Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Midfield Mobile Home Park: What You Need to Know

Update: An Application has been filed with the Court by Mathew Farrell of the Guardian Law Group, on behalf of residents of Midfield Mobile Home Park, seeking to challenge the validity of a termination notice dated September 15, 2016. A Court Order was granted September 25, 2017 confirming that the Application will be heard before a Justice on November 22, 2017 at 2:00pm.  While the closure of the park remains as September 30, 2017 at 12:00 p.m., the effect of the Order confirms that remaining residents will be permitted to remain on their mobile home sites until the hearing on November 22, 2017. 

As of October 13th, 167 pads in Midfield Mobile Home Park are currently vacant and 16 pads are occupied. Of those that are occupied, approximately 9 tenants are in the process of finalizing or making plans to move. Approximately seven tenants have not yet come forward with a plan to move.

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In May 2014, tenants of Midfield Mobile Home Park (Midfield) were provided over three years advance notice of City Council’s decision to close the mobile home park on September 30, 2017.

Closing Midfield was a necessary reality as the sanitary sewers and the water main are 40+ years old and now at significant risk of catastrophic failure. Such a failure would cause immediate and extreme disruption to the lives of all tenants. It would also result in significant costs relating to emergency response and accommodation. Simply put, The City could no longer delay closure.

The decision to close Midfield Mobile Home Park was not taken lightly. Over the years, much consideration had been given to the future of the park and more importantly, the welfare of its tenants. However, it became clear to City Council and Administration that Midfield’s closure was the only viable option given the poor and deteriorating state of the park’s infrastructure.

In closing Midfield, we recognize that Calgary is losing a very close-knit community, one with a rich history and one where neighbours take care of each other. It is an unfortunate outcome; we empathize with Midfield tenants and will continue to work to make them aware of the available support, resources and housing options.

A Brief History of Midfield


Midfield was first developed on land leased from The City in 1968 by a private developer who subsequently turned over its operations to The City in 1973. Calgary Housing Company has been operating Midfield since 2001. A 2002 engineering report initially identified the deteriorating state of Midfield’s entire infrastructure (ie. sewers, water main) and recommended replacement.

Initial discussions with Midfield tenants regarding the park’s infrastructure took place in 2005 at an information session hosted by The City. This was followed by an open house and special meeting with a Committee of Council in 2006 that provided tenants with an opportunity to discuss six options being considered by The City to address the failing infrastructure. In 2007, The City committed to operating the park and repairing the infrastructure to the year 2012 while a relocation plan was being developed.

In 2009, The City acquired land in east Calgary for the purposes of developing a new mobile home park (ie., East Hills Estates). Midfield tenants were informed of these intentions in March 2010. However, re-examination of the East Hills Estates development plan and its projected costs revealed significant challenges and increasingly prohibitive costs. This eventually led to the difficult decision by City Council to cancel the project in 2013.

In 2014, tenants were informed of the decision to close Midfield on September 30, 2017 and of the cancellation of the East Hills Estates project. Recognizing these decisions would be highly disruptive and difficult for Midfield tenants, The City opted to provide them access to a multitude of resources and supports that met their specific needs. This work has been ongoing over the past three-and-a-half years.

Midfield will close on September 30 2017. Afterwards, while The City will undertake legal proceedings regarding remaining tenants, The City will continue to work to make those tenants aware of available housing options and to connect them to appropriate resources specific to their individual needs

Closure Facts

  • Replacement and/or repair of Midfield’s infrastructure is impractical and prohibitively expensive, given the logistics of removing the mobile homes and other structures in order to access the water and sewer lines beneath. 
  • Over the years, the cost to repair, maintain and operate Midfield have only increased over time.
  • Approximately one-third of the inspected portion of the sanitary network is in an advanced stage of deterioration, requiring urgent action.
  • Midfield is being closed to disconnect and remove the failing water and sanitary sewer network and to remove any existing improvements.

