Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Planning Providence: Designing Calgary’s first "complete community"

As a city planner, citizens often tell me they’d like to live in a community that offers a wide variety of amenities and services, located close to where they work and go about their lives. Urban planners call this a “complete” community, and we’re currently planning one. 

Situated along the city’s southwestern edge, Providence is bounded by farmland to its west, the Tsuu T’ina Nation to the north, the future Southwest Ring Road to the east and Spruce Meadows Trail to the south. Our vision for Providence is that it will function as a type of mini-city, such that it will be able to offer most of what a city can but within just one community. While most of Providence will be residential, its additional features will make it “complete” on a scale we have not yet seen in this city.

Providence’s access to the future Southwest Ring Road gives us the opportunity to locate businesses in the area for residents of southwest Calgary to access. Currently, much of southwest Calgary is residential and many who live there have to commute to other parts of the city for work. In Providence, we are planning 300 acres (approximately 20 per cent of the area) to be dedicated to employment, which will create the opportunity for approximately 11,000 people to work in Providence. Some of the people who will work in Providence might live in other parts of the city, but many of the 32,000 projected Providence residents will be able to work in the same community they live in. The types of jobs we envision for Providence include a full mix of office, institutional, retail and light industrial jobs.

Locating so many jobs in a new community in Calgary is something new for our city. Traditionally, new communities may be home to about one job for every seven residents. In Providence, we
anticipate one job in the area for every three residents – that’s a vast improvement. Part of the reason Providence can accommodate significant employment is due to the transportation investments planned for the area. In addition to its direct access to the Southwest Ring Road, a bus rapid transit service is planned for Providence. The bus will run along the Transitway (a dedicated bus-only lane in the middle of a main roadway in the area) and will provide quick access to the Somerset/Bridlewood LRT station. Buses in Providence will also connect to the South Hospital.

A draft land use concept has been developed and the project team would like your input.
Go to to provide your thoughts (click to expand image).
In addition to the employment area, Providence will also feature new amenities for residents. A new Regional Athletic Park is planned that will include playing fields and a track-and-field facility, and may also include a field house and indoor soccer centre. We anticipate nine schools for the area, and residential density will be concentrated along a central corridor that will function as a “main street” for residents to access local goods and services.

With the employment area, the Transitway and the recreational amenities planned for Providence, I’m excited to see Calgary’s first truly “complete” community take shape. 

Learn more about Providence and have your say at

About the Author

Jill Sonego is a Planner with The City's 
Planning, Development and Assessment 
department who is leading the team for 
Providence's area structure plan.


  1. Terrible idea. I have never met someone who works in their neighborhood, other than perhaps bar/restaurant staff. This just adds more traffic, more sprawl.

    1. More traffic if people live so close they can bike or walk? Sure.

    2. I agree with you that we should want less traffic, and less sprawl, but you seem to have the wrong impression about complete communities, as they actually reduce both. To begin with, one of the many advantages of complete communities with transit connections (as Providence is planned to be) is that they reduce congestion, since people who work locally can walk or bike to work--or, at the very least, have a shorter drive--and they can also get to other parts of the city conveniently using transit, which also reduces congestion since it takes cars off the road.

      Complete communities are also far more dense than residential communities filled with single family homes, as they have a mix of housing, including mid-rise condos and apartments, and row-housing (as well as single family homes). So complete communities also reduce sprawl.

      Here's a nice video about an actual complete community that shows how they're supposed to work (the part about the community starts at 4:25):

  2. Why about community gardens? I think a complete community should try and be as self sustaining as possible . Working in the community is a good step but you could do so much more

    1. The City is keen to support the creation of new community gardens and the retention of existing ones. Learn more at At this point, we are in the very early stages of planning Providence.

  3. Unless there are organizations in that new neighbourhood that provides jobs other than restaurant and shop jobs, not sure who will want to live so far out.

    It's better to take existing suburban communities now and make them more complete streets oriented. Oh, wait...they were the result of bad planning for car dependency...why waste our time and effort.

  4. Will there be an update showing the information that was shared to the public last night? I was unable to attend but would like to see what's the latest.

    1. The presentation boards from our September 8 open house can be found at, as well as a link to a survey for members of the public to provide feedback about the draft area structure plan and concepts. Thanks for your interest!

  5. When do you anticipate phase 1 for housing to begin?