Changes have been made to the Guidebook – Highlights of the Changes

Below is a message from the City on the Guidebook for Great Communities:

On behalf of the project team, I would like to share with you a few updates on the Guidebook for Great Communities.

At the November 2019 public hearing, Council asked Administration to “Communicate the vision and intent of the document with Calgary communities, in partnership with stakeholder groups, before the document becomes statutory.  This communication should include examples from pilot communities.”  Since November, staff have been busy testing the Guidebook and reaching out to diverse stakeholders to communicate the vision and intent of the document through a variety of avenues.  Testing has included applications reviews and testing through local area plan projects.  Outreach events have been held and will continue going forward to communicate the vision and intent of the Guidebook more broadly.  Outreach events to-date include:

  • Guidebook 101 Information Sessions with communities/citizens/Federation of Calgary Communities/Industry, in-person and online-streaming
  • Guidebook testing sessions
  • Central Library Installation, “People and Places make great Communities”
  • Attendance at the Calgary Home Renovation Show (January), Calgary Home + Garden Show (February), and Calgary Woman’s Show (April)
  • Federation of Calgary Communities Community Planning Exchange – February 29
  • Local area plans events
  • We are promoting the Guidebook through all 80 community newsletters in the March 2020 editions.
  • We also have city-wide social media campaigns to highlight the Guidebook and items of interest from the Guidebook, which citizens have highlighted.

Administration is revising the Guidebook based on the learnings and findings from the testing.  Some findings will be included in the next phase of updates as part of a sustainment process.  Current changes to the Guidebook include:

  • The Guidebook is recommended to be approved as a stand-alone statutory policy document and will only apply when a local area plan has been created using the urban form categories of the Guidebook.  This also means that Chapter 3 will not be applied throughout the built-out areas, only through local area plans that reference the Guidebook.
  • We will be recommending that Chapter 3 is used as discretionary guidelines for file review in other areas that do not reference the Guidebook.
  • Updated direction for Local Area Plans at the end of Chapter 2, 4, and in Appendix 2 of the Guidebook to align with what we learned through North Hill.
  • Changes to the colours for the Urban Form Categories and scale in response to feedback on the draft North Hill maps to improve accessibility and legibility.
  • In general, amended the wording of policies throughout Chapter 3 in response to feedback to improve clarity.
  • Added a new placeholder in Chapter 4 for Heritage Area Tools.
  • Amended wording to the Sustainable Development policies in Chapter 3 in response to feedback and to better communicate the intent.
  • Amended policies for Transit Station Areas and Transit-Oriented Development in Chapter 4 in response to learnings through North Hill.


Changes to the Urban Form Classification (UFC) System:

  • Industrial Transition Retail and Office have been removed, additional policy added to Vehicle-Oriented policy modifier.  An Institutional and Stand-Alone Office Building frontage has been added to the Building Frontage policies to incorporate the essential direction from the two removed UFCs noted above.
  • Industrial Transition Housing is renamed to Neighbourhood Industrial Transition and moved within the Neighbourhood purpose.
  • Comprehensive Development Site and Future Planning Area policy modifiers have been combined into Comprehensive Planning Site.
  • Added additional detail regarding what intensity of commercial development is appropriate within the three Neighbourhood Housing UFCs.
  • Clarified the difference between the Commercial Cluster policy modifier and typical commercial that is permissible within Neighbourhood Housing areas.
  • Clarified and added more direction regarding mixed-use developments within the Neighbourhood Commercial UFCs.
  • Added new definitions in the glossary for affordable housing, core and transition zones in TOD areas, heritage area, heritage asset, and retail.

The Guidebook is in the process of being revised based on the above, and the proposed document will be posted online at the week of February 24.  Once it is posted, we will let you know.

Staff continued to collaborate with related projects such as Heritage, Established Areas Growth and Change Strategy, and local area plans, to name a few.  Alignment and collaboration remain a top priority in our Next Generation Planning program.  Looking forward we will:

  • Continue to build awareness among Calgarians about the changes being proposed and allow Calgarians to participate in the community conversation on long-term planning.
  • Continue to communicate the vision and intent of the Guidebook to Calgarians.
  • Prepare a clear engagement process for statutory planning work going forward, making expectations clear to all stakeholders about when to engage, what type of engagement is required, and what the outcomes of the work will be.
  • Establish a Sustainment Plan to support feedback loops, issues management, interpretation clarity, and alignment.

