Calgary is great because people can choose when, where, and how they want to live. Whether you want an outdoor lifestyle, a place in the heart of the city or a family home with room for kids to run around in, you will find it in Calgary. Calgary in recent years has experienced rapidly growing population and infrastructure. Much of this development has occurred in suburban neighbourhoods. Through policy planning the City has emphasized increasing residential density in these new areas.
I think it’s important that the city and developers meet the minimum intensity thresholds as identified in Municipal Development Plan (MDP). We need to encourage sustainable plans for new communities that provide incentives for developers to implement smart growth tactics. This includes high quality public transit, walking and cycling, employment centres and a greater mix of housing options. In doing so, this will provide residents with greater access to economic and social opportunities. Conversely, I don’t support the use of social engineering to create higher densities at the detriment of other development.
Newer projects are increasingly incorporating varied housing types and higher densities. For example, Mahogany was planned and built before the MDP, yet it has met and in many cases exceeds all of its core measures that serve as proxies for sustainable social, environmental and economic growth. The result—Mahogany won Calgary’s Community of the Year two years running.
To date, I have not been provided with any concrete evidence that confirms taxpayers are subsidizing Greenfield developments. I want to stress that if there is a developer subsidy I am strongly in favor of removing it. Currently, developers pay for all the infrastructure costs for a new development. The City pays for the roads and services such as water and sewage treatment leading to the development. I’m in favor of developers covering more of these capital costs associated with new communities. However, the City’s current debt is not the fault of any one group. The Fish Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility is an example of a billion dollar project that went hundreds of millions of dollars over budget, and consequently contributed directly to the City’s debt.