Summary of City Support and Resources

  • Through the Midfield Closure Program, The City is assisting Midfield tenants with costs associated in relocating. This included a lump sum payment of $10,000, legal fees up to $500, and up to $10,000 to cover the cost of either moving or demolishing a mobile home. 
  • Whether in meetings or through one-on-one conversations, City staff, along with an external agency, have been making themselves available on a daily basis to help tenants with their specific needs, to answer their questions, and to connect them to appropriate resources. In the Midfield office, tenants have access to information on housing options and to a computer to help with housing searches. 
  • The Calgary Housing Company (CHC) has provided extensive support to Midfield tenants in finding potential alternative housing arrangements, including a concerted effort on CHC’s part to tour Midfield tenants through CHC properties. Various CHC staff have been onsite throughout this process including CHC Leasing Agents who continue to meet with Midfield tenants to provide information about CHC housing options and to help them complete CHC applications and forms. 
  • Perhaps more importantly, CHC has concerned itself with those tenants with low-moderate incomes in Midfield, as well as anyone else who requests help from CHC. In addition to making the availability of a new housing development in Bridgeland known to qualifying tenants on rent reduction, CHC staff have reached out to those same people to ensure they are aware of available housing options and connect them to appropriate resources. 
  • As result of these their efforts, CHC has been able to place 15 Midfield tenants in CHC accommodations thus far. CHC staff will remain available with information and assistance concerning housing options through the completion of the closure process. 
  • For well over three years now, the services of Homewood Health have also been made available to Midfield tenants. In addition to providing counselling and social support services, Homewood Health provides information on other rental or housing opportunities, connects Midfield tenants to social and housing agencies and resources, and provides assistance in completing what can be cumbersome applications and form. 
  • Over the years, Homewood Health has made concerted efforts to reach out to Midfield tenants. They have held housing information sessions where various housing providers were made available on-site to meet with tenants and review the numerous housing options available. In 2014 and 2015, Homewood Health called all Midfield tenants who were seniors, on AISH or rent reduction program to offer their support and counselling services. Finally, Homewood Health will reach out to remaining Midfield tenants once more, via door knocking, to offer their services before the September 30th closure date. 
  • As vacant lots become more commonplace with fewer ‘eyes on the street’, security and safety becomes a concern. Given this, The City introduced on-site security at Midfield which is now 24/7, and have installed fencing around Midfield this summer as an added security feature. 
  • Calgary Neighbourhoods will offer additional social work supports to Homewood Health, who is contracted to provide counselling and support to tenants, should capacity to meet the need of residents within the timeframe of September 30th become an issue. 
  • The City has frozen rent increases since 2008 to enable Midfield tenants with an opportunity to save money to pay for costs associated with their moves and finding alternative accommodations. 
  • The City has made an Advisor available to counsel Midfield tenants on financial and debt management matters on an as-requested basis. 
  • The City is making assistance available to those Midfield tenants who need help packing their belongings. 

Frequently Asked Questions



Why is Midfield Park closing?

Midfield is closing because it is challenged by aging and failing infrastructure. Unlike typical residential neighbourhoods, the water and sewer lines are located underneath the tightly spaced mobile homes, making access, repair and/or replacement of those lines impractical. It would also be prohibitively expensive given that accessing that infrastructure would require that the mobile homes, garages and other structures be removed.

Did Council consider other alternatives to closing the park?

The status of Midfield Park has been debated for many years by City Councils who have taken great care and consideration in evaluating the situation. As far back as 2005, The City has engaged Midfield tenants towards considering several options in addressing the Park’s many challenges. Considerable time was taken to closely review and evaluate all feasible options before Council was in a position to make a final decision.

Why did The City decide not to pursue development of the new park East of The City?


City Council reviewed the feasibility of the East Hills project and determined that there were several outstanding planning issues relating to:
  • the preparation and approval of the area structure plan; 
  • the extension of utility services to the East Hills Estate lands; 
  • provision of a fire station in the vicinity of East Hills Estate lands; and 
  • provision of storm water management for the entire area. 
Additionally, East Hills Estates could not be completed in the time frame originally proposed. Lastly, but most important, the costs to complete the East Hills Estates had increased significantly from the original estimate and budget. As result, City Council determined that the project was not feasible.

