Courtesy City of Calgary

As Calgary’s population expands, redevelopment of City-owned land in established areas holds potential for supporting growth. However, it takes planning and community engagement to get it right.

Since deteriorating services closed the Midfield Mobile Home Park, the City of Calgary has been working to redevelop the area into Winston Heights Village. Plans for the new medium-density, mixed-use community on the northeast corner of 16th Avenue N.E. in the Winston Heights-Mountview community show great potential.

Carol-Ann Beswick, senior project manager with the City of Calgary’s real estate and development services, said the location boasts easy connectivity to downtown, crosstown and the airport, as well as green space to the north and city views to the south. It’s also adjacent to the regional pathway system and MAX Orange bus rapid transit line.

Full build-out for the redevelopment could take 15 to 20 years. Planning must address a variety of design details, including road locations, pathways, green space, types of housing and commercial buildings. Community input around strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for the neighbourhood are also considerations.

“There’s been a fair amount of concern here about the people who previously lived in the mobile home park. There’s a sense of hope the new community will provide homes that honour what was there in terms of an affordable housing component.” – Sarah Arthurs, Winston Heights-Mountview resident

“No one knows a community like its residents,” said Beswick. “We wanted to engage citizens early in the process through various workshops to gain their input and knowledge of the area.”

So far, October’s discussion event and November’s design discussion allowed the community to review concept plans, including block sizes, roads, parks and open space, the urban forms of buildings, and how the site connects with existing communities.

“A preferred concept plan was created from that engagement and is being discussed in a pre-application meeting with the City planning department,” said Beswick.

The concept plan features a mixed-use street, with restaurants, services and a central park gathering space. Residential units will include townhomes, low-rise buildings and, potentially, mid-rise buildings towards the eastern edge of the development.

“The area will eventually be home to approximately 1,000 to 2,000 people of all income groups living in 800 to 1,000 units of various tenure types,” said Beswick. “A portion of the units are anticipated to support affordable housing.”

Eleven-year Winston Heights-Mountview resident Sarah Arthurs, a consultant with Cohousing Connections, said the affordability component should be an important part of the new development.

“There’s been a fair amount of concern here about the people who previously lived in the mobile home park,” she said. “There’s a sense of hope the new community will provide homes that honour what was there in terms of an affordable housing component.”

Concerns around infrastructure capacity, traffic, stormwater management, urban form and density have also been heard.

“All of those concerns were duly noted and will be worked through as the concept plan for the site goes through the planning and engineering approvals process,” said Beswick.

“Recognizing the long history of this site, our goal is to create a sustainable, mixed-use place that is healthy, inclusive and socially diverse.”