Project Background

In 2007 Council directed Administration to purchase the R.B. Bennett surplus school site, which was closed in the early 2000's, from the Calgary Board of Education with the following intent:

  • revitalize underutilized surplus lands of R.B Bennett site
  • preserve up to 2.7 acres for public open space amenities
  • accommodate evolving housing needs by integrating low to mid rise residential development
  • benefit from the established community lifestyle and services of Bowness
  • developed in consultation with community input in alignment with existing policies and plans

The R.B. Bennett site is located in the community of Bowness framed by 33 and 31 avenues N.W. and the Bowwood Dr. N.W. The City of Calgary as landowner of the site is undertaking the creation of a Master Plan which will inform the Land Use Amendment and Outline Plan application to facilitate the redevelopment of the site.

RB Bennett Site Boundary

Site Boundary

The project will seek to incorporate Urban Design Principles including:

  • Walkable, accessible, safe and well-connected open space network
  • Pedestrian-friendly and sensible animation of public realm
  • Range of low to mid-rise housing options that help frame the public realm and put “eye’s” on street
  • Positive diversification of housing options
  • Sensitive built-form interface with surrounding uses/context
  • Integrates and supports multi recreational pursuits – further enhance community recreational amenities
  • Modest and careful integration of retail/commercial uses that complements Mainstreet Bowness
  • Further enhance Bowness as a great neighbourhood

The following tabs are provided to give further background and context on the project. These will give more insight into how this project aligns with area plans and development. Reviewing these should provide additional details on the information for which we are seeking your input.

RB Bennett School

Evaluation and the future of the existing school building

The existing R.B. Bennett school building has been evaluated to determine whether it can be realistically maintained, renovated and/or repurposed in a safe and meaningful manner. This analysis has determined that the building cannot be reasonably retained because the age and condition of the building pose environmental, health, safety and long-term maintenance challenges. Ultimately, the building will be demolished. The existing school site will thoughtfully transition into open space that is attentive to the existing community fabric.

Opportunities and Challenges

Site Opportunities and Challenges

Services and Amenities

The former R.B. Bennett school site is well positioned and a desirable location within the community of Bowness offering close proximity and easy access to a variety of services and open space/recreational amenities.

Engagement Process

Engagement Goals

The objective of this engagement is to guide decision making and inform the R.B. Bennett Redevelopment Master Plan motivated by locally driven goals and ideas. Feedback will inform the development of concept plans that incorporate open space and residential development to complement the community.

The engagement strategy is framed around the following three elements:

Inform & Educate

  • Provide information about the project purpose and background
  • Build stakeholder awareness of Council direction, including the Triple Bottom Line (TBL) approach to the project and in accordance with relevant Council policies (MDP)
  • Reconfirm what was heard in the past but focus on moving forward
  • Provide information on the project opportunities and constraints
  • Share key aspects of the relevant background studies
  • Recommended concept plans and the process leading to their development
  • Share how the development will enhance the lands. Gains vs. losses
  • Present design principles
  • Share open space programming options
  • Next steps

Listen & Acknowledge

  • Listen to and acknowledge interested parties concerns and aspirations
  • Provide feedback on how interested parties input influenced the Redevelopment Master Plan

Background and Details

As planning for the site moves forward it is important to anticipate and prepare for city growth in a way that enhances livability, sustainability, and equity. In this regard, three high level concept plans have been created which preserve open space and put careful thought into the proposed built form and intensity in relation to the surrounding neighbourhood. Please review the three preliminary concepts provided.

