UrbanCSA support for the Brentwood TOD

Tom Howard, VP Academic of UrbanCSA, wrote the a support letter for the Brentwood TOD. His views are widely supported by the executive council of UrbanCSA, and represent our perspective towards urban development and the future form of our City.

This letter will be included in the public hearing to be held on Monday regarding the Brentwood TOD. There has been significant resistance to this project which, it is important to notice, has been widely discussed and consultated with the Community Association and the neighbors.

The Brentwood Transit Oriented Development represents a step forward towards a transit oriented, denser and more human Calgary. Let’s hope that, through involvement and understanding, a concensus is reached in our City on Monday!

Letter sent by Tom Howard to Alderman Farrel:


Alderman Farrell,

As an executive member of the Urban Calgary Students Association, an organization currently representing over 50 University of Calgary undergraduates, I would like to formally express our associations support for the Brentwood Station Area Redevelopment. The collective experience of our group in studying sustainable, functional communities informs us that the current proposition is a sound, workable plan that may serve as a catalyst for further such optimal growth patterns.

The Urban Calgary Students Association feels that good governance is anessential element of such developments, and we do feel that your office has created some avenues of citizen participation and input. It is ourfear, however, that the responses to the proposed TOD have been largely irrational and uninformed. It is our firm belief that these citizens should certainly entitled to express their opinions and concerns, but that your office should not be browbeaten into believing that these opinions represent the majority of the Brentwood residents views, or the best interest of Calgarians.

Resistance to transit infrastructure, higher densities and community redevelopment in Calgary is not without precedent. High levels of resistance, for instance, were met in the communities of Sunnyside and Hillhurst when the Sunnyside LRT station was constructed in 1987; today,as you well know, this station and its surrounding environs is a paragon of successful transit planning in Calgary. Dense, mixed-use development in Calgary, however, has been the exception rather than the norm, and the proposed TOD at Brentwood represents a more extensive retrofit than has been previously experienced in Calgary. Accordingly, it is to be expected that the plan be met with apprehension; no-one wants to be part of a learning curve, to be sure. Many Urban CSA members participated in amonth-long field school studying sustainable communities in Europe this past summer, and experienced firsthand the result of walkable, humanly scaled communities effectively serviced by transit. The Brentwood Station Area Redevelopment represents such effective planning ideals, and most definitely has the potentially to enrich the community of Brentwood.

Many criticisms have currently been levelled against the proposition based on parking concerns. Again, I refer you to the Sunnyside LRT station, as many criticisms of that development revolved around issues of parking, which is currently not a significant issues that neighbourhood. I would know: I live three blocks away from it, and am extremely satisfied that I can live, work and play in Calgary without needing a car. I have friends in the Brentwood area, and I know that this is certainly not the case formany Brentwood residents. The spaces between residences and transit infrastructure are not currently conducive to pedestrian activity, and are instead oriented towards vehicular traffic. If these car-centric spaces are removed, the experience of Urban CSA members indicates that it will not necessarily “spill over” into surrounding streets. In situations such as these, the argument is usually raised that automobile traffic behaves like water, and if dammed in one neighbourhood, will overflow into neighbourhing districts. Our research, however, indicates that automobile traffic behaves more like gas, if you will, and will compress and expand based on the amount of room you allow it to operate in.

It is therefore our collective opinion both as concerned citizens and students of good urban form that your office carry out the Brentwood Station Area Redevelopment as proposed. As part of our mandate the UrbanCSA seeks to provide a voice for student views on urban issues, but also to share our studied perspectives on urban issues with a general audience. Speaking in my official capacity as an executive member of the Urban CSA, I would like to formally offer the assistance of our organization indispelling misconceptions about high densities and TOD planning in thecommunity of Brentwood. We feel that not only is the Brentwood Station Area Redevelopment in the best of Brentwood residents, but the best interests of Calgarians as well.

Thank you for your time, and please feel free to contact myself or anyother members of the Urban CSA at your earliest convenience.

Tom Howard
VP Academic, Urban CSA

Guillermo Guglietti



  1. Adam Zendel · December 6, 2008

    Hey nicely written guys!

  2. Jill van Tol · December 7, 2008

    Maybe you should be taking a lesson in basic English grammar before you start to construct cities. As one of the first graduates of the U of C I am ashamed to see such poor sentence construction – missing words, spelling errors. Don’t you proof read?

    As to your premise that Brentwood residents are opposed to development we are not. As we have been saying since Sept 20 “Do things correctly!” Infrastructure, transit and of necessity parking be managed first, then we can decide on how many and what size of residences can be built. Part of the problem is the poor planning at U of C so that the on campus life is not present for many students today. A great learning experience that has gone. The other part is the city’s insistence on sprawl without considering transit. Do you know how many peole drive to Brentwood from the outlying areas because there’s no LRT and busses only run every ten minutes or so in the rush hour times? Do your homework properly young man and also talk to Sunnyside residents who are now alarmed as that idyllic setting you believe is there is also about to be invaded.
    By the way do you mean my mail will not be published or did you want my e-mail address?

