Friday, May 3, 2013

Favourite neighbourhoods by design

Posted by John W. Hall 

Think about your favourite neighbourhoods and what you love about them. You might think about proximity to green spaces like West Nose Creek Park, convenient access to groceries and restaurants such as Mission’s 4th Street, or attractive streetscapes like High Street in McKenzie Towne.

Add to that list curb appeal, access to transit, and walkability, and what we’re talking about is good neighbourhood design. Calgary’s Municipal Development Plan sets the foundation for this kind of planning and design over the next 30 years. A well-planned community feels safe, it sounds like kids playing outside and it looks like tree-lined streets.

At The City, we’re working with developers to encourage elements that will enhance design in new neighbourhoods being planned. We’ll be discussing these in more detail in future blog posts, but here’s a sneak peak of the look and feel of future Calgary neighbourhoods:

  • Streetscapes include crosswalks, sidewalks and plazas, and it’s important to design them to create a safe, attractive place for people to gather and walk. 
Mission’s 4th Street boasts an attractive streetscape with lighting, benches, public art, trees, outdoor pub and cafe seating, and wide sidewalks. Photo by Kevin Cappis
  • Walkable neighbourhoods are planned with the pedestrian in mind. These are places where people can get around just as easily by foot, bicycle or vehicle. The result is less pedestrian-vehicle conflicts, health benefits for residents and less pollution. 
  • A mix of land uses incorporates a variety of housing types and neighbourhood amenities such as retail, restaurants and groceries. This allows residents to adapt their housing choice (downsize or upsize) to their life circumstances without having to leave the neighbourhood, and have needs such as groceries met within the community. 
Garrison Woods offers rental and ownership opportunities with its condominiums, townhouses and detached homes. There are a number of amenities like restaurants, coffee shops, a grocery store and retail within walking distance for most residents. Photo by Canada Lands Company
  • A neighbourhood activity centre is a central focal point of a community where residents can live, play and work. It’s accessible by transit, bicycle, car or foot. A mix of residential, retail and office space found can be found in a neighbourhood activity centre.

Photo by IBI Group
Quarry Park is a southeast Calgary community in the midst of development. A variety of housing options are available, as well as retail, restaurants and grocery stores, and commercial office space. Jacobs, a Calgary engineering firm, moved its 1,400 employees to office space within Quarry Park, and Imperial Oil plans to move its employees to the growing community in the near future with capacity for up to 3,000 employees.

John W. Hall is the Coordinator of Subdivision Services with The City of Calgary’s Land Use Planning and Policy unit, working primarily in Calgary’s developing communities. His post is the fourth in a series on the Calgary City News Blog to highlight some of the exciting work staff are doing in The City’s planning department.

What’s your favourite neighbourhood in Calgary and why? What kinds of design would you like to see in Calgary’s new neighbourhoods? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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