The underlying objectives for all concepts include the following:

  • Integrate open and recreational space within the overall concept in a meaningful manner where the open space is highly visible and accessible to the Bowness community while offering open space frontage opportunities for new proposed residential development;
  • A minimum of 1.2 acres of open space will be located within the northwest corner of the site to respect the historical intent for this portion of the property;
  • New development is encouraged to be ground-oriented and help frame the new open space systems and put “eyes” on the space;
  • Facilitate consideration of multi-purpose/sport recreational facilities in addition to passive outdoor amenities;
  • Include seamless pedestrian/active mobility connections across the site both north-south and in particular east-west along the 32 Avenue N.W. alignment;
  • Allow existing and new residents to move across the site with ease and convenience while being distracted with active recreational and open space amenities along the way;
  • Create logical building blocks to accommodate new housing choices;
  • Offer a range of housing opportunities and built forms ranging up to a maximum of 6 storeys with built form transitions and interface treatment that must be sensitive to the existing surrounding built form and character. Higher building forms would be only accommodated within the interior of the site;
  • Facilitate efficient parcel configurations that optimize development potential and can each be readily serviced from utilities within the surrounding public right of ways - each concept is intended to have a similar amount of developable area;
  • Identify zones that may be appropriate for small, boutique retail or consumer service uses that would be complementary to Mainstreet Bowness businesses;

Concepts 1, 2 and 3 are meant to accommodate the same fundamental principles above, but differ in the following ways:

Area Plans and Development

Calgary's Municipal Development Plan (MDP)

The Calgary Municipal Development Plan (MDP) lays out a vision for how Calgary grows and develops over the next 60 years. Calgary’s MDP was adopted by Council in 2009 and updated in 2020.

In the MDP, the R.B. Bennett site is classified as “Developed Residential – Inner City” on Map 1 – Urban Structure. Inner city areas, along with established areas comprise the overall Developed Residential Area on Map 1.

Section 3.5.1 provides general policies for the Developed Area. The following policy statements guide the R.B. Bennett site redevelopment:

Bowness Area Redevelopment Plan Amendment (

Approved by Council in 2019, the Bowness Area Redevelopment Plan (ARP) sets out comprehensive land use policies that help guide the future of the community over the next 10-15 years. Its vision statement is to ensure all existing and new development contributes to the enhancement of Bowness as a unique community with its own small-town history and spirit.

The R.B. Bennett school site is identified as Open Space, Park, Community Facility or School on Map 7 (Open Space and School Sites). To the north and west of the site, the ARP recognizes the existing housing stock, identifying the residential area as “Residential: Low Density, Conservation & Infill”. To the south of the site, lands are identified as “Residential: Low and Medium Multi-Dwelling”.

The contemplated future development of the site will require an ARP amendment to identify the site as “Residential: Low and Medium Multi-Dwelling”.

ARP objectives and considerations relevant to the R.B. Bennett redevelopment include:

  • Ensure that new developments provide an attractive residential environment with adequate parking, landscaping, and amenities.
  • Maintain and provide within the community a variety of housing types capable of accommodating different age groups, household types, and income levels.
  • Encourage sensitive infill development and renovations that contribute to the continued renewal and vitality of the community.
  • Utility upgrading and other public improvements may be required as redevelopment occurs, and the costs associated with such matters shall be the responsibility of the developer.
  • Ongoing civic consultation with community residents will be maintained with respect to the community’s local improvement needs (for example, sidewalk and roadway resurfacing, lane paving, street light installation, etc.) to maintain and improve the physical quality of the area.

Community Demographics and Projections

Based on The City’s community profile for Bowness, the neighbourhood population is projected to grow by 10% by 2030 and continue to steadily grow beyond 2030 (see Bowness profile). Bowness has emerged as a desirable established neighbourhood offering a rich blend of local services with unique historical character that is drawing new families and redevelopment investment, all leading to the anticipated increase in population. It is now important to consider opportunities for how the neighbourhood can sensitively and strategically accommodate this growth and change to the benefit of the overall community.

One of the key opportunities is to identify, evaluate and re-plan under-utilized sites and how they can positively contribute to thoughtful redevelopment and intensification, optimize upon the existing infrastructure and services, and create opportunities for new housing options and increase access to housing overall. This can include townhomes, apartments, and other low profile, mid-density housing options that can help accommodate the projected growth and add housing diversity within the same community footprint.

Triple Bottom Line

Adopted by Council in 2005, The Triple Bottom Line (TBL) Policy provides sustainable development principles to guide The City’s decisions and actions, which consider social, economic and environmental growth impacts.

