turn lane (eastbound to southbound),
  • building a pathway along the east side of Macleod Trail to connect Reader Rock Garden park with the Elbow River pathway, and
  • reducing the speed limit of Macleod Trail within the study area to 50 km/hr.

If approved, the short-term improvements would be implemented as funding comes available through existing City programs.  

 Option B (Image source: City of Calgary) 

Option B (Image source: City of Calgary) 

The long-term recommendation is to defer selecting a final concept until Provincial and City floodway policy updates have been completed, and more is known about future development within the study area. Currently, our Land Use Bylaw prohibits building development within the floodway, and a large portion of land within the study area that could be developed is currently within the floodway. The updated policies will help us determine the potential impact of future floods on future developments within the study area and the proposed grade separation concepts for 25 Avenue S.E. and LRT tracks.

For years, residents in Ramsay and Erlton, not to mention anybody who has been caught at McLeod Trail S and 25 Avenue S in Calgary during rush hour (especially) have vented their frustrations about this intersection. Well, we have some good news, and some even better news.

Based on the evaluation of the concepts, it is recommended that only concepts A and B2 move forward for further consideration after more is known about future development within the study area and the floodway policies have been updated.

To learn more about the project, or to view Concept A and Concept B2, please visit calgary.ca/25AveStudy.

'This is My Neighbourhood' project comes to Millican-Ogden-Lynnwood

Bring a neighbour and join the conversation. Get to know your neighbours and be part of some of the exciting initiatives that will be happening in your community. We are excited to support you and the Millican-Ogden-Lynnwood community with the implementation of the initiatives identified through the public engagement.

 Millican-Ogden-Lynnwood is an historic Calgary community where residents of all ages, all stages, and all wages come together to build a better community. 

Millican-Ogden-Lynnwood is an historic Calgary community where residents of all ages, all stages, and all wages come together to build a better community. 

By: Robert Dickinson (Published on April 4, 2018)

Hello everyone,

We need your help to make Millican-Ogden-Lynnwood a safe, walkable community with multiple options for being active, with residents who care about having a clean and beautiful neighbourhood.

Join us for a community workshop where we will explore the next steps in the This is my neighbourhood project. We will be discussing the Public Art process, implementation of community programming, and getting more of your ideas through a variety of conversations. Light appetizers and refreshments will be served.

Bring a neighbour and join the conversation. Get to know your neighbours and be part of some of the exciting initiatives that will be happening in your community. We are excited to support you and the Millican-Ogden-Lynnwood community with the implementation of the initiatives identified through the public engagement.

Community Workshop:

Date: Saturday April 14, 2018

Time: 3:00 – 6:00pm

Place: MOCA community centre - 6901 20a Street SE

Agenda:

3:00 – 4:00 – public art presentation and working groups

4:00 – 5:00 – programming presentation, short community walk and discussion groups

5:00 – 6:00 – food and mingling

Please share this invitation with your friends, families, and neighbours. Everyone is welcome!

In particular, this will be valuable to any community artists you know. Also, there are people in the community who are interested in bee boxes, community gardens and utilizing public spaces in the area. Come and learn more!

Public Art Component Description:

This presentation will explore the breadth of possibilities within a community based public art practice and the important artistic and cultural changes that can result from such an interactive approach.

Programming Component Description:

In partnership with residents of Millican-Ogden-Lynnwood, The City of Calgary will coordinate a bi-weekly walking program. By participating in this program, residents will discover new and unexpected things about their neighbourhood, and experiment with new ways to use the assets that surround them. The goal of this program is to inspire new and creative ways to invigorate the community with a sense of connection to the land, amenities and each other.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly.

Chat soon,

Robert Dickinson

Robert Dickinson
Neighbourhood Partnership Coordinator, Neighbourhood Connections

Calgary Neighbourhoods

Robert.Dickinson@calgary.ca

Albert Park-Radisson Heights and the Future of Calgary's Community Halls

In the news, in the last couple of days, it has become a story - a true one - that the Albert Park-Radisson Heights community hall, has been shut down for health reasons.

 Albert Park-Radisson Heights community hall mural (Photo credit: City of Calgary)

Albert Park-Radisson Heights community hall mural (Photo credit: City of Calgary)

We knew that it was a falling apart cinder block construction that had aged poorly, and though it's been lovingly taken care of by community members for years, it is at its end of life, and we knew that day was coming.

This sounds like a bad news story, but actually, it’s a very good news story. I'd like to lay out some of the bigger things that are happening in the neighbourhood and the city, how Albert Park-Radisson Heights has been positioning itself, and how this is actually a very good news story because it catapults us to the front of the next-generation community hall queue.

