Privately owned public space: the City of Calgary experience

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The implementation of an incentive zoning policy, known as the Bonus System, has influenced the development of Calgary' s downtown for over 20 years. This planning tool encourages the development of a unique type of public amenity space referred to as privately owned public space. An inventory of several privately owned public spaces was conducted and the spaces were critically analysed in terms of urban design principles which were synthesized from several sources. This MDP reviews the goals and objectives of the Bonus System policy and evaluates the success of the policy in light of the urban design principles. The results of the study indicate that the City has not achieved a balance between quality public amenity space and increased density granted to developers. The analysis suggests that many existing spaces provide little benefit to the public. Revisions to the policy are recommended in order to reflect the evolving vision of the downtown and the changing needs of the users of public space. Further study is necessary to determine the types of public amenities that will be required in the downtown in the future. A requirement to provide a high quality of urban design could improve the benefits this unique form of public space provides. The bonus policy should therefore be supported through the adoption of urban design guidelines and a design review process. The analysis indicates that incentive zoning policy in Calgary has not succeeded in establishing a comprehensive public space network. It is imperative that the City take the lead in developing key civic spaces that will form the structure of a healthy public realm.
Bibliography: p. 135-141
Incentive Zoning, Bonus System, Privately Owned Public Space, Public Realm, Public Space, Downtown Calgary, Pedestrian, Urban Design, Density
Block, D. C. (2003). Privately owned public space: the City of Calgary experience (Master's thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from doi:10.11575/PRISM/19114