The following are feedback from the community based on a presentation and materials given by the developer of  90, 94, 98 Mission Road SW on Tuesday, May 14, 2013. Click here for more info on DP2012-5065.

[sent to ECA Planning, Alderman Carra and Lindsey Glover on June 3, 2013]

To whom it may concern,

My name is [name withheld by request] and I live with my wife and 2 children at 53 34th Avenue SW, a house that I bought when it was still under construction in 2006.  I purchased the home with the expectation that sensible, high end development would eventually take place on the street given the excellent proximity to downtown and the fact that the avenue is in the middle of the desirable communities of Roxboro, Rideau, Parkhill and Erlton.  My wife and I have attended the Charette sessions concerning the proposed Mission Road Development when we could given that I often travel internationally for work and that we have our hands full raising our young family.

The slow pace of development in the area has been frustrating, but understandable given the softening in the real estate market since the lead up to the Global Financial Crisis.  While it has been frustrating, I would like to voice my opinion – frustration at the slow pace of development DOES NOT mean my family or I support development at any cost.  The developer’s current plan for the site at the corner of Mission Road and 34th Avenue represents what I believe to be an absolutely egregious increase in density in the neighborhood.  Frankly, I find the plan to construct three story townhouses off of the back of the alley unbelievable.  The Charette process supported one storey off the alley, not the three stories currently planned.  This will obstruct the view from certain homes on 34th Avenue, taking away from the pleasure and enjoyment that these residents paid good money for, while concurrently destroying their property value should they choose to relocate given the significant intrusion on their property.  While It will not directly impact our property at the moment, I know that this development will end up setting a precedent for the rest of the Mission Road Development and I find this extremely disconcerting.  A major consideration in the purchase of my home was the view and excellent South exposure due to the grade of the lot.  I will not be a happy voter when the next monstrous development on Mission Road has numerous new residents peering into my backyard and bedroom window while plunging my backyard into darkness.  Street parking is already a disaster here and traffic down the back lane is already too high given the traffic coming from the numerous multi residential properties on the east end of 34th Ave.  Traffic from the lane spits out onto a blind corner that is prone to black ice and accidents (including a 10 car or so pileup a few years ago).  Adding traffic to this lane is irresponsible at best.  My children and pets walk along 34th Avenue and it already feels unsafe due to high traffic patterns and poor visibility.  While I have many problems with what came out of the Charette process, it is in most respects a liveable compromise.  The current developer plan does not represent a liveable compromise.

I understand that certain parties believe they can trade off the fact that people are clearly not satisfied with the status quo in the neighborhood and frustration that no development has taken place on this lot or on the rest of the North side of Mission Road.  Besides myself, I know several of my neighbors are upset with how this entire process has run.  Spending time and money on the Charette process seems like not only a failure, but a fraud perpetrated on the residents of the communities of Parkhill and Erlton if the vision (which I already consider to be a compromise on the part of current residents) is not followed, but instead bent to suit the whims of developers.  I’m sure there is some ridiculous argument about the economic realities of the density that is necessary to proceed with development, but when property prices were higher on this street in 2006, a developer managed to make money off of myself and my neighbor, by subdividing a lot and building two single family homes, doubling density.  Perhaps the good people at Assured Communities and Calgary Urban Equities should call him for tips if they can’t make a profit on the 27 units outlined in the Charette presentation.  If a developer really needs this kind of increase in density to make a project in the area economically viable, I will eagerly await the condo building that will need to be constructed on the two lots in Roxboro on the river at the site of the recent fire – maybe I can afford a unit.  Somehow I doubt that the same argument will be made in that community though as it would surely end a career or two.  In any case, the financial benchmarks of Assured and Calgary Urban Equities is no concern of mine and it should have no bearing on the decisions made in this process.

The Alderman and City Hall should not mistake the relative quiet of the majority of residents of this street as tacit approval of, or consent to, the developer’s plans, it should be instead be taken for what it is – relatively poor communication as of late and the fact that most of the many renters on the street are not as invested in the long term implications of this development.  Communication flow seems to have diminished significantly since the end of the Charette process, which I believe leads many residents to believe that the outcome of the Charette process will be followed faithfully.  The decisions being made now have implications for this community that will far outlive Mr. Carra’s political career and the lining of a developer’s pockets.  Once density of this type is permitted, it will permanently remove the potential for a reasonable residential community with single family homes to exist here.  If this development is allowed to proceed in the manner currently outlined I do not believe you will ever see another new single family home built on 34thAvenue.  I don’t understand why this seems to be the desired outcome.  The City should show leadership in understanding that Mission Road is a gateway to the core of a world-class urban center and try to make this development, Mission Road and 34th Avenue and the other redeveloping streets in Erlton every bit as attractive as Roxboro and Rideau instead of a mega-density slum.  I for one, would prefer that the current medium-density slum continues to exist here until a proper development plan is submitted that, at a minimum, corresponds to what the Charette process envisioned (i.e., lower density and no townhomes on the back lane) which the residents of these communities have already compromised significantly on.