The first thing I want to talk about is our hopes, dreams and aspirations for a best possible future for the communities of Greater Forest Lawn.

As you know, I've been working in these communities since 2004. I did my Masters thesis working with the International Avenue Design Initiative. That work is now being represented through an unprecedented and amazing amount of reinvestment that's happening on 17 Avenue Southeast. We need and deserve to have an amazing main street, celebrating the communities of Greater Forest Lawn, and worthy of the name, International Avenue, and I’m proud to see that progressing right now.

The International Avenue Design Initiative that originally worked with the community to envision what’s happening now, had a bigger program, too. It was a program of cultural celebration. It was a program of social development. The reality is that there are no big cultural venues east of the Deerfoot, in the central east area, in East Calgary. For years, even before the International Avenue Design Initiative started, the International Avenue Arts and Culture Center (IAACC) movement was afoot.

 The International Avenue Design Initiative (IADI) is the precursor and catalyst for the work that the City of Calgary is currently doing in Greater Forest Lawn. (Photo source: International Avenue BRZ website)

The International Avenue Design Initiative (IADI) is the precursor and catalyst for the work that the City of Calgary is currently doing in Greater Forest Lawn. (Photo source: International Avenue BRZ website)

When we did our work on The Avenue, the question was where would an arts and culture centre go? The findings of our in-depth, week-long charrette with the communities was that, there are many places where it would fit and work, and go well.

One of the areas that we set up for this potential site is right at the top of the hill, right before 26 Street SE, on the south side of 17 Avenue SE. However, The City of Calgary sewage work there, and currently, we're bringing in the 17 Avenue SE BRT there. It's a problematic site, and we started to have a real conversation.

With the Albert Park-Radisson Heights Community Hall at end of life, maybe this would be a good site – there is provincial money on the table, through the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI), for a cultural center. But as we all know, there are just so many amenities that the community of Albert Park-Radisson Heights needs. One example of this need, is seniors housing.  We have so many people who have lived and grown up in the neighbourhood, and whose homes maybe aren't working for them anymore, but want to stay in the community – and there’s a real possibility that as a community, if it was agreed upon – that we could combine that type of amenity with the future community hall.  

In short, the International Avenue Design Initiative conversation that drove the changes we're seeing on The Avenue, dovetails perfectly with the broader conversation we're having at The City, about civic facilities.

Now, Albert Park-Radisson Heights’ community hall is not alone in being at the end of its life. Almost all of our community associations were built cheaply in the 1950's and 1960's. They have been managed by a cadre of dedicated volunteers, but not professional property managers. There hasn't been the kind of reinvestment in these facilities that would be necessary to keep them going. And frankly, there simply hasn't been the money for that necessary reinvestment.

On top of that, we've undertaken things like our poverty reduction strategy, the Enough For All strategy emerged with some key findings, one of which, was the idea that we should no longer build standalone community facilities. Instead, what we should build are rich, multi-use community hubs to be centres of community life, nexuses of all kinds of connections between people that are beachheads against people slipping into poverty. When you have a place to go, when everything you need is intertwined with everyone you know, you build in proactive ways against slipping into poverty.

 The Albert Park-Radisson Heights Community Association has two spaces - the second being the Albert Park Centennial Garden and rink. (Photo credit: The City of Calgary)

The Albert Park-Radisson Heights Community Association has two spaces - the second being the Albert Park Centennial Garden and rink. (Photo credit: The City of Calgary)

Our “integrated facilities management” work came to the realization that we as Calgarians can't afford to build standalone buildings on valuable city land -  when we build a fire hall now, we're going to put housing above it. When we build a parkade, we're going to integrate it with “maker-space” and co-work space and other useful community amenities.

These are the conversations that are happening within The City and amongst City Council, and so the conversations of taking a community hall and integrating it with an arts and culture centre, and integrating it with seniors housing, and perhaps with market-driven prospects, so we get a rich business proforma that is able to sustain itself over time, is an important conversation. The ultimate goal of an integrated facility would be to free up volunteer time – moving them away from being property managers – so they can be volunteers in the community and putting the work of managing the facilities into professional hands.

The question is, of course, “where do we do this work first?”. Well, to me, if we have to shut down your hall because it's a health hazard, it seems to me like we've just catapulted to the front of the line, and in that spirit, this is a very good piece of news.

