Province looks for new housing ideas for parcel of land on Calgary’s Confederation Park

Click to play video: '‘A prime piece of real estate’: Province looks for new housing ideas for property near Confederation Park'
‘A prime piece of real estate’: Province looks for new housing ideas for property near Confederation Park
WATCH: It appears a seniors’ lodge on Confederation Park will be demolished and the province is looking for ideas on what to put in its place. As Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports, the province is hoping to create more affordable housing there. – Jan 26, 2024

It’s a parcel of land backing onto one of Calgary’s best known inner-city parks. Now it appears the old seniors’ home on Confederation Park will be demolished and the province is looking for ideas on what to put in its place.

The Confederation Park Commons seniors’ lodge opened in 1976 and closed in April 2022. Most recently, it was operated by Silvera for Seniors but sits on land owned by the province.

In November 2023, the province put out a request for expressions of interest from organizations wanting to develop the property.

The province says this is part of the work to expand access to affordable housing.

“This call-out will help us look at all possible options to ensure we make the best possible use of this property. We look forward to seeing proposals to make the most of the site and provide more affordable places to live for Albertans.”  said Jason Nixon, Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services in a statement.

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Silvera for Seniors is among the organizations that has expressed an interest in building there.

“This is a prime piece of real estate given its location right next-door adjacent to Confederation Park,” said Kyle Fawcett, chief external relations officer for Silvera for Seniors.

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He said the Silvera for Seniors waitlist currently includes the names of more than 600 individuals who have applied and qualified for affordable housing that they are unable to house at this time.

Fawcett said they are hoping to work with the government and the private sector to optimize the value of the land in a way that also allows opportunity to reinvest in affordable housing.

“Probably a mixed-market type building where you have some market housing with a mix of some affordable housing. Depending on what that looks like, it could generate potential revenue to support affordable units in other parts of the city as well,” Fawcett said.

Alkarim Devani is the co-founder of RNDSQR development which has a specific focus on redeveloping inner+city single family lots into more dense developments.

He says it’s a solution to the so-called ‘missing middle’ that would make homes more affordable.

Devani says seniors’ housing should be part of the mix but there should also be a multi-generational component.

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“Is there an opportunity for us to bring in families in different housing than what currently exists in the marketplace? I don’t think you need a commercial aspect there.  I would say multi-generational. Council has been working on a lot of zoning reform and middle housing is starting to thrive in the established communities. We’ve seen significant demands for stacked townhomes. Something that could lead to seniors being able to reside and maybe four-storey or six-storey buildings might be too much, but there are more gentle density approaches,” Devani said.

Land on Confederation Park is expensive with multi-million dollars homes throughout the area.

Devani says every community in the city should have affordable housing.

“We tend to not put affordable housing close to parks. I don’t know why those folks shouldn’t have the same rights that all of us do as Calgarians. I think the best place for folks who need affordable housing is with other members so we can help elevate those folks and bridge those those gaps. I don’t think keeping folks who have different needs separate makes any sense.”

The Confederation Park land is currently zoned as Special Purpose – Community Institution District and would need to be rezoned for the development of affordable housing.

“If the province retains ownership, the department would work with the city on rezoning if necessary,” explained a ministry spokesperson in a statement to Global News. “However, if government sells or transfers the property it would be the responsibility of the new owner.”

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The ministry will review the submissions to determine the next steps.

At this time, there are no details on the number of submissions received according to a spokesperson for the Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services.

The deadline for submissions was Jan. 24.

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