In making the decision to close Midfield Park, was consideration given to the welfare of its tenants?

Council did take into account the challenges faced by the tenants but it also has a responsibility to balance that with the interests of all Calgarians. Accordingly, Council opted to inform tenants three years in advance of Midfield’s closure, to provide assistance through the Midfield Closure Program, and to provide social services and housing supports through Homewood Health and Calgary Housing Company. Private operators will not generally provide this level of support when closing a mobile home park.

Are Midfield tenants being assisted financially to help them move?

Tenants were offered the Midfield Closure Program which includes a lump sum payment of $10,000, legal fees up to $500, and a maximum of $10,000 to cover the cost of either moving or demolishing a mobile home.

Why isn’t The City offering market value for tenant’s mobile homes?

The City opted not to buy out tenants’ mobile homes. Instead of buy-outs, The City opted to assist Midfield tenants through the Midfield Closure Program, which includes a lump sum payment of $10,000, legal fees up to $500, and up to $10,000 to cover the cost of either moving or demolishing a mobile home. Tenants who own their mobile homes have the option of relocating them if it is feasible to do so.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Update on Centennial Planetarium space

The City of Calgary has been pleased to work with Contemporary Calgary over the past three years to work towards their vision to see the transformation of the former Centennial Planetarium (the former location of the Science Centre) into a future art gallery. This iconic building has both heritage status and symbolic value for Calgarians.

In 2014, Contemporary Calgary was identified as the highest ranking candidate in the Request for Expression of Interest that sought ideas on arts, culture and heritage users of the building, although no applicant had the financial and organizational capacity to renovate and operate the planetarium. At the time, Contemporary Calgary was a recent amalgamation of three organizations (Art Gallery of Calgary, the Institute for Modern and Contemporary Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Calgary). The City developed an innovative approach with Contemporary Calgary to enable them to phase their move into the building to coincide with their development as a single organization, and to facilitate their capacity to progressively improve the planetarium space.

This innovative plan included:
  1. The City renovating the planetarium to base building standard for $24.5 million by 2018.
  2. Leasing 8,000 of the 42,000 square feet of the planetarium to Contemporary Calgary now to replace their existing space.
  3. The City operating the renovated planetarium for an interim period as a multi-tenant cultural facility.
  4. Allowing Contemporary Calgary to lease the entire building after the interim period, subject to Contemporary Calgary satisfying the conditions described below.
This approach would relieve Contemporary Calgary from the burden of having to operate the entire 42,000 square foot building and responsibility for the base building renovation. This would allow Contemporary Calgary to focus on fundraising and building their operational capacity.

The City shares Contemporary Calgary’s vision to become the prime tenant for the building once key milestones and criteria have been met. From the beginning of our discussion with Contemporary Calgary, The City has made it clear that in keeping with Council-directed policy, the following criteria must be met:
  1. The Society provides confirmation that it has raised 90% of the capital dollars required to undertake tenant improvements for the project (current estimate to upgrade the planetarium from base building to gallery status is $32 million).
  2. The Society provides evidence, through audited financial statements and business plan, that its operating model will not require annual operating funds from The City. 
  3. The Society’s business plans, financial statements and governance structure meet The City’s requirements for leaseholders of City property.
As a diligent steward of public property, The City requires all leaseholders to meet these conditions before entering into long-term lease agreements. Contemporary Calgary was aware of these criteria and requested that these criteria, along with confirmation that The City supported Contemporary Calgary’s vision, be set out in a letter from The City to share with potential donors. This letter was provided to Contemporary Calgary on Aug. 25, 2017.