Of course, I want to give a huge “shout out” to all the amazing community volunteers, who have been rolling up their sleeves and working hard for their communities. We will reach a great outcome, but it's only going to be as great as your involvement and your participation in envisioning the next future for an amazing community hub in this amazing neighbourhood.

With that, on Thursday April 26 at 7:00 PM at Bishop Kidd Elementary School (1420 28 Street SE) right next to the Albert Park-Radisson Heights community hall, I'll be attending at the community association's town hall meeting to answer questions from residents and to discuss what’s next.

I hope that you can attend and I look forward to seeing you there.

The YW Hub Facility: A Place That's Bringing Everything Together

 
 A concept rendering of the under-construction YW Hub Facility (photo credit: Kasian Architects)

A concept rendering of the under-construction YW Hub Facility (photo credit: Kasian Architects)

Excerpt of speech from remarks given by Councillor Gian-Carlo Carra

What a good day.

I'm here as the Deputy Mayor on behalf of my colleagues on City Council, who, to a man and woman are massively supportive of what's happening right here and we'll talk about some of the city support that's flowing into this YW Hub Facility project a little bit later in my remarks.

I usually come third or fourth in these speaking engagements so I get to play the “colour commentary role”. Today, I think Minister Sigurdson and my dear neighbor, the Minister of Finance, Joe Ceci, did a great job of laying out this YW Hub Facility project.

The first thing I want to do is thanks Minister Sigurdson for acknowledging that this is Treaty 7 land. I am extremely proud of the work that the City of Calgary is doing right now with respect to Truth and Reconciliation, and our work in that regard is really about reclaiming and reinterpreting the origin story of this city.

We're sitting where 17 Avenue SE collides with 9 Avenue SE in an awkward triangle. It's a happenstance sort of urbanism. The backstory is this is from the 1865 Dominion Land Survey, when Palliser was sent out to figure out how, and what, was out here in St. Rupert's Land so that the country of Canada (which was anticipated at that point in time) would be able to claim dominion over all of this land.

Next to 17 Avenue SE is a pathway of traditional movement through this landscape for people who came long before 1865. Part of the city's work and city's significant contribution - a million dollars - to this space, is to rectify how these two avenues comes together right where this building sits.

And that's a beautiful gesture. The fact that this YW building ties into that reinforces the beauty of this community institution sitting right here, on this land, in this place, and at this time. When I say that we are reclaiming and reinterpreting our city’s origin story that isn’t metaphorical. When I talk about us reinterpreting our collective history together, I think a lot of us over the years have thought about Calgary being a young city on the prairie and that this city represents a new project of civilization. What our work in Truth and Reconciliation is doing, is it acknowledges that since time immemorial, people have lived on this land and made community together, and almost unlike anywhere else on the planet, when new people have come into a space, instead of making war with each other, they have largely made community together and they've agreed to live in peace and work together.

It started first with the Blackfoot being joined by the other members of the Treaty 7 Nations – then the Metis people and then Euro-Canadians set out to establish Canadian domination of this land - and then people from all over the world. Our act of Truth and Reconciliation acknowledges, fundamentally, that the magic of this place is that we have all agreed and signed treaties to that effect, that we will work together to build community in peace and harmony.

 "The YW Hub Facility is a model of excellence in design based on both trauma-informed principles and holistic design strategies" - YWCA Calgary (Photo credit: YWCA Calgary)

"The YW Hub Facility is a model of excellence in design based on both trauma-informed principles and holistic design strategies" - YWCA Calgary (Photo credit: YWCA Calgary)

Now, “Great Neighbourhoods make a great city” is the slogan under which I do my work. A great neighbourhood is a place for people of all ages, all stages, all wages. For many, many years we built this city in a way where we segregated ourselves. The project of city building that we're engaged in now is a deep reintegration of who we are. The origin story of this neighbourhood is one where the wealthiest Calgarians lived and worked and employed hundreds of their neighbours and supported the churches that took care of their neighbourhood. This was a neighbourhood that was quite truthfully one for people of all ages, all stages, all wages.

For many years that project was challenged, but that project is fully reengaged. Think about this land. Ron Matheson, one of the wealthiest Calgarians of all time and a large land owner in this community, was very instrumental in granting this space. Next door we have Mr. George Brookman offering up his place of business as the reception area for this important ceremony. We have one of the most powerful men in the city, in the province, our Minister of Finance, whose a next door neighbour to this project. Everybody welcoming everyone, it's wonderful. This is a very important place in time in our city's history as we reclaim our core values and reinterpret what we've done and make amends for mistakes that we've made.

