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Plans for old Grace Hospital site in Calgary go to council on Monday

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Calgary's Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Association is raising some concerns about a proposed development on the site of the former Grace Hospital. Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports – May 30, 2021

The Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Association in Calgary is raising some concerns about a proposed development on the site of the former Grace Hospital.

Community members say it is the largest redevelopment site in the area.

The Grace Hospital was built in 1926 and was closed in 1996. It’s now home to a private health clinic, but an ambitious plan will see the old hospital demolished as part of the Riley Park Village project.

“I think there is a tremendous amount of opportunity,” said Ward 7 councillor Druh Farrell.

“It will be up to future decision-makers on how that will work but the components are in place for success. It’s just a matter of whether it gets implemented properly or not.”

Read more: Calgary residents worried about big plans for site of old Grace Hospital

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The plan is to create a phased village-style medical campus located down the hill from the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium.

The Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Association said the proposed Riley Park Village redevelopment represents an “unprecedented change that will both significantly increase medical commercial square footage as well as increase the number of dwelling units in Hillhurst by 20 per cent.”

In a letter to the city, the community association said there are additional concerns that remain unaddressed.

Among those is the potential height of some of the buildings. The community is also calling for mobility-friendly pedestrian access that will connect Riley Park Village with the LRT station up the hill.

“It’s quite a slope, so how do you make it accessible? If you look at the Grace Hospital site and then you look at the proximity to the LRT station, it would be a missed opportunity to not connect them,” Farrell said.

The community association supports a variety of housing for multi-generational living and different income levels. Farrell said she supports that aspect of the plan.

“We know that that builds healthier communities, especially if we’re talking about seniors and affordable housing and children working together. That creates a healthy community, so we will have to rely on future decision-makers to make sure that happens,” Farrell said.

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The Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Association has made a written submission noting a preference for shorter midrise buildings as appropriate for a “village” feel in the area.

“I just worry mostly about the high density and the number of cars and the traffic,” said Hillhurst resident Fleurette Collins on Sunday.

“All of that would be my main concern as well as the concept of village. I think they should be honest about that because it doesn’t sound like it’s going to be a village. It sounds like it’s just a development.”

The Land Use and Area Redevelopment Plan amendments will go city council on Monday.

According to a Planning & Development Report to the city planning commission, the proposal would provide for “efficient reuse of an underdeveloped inner-city site surrounded by important community amenities to provide enhanced medical facilities, housing and employment options with access to the primary transit network.”

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