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  • February 07, 2012 10:17 PM | Anonymous

    CALGARY- After struggling for months over whether to allow Canada Olympic Park land to be turned into a large retail development, the city is now considering a dramatic and costly Plan C- buy the land. Council voted Monday to study a potential purchase of 19 hectares at the base of Paskapoo Slopes.It’s unclear how much the property would cost a valuation will be part of the study but city hall already has up to $60 million in loan guarantees tied up in other parts of the COP expansion venture. WinSport Canada had expected to repay those loan guarantees through selling land along the Trans Canada Highway to a retail developer after getting rezoning. That plan was up in the air, however, as city planners disagreed with WinSport on how to ensure some office developments would be part of that retail project, and when a future highway interchange would expand to meet that traffic demand. Buying the land would let the city sidestep that complex disagreement, but the city is unsure how to come up with the funds to do so. “The city had some of our top people on this file over the last couple of months, and this is what they came up with a way to move forward,” Mayor Naheed Nenshi said in council Monday. Council will likely vote on a potential purchase when the city presents its study in June. For several months, council has delayed a decision on a new master plan for the lands surrounding the site of the 1988 Winter Games’ ski jump, bobsled track and freestyle skiing hill. The less-controversial parts of the project include hotels, a film studio, and a large park with cross-country ski trails on the Paskapoo Slopes, south of the proposed retail land. Nenshi suggested that instead of big box retail on the site, it could become part of that park and ski-trail area. Conservation groups had also called on the city to block a move to flatten the lower slopes for large stores and their parking lots. Jim Younker, chief operating officer for WinSport and head of its rezoning application, could not be reached for comment. Ald. Dale Hodges said a letter from WinSport stated the group agrees that council should hold off any decisions until June. Although the market value of those 19 hectares of COP land is still to be determined, Younker had said previously that there was a gap of up to $20 million between the potential sale price of those parcels if WinSport’s plans were approved and the price if city planners’ alterations were approved. Under then-mayor Dave Bronconnier, council agreed in 2010 to give WinSport up to $60 million in loan guarantees to ensure the sports agency could build new ice arenas. The organization has only drawn down about two-thirds of that amount.

    jmarkusoff@calgaryherald.com. © Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald 

  • February 03, 2012 6:35 AM | Anonymous
    Celebrate 100 years of family fun with Recreation this February and beat the winter blues while you're doing something fun and healthy for the whole family. Go for a swim or ride the waves at our indoor water parks, cross-country ski, join our indoor golf celebration, or check out one of the many family-focused activities we've planned in February to celebrate family.

    For more details click here.
  • January 19, 2012 10:18 PM | Anonymous

    At the annual AGM for the CHPH Community Association, the new 2012 board of directors was elected. To view, go to About Us

  • January 10, 2012 6:39 AM | Anonymous
    As part of the Signage Regulation Review project,  The City is looking at the use of digital (electronic) signs and third party advertising signs (billboards).

    Because the Calgary Land Use Bylaw does not contain regulations dealing with brightness, rate of message change or ambient light levels related to the light emissions from digital signs, administration was directed to prepare interim measures to deal with the influx of digital signs in Calgary in 2010.

    In May 2011, The Regulation of Digital, Electronic and Computer Signage Special task force directed administration to prepare a new bylaw to go forward to council, with changes from the original recommendation of administration earlier that year.

    Some of the goals of this project are to:
    • Research best practices from other cities to get a better understanding of regulations for these types of signs and adapt them to create a "made in Calgary" solution; 
    • Update the Billboard Development Policy to look at the current development context in the City;
    • Update the regulations in the land use bylaw to deal with digital technology and some of the issues related to digital sign operation (such as brightness, message timing, ambient light emissions); 
    • Review various safety studies and ensure that the sign regulations focus on the safety of Calgarians; and
    • Ensure that the regulations and policies achieve the goals set out in the Calgary Municipal Development Plan.
    The digital and third party advertising sign review project includes a series of public information and stakeholder meetings to examine the official regulations, the interim regulations and the Council approved "Billboard Development Policy Guide for Calgary".

