Wednesday, July 14, 2010

New Urbanism in Calgary?

There is a neighbourhood in south-eastern Calgary called McKenzie Towne. According to the developer's website it is "an old-style neighbourhood with bustling High Street shops and classic homes featuring welcoming front porches" and an example of New Urbanism.

Entering McKenzie Towne

Unfortunately, the example only pays lip services to New Urbansim. Yes there is a "high street", but it's more in the fashion of urban village shopping malls like areas of Park Royal Mall in West Vancouver. There is no mixed-use and no office space. In fact, the following map from the East McKenzie Area Structure Plan from the City of Calgary shows that the community is not very walkable which is one of the most important parts of New Urbansim. You will notice yellow circles on the following map. The salmon areas are the commercial areas. The smaller circles are the 5 minute walking distance that most average people are willing to walk. The larger circles are the 20 minute walking distance which is the limit that most people would ever think of walking. As you can see, only about 1/3 of the neighbourhood is walkable. The community also lacks a proper street grid which further reduces walkability as the pedestrian does not have a direct route to her destination.

Click Map to Enlarge

Another interesting fact about McKenzie Towne is that it has a minimum density of 7 units per acre (upa). In the Langley Willoughby neighbourhood density starts at 6 upa to a maximum of 20 upa. 6 - 12 upa is required to support light rail. The City of Calgary, to it's credit, has planned for two light rail stations in McKenzie Towne. This is more than can be said about TransLink in Langley Township.

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