And this building - and I think about the difference between this building and the building you're moving out of, which was built in the time where you fortified yourself against the “evil” of the city and here – is the veritable expression of bringing everything together and I love that, and I'm just so delighted that this project has come together.

 

Calgary and the 2026 Olympic Bid Process

 

The Olympics need Calgary more than Calgary needs the Olympics. With that in mind, the playing field is tilted in our favour. The City’s favourable position does not mean a bid will happen. The major work being done now by The City of Calgary and City Council is gathering information to find out if pursuing a bid has value for Calgarians in the future.

Here are some of my thoughts on where the City of Calgary sits in the 2026 Olympic exploration process.

For me, a basic requirement of hosting the 2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games would be to turn a strong profit, and build the things we need that we couldn't otherwise get the opportunity to build on this timeline, and moving forward while doing our due diligence is prudent to making sure we get the answer to this question right. 

 

 

The Way Forward for the Bridgeland Complex Care Centre

 

Alberta Health Services is scheduled to spend $130 million dollars in Bridgeland-Riverside. So far, their proposal shows an old school way of thinking that isn't compatible to get the best outcome for Bridgeland-Riverside residents, Alberta tax payers, or the clients they are working to serve.

By embracing innovation and the experiences and knowledge of the people who live, work, and play there, the Provincial government and Alberta Health Services can build a great facility, which serves their clients, saves Albertans hard earned tax dollars, and helps achieve the aspirations of Bridgeland-Riverside.

 

Secondary Suites Have Been Reformed. Here's What's Next.

 

I wanted to take this opportunity to speak about secondary suites in Calgary and the historic and forward change that took place on March 12, 2018.

People across the city living in R1 zones received a letter in the mail from the City of Calgary letting them know that City Council would be holding a public hearing on March 12, where the main topic of discussion would be regarding adding a discretionary use to the Land Use Bylaw in all R1 districts which would make basement suites and backyard suites a discretionary use.

What does this mean?

Before this proposal, if you wanted to build a secondary suite on your R1 designated property you would have to come to City Hall and appear before City Council and plead your case., a process that has been in place for a few years now.

Hundreds of individual ‘one off’ secondary suite applications have come through City Council and over 85% of them have been approved. With such an inefficient use of Council’s time, the questions became:

1) Are we using everyone's time appropriately?

2) Is this actually an ethical imperative? And

3) Can we shorten the timelines and make it more compact?

The growing consensus with this new Council was that we had to do the work of reforming the process of applying for, and the granting of, secondary suites. What we determined was that adding a discretionary use into the R1 district was the way to get it off of Council’s plate and in order to better focus our efforts onto the major issues facing Calgary.

On March 12, City Council heard well over 100 public submissions which were accompanied by over 900 letters from Calgarians. From my view, about 60% - 65% of the people who presented lived in R1 neighborhoods and were against the new proposal. Another 30% - 40% of the people who presented were also from R1 districts accompanied by advocates from across the city advocating for housing affordability and equity who were in favour of the creation of complete neighbourhoods for people of all ages, stages, and wages.  

In a 9-6 vote, City Council voted in support of the proposed bylaw change. That vote changed the world as we know it (at least in Calgary). What we now have is a city where discretionary use in all our R districts throughout the city, have secondary suites a use. With that said, we did agree to take backyard, above-garage, and cottage homes in backyards out of the bylaw and defer the bylaw from coming into effect until we bring forward the design guidelines and standards for backyard suites.

I was happy to support that as well. It's a big win.

We've taken Calgary forward with the rest of the nation. We've caught up with the rest of Canada, and now secondary suites are an allowed housing form in all single detached housing in the City of Calgary, which is a great news.

What’s next for unsafe suites and homes that flout their designated zoning?

Although we have accomplished this milestone, there is more work to do.

The vote on secondary suites also implemented to Secondary Suite Registry which allows folks who are looking to rent a secondary suite to confirm that these developments have obtained all necessary permits and have been inspected to meet Alberta’s Safety Code requirements. Being on the list is now mandatory, and going forward, every secondary suite that is completed and whose development has been inspected and approved, will be on the secondary suite registry list.

While a secondary suite doesn’t have to be listed on the Registered Suites Map, it will be listed on the city’s registry list which is maintained by Planning & Development.

Additionally, the City of Calgary will be giving currently illegal secondary suite owners two years to bring their suites up to code, after which, the city will be pursuing increased enforcement should they continue to attempt to flout the new bylaw and registry system.

