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:
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.
VP Academic, Urban CSA