Sincerely,

[name withheld by request]

53 34th Avenue SW, Calgary, AB

[sent to ECA Planning and Lindsey Glover on May 24, 2013 in response to Rick Moses’ email submission (following)]

I agree with Rick Moses comments that he sent to L. Glover. I would like to add that I am not in favor of any townhouse facing the back lane because you all now that further developments to the East toward Macloed tr will have townhoses facing the back alley.

– Dave Kroeker

[sent to ECA Planning and Lindsey Glover on May 24, 2013]

Hi Lindsay

I was caught a little unaware that the application had progressed as quickly as it had through the system.

I’ve been in frequent communication with the community associations and with the developer, and although each has offered frequent consultation, no progress has been made on finding a satisfactory resolution to the issues I have with the development.

I live at 51 34th Avenue, which is on the south side of the east/west portion of the street ( I share the laneway that passes behind the development, or the back of my property faces in the direction of the back of the applicant’s property).

Through email, and personally at the information meeting earlier in May, I communicated the following concerns to Jonathon Allen of Calgary Urban Equities.

The response to this date, in his words “ As we are still receiving input from both communities arising from last week’s forum, we have concluded that the proposed meeting this week at NORR’s offices is impractical and will not proceed at this time. I would add, however, that the insight I have developed through David Kroeker this week (and many others from both Parkhill and Erlton) has been shared with our development team and is expected to improve the design of the townhomes along the laneway ”. (May 23, 2013 email)

Since no satisfactory settlement has been achieved I would ask that a decision be deferred or the application declined until the concerns of the immediate neighbors can be addressed.

Overall, for the main building, quality appears adequate. Street appeal is relatively good, and although many neighbors have expressed positive opinions towards the retail component, I am not generally in favour of it. At least, not until some certainty about the retail tenant suitability is determined.
I’ll try and outline my primary concerns in point form ( and try not to rant  )

  • Density – I found the overall density high. The original (2011) development application requested a zoning of GCD 114 over the whole of the Mission road area, this application as it is currently proposed, would have a much higher density of 196 units per hectare. ( 47 units + retail on 0.6 ac, numbers from CUE ) The massing of structure would be considerably different than what is now, a community of predominantly single family homes. All of the adjacent structures are in fact single family homes (there are two up/down duplexes across the avenue)
  • Lane Townhouses – Height. The plan includes 5 townhouse units adjacent to the alleyway. This structure is planned to be 3 stories high, with an overlooking balcony, that would intrude on the privacy of existing 34th Avenue homes (the nearest would be less than 6 meters away) causing significant loss of view, natural lighting and living quality. The townhomes would have no community presence on the alley, as all occupant access to the units is on the south side. They are simply a 10 meter wall, with windows to add further insult. At a maximum, this structure cannot be taller than the adjacent residence.
  • Lane Townhouses – alley access Because this structure is so tall (10.3 m) and so wide (28.3 m) and so close to the alley (1.2 m), the alley will be in permanent shadow from October to April. There will be no opportunity for sunlight to assist in snow melt, and the alley will become an impassable icy hazard
  • Parking – this ties back into density . The complex, according to the notes from CUE, will have 72 % of the units larger than 1 bedroom. (1 BDR with den, 2 BDR and 2 BDR+). A total of 34 units. Of these, the 5 townhomes will have 2 parking spots, the remaining 29 units having only one parking stall allocated in the parkade. Parking spillover from the developments’ occupants and visitors will end up in the community, which already has serious parking issues. There is insufficient parking for the number of units in this development. And yes, I know it meets city code for parking.

My suggestion, as I’ve put to CUE, would be to eliminate the lane housing altogether, or limit it to 2 units at the very west end of the alley. Impact on the adjacent residences would be minimized, and the very slight improvement in massing and density would be a step in the right direction.

I find the townhouse concept to be a unnecessary attempt to maximize profit, at the expense of existing homeowners, and would also diminish the quality of experience for the tenants in the main structure as well. The developer would be using what little green space remains on his property by making the argument that the project isn’t economic without it. Something that hasn’t been demonstrated to me, and should have no bearing on a decision. Other residents should not have to shoulder any of the burden of profitability for his project.

Please contact me if I’ve been less clear than I hoped, either at the numbers below, or at [removed by request] and [removed by request]. Thanks

Regards

Rick Moses