To help Contemporary Calgary achieve its vision, The City:
  1. Undertook, at a cost of $2.3 million, a study of the requirements to bring this 50 year old structure up to the standard of a contemporary cultural space.
  2. Developed a model for the planetarium as a multi-tenant cultural hub that would enable Contemporary Calgary to achieve Phase 1 of its plan, while simultaneously achieving the milestones that would enable it to enter into a longer lease for the entire building.
  3. Allocated $24.5 million of Cultural Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) funding to renovate the base building. 
  4. Accepted the Society’s proposal to lease a portion of the building for three years with an option to renew, and to renovate 8,000 square feet of space to create a gallery for contemporary art. Access to parking and service areas are including in the short-term lease.
  5. Enabled Contemporary Calgary to hold fundraisers in the building over the past years by absorbing the opening and operating costs for these fundraisers.
The partially-leased space, named “Temporary Contemporary,” was considered Phase 1 of achieving Contemporary Calgary’s vision. This phased approach was mutually agreed to, and promoted to Calgarians through Contemporary Calgary’s successive fund raisers.

Over the past few years The City has made a significant investment in time and finances to support Contemporary Calgary’s vision, and is fully prepared to continue supporting this organization as it builds capacity to achieve its long-term vision. However, we would respect Contemporary Calgary’s decision to not proceed, and will continue our renovation of the Centennial Planetarium to become a multi-tenant cultural hub.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Volunteer opportunities with Calgary Parks this fall

With fall just around the corner, Calgary Parks is looking for volunteers to help take care and prepare City green spaces for winter. Throughout September and October, there are three different opportunities Calgarians can participate in.

September 16 – Tree wiring in Pearce Estate Park

Beavers play an important ecological role in Calgary’s waterways, but they can also present some challenges especially when it comes to trees. The City’s practice is to strike a balance between the health of our parks and the well-being of beavers. So, to make trees and river parks unappealing to beavers, The City wraps tree trunks with metal wire. But we can’t do it alone.

On September 16, citizens can volunteer with Calgary Parks to help wrap trees in Pearce Estate Park.

September 23 – Tree planting in Creekside Park

Calgary Parks is partnering with TD Bank Group, as part of their TD Common Ground initiative, to plant trees in parks across the city. An opportunity to volunteer with this event on September 23 from 9 a.m. to noon at Creekside Park (12330 Symons Valley Rd NW) is now open to the public. To volunteer, please visit calgary.ca and register under the TD Tree Days event listing.

October 13 – Woody debris clean up in Griffith Woods

Join The City of Calgary to help clean up wood debris in Griffith Woods. While some woody debris is beneficial, too much can negatively impact the forest. This volunteer opportunity is a way for citizens to help the natural environment and forest in the park remain healthy, and learn more about this sensitive and significant park. To learn more about volunteering for this event, visit Calgary Parks.

The City offers many other opportunities for citizens to get involved in their community and help look after the city we all love. Consider becoming a volunteer, and visit calgary.ca for a list of wide range of volunteer experiences you can choose from. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Questions about your water meter? We’ve got answers.

In most homes, there is a water meter that measures how much water is used each month, and the homeowner is then charged for the water used, as reported by the water meter.

How do I know my meter is accurate?


Water meters are mechanical devices – water needs to pass through the meter in order to record consumption. The City uses water meters that meet industry standards. Before The City receives meters, all meters are tested by the manufacturer at three different flow rates before distribution to certify the meter’s accuracy. The City also owns a state-of-the-art Water Meter Test Bench manufactured by MARS Company, an industry leader in meter testing technology. Calgary is one of a few municipalities to have that technology, and while other municipalities also test their meters, The City also measures the weight of the water passing through to further verify the accuracy of the meter.

In rare cases, meters can register slightly higher volumes at certain flows than what is flowing through. In that rare event it would be a negligible increase, and it would be much more likely for a meter to register lower water consumption, as water meters tend to slow down as they age. This would result in a lower bill for the customer, not higher. Also, in this case it would not likely be a one-month error but rather show as a continuing pattern.

It’s important to know that about 99.5 per cent of our over 350,000 customers receive monthly bills that reflect regular water consumption levels within their average range.

Here is Chris Huston, Manager of Drinking Water Distribution, explaining how The City manages and maintains water meters for citizens.

How can I check to see if my meter is operating properly?


