So first and foremost - bravo for making the decision to move to the inner city. Sounds like you've done so for all the right reasons, and glad to hear that you've liking the amenities the area has to offer.
That said, let me give you the viewpoint some someone that's had some horrible infill developments surrounding me for 3 years continuous.
However, I was made to feel like I was intruding on sacred ground and the if things were not exactly the way the planners or the community liked, then I had better pack my belongings and get out.
Bottom line, you're joining an existing community - not a greenfield development in the burbs. You've got these pesky things called "neighbors" and there's a much greater sensitivity to new development in the inner city and how it blends in. Key word is blend - some change is good but when you're talking about a cannonball into a nice calm pool, expect your neighbors and Community to Association to get involved. What's awesome to you stands a good chance of being horrible to others.
Lets take my idiot neighbor #1. Buys two wonderful Craftsman style houses (can't remember lot width) in decent shape. These houses could be restored to something wonderful and were hardly tear downs. Charming and exactly what you'd expect for the area. Developer tears em down, stuffs a six unit towering contemporary monstrosity on the site. They paid the $30K to cut down towering trees there were yes, gnarled, but tall and probably 80 years old. They claim they were "sick" but quite frankly they cut them down to get backhoe access to the worksite. Construction takes forever and is ridiculously intrusive, on street parking is way busier, and worst of all, what was a charming character street in Calgary now has this monstrous stucco contemporary treeless development that would fit into suburbia. Do these people not realize that it's the trees and character of the neighborhood that draw people to the area?
Then there's idiot neighbor #2. Buyer is a well off suburbanite downsizing. Buys an 1100 square ft bungalow with a very small lot with a single detached garage on it. Tears it down (restore doesn't seem to be anyone's vocabulary) and crams a 2500 sq foot 3 story house with an oversized double detached garage on it. I will give them credit - they kept the trees (including a 100 yr old elm), the house design itself isn't offensive, though it is it's too big for the lot IMHO.
My biggest beef isn't with the house but the lack of good neighborly sense they had, treating it as if it was a greenfield development site. As a neighbor, how about giving me a ring and at least walking me through the plans. Heck, I'd take a "hey, we're about to start construction" notice. What do I get? A bobcat at 10:00am driving through my vegetable garden as they now claim the fence built 30 years ago is 1' on their side of the line. Unless I forkout to have the site resurveyed, what else am I supposed to do? I've never had anyone call me about restitution for all my now destroyed plants and planting boxes BTW. My other neighbor is even more livid - their house was built with some corner windows that offered a view of the tree lined street. They now stare into the brick and black siding chimney stack of the house. They have a relationship similar to India/Pakistan or Israel/Hezbollah now with the same warm thoughts about each other.
I did attend the community association meeting for idiot #2 and you'll be happy to know that my CA did nothing to stop the development. They looked at the plans, saw that it was a detached house and pretty much rubber stamped it, despite our objections to it's height and size. So while you felt the City was in your way, I felt the City pretty much shafts existing neighbors the ability to resist anything. I'd like to post some pics to illustrate the scope of change but I'll respect their right to privacy on this.
Your post had comments on trees which I thought stood out:
Again, I like the trees and have kept them but why such antagonism by the city?
Frankly, I'm happy the City is such a PITA on trees, and I actually wish they were far more draconian on them. In a bald ass prairie city like Calgary, it's simply too easy for people to cut down trees that have taken 75 some years down by writing a cheque. Despite where they lie, in the eyes of the community they are the neighborhood's trees, and shouldn't not one homeowners call as to whether they are taken from the neighborhood.
Why do some people take away the reasons why people move to character communities, and make them replicas of the burbs in a better location
Anyhoo - galactic karma has visited both idiot neighbors. I know that both paid a kings ransom to buy and build these properties and that they're about 35% underwater. At least. On both properties they occupied while their place was under construction.
Point of the story - unlike the burbs, when moving into established communities - expect people to give a damn.