Calgary

Calgary council hits pause on controversial guidebook for communities

City council voted late Wednesday night to take some time before making changes to a controversial new planning document.

Administration directed to do report and propose amendments in May

The Guidebook for Great Communities is supposed to lay out common planning principles to guide policy decisions and shape future local area plans for Calgary's communities. But its critics worry the guidebook hasn't been developed with enough public consultation and that it could be used to foist unwanted population density in residential neighbourhoods where it's not a good fit. (John Gibson/CBC)

Calgary City Council voted late Wednesday night to take some time before making changes to a controversial new community planning document.

More than 130 people spoke to council over three days of public hearings about the Guidebook for Great Communities. 

The 131-page document is intended to be used for years to come to help council and neighbourhoods develop new local area plans.

However, some people contend there hasn't been enough consultation about it and that changes are needed.

Council has now directed administration to do a report on the public hearing and to bring forward amendments in May.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi says it means a short delay but the document is still moving forward.

He says misinformation about the document has been a problem, but acknowledged that the guidebook itself is also challenging for many people to understand.

"There was one point where I said, 'I don't know what that means when I read it on paper.'  And so rather than try to do that on the floor of council after three days of hearing from the citizens, we said: 'let's go away, think about it, combine things and see what kinds of amendments we can make to improve — not water down — the guidebook."

Confusion about the guidebook prompted the city to post a myths and facts page on its website.

Nenshi says council is likely to change the guidebook so it's no longer considered a statutory plan, one aspect that generated a lot of the opposition to it.

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