The Guidebook will be presented to Planning and Urban Development committee on March 4, 2020 (meeting starts at 9:30 am).  The public are welcome to speak at Committee.


See below for a summary of draft Guidebook Revisions

Since 2019 November, a number of changes to the Guidebook have been made as a direct result to the testing that has been done through the North Hill Communities Local Area Plan, as well as findings from the Heritage and Westbrook Communities Local Area Plans currently underway and through testing applications.
Below is a summary of the changes made to the Guidebook for Great Communities based on chapters:

Chapter 1

  • Moved “How to Use the Guidebook” page right upfront after “About the Guidebook” cover sheet
  • Minor changes to wording of principles and goals
  • Added some additional wording regarding housing affordability

Chapter 2

  • Added new language regarding mitigating and adapting to climate change to the Urban Form Categories where possible and to the figure in the community growth policy section

Urban Form Classification System

  • New Neighbourhood Urban Form Category: Neighbourhood Industrial Transition, which results from moving the former Industrial Transition Housing category to be within the Neighbourhood Purpose
  • The other Industrial Transition categories: Retail and Office, have been removed. Aspects of the policies included in these categories have been added to the Vehicle-Oriented policy modifier and an Institutional and Office Frontage has been added to section 3.2 Building Frontage. Based on feedback and testing in North Hill, these retail and office uses were deemed to better fit under Neighbourhood Commercial rather than Industrial, potentially with use of the Vehicle-Oriented policy modifier
  • Added new policies and wording within the Neighbourhood Commercial category descriptors to provide more clarity regarding mixed-use development
  • Provided more details in the Neighbourhood Housing category descriptors regarding appropriate commercial uses and new policies added to Urban Form Categories themselves to better distinguish between what intensity of commercial uses are allowed within each of the Housing category
  • New policy added to Commercial Cluster to better clarify how it differs from Neighbourhood Commercial categories
  • Additional policy added to Vehicle-oriented modifier to more explicitly state what it does support
  • Comprehensive Development Site and Future Planning Area have been combined into one policy modifier: Comprehensive Planning Site
  • Adjustments to the colours for all the Urban Form Categories and scale modifiers in response to the feedback received through the draft maps to improve accessibility and legibility

Direction for Local Area Plans, Section 2.32

  • Updated direction for the different chapters of local area plans in response to learnings through North Hill
  • Updated direction for local area plans regarding Transit Oriented Development (TOD) development based on North Hill testing and lessons, demarcation of TOD sites is no longer required
  • Clarified direction to local area plans to identify opportunities for renewable and low-carbon energy technologies within the plan areas, requirement for a feasibility assessment no longer included in policy
  • Updated specific direction regarding Chapter 3 in local area plans in response to learnings through North Hill, clarified and simplified language and reference identifying potential investments versus creating an Asset Map and List
  • Added reference to Chapter 4, Implementation and Interpretation for local area plans based on North Hill experience

Chapter 3

  • In general, adjusted the wording of policies to improve clarity in response to feedback throughout Chapter 3

Built Form Policies

  • Clarified wording in building design policies
  • Added a new definition for retail
  • Added institutional and stand-alone office frontage to section 3.2 Building Frontages and changed commercial frontage to retail frontage to provide more clarity around built-form expectations
  • Added policies regarding permeable surface to improve retention and infiltration of storm water to Section 3.5 Ste Design

