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We should build new southeast communities

The city is once again considering new communities being added to meet the expected population growth in the very near future. For details of the discussion you can review the Global News story here: https://globalnews.ca/news/8959593/calgary-city-council-committee-recommend-approval-5-new-communities/

Here are four reasons why these communities should be built and fast tracked:

1 - Housing Affordability

Unless you have been living under a rock you are aware of the housing affordability issues facing our city and country. In fact, recently inflation is at generational highs and the cost of living across the board is reaching dangerously high levels. The only way at the municipal level to help control housing affordability is to ensure there is supply to meet the demand. This additional supply can only be created with additional neighborhoods. Redevelopment of existing lots or neighbourhoods will not keep up with the pace of demand. If we are to grow, we need new neighbourhoods. Keeping housing costs in check in relation to competing municipalities in Canada will help attract the investment to Calgary that will strengthen our city. Housing affordability is a major attraction for companies looking to invest in an area and has already been noted by some looking to grow here.

2 - Lower Cost

It is the most cost effective way to accommodate growth. What many people aren't aware of or have a good understanding of (including some currently sitting on council) is that the cost of the new construction is almost entirely born by the developers of the neighborhoods (and then in turn by those that purchase homes there). The developers are responsible for the construction of all infrastructure within the new neighborhoods. I hear from people all the time that they don't want their tax dollars paying for road construction in new neighborhoods. Well, it doesn't. Additionally, the developers of new neighborhoods pay fees called Offsite Levies. These levies are intended to address the costs of infrastructure and growth items not contained within the new area (additional water and sewer treatment for example). If there are to be discussions regarding costs of new areas, they would have to include a discussion regarding the calculations used for the offsite levies designed to pay for the growth costs to ensure they are appropriate. Yes, there will be costs to the city to maintain the new areas moving forward, but with new areas and housing come additional taxpayers and taxation revenue from those new areas, which if not squandered, should offset the maintenance costs.

So, with all or much of the costs of new neighborhoods being covered, they are a much more cost effective way of managing growth compared to redevelopment of existing areas where the costs of infrastructure growth to accommodate increased population are born by the city.

3 - Existing Infrastructure

The southeast area is well suited to additional growth. Some key elements include the South Health Campus Hospital, the worlds largest YMCA, the completed SE Stoney Trail freeway and Bow River bridge enhancement currently underway, and upcoming enhancements to the south portions of Deerfoot Trail. The area is ready to go now.

To tie in just one more element - it's also another reason to extend the Green Line to Seton to help with this growth-ready area rather than build it to 16th Ave across the river to the north. Less cost for the Green Line project, and it would serve more people. See my BLOG post on the subject.

4- Environmental Considerations

We have an advantage in Calgary that the two largest municipalities in Canada do not. We have room to grow. Vancouver and Toronto are limited in geographic size and can only become more dense to accommodate growth. There has been at least one councilor that has been very vocal in the media about air and water quality considerations when it comes to city growth (Ward 11). I would like that councilor to compare the air and water quality of the most population dense cities of the world to those found in the prairie provinces of Canada. Is the air and water better in New York, Los Angeles, or the largest cities in China and India - or in Medicine Hat? The earth can handle people more easily when it is not over-densely populated. We should use our natural advantage to build new neighborhoods using the most current and advanced methods to limit environmental impact, which is more difficult in existing areas not designed to accommodate the increased density that forcing growth upon them would entail.

Indeed there are additional considerations that make growth in the southeast desirable but these alone certainly strengthen the case.

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