The Calgary Journal
The Calgary Journal

'Not in my backyard' declares one resident

Picketts thumbIn a resounding bid for the status quo, residents voted 157-10 against the subdivision of lots in Rosedale.

Residents from 167 households in the small community came out to vote Oct. 19 on the burning issue of subdivision of lots in the area. Currently Rosedale is a community made up of single-detached homes with large yards.

A "yes" vote would have given the community association a mandate to approve subdivision requests, leading the way to more home construction, secondary suites and, potentially, townhomes and high-rise apartments.

As residents filed in and out of the community centre, Charles Laird waited in the lobby for his son to finish up a group activity upstairs. He lives in neighbouring Crescent Heights, where multiplex homes are allowed.

"I like the greater population density in Crescent Heights," said Laird. "There's more people on the sidewalks and more energy in the community."

RosedaleResidents of the northwest community of Rosedale voted against changes to lot sizes, keeping large homes like these safe from future subdivisions.

Photo by: Geoffrey Picketts
"It's quieter [in Rosedale] for sure; certainly not as much activity, not as much traffic. A very exclusive group of people live in Rosedale, and I would suspect they want to keep it that way."

Neil and Linda Marshall have lived in Rosedale for 40 years, and were among the many who voted no.

"This is a very historic neighbourhood with traditional homes and we just didn't ever want to see that change," Linda said.

Neil has seen Rosedale change from a primarily blue-collar community when he first moved in, into a neighbourhood of professionals and retirees today.

"The blue-collars are gone, but they've still got the seniors," he said with a laugh.

While the community has changed over the last 40 years, the Marshall's were resistant to any broader changes in lot size and demographics that subdivisions might bring.

"We don't want the change. We like what we've got," Neil said.

Given the solid rejection of subdivision, it almost seemed that the vote was unnecessary, the conclusion foregone. However, there was a rationale in favour of subdividing lots, which included luring in younger families and making Rosedale more affordable for more people.

"Urban sprawl is a very big problem in Calgary."

– Greg Tompkins, Rosedale Community Association board member
Another part of the pro-subdivision argument, outlined in Rosedale's October newsletter, is that Calgary needs to increase its density and Rosedale should help combat urban sprawl.

Greg Tompkins, a board member of the Rosedale Community Association, agreed that "urban sprawl is a very big problem in Calgary," yet he blamed the availability of land surrounding Calgary for it.

"The city has to look at the problem overall, but there should be availability of everything in the city. There should be pockets of multi-family homes, pockets of single-detached homes," Tompkins said.

Linda Marshall agreed that urban sprawl is a problem in Calgary, and that more population density is needed in the city. Her husband offered one solution: "Build the high rises in somebody else's neighbourhood; not in my backyard."

Tompkins echoed that sentiment.

"People who moved here with the view to have a single-family home on a large lot and have that change, they'd feel slighted."

As for whose backyard the high rises should be built in, the answer is not so clear.

"You ask the people in Bel-Aire or Mayfair, do they want that?" Linda asked. "No, I don't think so."

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