    The next series of open houses are running this week at the following locations and times:
    • North West Communities (Banff Trail Community Centre - 2115 20 Ave NW) Monday, January 9, 2012 from 7 to 9:30pm
    • South East Communities (Inglewood CA Hall - 1740 24 St SE) Tuesday, January 10, 2012 from 7 to 9:30pm 
    • North East Communities (Pineridge CA Hall - 6024 Rundlehorn Dr NE) Wednesday, January 11, 2012 from 7 to 9:30pm; and 
    • South West communities (Glamorgan CA Hall – 4207 41 Av SW) Thursday, January 12, 2012 from 7 to 9:30pm.
    If you can not make it to any of these open houses, please email landusebylawreview@calgary.ca or call 403-268-3748 to provide your feedback. Find more information on calgary.ca

  • January 03, 2012 9:55 PM | Anonymous
    Today, The City of Calgary mailed approximately 482,000 Property and Business 2012 Assessment Notices and commenced the Assessment 2012 Customer Review Period, which runs from January 03 to March 05, 2012. The 2012 Property Assessment values are based on a July 01, 2011 market valuation date and December 31, 2011 physical condition date as legislated by the Province of Alberta through the Municipal Government Act (MGA). The 2012 Business Assessment values are based on the July 01, 2011 typical net annual rental value of business premises. The assessed values, which are used as the basis for determining property and business taxes, are prepared annually by The City of Calgary. “Preparing assessments on an annual basis ensures property and business owners’ assessments maintain currency with changing market conditions and experience more stability in year to year property and business tax levels,” explains Stuart Dalgleish, Calgary’s City Assessor. “The market establishes the value of properties and businesses in Calgary; we simply measure that market value as of July 01 each year prior to the taxation year.” The 2012 Customer Review Period provides customers with the opportunity to review and ensure the accuracy of their 2012 Assessment and learn more about Calgary’s assessment process. In conjunction with the 2012 Assessment Notice mailing on January 03, 2012, The City of Calgary’s Assessment business unit is launching its redesigned Assessment Search website at calgary.ca/assessmentsearch, which will offer new and expanded online services to customers, within a Helpful, Convenient, Secure theme. “One of the changes to calgary.ca/assessmentsearch will be the introduction of a new secure login service for property owners, similar to the service introduced for business owners earlier in 2011. This secure service represents the start of property owners being able to access private assessment information about their own properties online, and includes improved search features, as well as new account management services. To continue to respond to the existing public demand for online assessment information, a public access feature will provide any members of the public with map and tabular based information for property locations and property assessment values. In addition to bringing about improvements for 2012, this new platform enables the Assessment business unit to offer more information and assessment services online in the future, and supports our effectiveness and efficiency endeavours,” explains Dalgleish. Enabling our new secure login service is The City’s new myID online account technology developed by the Information Technology business unit. myID is an online account service that allows citizens and businesses to securely access City services with a single login. Calgarians have asked for more City services to be available online and myID aims to provide, over time, a single point of access for citizens and businesses to connect with City of Calgary services. Assessment information is the first service to fully link to the myID online account service platform for citizens and businesses, with other City online services linking to myID accounts in the future. If customers still have questions after reviewing their assessment, they can call the Assessment business unit at 403-268-2888 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              403-268-2888      end_of_the_skype_highlighting during the 2012 Customer Review Period to have their inquiries answered over the phone or, if necessary, to book an appointment with an assessor.
     
