Stop the Sprawl - 2022 Edition

On June 30th, a Calgary Council committee voted to accelerate new suburban development. Shockingly, the committee voted 6-5 to recommend not just to approve the new developments, but to subvert the city’s four-year budget process and speed up the timeline for Council approval, ahead of planned budget meetings in November. This recommendation will now be considered by all of Council on July 26th. If passed, these developments will add one per cent to Calgary’s greenhouse gas emissions. 

Councillors on the infrastructure and planning committee did so even after being told by Administration that:

  • Adding to new suburban developments will not improve “housing affordability.”
  • There is “no risk” to The City by NOT approving these developments. Councillors heard that “We don’t foresee a shortage of land supply” and “We have a fairly long runway of supply”. Also, over 75 per cent of units built will be single- and semi-detached, which do not address affordable housing.
  • It’s okay to plan for billions of dollars for massively large, sprawling, freeway and transit projects because “we can’t solve large capital problems ourselves.” In other words, federal and provincial taxpayers will bail us out of our costly, sprawl-perpetuating plans. Of course this applies only to the capital costs of building said projects. Calgarians will be stuck with operating and maintaining costly highways and distant transit as it inevitably breaks down and needs repair.
  • Levies from developers will only pay back some 60 per cent of the $532 Million in capital necessary for new developments. And, The City pays all the $532 Million upfront. As levies are paid to the city only after houses are built, there is no timeline for when the levies will be collected. 

Calgarians will assume all financial risk for approving the new communities. If the new communities are not completed, Calgarians are still stuck with the bill for the new capital infrastructure needed to start building them. Administration told committee last month that of 39 new communities currently being built, 20 of them will take a minimum of seven more years to complete. In fact, some will take “decades” to complete.

This same council declared a Climate Emergency last Fall, and approved the Climate Strategy - Pathways to 2050 on July 5. 

An excerpt from the Climate Strategy, approved July 5

Administration told the committee in its report that new suburban developments are the most GHG-intensive type of developments. They pave in “high-energy intensity land use and transportation patterns. They make it harder for Calgary to meet its net-zero targets.” Yet none of the edge development business cases have been formally reviewed against a climate standard because this committee wouldn’t wait for the standard to be created. This also means none of the business cases for the new developments include climate costs in their models.

The new Climate Strategy calls for new climate-lens tools to inform development decisions.

The new developments must still be approved by council on July 26.

If you want: 

  • A less expensive city
  • A city with a lower carbon footprint
  • Council to show that a Climate Emergency is more than empty words,

...then urge your councillor to vote against the new developments.

>>Send your letter here<<