Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Planning healthy communities: If you are what you eat, then you are also where you live

The link between health and lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise is well documented. So too is the relationship between health and the built environment. The way we design our cities has real health impacts.

click to enlarge
I’m part of a team planning a new community in northeast Calgary (we’re calling the area Nose Creek), and we’re planning it with the health of its future residents, workers and visitors in mind.

In the early 1800s, communicable diseases posed a serious problem in part because of the lack of sanitary systems, tight living quarters without access to sunlight, air quality issues from nearby heavy industrialization and a shortage of green space. Planning urban areas differently helped to curb related health problems.

Since Nose Creek is in the early stages of planning, we have the opportunity to plan for health. We've come up with an area structure plan, which outlines the provision of essential services and facilities, land uses, transportation systems, population, jobs and the timing of development. Health is the vision and focus for the plan.

The foundation of this health-focused and inclusively-planned community originates from a set of planning principles outlined in a Health Impact Assessment developed by the Urban Land Institute’s Building Healthy Places Initiative. Once fully built, this area will provide residents the amenities and opportunities to make healthy choices.

Nose Creek's Healthy Planning Principles
Our plan will locate 20,000 office, light industrial, commercial and retail jobs in the community. This gives residents the option to work close to home; thereby increasing work-life balance by reducing time spent commuting and encouraging a healthier lifestyle.

In fact, we’re doing something that’s never been done before in Calgary by creating what’s called an industrial hub – an area suitable for smaller warehouses ideal for contractors and artisans. This industrial area will be unlike most, featuring a plaza with shops and services for those who work in the area, pathways and sidewalks, green space and landscaping, and parking situated behind, not in front of buildings. Picture an enjoyable, healthy place to work. The connected pathway system through Nose Creek’s employment centre will support access by way of public transit, bike or foot in a safe environment.

We're also planning for a range of housing types, building forms, gathering spaces, employment opportunities and complimentary retail uses in Nose Creek that promote a healthy, active and safe lifestyle for all.

All Calgarians are invited to meet the Nose Creek Area Structure Plan project team and learn more about this new community at a public open house. Drop by between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. on Thursday, September 3 at the community kiosk (nearest entry 2) in CrossIron Mills.

This blog was written by Joyce Tang, a City Planner and development team lead for the Nose Creek Area Structure Plan. Learn more at www.calgary.ca/nosecreek

Monday, August 31, 2015

Kids build confidence and community through Summer Adventures

When Uchechi Akuanyionwu arrived in Calgary four months ago from the United Kingdom, her six-year-old daughter Chinelo was shy and uneasy around people outside her family. Fast forward through the summer and today the young girl’s social skills have improved so much, mom no longer worries how she’ll do starting school next week.

Uchechi credits The City’s Summer Adventures program, a seven-week summer day camp for six- to 12-year olds, for the changes she sees in her daughter.

And Uchechi’s not alone in singing the praises of the program. Other moms– Shaundy Smith, Rita Dong and Sukhwant Parmar – also expressed appreciation for the program and how their respective child blossomed by participating.

“Most of the time they play, but they learn a lot of things like skills...so they know how to handle (different) situations,” Sukhwant said. “It’s really good, we love it, we want to do it and we want to thank The City for starting this program.”

Group photo of Beltline Summer Adventure kids
Available for the first time this summer, Summer Adventures ran in select neighbourhoods and focused on different topics and skills based on the need of the community. One of the goals of the program was to build the kids’ awareness of community and diversity, their sense of belonging and their social abilities, all through fun, engaging activities in a safe environment.

Summer Adventures is one of several free community programs The City offers for children and youth each summer. While this year’s summer programs are ending, there are still opportunities for kids to get active and be social through other programs such as Calgary AfterSchool or those listed in the Fall Recreation Guide. Visit calgary.ca/summer or calgary.ca/communitysummerprograms to learn more.

Friday, August 28, 2015

The micro surfacing program in Calgary has begun!

A freshly microsurfaced roadway in Calgary
Blink and you might miss it. The City of Calgary’s microsurfacing program is already underway and should be completed in early September. Residents in the communities of Beddington and Falconridge will notice a new surface on several roads in their neighbourhoods over the coming weeks. Micro surfacing systems restore and preserve roadways that meet specific criteria prior to treatment.