    THE CITY OF CALGARY 2012 PROPERTY AND BUSINESS ASSESSMENT ROLLS
    KEY FINDINGS
     
    2012 Property Assessment Roll:
    • Based on the market value of property as of July 01, 2011.
    • Total number of accounts on the 2012 Property Assessment Roll is 456,000.
    • Total value of the 2012 Property Assessment Roll is 232 billion.
    • As a result of the 2012 Assessment, the typical market value residential property assessment change is -3% between 2011 and 2012.
    • This year, approximately 93% of residential properties’ revenue neutral taxes will be within ± 10% of last year’s taxes.
      • 62% of residential properties will see a revenue neutral tax decrease due to the 2012 assessment.
      • 38% of residential properties will see a revenue neutral tax increase due to the 2012 assessment.
    • 2012 median single residential assessment (excluding condominiums) is 400,000 compared to 410,000 in 2011.
    • 2012 median residential condominium assessment is 240,000 compared to 250,000 in 2011.
    • As a result of the 2012 assessment, the typical market value non-residential property assessment change is 2% between 2011 and 2012.
    • This year, approximately 60% of non-residential properties’ revenue neutral taxes will be within ±10% of last year’s taxes.
      • 63% of non-residential properties will see a revenue neutral tax decrease.
      • 37% of non-residential properties will see a revenue neutral tax increase.
    • Changes to the real estate market after July 01, 2011 will be reflected in values prepared for the 2013 Property Assessment Roll.
    • 2012 Business Assessment Roll:
    • Based on the typical net annual rental value of business premises as of July 01, 2011.
    • Total number of accounts on the 2012 Business Assessment Roll is 26,100.
    • Total value of the 2012 Business Assessment Roll is 2.7 billion.
    • As a result of the 2012 assessment, the typical net annual rental value business assessment change is -3% between 2011 and 2012.
    • This year, approximately 49% of businesses’ revenue neutral taxes will be within ± 10% of last year’s taxes.
      • 35% of businesses will see a revenue neutral tax decrease.
      • 65% of businesses will see a revenue neutral tax increase
    • Changes to the typical net annual rental market after July 01, 2011 will be reflected in values prepared for the 2013 Business Assessment Roll.
    THE CITY OF CALGARY 2012 PROPERTY AND BUSINESS ASSESSMENT ROLLS
    KEY DATES AND ACTIVITIES
     
    DATE KEY ACTIVITIES
    2011 July 01 Valuation date for 2012 Property and Business Assessment Rolls
    2011 October 03 – 2011 October 21 2012 Advance Consultation Period
    2011 December 31 Physical condition and characteristics date
    2012 January 03 2012 Property and Business Assessment Notices mailed
    2012 January 03 – 2012 March 05 2012 Customer Review Period
    Early 2012 February 2012 Business Tax Notices mailed
    2012 March 05 Final date to file a complaint with the Assessment Review Board
    2012 March 30 2012 Business Taxes due
    2012 May 2012 Property Tax notices mailed
    2012 June 29 2012 Property Taxes due
  • December 16, 2011 9:48 PM | Anonymous
    Calgarians are invited to recognize fellow citizens for their contributions in making Calgary a dynamic, progressive and compassionate city by nominating them for a Calgary Award, a City of Calgary initiative that has been recognizing exceptional citizens since 1994. The City of Calgary encourages all Calgarians to consider nominating a colleague, community leader and neighbour along with local organizations and businesses by the nomination deadline of Friday, March 2, 2012. Calgary Awards is one of the largest citizen recognition programs in our city. With 17 awards in five major categories, The City proudly celebrates the difference Calgarians make. The major five categories include the following.
    Community Achievement Awards 
    Recognize outstanding contributions and achievements in community life including arts, commerce, education and heritage. This category also includes the Grant MacEwan Lifetime Achievement, Citizen of the Year, and Community Advocate for both an individual and organization.
    Environmental Achievement Awards
    Recognize efforts to protect and promote the city’s natural environment. Awards include Blue Skies, Corporate, Educational Institution, Individual Achievement and Not-for-Profit Organization.
    Signature Award 
    Recognize activities gaining international acclaim and bringing significant recognition to Calgary.
    Award for Accessibility
    Awarded for a building or facility that exceeds the minimum requirements of Section 3.8 “Barrier-Free Design” of the Alberta Code for accessibility by persons with disabilities.
    The City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize 
    Named in honour of Calgary writer W. O. Mitchell, recognize literary achievements by Calgary authors. NOTE: the deadline for the book prize is Dec. 31, 2011.
    Here’s your chance to recognize someone in your community whose efforts really stand out. Additional information, nomination criteria and the online application form can be found at calgary.ca/calgaryawards, by phoning 403-268-8881 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              403-268-8881      end_of_the_skype_highlighting or e-mail calgaryawards@calgary.ca.
  • December 08, 2011 10:22 PM | Anonymous