The 2011 update to the framework aligns with The City’s 2020 Sustainability Direction, identifying goals, objectives, targets and strategies for The City to contribute towards the imagineCALGARY 100-year vision for community sustainability.

Current Land Use Designation

The northwest portion of the site is currently zoned Special Purpose Community Service (S-CS) District. The remainder of the site is currently zoned Residential Contextual One/Two Dwelling (R-C2) District.

Source: Development Map (PDMAP) (

Frequently Asked Questions

Will the new development have public open spaces?

Yes. One of the key considerations in planning this site for new development is the integration of quality open space. Open space amenities such as outdoor recreational amenities, parks, green spaces, and public plazas are essential to a healthy and livable community. These spaces provide opportunities for exercise, social interaction, and relaxation and contribute to residents' overall quality of life.

How much public open space will be there be?

The future development is envisioned to integrate up to 2.7 acres of open space, the size and components of which will be determined in concert with the community through the engagement process.

What amenities are to be included within the public open spaces?

The features to be included in the public open space will be determined through evaluating amenities already nearby in the community as well as through the input received from participants on what may be desirable. This will then be appropriately integrated within the overall concept. Previous direction from parks subject matter experts and Council envisioned this space to include a major soccer field. As part of the engagement process, a broader range of activities, functions, and recreational pursuits such as multi purpose or multi sports spaces are also being considered. Combining functions can create vibrant, dynamic spaces that enhance the community experience while fostering healthy living and environmental sustainability.

Will the new development include single-family housing?

The new development is envisioned for other forms of low to medium density housing options and to creatively diversify housing choices. Single-family housing is not being considered for this site.

What type of housing options will this new development have?

To support the future projected growth and demographic trends of the neighbourhood, accommodating enhanced housing options are important to provide accessible living for a diverse and evolving population. This includes aging-in-place, lone-parent families, and younger families being drawn to this community. The proposed development aims to provide a range of housing options such as townhomes and low to medium-density apartments. This will help the community to become more inclusive and meet the growing population needs in strategic locations.

What is the purpose of this project?

In 2007 Council directed administration to purchase the R.B. Bennett surplus school site from the Calgary Board of Education. At the time Administration was directed to preserve 2.7 acres* for public open space amenities, while sensitively redeveloping the remainder of the site to accommodate various housing options (*based on 2007 analysis; subject to confirmation/re-evaluation as part of the current work plan). The goal of the R.B. Bennet lands is to help meet the evolving housing needs of the local community, as well as attract new residents to Bowness that would benefit from the established community lifestyle and services that already exist.

The purpose of this current initiative is to finalize an implementation plan for the reuse of this surplus R.B Bennett school site, which is approximately 8.97 acres. Design concepts are being explored that will incorporate up to 2.7 acres of strategically located open space that will integrate with the remaining site area composed of low to mid rise residential development.

Is the new development in alignment with the Area Redevelopment Plan (ARP)?

The current Area Redevelopment Plan (ARP) designates the site as a school site. Therefore, as part of the process, amending the Bowness ARP will be necessary. This anticipated amendment aligns with the direction given by Council when the opportunity to acquire the R.B. Bennett Elementary School site arose. Council instructed administration to analyze possibilities for the site to fulfill strategic Council objectives and meet community needs (LAS2006-71). Additionally, Council recognized that these needs may include offering a wider range of housing options to enhance community diversity and accommodate community-supportive uses (LAS2006-17).

As a well-established community, Bowness has a unique character predominantly composed of single-family bungalows. However, as the city continues to grow, exciting opportunities are ahead to integrate new forms of housing development that can enhance the community of Bowness and support its diverse and evolving needs.

While change is part of any evolving community, it can be challenging, but often it leads to positive outcomes. The objective is to work collectivley to facilitate changes to Bowness that are positive and support the community's long-term well-being.

This survey will gather important feedback and ideas to inform this endeavour and how new forms of development can be integrated while maintaining the unique character of Bowness. Please take a few minutes to share your thoughts with our team.

Please Provide Your Input

The What We Heard (WWH) is now available for viewing please click here.