Moving forward we need to address the issues of illegal and non-conforming suites and duplexes which have been turned into 4-packs. It is estimated that there are between 16,000 to 25,000 households in the City of Calgary that are illegal or non-conforming. A large number of those are sitting in 1970's-type low-slope roof buildings that take a semi-detached form. Those developments lend themselves very well from going from a duplex, a two-unit semi-detached home, to a four pack - two units on the top floor with two units on the ground floor - because the basements are raised.

We see these all over the city, and there are a number of them in Ward 9. One of the things that I heard from the public, loud and clear, was that people are concerned about safety.

I don’t take those comments lightly. Safety is a big issue for my colleagues on City Council and I. We will continue to work to make sure that every Calgarian can live in a safe and legal home, whether it's a secondary suite or not. The challenge with the semi-detached form I mentioned above is that it's not technically a secondary suite. It's technically a multi-family building.

Everything that we've done to date on secondary suites has not addressed the issue that we face with the illegal 4-packs. If we want to make those thousands of units safe, the first thing we have to do is make them legal. In the weeks ahead, I will be putting together a Notice of Motion directing City Administration to examine and bring back a report on paths to legality for that kind of building form. I expect to have a lot of support from my colleagues on City Council.

What is next for secondary suites?

In the next year or two, after we've seen how the discretionary use process works in the ‘R’ Districts and we realize that, like the rest of the country, it's not like an apocalyptic change, I will be working with my colleagues to pursue secondary suites as a permitted use. As you know, when I first started talking about this, I wanted to make in-house suites a permitted use, and I still believe that this is the gold standard that we should be pursuing and I will not be fully happy until we get to that point.

Those are the next two steps on the suite file, I'm very pleased that we made the massive step that we did on March 12, and I look forward to continuing to move the ball forward on this essential component of a completely community. Thank you so much. Gian-Carlo Carra signing off.

 

 

10 Things to Know About the 2018 Municipal Non-Residential Phased Tax Program

As you know, the decrease in the market value of non-residential properties is causing a tax shift, increasing the municipal property taxes for non-residential properties with a year-to-year change in assessed value greater than the typical market change. Through the 2018 Budget Adjustment process, Council set aside $45 million from the Fiscal Stability Reserve and directed Administration to report on possible options for providing further tax relief. On Monday, Council approved the 2018 Municipal Non-Residential Phased Tax Program (PTP) which will mitigate for property owners the increase in municipal non-residential property taxes due to the redistributive effect of 2018 property assessments.

The 2018 (PTP) has been developed to limit the increase in municipal non-residential property taxes to five per cent in 2018, (not including the effect of Business Tax Consolidation). It is expected to benefit owners of approximately 7,400 non-residential properties. It is anticipated that, in turn, a positive economic benefit will be realized by tenants (businesses contained within the non-residential properties).

The 2018 PTP is a separate, one-time program and not an extension of the 2017 Municipal Non-Residential Phased Tax Program (2017 PTP). It uses the same eligibility parameters as the 2017 PTP but excludes the 2017 Council-approved rebates as well as any 2017 PTP credits provided. It’s calculated using the approved 2017 municipal non-residential property tax rate, compared to the 2018 revenue neutral municipal tax rate, adjusted for the Council-approved 0.9 per cent tax increase.

1. What problem is the Municipal Non-Residential Phased Tax Program (PTP) designed to address?

The continued economic downturn has negatively affected the financial health of local businesses. The decrease in the market value of non-residential properties is causing a tax shift, increasing the municipal property taxes for non-residential properties with a year-to-year change in assessed value greater than the typical market change. To mitigate the increase in municipal non-residential property taxes due to the redistributive effect of 2018 property assessments, Council approved the 2018 Municipal Non-Residential Phased Tax Program (PTP)

2. Why is it called a “phased” property tax program?

Annual market value assessments are required by law in Alberta. However, the Municipal Government Act (MGA) allows Council to phase in a tax increase resulting from the preparation of any new assessment.

The intent of the phased-in tax program is to "soften the blow" of municipal property tax increases. It does not eliminate the impact of tax increases in 2018 but rather assists those most impacted by the redistributive effect of the increase by capping their increase at five per cent.

3. What does this mean for non-residential property owners?

It means that non-residential property owners will experience a maximum increase in the municipal non-residential property tax of five per cent resulting from a change in the 2018 market value assessment (not including the effect of Business Tax Consolidation). It does not include any property tax increase due to the provincial non-residential property tax requirement, which is unknown at this time.

4. How many non-residential property owners will be affected?

It is expected that approximately 7,400 non-residential properties will be affected.