    When Beryl Ostrom's elderly neighbours decided to give up their Glamorgan home for seniors housing, they didn't leave the neighbourhood. They found a place in Glenway Gate, a few blocks away. They didn't even sell their home. Instead, one of their kids is moving in with a young family. That, Ostrom says, is what's great about Glamorgan. She keeps her neighbours, inherits some new ones to help keep the community fresh, and she avoids the losingyourneighbours anxiety that often accompanies such news. "This happens quite often in our community," says Ostrom, who is the president of the Glamorgan Community Association. "You can go from cradle to grave without having to leave the community. That keeps your social investments." In the urban planning world, Ostrom is speaking of housing mix, a once esoteric part of planning that has come to have a huge effect on the way communities in Calgary grow, age and regenerate. Although Calgary is famous for tidy suburbs filled with tracts of single-family homes, a diverse mix that also incorporates condominiums, apartments and seniors complexes has become a new mantra for planners and many developers, who are touting housing options in new communities under construction. While planners say a diverse housing mix makes for stronger communities by attracting diverse residents - young, old, rich and poor - and lessening the effect of the boom-bust demographic life cycles that plague some areas, the idea is far from beloved. In fact, the idea of housing mix is at the heart of a continuing debate in the city over secondary suites, and many residents worry that retrofitting communities in line with such ideas threatens to destroy the things they love about their communities. For Project Calgary, the Herald has compiled City of Calgary data on the housing mix in 200 Calgary communities and found some surprises. Some of the least-diverse are those single-family dominated burgs on the fringes of the city, such as Hidden Valley, Saddle Ridge and Coventry Hills. But also lacking diversity are urban communities downtown and in the Beltline, which are filled with condos and apartments, but few detached single-family homes. The most diverse communities are those like Glamorgan, a 1950s-era suburb with a healthy dose of single-family homes punctuated by a large number of condominiums, duplexes and apartments, mostly on the fringes of the neighbourhood. Also scoring high on the list are Patterson, South Calgary, Dover and Midnapore. Gary Weikum, an instructor of urban planning at the University of Lethbridge, says a diverse mix of housing has several positive implications. By offering more options, people can stay in their community throughout their lives, without having to look elsewhere when they have kids, retire or move into assisted living facilities. A mix can also help shelter a community from the downsides of big demographic changes, such as when school enrolments fall or aging residents have difficulty maintaining amenities. "Most neighbourhoods go through that generational life cycle over time, but the life cycle tends to lessen if there's a mix," Weikum says. Ostrom says she thinks the diversity in Glamorgan has helped give it a strong foundation and enabled it to keep a vibrant population through the years. "It's a huge bonus, but we also have a very stable housing population group," Ostrom says. "If you want to sustain your community, you need a big mix. You also have to have things to attract people that will regenerate a community, like  schools." Tamar Epstein, president of the Rutland Park Community Association, which also includes Currie Barracks (currently under construction) and Lincoln Park, which also scores well on the housing mix index, agrees with Ostrom that a stable core group is essential to keeping a sense of community. She thinks the diverse mix in her community - which also includes