What is Micro Surfacing?
Over time, even the best surfaces are subject to wear and tear caused by traffic and weather. Micro surfacing is the application of a special coating to the top layer of asphalt that prevents oxidization and moisture penetration. It is a cost effective preservation treatment to slow down the natural degreation of the road and preserve service life without a costly and disruptive reconstruction.

A specialized machine mixes and applies the coating in one pass, and the treatment takes between two and three hours to cure, meaning that a road that is being microsurfaced can be reopened to drivers just a few hours after work has been completed. The micro surface will reach its full strength within 72 hours of being completed.

Micro surfacing versus traditional paving
There are several benefits to microsurfacing compared to traditional paving, including:
  • It is a cost-effective process and extends the service life of the road between five to eight years, depending on traffic volume.
  • It has low energy requirements, making it environmentally friendly. It is also 100% recyclable. 
  • The newly microsurfaced roadway can be opened to traffic within two hours.

What can you do to help?
If you live in the communities of Beddington or Falconridge, and see signs indicating your road is scheduled for microsurfacing treatment, please help us complete this work quickly and effectively by:
  • Adhering to all no parking signs and ensure all vehicles are removed from the roadway prior to treatment.
  • Do not drive or walk on the freshly coated micro surface before it has cured, and do not enter roadway until the barricades and signs have been removed by the contractor.
  • Please refrain from using lawn sprinklers spray water onto the roadway immediately before and during work activity.
  • Once traffic is allowed, try to avoid turning your steering wheel while the vehicle is stationary (dry steering) on the freshly micro surfaced road as it could damage the fresh surface.

For more information on The City of Calgary’s micro surfacing program, visit Calgary.ca/microsurfacing

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Stable footing for the Brotherhood of Mankind

The City of Calgary’s Public Art Program has been successfully working on a comprehensive conservation work for the Brotherhood of Mankind artwork, also known as the Family of Man.

The Brotherhood of Mankind artwork is one of the most prominent landmarks and tourist attractions in our city located outside the former Calgary Board of Education. It consists of ten 6.5 meter tall aluminum figures and has been in downtown Calgary since 1968.

Many factors including tough weather conditions may affect this outdoor artwork and cause potential structural damage. Therefore, an assessment of the external surface and structural integrity was conducted to preserve this captivating composition.

As part of that work, a public art conservator inspected the sculptures while City crews tested the ground underneath them. The examination proved that the figures are stable in the ground and in good condition. However, some maintenance work is required, and next month The City will be working on installing new pavers for the artwork.

"Given the fact that the Brotherhood of Mankind will soon celebrate its fiftieth anniversary in Calgary, it’s great that we are able to contribute to its continued presence and showcase this artwork that beautifies the downtown community," says Joel Hidalgo, Construction Services Supervisor.

These conservation efforts will ensure that Calgarians and guests can enjoy the Brotherhood of Mankind artwork for many years to come.

The Brotherhood of Mankind was created by Mario Armengol, a well-known Spanish artist, to be displayed at the British Pavilion for the Montreal Expo in 1967. Composition was purchased by a Calgarian who donated it to The City. The statues have stood guard here ever since 1968 and survived numerous construction booms and area developments that have taken place in the downtown core over the years.

If you like to learn more about The City of Calgary’s Public Art Program, visit Calgary.ca/culture.

Skip a secondary suite step – Development Permit exemption

Secondary suites are commonly referred to 
as basement suites, but can be on the main 
floor or an attached garage.
If you’re interested in developing a secondary suite in your home, there is no better time than now. The City of Calgary is waving the Development Permit application and fees for homes that are zoned for suites, and that meet all the requirements of the Land Use Bylaw – commonly referred to as a basement suite. The Development Permit exemption runs until March 3, 2017.

The exemption is part of The City’s efforts to make it less expensive, faster and easier to obtain approval to develop a secondary suite in your home. Suites that have been inspected to meet Alberta’s Safety Codes help ensure public protection, and provide people the ability to escape in the event of an emergency, like a fire.

If you’re interested in learning more or if you want to determine if your property is a candidate for the permit exemption, enter your address on calgary.ca/secondarysuites, or contact our Planning Services Call Centre at (403) 268 5311 for assistance.