5. Will business owners who rent their space benefit from 2018 PTP?

It is expected non-residential property owners who benefit from PTP will pass benefits on to individual businesses/tenants.

6. What properties will qualify for the PTP?

This is a one-year phase-in program that applies to non-residential properties that have experienced a 2018 municipal property tax increase above five per cent due to the shift in market value assessment. Non-residential properties that have experienced a 2018 municipal property tax increase below five per cent due to the shift in market value assessment will be unaffected by the phase-in.

Properties that have had physical enhancements or changes that affected the 2018 assessment relative to the 2017 assessment or had changes due to other external non-market impacts (e.g. a zoning change, servicing, remediation, change in taxable status, factual corrections, a change in assessment class) would not be eligible for the 2018 PTP.

7. What other criteria will non-residential properties need to meet to qualify:
To be included in the PTP, non-residential properties:

• Must have existed in 2017.
• Must have a tax status of “taxable”.
• For properties assessed under more than one assessment class, only those properties where the non-residential component is 50% or higher will be included.
• Must have 2018 municipal non-residential property taxes greater than $50.
• The amount to be phased in exceeds $25.

8. Why doesn’t the PTP mitigate the impacts of the Business Tax Consolidation?

Only the effect resulting from the preparation of the 2018 annual market value assessment is being phased in. The Business Tax Consolidation is intended to be revenue neutral so there is no need to phase in or mitigate the municipal non-residential property tax increase, because the mitigation is taking place through a corresponding drop in the business tax. In 2018, the final 20 per cent of the business tax will be consolidated into the non-residential property tax, with non-residential property taxes expected to increase by approximately five per cent solely due to the effect of the consolidation.

9. What is the process for non-residential property owners to receive the PTP?

There will be no application process required. The tax effect of the phase-in will be applied to the 2018 non-residential property tax bill.

10. How much is the program expected to cost and how will it be funded?

The cost of this one-time program is estimated to be $41 million. Funding for the program was approved Nov. 30, 2017 in conjunction with the approval of the 2018 Budget Adjustments (approval of the 2018 operating and capital budgets), Council set aside $45 million from the Fiscal Stability Reserve to assist Calgary business affected by the economic downturn.

- Courtesy of Assessments (The City of Calgary)

 

2018 Community Objectives Workshops

Hello, Ward 9 Neighbours!

I believe that great neighbourhoods make a great city and to build great neighbourhoods, community stakeholders must work with their elected official to discuss the direction of their communities. This is why I am very proud to announce that I will be continuing to host the Ward 9 Community Objectives Workshops (lovingly known as COWs) in all Ward 9 neighbourhoods in 2018.

With the ward boundary changes coming out of the 2017 municipal election, and new communities being added to Ward 9, I am committed to hosting COWs in all of our new neighbourhoods, as well as following up in all of the remaining pre-2017 Ward 9 neighbourhoods.

 This year we'll be setting out the strategic goals, tactics, and agenda for each Ward 9 community for the next 4 years (2017-2021).

This year we'll be setting out the strategic goals, tactics, and agenda for each Ward 9 community for the next 4 years (2017-2021).

What are the goals of the 2018 COWs?

The goals of the 2018 Community Objectives Workshops are to:

  • Identify the needs and concerns of residents, businesses, community institutions and service providers;
  • Prioritize those needs and concerns and discuss potential solutions;
  • Formulate a strategic plan to resolve and achieve these solutions;
  • Connect that strategic plan with the larger strategic goals of the Ward 9 Office; and
  • Prepare the 2017-2021 Ward 9 Strategic Report for Ward 9 residents that outlines the strategic plan and goals, and how they will be achieved.

These workshops continue to be a huge success and the results will help to direct and guide the work that we do on your behalf.

When is your 2018 COW?

  • January 2018 - Bridgeland-Riverside & Renfrew (completed!)
  •  February 2018 - Inglewood & Ramsay (completed!)
  • March 2018 - Millican-Ogden
  • April 2018 - Manchester & Fairview
  • May 2018 - Southview
  • June 2018 - Albert Park-Radisson Heights
  • September 2018 - Forest Lawn & Forest Heights
  • October 2018 - Penbrooke Meadows, Applewood Park & Red Carpet
  • November 2018 - Dover & Erin Woods

Please sign up for updates at my website – www.gccarra.ca – to receive the “Save The Date” notice my office will send out with specific details about your community’s workshop. We will also include a link for you to RSVP at.

I hope you will join me in building and enhancing our Great Neighbourhoods.

