Update as of August 2012:
City Council approved another phase of the Framework for Growth and Change at its meeting on 7 May 2012. The next step in this critical and complicated process is for City Administration to return in October with a prioritized list of near-term growth candidate areas, strategies for financing, funding, and land supply principles, and a service delivery structure.
Council has also directed Administration to rank candidate areas sorted by three categories: Developing Communities, Developed Communities and Industrial. By prioritizing all development based on logical patterns of growth, capital costs and long-term maintenance costs, we will be able to build a more cost-effective, sustainable city, and provide necessary upgrades to our established communities.
Update as of March 2012:
Alderman Farrell is pleased to report that significant progress is being made on the issue of cost of growth, particularly growth in new communities. As Calgary's population is forecasted to double by 2076, with half of this growth targeted for new development on the city's edges, the discussion around who pays for the necessary services has become urgent.
Residents in the new communities will require City services such as police and fire, transportation and transit, water servicing, recreation, and libraries. The amount needed to service this growth is $10 billion over the next 10 years.
City Council now recognizes how important it is that growth should pay for itself, rather than rely on support from existing taxpayers and ratepayers. Cities across North America are grappling with similar challenges and many are looking at Calgary's proposed model with interest.
The City is designing a groundbreaking framework that seeks to achieve walkable neighbourhoods with easy access to transit and amenities, while ensuring a logical and equitable approach to funding the necessary City services. Given that a new community can take up to 45 years to start paying for itself, it is critical that we adopt a more sustainable model.
On April 11, the new Framework for Growth and Change will be discussed at the Standing Policy Committee on Planning and Urban Development. You can present at the meeting, or email your letters in advance to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cost of growth
For many years, a large share of the cost of suburban growth has been covered by all Calgarians through property taxes and utility rates. A large portion of tax dollars are directed to new growth, rather than reinvestment and renewal in our established communities. Last July, City Council passed a set of principles to guide the new levy negotiations with the suburban development industry. These principles recommended development levies that would more closely reflect the true costs of growth.
The discussion around the cost of suburban growth has become an urgent one. Calgary has grown by 250,000 people (the population of Saskatoon) over the last decade and during this time, growth-related debt has ballooned to $1.5 billion. If left unchecked, utility debt alone is projected to rise to $2.5 billion by 2018.
It takes many years for a new community to fully build out, and yet these new communities still require the amenities afforded to all Calgarians, before there is a tax base to support the services. Improper timing of new development puts a significant burden on both the operating and capital budgets.
The principle of allowing housing choice – where you want to live in Calgary and in what type of dwelling – is an important one. It is equally important that the true costs are associated with the choices that we make and that they are not based on a public subsidy. This has been an important issue on Druh Farrell's agenda even prior to being elected in 2001, and she continues to be a strong advocate for finding a more sustainable growth framework for Calgary.
This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.