  3. Jill van Tol · December 7, 2008

    If you are as free thinking as you seem to think you are my e-mail should not be moderated, or did you learn your lessons at the Triwood meeting. It was there that I heard “I thought Communism was dead, but it’s still alive in Calgary.”

  4. Tom Howard · December 7, 2008


    Thank you for being so critical of the grammar in the letter I wrote to Druh Farrell. The version we have posted on this site was cobbled together from an e-mail I sent to Alderman Farrell, and yes, the “cut and paste” process has left a few grammatical error. In the future we will be more diligent in correcting these errors; however, I feel that you should perfect your own grammar before you criticize mine. Multiple sentence fragments aside, when you write “Do you things correctly!” (sic) the d should not be capitalized and the apostrophe should be outside the quotation mark, as it the article that ends your sentence.

    On to the actual content of my letter, then. You say that Brentwood residents want the proposed Area Redevelopment Plan to be implemented “correctly”, however, the term “correctly” is being interpreted in many different ways. For instance, the way the Citizens Advocating Responsible Transit-Oriented Development interprets optimal development is quite different from the way the Brentwood Community Association does. It is our organizations hope that we can strike a workable compromise that agrees with a majority of the stakeholders.

    I’m not really sure what you are getting at with “poor planning at the U of C”; is it the station location? Density and uses around the station? The University LRT station was originally supposed to run into the middle of campus, but was unfortunately moved to the middle of Crowchild Trail for time and cost reasons. Our organization hopes to avoid further such setbacks in future developments, beginning with Brentwood.

    You are correct in saying that Calgary has extended residential development without first establishing a cohesive transit plan, and you are also correct in noting that many residents in “outlying areas” drive to the Brentwood Park and Ride. I have done my homework Miss van Tol, and my homework indicates to me that a TOD in Brentwood is a step away from the pattern of sprawl you despise; it also tells me that a reduction in parking spaces at the Park and Ride, in conjunction with the BRT program Airdrie is considering, will reduce the amount of trips made by car towards the Brentwood LRT station. As per your comments regarding Sunnyside residents opposing redevelopment, I am aware of these responses, but I do not feel that they carry a popular mandate from the rest of the community. I am very confident that redevelopment in the Sunnyside area certainly does not equate to an “invasion”, and will be actively involved in relating this perspective as rationally as possible to my neighbours.

    Insofar as your comments about communism (not capitalized) are concerned, I fear your assessment is incorrect. We moderate comments on this website to avoid spam and personal attacks, not to start a workers revolution. To clarify; your e-mail is not being moderated (whatever that means), but your comments are, the same way open houses in Brentwood are moderated to assure that rights of individuals attending are protected. As a no doubt active and opinionated member of the Brentwood community, I am sure you are aware of how this works.

    If you have any further concerns, please feel free to post them, and I will do my best to respond without collectivizing your property or sending anyone to a gulag.

    Tom Howard
    VP Academic, Urban CSA

  5. Adam Zendel · December 15, 2008

    o’ SNAP!

  6. MRS. J. van Tol · May 6, 2010

    May 6, 2010
    I’ve just become aware that my notes have been published. I am 76 years old and just becoming acquainted with this part of modern technology. It was by chance that someone told me about this as I had expected an e-mail response.
    However I am an active senior member doing my best for those who don’t have public speaking skills and are not into modern technical equipment either.
    I hope that you are keeping up to date with the trashing of the Brentwood Mall, only minor changes being done to the road systems and now the possibility of FOUR sets of traffic lights and a fourway stop within 0.6 of a km. on Brisebois/40 from Brentwood Rd to 37 Ave NW. Also traffic being directed from 32 Ave through the Research area and coming out by the parking lot. Several active seniors have being doing traffic counts and during rush hours there are between 800 and 1,000 vehicles a day using this area to head in all directions where there is NO transport for them.
    We could go on and on about the problems that are surfacing but until people stop playing politics nothing will get done properly.
    People in power are so two faced. e.g. basement suites. Council agreed that this was a good idea and now turns them down saying that the people in the area bought with the understanding that they would be single dwellings. But when it comes to long established residential, single dwelling areas such as Brentwood and others along the LRT line it’s OK to build high rise towers in a minute area of the Mall.
    I hope that you will attend the next Open House that the Brentwood Concerned Citizens hold and learn how differing opinions can be given without any heavy handedness. The communism comment was made by people leaving the Triwood meeting not by me. You may think me ‘opinionated’ but my generation was taught to listen to all sides of a problem and then decide. The large, older generation in several of the affected areas has listened and agrees that the cart is being put before the horse. We need to spend the next five years or so on roads and transit then look at adding housing.
    By the way I’m still learning. Please what does o’ SNAP mean from Adam Zendel?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s