Yours truly, 

Councillor Gian-Carlo Carra

P.S. If you are interested in being kept in the loop about this or any other issue that is important to you in your neighbourhood, I encourage you to sign up for the Ward 9 email list by clicking here.

P.P.S. Have you given any thought of joining and participating in your community association? They are a solid group of neighbourhood volunteers who our office relies on to give us insight into the concerns and issues of the community. It’s been shown that there is a direct correlation between the number of residents who volunteer with their community association and the quality of life of the neighbourhood. Check them out and let’s continue to build our #GreatNeighbourhoods.

9 Important Things to Know About Calgary’s Secondary Suite Reform Process

I think you would agree with me that secondary suites reform has been long overdue for Calgary. As a city of over one million people, it is inefficient and unkind to force people to bare their souls and share their personal stories in the hopes that Council would be swayed by compassion.

I disagree with that process and you’ve told me that your expectation of City Council was to cut the red tape and bureaucracy, focus on the process and to treat Calgarians fairly when it came to their private and personal property.

 We're cutting red tape and bureaucracy, treating Calgarians fairly and respecting their personal and private property rights while introducing affordable housing stock to the city.

We're cutting red tape and bureaucracy, treating Calgarians fairly and respecting their personal and private property rights while introducing affordable housing stock to the city.

I’m happy to announce that City Council agreed with you.

Previously, I’ve written about this and on December 11 2017, in a 10-5 vote, City Council directed City Administration to bring bylaw changes that would apply to the entire city, making secondary suites a discretionary use.

Since that time, many of you have been asking my office and I questions about the process. I wanted to take this time to answer the nine most asked questions we’ve been asked.

1. When will Council be reviewing the new rules?

The report to Council will be made available on February 22, 2018 and the review and decision of Council is scheduled to be heard on March 12, 2018, at the Council Public Hearing. You can read the report online at www.calgary.ca/planningmatters

2. Will there be any open houses or engagement?

There will not be any open houses or engagement. Council has asked that the bylaw changes return directly to them for their review and decision.

3. How many homes are affected by the proposed changes to the land use bylaw?

170,000 parcels in Calgary are proposed to have secondary suites as a discretionary use in the amended bylaw.

4. Which residential land uses (or designations) are impacted by secondary suite reform?

Properties designated as R-1, R-C1 or R-C1L will be impacted by the proposed changes (find our your land use type here).

5. How will homeowners and the public be made aware of the change?

Homeowners and the public will be made aware of these changes in a number of ways, including:

  • Letters to parcel owners
  • Newspaper ads
  • Bold signs
  • Digital media
  • Through your community associations

6. What happens to illegal suite complaints during the secondary suite reform?

Illegal suite complaints will still be investigated as they come in. If there is an infraction, inspectors will advise the owners of the infraction, inform them that is not approved, and provide them options to bring it into compliance with the bylaw.

7. I already have an application to develop a secondary suite. What happens to it?

If you already have an application in progress that already has approved land use, the application will be processed as usual. If your secondary suite application was to be heard on December 14 2017 or heard after January 11 2018, it will be heard at the March 12 2018 Public Hearing of Council.

8. Will there be a secondary suite registry?

Council directed Administration to look into a mandatory secondary suite registry to help enforce Council’s goals of public safety and enforcement. The results of that investigation will be brought forward to Council for their deliberation and debate.

9. I’m going to be affected by this, how can I give my feedback and comment?

There are many ways that Calgarians will be able to comment on this process and the secondary suite proposed bylaw.

If you want to submit a letter or other communication regarding these bylaw amendments please include:

  • Your name
  • Mailing address
  • E-mail address (if applicable)

Please focus your submissions on the bylaw change and planning merits. Any material that includes defamatory and offensive language will NOT be printed in the Council agenda or shared with Members of Council.

Only submissions received by the City Clerk before 12:00 PM (noon) on Tuesday, March 5, 2018, will be included in the Agenda of Council. Be sure to send your submissions to:

Office of the City Clerk - The City of Calgary

700 Macleod Trail SE, P.O. Box 211, Postal Station M

Calgary AB T2P 2M5

You can also hand deliver, fax (403-268-2362) or email (PublicSubmissions@calgary.ca) your submissions.

If you need more information or clarification on this process, feel free to reach out to the Planning Services Centre at 403-268-5311 from Monday to Friday from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

You can also reach out to me, Gian-Carlo Carra and my office.

Secondary suite reform has been a long time coming. With your help and thoughtful input, we’ve been able to give this issue the proper attention it deserves.

