Monday, December 29, 2014

Efficient planning speeds up West Village development

Written by Joachim Mueller

The timing couldn't be better for West Village Towers, a large development that City Council approved last October. The project will add 584 much-needed residential units, up to two storeys of commercial uses, and likely an urban supermarket to the west end of Calgary’s Downtown. As an urban planner, I’m pleased to see how well this development aligns with our vision of a vibrant Centre City, and I’m excited about how efficiently we processed the applications for it – in half the time it would normally take!

West Village rendering - Photo by Wexford Developments
We were able to work faster because the West Village Towers project was processed as a concurrent application, meaning that City staff processed the rezoning and development permit at the same time. Typically, a developer has to go through the entire rezoning process before coming back to apply for a development permit. Allowing a developer to do these two things at the same time is a way we can work more efficiently and get better outcomes for all parties involved.

Concurrent applications were an idea that came out of Transforming Planning, and it is now being tested as we work to make that vision a reality. It reduces the time and expense required for developers trying to get a proposed development approved and it allows staff to evaluate it more holistically. This reduces the amount of red tape and allows needed housing to be built more quickly, without reducing the amount of input the public gets onto future development.

Typically, a rezoning can take up to six months to be approved, with the development permit taking another six months after that. We were able to complete both of these approvals with the West Village Towers in just over six months. But, taking less time is not the only thing concurrent applications accomplish. Holding these two processes together makes it easier to work collaboratively with developers and communities on a proposed development, because all aspects of it are being discussed at the same time.

Joachim Mueller, Senior Planner
Concurrent applications are just one way that we are working to improve Calgary’s planning system, but there is a lot of other work underway to make the changes that were recommended from the year-long Transforming Planning project. For information on what all is happening, please look on our website at

Joachim Mueller is a Senior Planner with The City’s Planning, Development & Assessment department.

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