Councillor hopes plans for former Midfield Mobile Home Park will help community move past 'difficult history'
City is asking for feedback on Midfield Heights redevelopment plans
The latest redevelopment plan for Midfield Heights — the flattened piece of land that used to be home to hundreds of people living in the former Midfield Mobile Home Park in northeast Calgary — includes a mix of retail shops, townhouses, apartments and condos as well parks and pathways that connect to the nearby community.
The City of Calgary owns and is the master developer for the site that sits along 16th Avenue N.E., west of Deerfoot. It has been vacant since early 2018 after the city evicted the tenants, and bulldozed the 170 units.
The city closed the trailer park because of deteriorating underground water and sanitary lines. Initially, the city said it would relocate the residents but later changed its mind, citing costs. The residents went to court to try to fight the eviction but a judge said the city had followed the law.
Coun. Druh Farrell has been involved with this project from the start and says she is pleased with the results.
"We had an opportunity with this piece of land with a difficult history to turn a corner and build something that will be an asset to the neighborhood and to the city," said Farrell.
Affordable housing included
Farrell said given that "difficult history" and the loss of more than 100 low-income homes, the city realized affordable housing had to be a key part of the plans.
"It was identified that at the very least we need to replace that affordable housing but we should be building more than what was there before. And so it was just a principle that was embedded in the whole planning," she said.
According to these plans, there will be a mix of places for rent and for sale, as well as affordable housing. But it's not clear exactly what percentage of the homes will be set aside by the city as low income.
A city spokesperson says these plans are meant to give a sense of scale and density — but details on the number of units, or exact building design won't be known until the land is in the hands of private developers.
"When we get into selling off the parcels, once they've been serviced and zoned, we'll be selling those to private developers and builders and it'll be up to them to come up with the plan and the design for their specific sites," said Carol-Ann Beswick, senior project manager in real estate and development services with the city.
Beswick says the city has a strong vision for the land that includes an inclusive, sustainable, mixed use, and medium density type of development.
She says the tallest buildings will run along 16th Avenue and then taper in height toward the ridge that overlooks The Winston and Fox Hollow golf courses.
She says there will be lots of open space and connectivity to the surrounding community and regional pathways.
"This plan is conscious of the lower density form that exists to the west and to the south but we feel that it fits and it provides greater density, smart growth for leveraging the Max Orange BRT and providing a variety of housing opportunities too," said Beswick.
Beswick says the current plans are the result of extensive consultations with stakeholders and other members of the public that began last fall.
"And at this point, we're checking back in with people that are interested, adjacent residents, to show them how the plan has evolved during the planning process, what we were able to keep and what was required to change based on that planning authority review," said Beswick.
These plans are available on the city's website. The public can provide comments and engage in an online survey until Jan. 4, 2021.
The feedback and the plans will then be presented to the Calgary Planning Commission.
The next step is to present it to city council for approval. At that time there will be a public hearing, too.
If the project proceeds, Beswick says site servicing would occur in 2022, followed by the sale of the parcels of land, and then construction would begin in 2023.