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What goes into Developing a Community?

November 3, 2020

Great communities don’t exist by accident. There is a great deal of experience, investigation, planning and dedication that go into it, and some good old-fashioned instincts, inspiration and entrepreneurial spirit behind it too! Want to know more about what has gone into developing an amazing community like Legacy? Read on to hear from WestCreek (WC) themselves.


How do you know what the right land is to develop?

Bravin Goldade, CEO and Founder: To us, land is not just a piece of dirt. There is a lot of potential in each piece of land and we pride ourselves on being able to see and unearth that potential into a reality. When we look at a piece of land, we look at finding a space with interesting features rather than needing to build new ones. In Legacy we found a piece of land that had a 300-acre environmental reserve that we chose to leave as is instead of building houses on it to maintain the natural topography of the land, and create a unique feature for every homeowner. We are from Calgary and believe in the land and want to be able to shape and enhance it. Calgary barely had any trees when the first settlers came here, now we choose to plant at least one tree, if not more, for every household in the community. Legacy, for example, will have over 8,500 trees planted in the community.

We also look at a lot of feasibility factors for homeowners. We look at what life could be like when living in one of our communities, is there commercial close by? Is there enough space for parks and playgrounds? If there isn’t, we ensure there will be space and area for that to come in the future. We build master-planned communities to ensure that every need to live, work and play is taken care of. We know our dirt.


Once a piece of land is chosen, how is the community developed?

Jared Goldade, General Manager: It is our goal always at WestCreek, to take an empty expanse of land at its most basic, natural form, and turn it into something beautiful. We always have a vision for a community in mind when we look at a piece of land. We work with the City of Calgary to create something that works in our vision and also uses policy to guide the development with regards to the broad land uses such as residential, commercial, environmental reserve, etc. From here we complete a number of technical studies that will help shape the details of the community. These include factors such as housing types and densities, commercial, park space, stormwater facilities and road sizing

Once we have the basic framework in mind, we look at different inspirations for the community that we want to bring to enhance the life of residents in the future. We take inspiration from all over the world, Wolf Willow for example we wanted to enhance the usual median between houses and turn it into something even more beautiful and useful to our residents. That’s why we took inspiration from some promenade parks in Germany that our Manager of Planning Catherine Agar had seen and experienced when living there, to create a wider 15m park space between the townhomes rather than just a row of trees between the houses. 

Being a land developer and designing a community, is all about the little details, Homeowners drive through and live in our communities and love the, but without tangibly knowing why. That’s our job, by considering little details like raising the flowerbeds and medians to ensure that the trees look great in the future is one of the reasons people love our communities.

We have a vision for park space and how we want to encourage homeowners to live. In Wolf Willow, we have planned for every park to be themed after a different animal in order to pay homage to the land it was and is for the animals that still exist along the river. We also plan our park spaces to drive and connect all homeowners to the river. As local Calgarians, we want to ensure that we honour the land that we come from so we really consider the land and it’s history when we name and design the community spaces. In Legacy, we ensured that there is a green space that runs from one end of the community to the other through the center to ensure homeowners can go for a walk without ever having to leave green space, as well as having a pathway all around the perimeter to maximize our green space in the environmental reserve that surrounds the community. 


What are unique features that WestCreek focuses on that might be unique from other developers?

Kalida Manarin, Marketing Manager: WestCreek is very fortunate to have a number of existing and future communities with ample amounts of green space such as the Bow River in Wolf Willow, Legacy’s environmental reserve, CornerBrook’s vast green space and Pine Valley’s environmental reserve near the creek. We selected these areas because of the natural features they could offer residents. And as the developer, we committed ourselves to protecting these areas from development and ensuring all residents are able to enjoy the natural amenities each community has to offer.

WestCreek is also fortunate to have large land holdings. This allows us to develop master planned-communities, whereupon residents can live, work and play all within their own community throughout their lifetime. We have many residents that have outgrown their homes and have chosen to stay in our communities with the purchase of their next home. There is nothing that gives us a bigger feeling of pride than this.

WestCreek also focuses on timeless living. Which is our tag line in Legacy, but is true of all of our communities. We want to ensure that as you drive through any of our communities in 20 years you won’t be able to pinpoint when that community was built, we want it to never to feel old or dated, that’s why we add concrete painted and stamped sound fences to our communities rather than wood so it never looks aged. We also work to ensure that every community is unique and features something that is to that community alone. Things like the entry features to each community, the art in Legacy or the central park space in CornerBrook. 


How do you decide what types of houses to offer? 

Catherine Agar, Manager of Planning & Development: In every community we offer a wide variety of housing types. WestCreek wants people to be able to live in our communities throughout their various lifecycles. Recent policy within The City of Calgary has recognized that developers would benefit with a land use district that accommodates a wide range of low-density residential development. This promotes and encourages housing diversity within a neighbourhood, as developers are able to shift with the needs of the community and choose housing types that are the most appropriate at the time of development.


How do you decide what types of architectural guidelines to enforce?

Catherine Agar, Manager of Planning & Development: There are a number of factors to consider when selecting the architectural guidelines for a community, such as how do you want your community to feel? Are there any significant features within your community? What is the name of your community; does it hold historical significance? What is the architecture of the surrounding communities? All of these things are considered when choosing the architectural guidelines of a community.

Although architectural guidelines are put in place before building begins, another important factor we consider is the input from our builder group. WestCreek selects builder partners who share in our vision for the community; we greatly value their opinion and ensure we meet to gather their input when it comes to architectural guidelines. From here, the outlined guidelines help our builders decide which elevations they will offer to homeowners in a community.

Architectural guidelines outlined ensure a unique and harmonious look for the community. Rather than restricting or create homogeneity, the guidelines allow for variety along the streetscape. And by prescribing the placement of particular elevations of homes, offers the opportunity for homeowners to apply their own individual style to their home selections as well.