co-operative housing - gives the neighbourhood more density. "Because of the density, it's creating a lot more options," she says. "It supports local business and makes for more housing options." These communities, however, were planned with that mix. That wasn't the case with many suburbs built during the 1980s and 1990s, which are dominated by single-family homes. Trying to retrofit such neighbourhoods to add more housing options can be expensive and disruptive. In the southeast community of Riverbend, which has 3,253 single-family homes out of a total of 3,445 dwellings (94.4 per cent), according to city statistics compiled for Project Calgary, community association president Rose Martin says she sees how more housing options might benefit her community, but initiatives to make such changes are often resisted by residents. A recent condominium proposal on the edge of the neighbourhood, for example, was initially rejected by neighbours, until both sides agreed to concessions. "To all of a sudden have these big, huge buildings, looking down into people's backyards and that kind of thing, it was just not (accepted) by the community," Martin says. She and many other residents worry such developments might ruin the feel that has existed in the neighbourhood for years. Such arguments have dominated the city's recent debate over secondary and basement suites. Advocates for affordable housing trump relaxed restrictions on secondary suites as a way of creating more affordable housing units and bringing more people into existing neighbourhoods. Opponents, however, say changing the rules after they bought into a certain lifestyle is unfair. They worry about parking and traffic problems, and changes to the feel of their neighbourhood. Calgary's new municipal development plan, developed from the document known as Plan It, calls for the creation of "complete communities," which is defined partly as places "where people of varying ages, incomes, interests and lifestyles feel comfortable and can choose between a variety of building types and locations in which to live." While such principles guide new development in Calgary, city council rejected a call this year to allow secondary suites throughout the city. The debate over housing mix is not uncommon in other municipalities, says Weikum, even with its inherent contradictions. He pointed to a study that found most aging empty nesters would choose to move into an apartment if it enabled them to stay in their community. The same group, however, said they would not like to have more apartments built in their neighbourhood. "I don't think we are always good at understanding the long-term consequences of our own individual choices," Weikum says. "There's this balancing act between what's good for the public . . . and what is sometimes seen as good planning. "That's what the role of municipal politicians should be, maybe to look more long term." For her part, Ostrom says she's grateful her community was built with a mix of housing, and she sees that reflected in the way homes are kept within families for generations. "What makes a community work is the people who live in it. They've invested their lives and their children's lives," she says. "If you plan things, as people age, you don't have to go very far." Help us explore the idea of density. One of the bigger questions raised by the issue of housing mix is around density - the number of people who work and live in a given area. The city's long-term goals include increasing density in some areas, but such actions are controversial. That's why we're asking Herald readers to help us explore the issue. Visit the Project Calgary blog to share your thoughts on housing density, or drop us a line. Visit CalgaryHerald.com/ProjectCalgary, drop me a note at Twitter.com/ TomBabin, Facebook.com/Tom. Babin, on Google Plus, or e-mail me at tbabin@calgaryherald.com.