Development Policies

  • Adjusted wording in intro to parking section (3.12) to be more explicit
  • Amended wording to provide stronger support for relaxations in Activity Centres, Main Streets, TOD and transit stations, and other areas of high activity
  • Added housing to policy 3.12.l.ii
  • Sustainable Development Policies 3.13:
  • Clarified intent of section 3.13.d and e., direction for local area plans to identify opportunities in contained in Section 2.32.i.ii versus within this section and reduced scope (no longer shall complete a feasibility assessment where opportunities have been identified in a local area plans, now an assessment may be required),
  • Provide parameters for when an assessment may be requested: sites  <1.0 hectare or cumulative building size greater than 30,000 square meters, also no longer refer to a City of Calgary Terms of Reference
    • Adjusted the size of buildings from 3,000 square metres to 30,000 square metres
    • Removed reference to district energy, now just renewable or low carbon technologies
    • 3.13.a now focuses on energy, and 3.13.c focuses on water
    • Added a new policy, 3.13.d,about encouraging adaptive re-use.
    • Overall direction is loser and lighter than it was before in recognition of implementation challenges, but leaves the door open for assessments to be a requirement within the parameters provided (size <1.0 hectare or cumulative building size greater than 30,000 square meters)

General Policies

  • Wording added to General Policies introduction regarding the need to be more explicit about focus on pedestrians and the need to better communicate the importance of the mobility network
  • Minor adjustments to section 3.15 Community facilities, spaces and services:
    • Added reference to wellness versus health in response to comments from AHS
    • Added affordable housing to 3.15.d
  • 3.16 Pedestrian: added more explicit language mirroring wording in introduction to General Policies, and removed requirement for sidewalks on both sides of the street
  • Adjusted wording in introductions for 3.17 Cycling and 3.18 Transit to be consistent with new wording in General Policies introduction, and added plazas to 3.18.d
  • Section 3.19 Street Network:
    • Changes to introduction wording similar to previous sections
    • Emphasis on users versus everyone
    • 3.19.a clarified applicability is for streets in neighbourhood areas not all areas
    • Added 3.19.d to better recognize street as part of the public realm within neighbourhood areas, not just about supporting a variety of modes but also about the gathering space function that streets can perform through the requirement of things like street furniture

Chapter 4

  • Changed wording to Community Funding Tools & Investment Strategies
  • Updated wording on page 117 to match changes in Section 2.32 regarding Chapter 3 of local area plans
  • Added cultural facilities and affordable housing to list of possible investments in response to feedback and what was included in North Hill Communities local area plan
  • Created a new section for Heritage Area Tools, to provide a placeholder for future heritage tools
  • Adjusted wording in TOD policies to reflect learnings through the North Hill Communities local area plan process, including broadening the applicability of the policy to include all transit station areas and tweaks to the specific wording of sections 4.1-4.3
  • Updated policy in section 4.4 to reflect that Chapter 3 will no longer apply to all built-out areas and instead will only apply to areas that have a local area plan based on the Guidebook
  • Adjusted wording of 4.4.b to “The Guidebook applies, as amended from time to time…”
  • Added some new definitions:
    • Affordable housing
    • Updated core and transition zone
    • Heritage Area
    • Heritage Asset
    • Retail


  • Adjustments made to graphics and images in Appendix 1 in accordance to changes made to Urban Form Category system in Chapter 2
  • Updated wording in Appendix 2 to align with changes in Section 2.32 and page 116-117


Below is a summary of potential changes for consideration in future amendments to the Guidebook for Great Communities, through the ongoing sustainment process:

Future consideration/Sustainment

  • Consider a new scale category between limited and low
  • If all 6 Neighbourhood Commercial and Housing categories are needed, possibly remove Neighbourhood Commercial Local and/or Neighbourhood Housing Major, but would like to monitor what comes out of the next few LAP processes (specifically Heritage and Beltline)
  • Implementation of Chapter 3 policies resulting in changes
  • Future parking considerations based on consultant and discussions with internal business units
  • General concerns regarding the City’s approach the streets and transportation infrastructure



If you have any questions, please direct them to  Please cc the Federation on your questions so we understand the conversation.

After you learn about the Guidebook, if you still feel your organization would like to have a say, here are the opportunities coming up:

  1. Call your Councillor
  2. Engage in the March 4 Standing Policy Committee on Planning and Urban Development (PUD) Meeting by:
    1. Writing a letter
    2. Attending and speaking
  3. Engage in the Public Hearing at Council on April 6 by:
    1. Writing a letter
    2. Attending and speaking

Remember if you write a letter, cc the Federation through Edward, our new planner