The proposed Anderson Station transit-oriented development would cover 19.9 acres and create a pedestrian-friendly urban village in the area. Courtesy City of Calgary

Plans for Anderson Station transit-oriented development approach final approval

A new outline plan and land use application for the lands surrounding the Anderson LRT Station was approved at the Calgary Planning Commission in February and will now go before city council on April 16 for final approval.

Doug Cassidy, director of real estate and development services for the City of Calgary, said Anderson Station has many characteristics that make it viable as a transit-oriented development (TOD) site.

“The servicing strategy for TOD at Anderson Station aligns with the Municipal Development Plan’s (MDP) objectives for smart growth by optimizing the use of existing infrastructure,” said Cassidy. “Anderson Station is identified as a primary transit hub and is located within a major activity centre as identified in the MDP.

“Several major roadways are located within or close to the plan area, and a wide range of community facilities and amenities already exist in the area. Additionally, the regional pathway system and several pedestrian bridges link the surrounding communities to Anderson Station.”

The proposed development encompasses 19.9 acres in the community of Southwood, directly adjacent to Anderson Station. The site includes the LRT station, bus terminal and park-and-ride area, which currently provides 1,665 surface parking stalls. The application will enable redevelopment of the site to include mixed-use development and achieve a more activated, pedestrian-friendly urban village adjacent to a major transit hub. The application also proposes a new, 500-stall (minimum) Calgary Transit parkade.

“New park spaces, retail and business options, and the potential for new offices and condos/apartments, add people, jobs and new opportunities to the existing community.” – Doug Cassidy, City of Calgary director of real estate and development services

Cassidy said the approved outline plan sets the framework for new roads to be built on the park-and-ride site. This would include a pedestrian-oriented “high street,” where shops and other businesses can line sidewalks, with office, residential or hotel-type development above.

Also, a new public park will be built as an urban plaza connecting the station building to the pedestrian overpass.

“The Anderson Station area will be transformed into a diverse and walkable transit-oriented development area,” said Cassidy. “New park spaces, retail and business options, and the potential for new offices and condos/apartments, add people, jobs and new opportunities to the existing community.”

Greg Humphreys, director of civic affairs with the Willow Ridge Community Association, said the City has talked about the Anderson Station TOD plan for several years and it will be several more years before it becomes a reality.

“Our biggest concern is always in relation to traffic. Not just traffic once it’s completed, but also traffic during the construction phase,” he said. “This construction is going to last for 20 years. Traffic and water are very, very similar. They both find the easiest way. If you’re going to start digging up the street somewhere, people are not going to take the train instead. They’re just going to go a different route, and most of that is going to be through our respective communities.

“If all is done well, our community’s goal, and I think the City’s goal, is to create an actual model community that, frankly, not only Calgary, but all of Western Canada – if not North America – would be proud of as part of a joint-interest project.”

Kwangyul Choi, a postdoctoral research fellow in metropolitan growth and change with the Faculty of Environmental Design at the University of Calgary, said TOD is typically defined as compact and mixed-use development within walking distance of a transit station. These developments provide a wide range of social, economic and environmental benefits to a city, its residents, and even developers.

“Economically, TOD can be a revenue generator by increasing property values near stations, because better transit accessibility means improvement of mobility options,” said Choi. “People living near TOD can walk and bike and take transit, and access multiple destinations in the region without a car, which consequently reduces transportation costs, and at the same time, people might be willing to spend more money on housing, which can be a marketing point for private, residential developers.”