    How we did it- Housing mix can be a tricky thing to measure, so we took the advice of the City of Calgary and, using city data, compiled what's known as a Simpsons Diversity Index. The index was devised to quantify the biodiversity of ecosystems, but is increasingly used by urban planners, as well. The index takes into account the different types of housing in a neighbourhood and the total number of dwellings, and creates a score, from zero to one, representing the diversity of that housing. In our measure, the communities closer to zero are the most diverse. To see the raw data, visit our website and download the spreadsheet. Communities with the most diverse housing mix:

    1. CFB-LINCOLN PARK PMQ

    2. GLAMORGAN

    3. PATTERSON

    4. SOUTH CALGARY

    5. PALLISER

    6. GLENBROOK

    7. INGLEWOOD

    8. ROSSCARRCK

    9. GREENVIEW

    10. ALTADORE

    © Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald 

  • July 13, 2011 10:23 PM | Anonymous

    New playground gets mention as one of the best playgrounds and play spaces Calgary has to offer.

    See: http://www.calgaryplaygroundreview.com/2011/07/coach-hillpatterson-heights-community.html

  • February 17, 2011 10:25 PM | Anonymous

    CALGARY - WinSport Canada is planning a huge retail/commercial development at Canada Olympic Park that would include a grocery store, retail stores, restaurants and two hotels, the Herald has learned. The proposed development, subject to city approval, would be about 400,000 square feet. Retail stores would be geared to promoting healthy, active lifestyles and the hotels would accommodate 300 rooms - one family-based and a larger one with a spa and conference centre. The proposal is currently before the City of Calgary. It includes the sale of about 22 hectares of land to a developer. The proposal is geared to complement current use at Canada Olympic Park, raise capital for the facility and create an ongoing cash flow. Dan O'Neill, president and chief executive of WinSport, said "we're on a very clear mission to become unique to the world." "We want to have a national sports institute here," he said. "And that includes a high school. We want to be able to service all the winter sports. "When we were giving the guidelines to the potential purchasers, we wanted these things to complement what we're offering." The proposal will be before the Calgary Planning Commission in late March or early April. Contingent on city approval, WinSport would like to start servicing work this summer and perhaps start construction in early 2012 with opening some parts of the project by 2013. Jim Younker, chief operating officer of WinSport, said the process started in the 1990s when WinSport had accumulated these lands with a Master Plan done in 2000 which led to an Area Structure Plan in 2005. "The biggest change in the Area Structure Plan and why we're seeking an amendment there's two issues. One is refining the areas that are developable and the second is the actual land uses," he said. "And in large part the land uses are dictated by the market. "We spent a fair amount of time pursuing opportunities to develop more of an employment area, which basically the city defines as office ... But after the crash of 2008 and the current state of the office market, there just simply is no demand for office in this area and we commissioned an independent report and it identified that not only is there no market now but there's unlikely to be demand for office in this area for 10-15 years." Younker said the development of the land will help WinSport create the national winter sport institute on the site. About 22 hectares of land just off the TransCanada Highway and Sarcee Trail will be sold to develop the site. He said there is about 178 hectares of land at Canada Olympic Park of which about 66 hectares is being given to the city for a park, which would be directly south of the proposed commercial development. Younker said about 12 per cent of the land there is proposed for commercial development. Also, the city has an interchange planned for the intersection at Bowfort Road and the TransCanada Highway. "We've been entrusted with the responsibility of maintaining these Olympic facilities up to speed so the athletes continue to train," said O'Neill. Younker said WinSport is working on an arrangement to sell that land which is subject to getting all the approvals and servicing in place. "We went to the market through Brookfield Financial who's our real estate consultants. Basically solicited offers on these lands and proposals on how they'd be developed and interestingly enough we received 13 proposals which we were amazed. We were able to narrow that down to six then three then our final choice which we're negotiating with now," said Younker. "Every offer came in for hotel/retail. We didn't get a single company expressing any interest in office. The developer, we're working with now, we're working on incorporating some office into the plan. What we want to accomplish with this is three things. We need capital. So that's motivating us. We also want to make Canada Olympic Park a bigger draw. So hotels, restaurants, those sorts of things are strategic to us. They fit very well with the other things we're developing here. We want an ongoing cash flow. All of these things are going to help us be sustainable." An open house is scheduled for Tues. Feb. 22 between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the Festival Tent at Canada Olympic Park to discuss the new Master Plan and amendment to the current Area Structure Plan. "The proposed shopping and dining amenities of this project are welcome news for residents in this under-served quadrant of the city," said Michael Kehoe, an Alberta-based retail specialist with Fairfield Commercial Real Estate Inc. "Retailers and food service tenants seeking locations on the west side are sure to demonstrate high levels of interest even though the project is two to three years into the future. "The mixed-use nature of the proposed development that includes the hotels, restaurants and lifestyle-oriented retailers will be well-suited to the trade area and tourist traffic." Recently, WinSport Canada unveiled its new athletic and ice complex with the opening of three North American size rinks at the 500,000-square-foot facility. Once completed the facility will also include a 3,000-seat international ice rink and a high-performance training centre. That project includes a five-storey office tower of about 100,000 square feet. Dan Harmsen, vice-president and associate broker of Barclay Street Real Estate Ltd., said about 30,000 square feet of that tower will be occupied by WinSport, Hockey Canada and other non-profit sports groups and about 70,000 square feet is available for lease. The office tower will be available for occupancy this fall, he said.

    mtoneguzzi@calgaryherald.com

    Printed in Calgary Herald.

