Proposed Marda Loop development is a ‘tipping point’: residents

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Proposed Marda Loop development is a ‘tipping point’: residents
WATCH ABOVE: A proposed multi-residential development along 33 Avenue S.W. has prompted Marda Loop residents to petition against it. As Adam MacVicar reports, some residents say this development is a tipping point – Dec 13, 2022

A group of residents in the southwest Calgary community of Marda Loop have come together to voice their opposition to a proposed development and further densification in the neighbourhood.

At issue is a land-use application from Sarina Homes along 33 Avenue S.W. that would see the rezoning of seven properties starting on the corner of 19 Street S.W.

Rezoning those properties would allow for a six-storey building with 120 residential units and ground-floor commercial space with supplementary residential units.

“Given that it’s the fifth building in five blocks by the same developer with the same sort of design, it’s a tipping point for the citizens and community members,” Kerry Parker Smith with Save Our Marda Loop told Global News.

According to the city’s development map, the proposed building would be 23 metres high; over the current maximum of 10 metres.

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Parker Smith, who lives near the site, said there are several concerns with the proposal, including its size.

“We are adjacent to two-storey properties, so the transition isn’t sensitive and the size of it is so out of scope,” she said.

“We think there are much more appropriate locations for it within Marda Loop.”

The properties included in the rezoning application for the proposed Marda Loop development. Global News

Other concerns for residents in the area are the neighbourhood’s road infrastructure, and the potential impact of the proposed development on traffic and parking around the site.

Cristiano de Carvalho lives in a mixed-use development also built by Sarina Homes in the area. She is concerned with pedestrian safety.

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“You have two sets of lights there, and you’re always waiting at those lights; it’s a huge clog-up,” Carvalho said.

“People are trying to cross the street (and) they almost have to stick their head out to be able to cross because people are just flying down that street. It’s already bad enough.”

Save Our Marda Loop has started a petition against the proposed rezoning of the site. It had garnered nearly 200 signatures as of Tuesday.

The petition’s website lists several reasons for the community’s opposition to the proposal, including where it is located outside the commercial area outlined in the Marda Loop Area Redevelopment Plan. It also says the proposal is inconsistent with existing land-use zoning.

According to the City of Calgary, the application to rezone the land falls within the South Calgary/Altadore Area Redevelopment Plan, which would need to be amended to allow for the proposed rezoning.

“While we’re almost finished reviewing this application, it still needs to go to Calgary Planning Commission, followed by a public hearing of council for discussion and potential approval,” Ashley Parks, a community planning co-ordinator with the City of Calgary, said in a statement to Global News.

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If the site gets rezoned, many of the residents’ concerns such as overall building mix, design, size and details like parking, landscaping and site access would be determined at a later date, when a development permit is submitted for the site.

“Many community members are very amenable to a lot lower height — ideally no commercial space,” Parker Smith told Global News.

Alkarim Devani, an industry expert and the president of a development firm called RNDSQR, said the City of Calgary is trying to provide certainty to residents and the industry when it comes to increasing growth in inner-city communities.

Devani said the desire to develop higher-density projects in Marda Loop is due to a demand for different housing types in a community with many amenities and walkability.

“There’s a lot of organic growth and developers who are genuinely interested in these neighbourhoods. That interest only comes because there’s a market demand,” Devani said.

“Developers are not going to go out and build where there is no demand for product. I think that’s why you’re seeing a lot of pressure within this corridor, within these neighbourhoods specifically.”

Sarina Homes did not respond to Global News’ request for comment.

Residents told Global News there have been several engagement sessions between the community and the developer, with another virtual engagement session scheduled for Wednesday evening.

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However, Parker Smith said many residents want to see the existing rules that are in place followed.

“I think I can say most of our community’s residents highly support densification,” she said. “But it needs to be in a thoughtful way, and in a sustainable way.”

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