Citizens of the Calgary community of University Heights packed temporary council and two adjoining rooms on July 23 to listen in on a proposed area redevelopment plan (ARP) for Stadium Shopping Centre on 16th Avenue and Uxbridge Drive NW.

In council, Mayor Naheed Nenshi explained to the full house that all public submissions on the site were talking about density and land use, factors which were not on the table for the July 23 meeting.

“What is before us is what’s called the ARP, the ARP does not dictate density, what it does do is it shows how the density will be spread across the area,” he said.

In an overview released by the city, the proposed ARP will provide a statutory tool to direct master planning, requires a mix of uses, demands high quality spaces, identifies major infrastructure requirements and aligns with current land use designation directed by the South Shaganappi Communities Area Plan.

Stadium Shopping Centre was built in 1962 and remains in the hands of the family-owned business Western Securities.

“We now have over 50 years invested in the community with the intention of being here indefinitely, the subject lands are one of the most important assets we own which is why we’ve taken a very slow and careful approach to the redevelopment of them,” said Ryan O’Connor with Western Securities. “It was over eight years ago we began looking at evolving the use of this site, after 42 years it remains basically unchanged.”

Western Securities began the development process in 2006. O’Connor said the company had the City’s support but were overturned by a subdivision and development appeal board. In 2010, the company revisited the idea and decided to use a new approach, which “mirrored city council’s vision for the future of planning in our city.”

Residents of University Heights, the community in which the shopping centre sits, have continued to voice their concerns about proposed redevelopment.

Residents’ issues include too much density, safety concerns, traffic concerns and concerns for bordering municipal reserve lands. The proposed ARP includes more than 10 metres of pathway and landscaping along 16th Avenue with incorporation of part or all municipal reserve lands in the area.

“We’d love to create the path through the neighbourhood but that ten metres is a far cry from what is there right now, it is a big large beautiful space,” said Catherine Corrin, a seven year resident of University Heights.

“There’s a beautiful large, green park with a gorgeous canopy of mature trees that is not of no value. It is continuous with the park that is right there and it is a beautiful space. Could it be developed a bit more? Sure, we’d love to put some park benches down there but we’re not allowed to yet but we do have an application with the parks department to allow us to do just that.”

A decision on the Stadium Shopping Centre ARP will be made at council July 29.