Many residents in the community of Inglewood don’t know that there is a deep history of these vacant lands at the eastern gateway to Calgary’s inner city. This part of the community is a former employment zone – the former employment zone for Inglewood. This area used to be where a massive number of Inglewood residents were employed in steel foundries, in warehouses, in lumber yards and in market gardens. Inglewood residents would walk to this central area for work. When the railroad no longer became the primary transportation mode of choice and the City of Calgary ran a freeway through the community, the classic 1960's “tail of a dragon” scenario ensued with the Blackfoot Trail sterilizing this part of the community for development, leaving this empty hole in Inglewood and showing the failings of poor urban planning.
Since 2003, the Inglewood Community Association - through my leadership - has been advocating that this central area should be a ‘mini-downtown’ for our community; it should fulfill its historic place in the story of Inglewood as an employment centre while encouraging the case, through increased use and density, of bringing the modern conveniences of amenities, like a grocery store to Inglewood, creating one of the major hearts of the urban village that is Inglewood.
We've been very successful in the last seven years. With the massive reinvestment in East Calgary, and funding for policy plans like the 9 Avenue Streetscape Master Plan and the new Inglewood Area Redevelopment Plan, among other things, we now have the market responding to the work converging on this area.
This project is certainly more intense than anything that I would have anticipated.
Mischaracterizing the Process
Unfortunately, some of my neighbours in Inglewood have been suggesting that I'm 100% for this project, and that the community is having conversations regarding gearing up to fight the project.
First off, let's not be hasty. Second, I am neither for or against this project and any characterization of my position that contradicts that is false. Recently, it came to my attention that members of the Inglewood Community Association indicated that they were informed by the developer that I had given them my full-throated support for this project. When I reached out to the developers, they denied ever having indicated that.
I am one fifteenth of the decision as to whether something like this takes place. What we need to do right now is that Inglewood residents need to have good thoughtful conversations about this development and its planning merits or lack thereof, refine the points for and/or against this project and be prepared to discuss those ideas with their neighbours, myself, and in front of City Council at the Public Hearing of Council.
The process for this land use change, like any other land use change that has proceeded before it, has not changed.
- Consultation and engagement with the community by the developers and/or their agents;
- Consultation with City Administration with recommendation to approve or refuse the land use application;
- Hearing at Calgary Planning Commission and approval or refusal of City Administration recommendation; and
- Public Hearing at City Council
City Council will be weighing in on this land use application at the Public Hearing stage. At this Public Hearing, City Council will get the opportunity to hear from everybody – proponents and opponents alike. Until that time, I'm not legally able to make a decision until that point. Obviously, my advocacy for the area will help shape Council’s decision, and my advocacy will be based on the planning merits of this proposal and weighing its benefits and its challenges with respect to city policy, the developers position, and community desires and aspirations within the context of creating a win-win-win scenario if possible.
Planning Merit – What Does That Mean?
It’s really important that we realize that this is a proposition to put density in a transit oriented development area that the community of Inglewood has been advocating for, for a very long time, and it’s important to take the merit of the plan into account. Failing to do that and not asking the right questions can be a recipe for disaster. We need to ensure we follow the best principles of community planning possible.