  • December 04, 2007 10:26 PM | Anonymous

    A $1-billion private health club, complete with a spa, squash courts, hockey rinks, a movie theatre and a 22-storey condo hotel, is being proposed for the city's west side by a local developer calling it the "largest sporting and social club in North America." The upscale Edworthy Club would be built just south of the Trans-Canada Highway, between Sarcee Trail and the Bow River. Its developer is seeking approval for land-use changes within the next five months. "It's a Dubai type of project. We want the biggest and the best in the world," said Martin Dolemo, whose Dolemo Developments has built projects in several Calgary communities. Dolemo proposes a two-million-square-foot facility to be built on about five hectares of a 19-hectare site, featuring 16 squash courts, two hockey rinks, an auditorium, a conference centre, a spa and wellness centre, a 400-unit condo hotel and some 130,000 square feet of workout space, including three gyms, a running track, tennis courts (10 indoor and seven rooftop) as well as five swimming pools. The facility will be private, with a goal of up to 10,000 members. Other amenities are to include six restaurants, stores, an art gallery, music and computer training rooms, a car wash, a nursery and an 11,000-square-foot indoor playground. "This will be a place where everyone in the family can enjoy themselves . . . but stay together under one roof. It keeps the family together," Dolemo said. "And even though it's private, it will free up public space. People from Springbank, for instance, may no longer want to go to the Westside Rec Centre." But surrounding communities and conservationists fear the project's scale and location are inappropriate for a wildlife corridor adjacent to the Bow River. David Baker, planning director for the Montgomery Community Association, says the project takes away from the public realm, from the view of the river valley, which is something he says belongs to everyone. "It's tall, it's massive, it's quite out of context for a river valley . . . a rather mundane piece of glass-and-concrete architecture, which is quite oversized and inappropriate." Niki Smyth, a member of the society of Bowness Residents, says she opposes the project simply because of its location along the river. "It's a huge footprint -- 20-plus storeys on top of a private club, inside of a wildlife corridor . . . where there's all kinds of wildlife, flora and fauna." Mac Hickley, manager of the Parks Foundation's river valleys committee, says he'd rather see the 19 hectares be dedicated to open public park space with an improved pathway system. "Even though the area they plan to develop is flatter, open space, it's still an important part of the habitat, the habitat area of Edworthy Park continues to this site. "Animals need that meadow and flatter land, too." But Dolemo argues his company is doing everything possible to ensure minimal impact on the site, proposing to use only 28 per cent and leaving vegetation undisturbed. Mike Gavan, a project consultant for Dolemo, adds that environmental assessment studies have been done by the developer showing the lands are a brownfield site, formerly housing a brick factory and an auto-wrecker. "When we build, we will exceed all regulations placed on us," Gavan said. Hickley adds that increased traffic to and from the site may pose problems, particularly for neighbouring communities who may get shortcutting. Other groups are also concerned the recreational features won't be available to the public. Perry Cavanaugh, president of the Calgary Minor Hockey Association, said he wouldn't want the two hockey arenas closed off to public groups such as minor hockey leagues that need more ice. "There's a huge demand for ice in this city. For us, it's all about getting as much as we can as quickly as we can." Dolemo confirmed he wouldn't provide public access to his rinks, explaining that use of those facilities would free up other arenas. "I'm well aware there is an ice shortage . . . but I'm not here to solve all of the city's problems for them." No date has yet been set for Dolemo's application to redesignate the land from an urban reserve to a direct control district, but it is expected to go before the Calgary Planning Commission within five months. Once the planning commission debates the proposal, it will go before a public hearing of city council, allowing communities, environmentalists and any other parties to speak to it.  eferguson@theherald.canwest.com

    © (c) CanWest MediaWorks Publications Inc.

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