January 7, 2022

Small-scale Commercial in Calgary

Most mornings I start my day with an email from Brandon Donnelly – a developer and, shall we say, urban influencer in Toronto. (You can check out his blog and sign up for his city-building email at brandondonnelly.com.)

I particularly like his posts for their Canadian content – like this example from Calgary:


Neighborhood retail in residential Calgary

I have written, many times over the years, about small-scale commercial uses in residential neighborhoods. Here in Toronto, they are generally not permitted. The small convenience stores and bodegas that remain are often legal non-conforming uses.

Today I came across a great example fromCalgary. I don’t know if it was done on an as-of-right basis or if variances were needed, but it is an example of small-scale commercial on a site that used to be low-rise residential.

Here is the before (from street view):

Here is the after:

More details here.  

We could do this.

Posted in


If you love this region and have a view to its future please subscribe, donate, or become a Patron.

Share on


  1. We could do this but it won’t work in Vancouver. The land costs, construction costs, and ridiculous pace that city hall moves at regarding commercial space (plus the costs that adds) – especially for restaurants means that we’ll end up with another horrible Tim Hortons or Starbucks at best.

    Innovative small business need not apply.

    We won’t have this until utopia we allow FSR’s of around 2.0 on east side Vancouver lots thus permitting the density you get on the island of Montreal. Then we’ll have both the population density and abundance of not over-priced commercial space so the young and innovative can open a bakery, or coffee shop, or restaurant, or whatever without having $2 million to risk.

  2. Wish there was more grass or trees/flowers added in the landscaping/streetscaping. It’s quite noveau Calgarian..more nice concrete. Remember, we are in the prairies and people love greenery. So am a bit non-plussed about this overall effect on the street corner. So far, a bit cold.

Subscribe to Viewpoint Vancouver

Get breaking news and fresh views, direct to your inbox.

Join 7,301 other subscribers

Show your Support

Check our Patreon page for stylish coffee mugs, private city tours, and more – or, make a one-time or recurring donation. Thank you for helping shape this place we love.

Popular Articles

See All

All Articles