Yours truly,

Gian-Carlo Carra

P.S. If you are interested in being kept in the loop about this or any other issue, I encourage you to sign up for the Ward 9 email list by clicking here.

P.P.S. Have you given any thought of joining and participating in your community association? They are a solid group of neighbourhood volunteers who our office relies on to give us insight into the concerns and issues of the community. It’s been shown that there is a direct correlation between the number of residents who volunteer with their community association and the quality of life of the neighbourhood. Check them out and let’s continue to build our #GreatNeighbourhoods.

Old Refinery Park Cycling Pathway Milestone Update

Hello to all of my Ward 9 neighbours!

This message for for my neighbours in Millican-Ogden-Lynnwood and for cyclists and all Calgarians who are interested in Old Refinery Park. 

I am very happy to share with you a great update and milestone for Old Refinery Park in Ogden. You have asked me over the years  to keep you in the loop with what is happening at this park. Each update you’ve been provided has always shown that we are getting closer and closer to its opening and I am finally ready to share a couple of major milestones coming up in the very near future. 

 Old Refinery Park was closed after the 2013 Flood. 

Old Refinery Park was closed after the 2013 Flood. 

As you know, the pathway connection in Old Refinery Park was closed after the 2013 flood. It was devastating to the folks who were avid and proud users of this great pedestrian and cycling connection. While the flood may have been the reason for its initial closing, the long term closure was a result of major reclamation work. Because of the contamination from the oil refinery, this area wasn’t safe for human habitation.

However, with the reclamation efforts underway, the area is safe for recreational use again, and the water quality of the Bow River is not under threat. The park, with its diverse habitats, provides an important part of the effort to naturalize the city's river valleys and creates a tranquil and beautiful park for users. The repaired pathway also serves as an important corridor for recreation and commuters alike and I’m happy to report, that through the collaboration of the Environmental Safety Management group and our Parks department, the pathway will be open for access a full 6 months before the park

While there will be fencing in place to protect the new flora as they require time to mature and get rooted between April and October, cyclers and walkers alike will get a full summer season use of the pathway network and enjoyed in its full glory. April 1 is the target date for reopening the pathway (subject to any weather delays). 

I want to thank you all for your patience during the reclamation, and I’m looking forward to seeing you out on the trails!

Yours truly,

Gian-Carlo Carra

P.S. If you are interested in being kept in the loop about this or any other issue in Ogden, I encourage you to sign up for the Ward 9 email list by clicking here.

P.P.S. Have you given any thought of joining and participating in your community association? They are a solid group of neighbourhood volunteers who our office relies on to give us insight into the concerns and issues of the community. It’s been shown that there is a direct correlation between the number of residents who volunteer with their community association and the quality of life of the neighbourhood. Check them out and let’s continue to build our #GreatNeighbourhoods.

Ramsay's Upcoming Parking Changes

Last August, the Calgary Parking Authority made changes to the Residential Parking Permit system. The change meant that communities with paper parking permits would be moving towards a digital permit system.

What does this mean for parking permits in Ramsay?

Ramsay will be making the move from paper parking permits to digital parking permits with the “Zone D” phased roll out. This zone will expire on April 30 and permits will come up for renewal on March 1, 2018.

 Zone D covers the entire community of Ramsay

Zone D covers the entire community of Ramsay

It will take 12 months for Ramsay to fully transition to the new online Residential Parking Permit system. During this first year, Ramsay residents will be asked to register for an online account. Residents can also contact the Calgary Parking Authority to set one up with them during their regular renewal time as well.

What are the benefits of the new Residential Parking Permit system?

  • Quick online permit application and renewal process for residents
  • A two-year permit (instead of a one-year permit) for residents
  • Permits will now be linked to licence plates which will eliminate lost or stolen permits.
  • A more efficient process for administrating permits
  • Increased and better enforcement

The new system allows for more effective and efficient enforcement of residential parking zones. Enforcement of the residential parking zones will now be done primarily by photo enforcement and supplemented by the Calgary Parking Authority’s mobile enforcement officers.

In the chance you don’t have access to the internet, you can call the Calgary Parking Authority at 403-537-7000 and they'll set you up! 

If you would like more information, the Calgary Parking Authority has developed supporting documents and resources to help transition you to the new system and you can access that information by checking out their website http://permits.calgaryparking.com/.

Gian-Carlo

P.S. If you are interested in being kept in the loop about this or any other issue in Ramsay, I encourage you to sign up for the Ward 9 email list by clicking here.