Your meter is typically located in the basement where your water service enters the home. The meter has numbers (looks similar to an odometer on a car) and a dial called a flow register. The dial and numbers shows water consumption. It’s easy to check if your meter is registering flow: have someone turn water on in the house, and watch as the flow register turns and registers consumption. If the flow register is turning and all fixtures are off, this could indicate that you have a leak. Use the high consumption checklist on calgary.ca/waterservices to help troubleshoot the cause.

Who can I contact if my water bill is much higher than usual?


Every situation is unique, but it's not unheard of to see an increase in your water use from one bill to the other. You can visit enmax.com/water for more information or visit calgary.ca/waterleaks for a high consumption checklist that is an easy guide to help determine higher than usual water use.


What can I do to make sure I don’t experience an unintentionally high spike in my water bill?


Checking for leaks in and around your home will help ensure that you aren’t unintentionally consuming water. If you do find a leak or issue, it is important to fix it as soon as possible to avoid a high water bill associated with higher water use. Visit calgary.ca/waterleaks for a high consumption checklist, and for ways that you can save water. There are even more tips and ideas on how to save water around your home at calgary.ca/waterconservation.



Do you have more questions about your water meter or billing? Visit our FAQ here.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Back to school: keeping everyone safe on our roads

It’s back to school time!

As school doors open, traffic gets a little heavier on our streets. People are back from holidays, school buses and public transit are on regular routes, and more people are walking, cycling or driving to school.

To help with the transition and share the roads safely, read our safety tips. Help everyone stay safe this school year.

1) Observe Playground Zone speeds
Playground zones warn motorists to take extra caution and reduce speed when driving near playgrounds or schools. Remember that the maximum permitted speed in Playground Zones is 30 km/h. The zones are in effect from 7:30 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. every day of the year. Children do not perceive traffic like adults do – extra caution is needed.

It is illegal to pass another vehicle within Playground Zones during zone hours. Drive carefully and watch for children.

2) Watch for darting children
Kids are small and easily distracted, and this can create dangerous situations on the roads. Be vigilant and alert behind the wheel. You never know when a small child might step out from between parked cars or off a sidewalk.

3) School buses
Make sure children wait at a safe location, well away from the road and stay back until the school bus makes a full stop and the doors open. Explain that they should cross the road at an intersection in a crosswalk, and show them how to cross safely. As parents or caregivers, consider parking on the same side of the road that the child is being dropped off on so the child isn’t tempted to cross mid-block.

When driving your car near a school bus extra caution is needed; reducing your speed is recommended. If a school bus is stopped with its lights on then you can expect to see children.

4) Travel by car
Parents and guardians should respect their child’s school safety measures for dropping off and picking up their children at school. Every effort must be made to avoid collision and injury by refraining from creating hazardous situations of traffic congestion and unsafe driving practices within the school zone. Respect posted speed limits, and designated drop-off and pick-up areas. If possible park along the same side of the road so your child doesn’t have to cross the road – even if it is a longer walk.  Double parking, parking in crosswalks, parking within five metres of a crosswalk, backing into crosswalks, and not crossing at a crosswalk all create hazards and that is why they are prohibited by law.

5) Travel by bicycle
To ride a bicycle to and from school, without supervision, children must be mature enough (minimum 9 – 12 years old), and must have enough experience to interact with traffic safely. The rider should be able to scan ahead and check behind without swerving and know the rules of the road. See our bikeways and pathways map to plan your cycling route.

6) Walking to school
Many children walk to and from school. Parents and guardians must review road safety rules, as well as crosswalk safety with their children, and preferably walk the route with the children a few times to test their knowledge.

7) CTrain safety

Around our stations
If you’re walking to one of our CTrain stations, make sure to look both ways for trains when crossing the tracks and, most importantly, obey all traffic signals. Motorists should also be aware of flashing lights and crossing arms when CTrains are passing through and not proceed until all lights and bells are off.

Waiting for the train

While waiting on the platform for the CTrain, please ensure you stand and remain behind the yellow line until the train has fully stopped. Never put any objects or limbs in the closing doors. Wait for fellow transit users to exit the train before get on and be courteous to others who may need more time to exit or enter the train.