Update: Ricardo Ranch Area Structure Plan

Recently, there’s been public interest and discussion on developing the Ricardo Ranch area, which is located along the Bow River valley along Calgary’s southern boundary. This location, as with other communities within Calgary’s city limits share its space with significant natural environment areas.

It is a priority for The City, as environmental stewards, to manage our urban environment that supports a healthy and green city. Our goal is to be a leader in environment management and resilient neighbourhoods. Our Environment Strategy and recently-approved Climate Strategy give us the tools and direction to fulfill that goal.

“Area Structure Plans are long-term planning documents that give us the policies and guidelines to develop areas in Calgary in a logical and sustainable way,” says Senior Planner Chris Wolfe. “When we created the Ricardo Ranch Plan in 2018 and 2019, it was a priority for us that future development acknowledges and respects the natural environment.”

Ecological Studies and Ricardo Ranch

Specific to the Ricardo Ranch Area Structure Plan, environmental analysis and studies were and will be undertaken at various steps and stages:

1.       An initial environmental analysis is undertaken when an Area Structure Plan (ASP), such as the Ricardo Ranch ASP (2019), is created. An ASP identifies areas of environmental significance & flags areas where further environmental analysis and study will be required.

a.       The Ricardo Ranch ASP included an Ecological Inventory, and an Environmental Open Space Study Area was identified. Specific additional studies were identified as required at subsequent stages.

2.       The next stage of environmental analysis gets underway when a land use amendment and outline plan application are submitted by the landowner. Two applications have been submitted within the Ricard Ranch ASP lands. Additional and more detailed environmental studies and analysis is undertaken at this stage.

a.       The Ricardo Ranch ASP identified a Flood Fringe Study, a Biophysical Impact Assessment, a Great Blue Heron Colony Study and a Slope Stability Study to be conducted to better understand and inform decisions about the coexistence of people and development in the environmentally significant areas.

3.       In all cases where land development is proposed, all applicable Provincial and Municipal regulations must be adhered to or exceeded when it comes to environmental protection.

a.       Ricardo Ranch ASP-specific recommendations and decisions have not yet been provided about how land can be used or developed and what must be protected and conserved, because studies and reviews are underway and will be ongoing for some time.

You can follow the process of these specific developments within the Ricardo Ranch area at When applications are open for public comments, anyone is able to contribute their perspectives through the development map. 

The Flood Plain and Ricardo Ranch

The flood plain includes the ‘floodway’ and ‘flood fringe’. Development is prohibited in floodway, floodway setback and Environmental Reserve areas.  For more information  on Calgary's flood maps see:  Calgary's River Flood Story.  Flood fringe can be developed only if mitigation (flood-proofing) measures are included in the development. 

The Ricardo Ranch ASP conducted an area-specific Flood Fringe Study in collaboration with planners, environmental specialists, engineering and river morphology specialists to inform The City’s review and guide the planning and design of engineered flood resilience measures. A 1:200-year (or 0.5% annual probability) flood scenario was incorporated.

“Our engineering standards at The City make it very unlikely that future development will be impacted by floods”, explains Acting Environment Manager Frank Frigo, “We’ve made sure future development will be set back far enough from what we call the meander belt of the Bow River that is beyond the expected limits the river might shift over the next 200 years.”

Flood protection proposed in Ricardo Ranch includes the placement of engineered earth fill to raise ground elevations so that buildings, roads, infrastructure and even basements will be above the designated flood levels in the City’s Land Use Bylaw.

When all studies, analysis and reviews are completed, a recommendation will be brought forward to City Council for review and decision.