Since the 1960s, when Parkdale was comfortably nestled on the western edge of Calgary’s river valley, there have been repeated pulses of city growth. As Calgary’s growth mushroomed, the city boundary expanded and encompassed the towns of Montgomery and Bowness to the west. Since then, Parkdale has come to be considered an inner-city community as the suburbs have widened in all directions.
Calgary’s expansion has resulted in increased traffic volumes and longer commute times for everyone, especially those in the sprawling suburbs. Inner city communities have become more attractive and home owners have been drawn to Parkdale’s charms. What other inner city communities are tucked along the river and unaffected by flooding? As residents, we enjoy the river pathway system for both recreation and transportation. Major bus routes and road arteries provide easy access to both the downtown and the rest of the city. Close proximity to the Foothills Hospital and the University of Calgary add to the appeal.
Although our community was zoned as R-2 from its infancy (meaning that lots could be subdivided into two separate residences), most residents were satisfied with making minor upgrades and our housing mix changed little. However, the attraction of Parkdale and the pressures of growth have resulted in big changes. Increased demand for inner-city living and skyrocketing property values have induced residents and developers to subdivide Parkdale’s R-2 lots and build upscale residences. In many cases, the resulting structures are selling for over twice the purchase price of the original homes.
An informal survey of Parkdale’s housing mix
With development, the conversion of housing types has resulted in fewer single-family homes on original lots. An equal number of the new homes are now higher-density structures, including semi-detached (duplex), four-plexes, and 10-plexes. The result has been 33% more living units in Parkdale.
There has been a doubling of condo/apartment living units, but most strikingly, a 22-fold increase in semi-detached (duplex-style), together with 4-plexes, and 10-plex units. Older single-family homes are being replaced with higher density structures at a steady pace.
The City of Calgary has encouraged increased density with several revisions to its planning policies. Guidelines govern the size and types of living units acceptable in specific areas of Parkdale. Higher density structures are confined to Parkdale’s core, where most of the condos and multiplexes have been built.
Parkdale residents have noticed that many of these new homes have also changed in character. To maintain or increase the amount of living space, houses are increasing in both height and lot coverage. Additionally, garage space has taken a larger bite of many lots.
If present trends continue, older homes will be gradually replaced with new, larger units and Parkdale’s housing density will increase. Parkdale residents are invited to participate in guiding this growth through involvement in the community and the Planning and Development Committee. For more information, visit our Planning and Development web page.
A parting thought
An open question remains, are there more people living in Parkdale than in the past? The larger families of the 60’s, living in smaller homes, are being replaced by smaller families living in larger homes. I suspect the density of homes is up while the population density has changed little. Which begs the question about “increased density” and “growth”.
Content and commentary provided by Colynn Kerr and Traci Nayeri, Parkdale Planning and Development Committee