Sprawl is increasingly putting a strain on Calgary’s services and finances—both now and well into the future.
Once the developer has moved on and their off-site levy contributions have dried up, the operational and maintenance costs of maintaining roadways, sidewalks, water and electrical infrastructure, and emergency services all fall to the city and its future generations to pay for. For example, compared to Edmonton’s 11,000 lane kms, Calgary has 16,000 lane kms to maintain.
Continuing to build our communities outward is unsustainable.
By supporting growth in established communities, I believe we can create vibrant, amenity-rich, sustainable, and diverse neighbourhoods and give all Calgarians a place to live safely and securely. I believe in communities that protect green spaces, retaining heritage, and offer rich cultural experiences that will convince Calgary’s youth and outside talent to put down roots in our great city.
As we plan to grow our city, I believe strongly that citizens must be at the center of the conversation. Neighbourhoods and communities are defined by unique characteristics that form a community’s identity—whether it be heritage designation or a wildflower garden. Neighbourhoods are inhabited by people who care deeply about their neighbours and their community.
We saw this play out earlier this year with the Guidebook for Great Communities (now renamed the Guide for Local Area Planning, or Guide). While there was a lot of great, noble work in the Guide, public engagement strategies did not go far enough to bring all citizens along. There were a lot of citizens that were blindsided and disappointed by how the Guide was rolled out. See: Improve public engagement process
I say no to ghettoization, no to gentrification and yes to sustainable social housing and multi-income developments. I support social housing, co-op housing, housing first and innovative housing developments that allow seniors to age in place.
If elected, I will work with the next council to:
Densification in and of itself does nothing to ensure a good environmental and social footprint are considered. There is a risk of a paternalistic approach to community development —a “we know best” that is not well explained or articulated to the community.
If by densification our common aim is to reduce the carbon footprint of urban sprawl, then the new development should at minimum adhere to the strictest environmental measurement—materials used, lifecycle and quality. If by densification we seek to improve social equity, then affordable, quality, accessible housing targets should be at the center of the conversation. Further, when adding density, the community must have or be provided with the resources and social supports to ensure quality of life.
There is an increasing and unmet demand for quality, affordable, and community-oriented housing in Calgary. It is important to not conflate the conversation of affordable housing and housing affordability. In my view, our current affordable housing model is flawed in that it is too reliant on developers to create affordable housing stock.
It is the City’s responsibility to keep up with the demands of affordable housing. Further, a recent report found that 100 percent of YYC’s affordable housing is rated in poor condition.
I believe there is an opportunity to allocate municipal lands and funds to social organizations (e.g. Habitat, co-ops, Homespace, Calgary Housing) to create city-owned affordable housing stock. Further, tax dollars would remain in municipal coffers rather than lining the pockets of landlords.
The sale of Richmond Green parkland, for example, provides an opportunity and, should that parcel proceed for development, I will advocate that affordable housing be part of the conversation.