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I also don't like the argument that "the market trends show X, therefore we must do X". The entire purpose of a government is to plan things out smartly so that we don't end up making bad decisions. Let's remember why we want inner city growth in the first place - our city's own estimates show that meeting our growth boundary goals will save us $16 Billion in capital costs and $390 Million/year in operating costs. But it's up to the city to price that into the free market, and we're failing badly.

Beyond zoning, I think we should rethink how our taxes work. Right now, because we primarily tax improvements, our tax system literally punishes people who improve their land and use it more efficiently, while rewarding decay, stagnation, and speculation. This is the opposite of how it should be. In a way, our tax system is actually creating a major market distortion, since we are not accounting for the negative externalities that come from inefficient land usage.

Various cities in Pennsylvania have adopted Land Value Taxes that have promoted development, destroyed blight, and revitalized communities. If we're serious about encouraging more efficient land use, we should look at decreasing the tax on improvements and increasing the tax on land - this could have a huge impact on market conditions and make inner city living more affordable for more people.
There's also the issue of suburbia being subsidised by the inner city neighborhoods because suburban areas aren't nearly as profitable.

While videos like this are fun to watch, be careful of painting all suburbs with the same brush. All of the new communities proposed in Calgary are designed in a way to conform with our MDP policies, and the more recent area structure plans in which they are located. Administration's review of the proposed business cases give a good financial analysis of their long term costs to The City. The 5 recommended yes do not require any new capital expenditures, and actually show them becoming revenue positive for The City in pretty short order. See this document:
This is my problem with adding new communities:

Things have to change eventually.
One thing to note about any suburban community in Calgary built in the last 4 years or so. Almost all lots are zoned to a minimum of R-G (similar to RC-G in the inner city). This means that the developer, and any future owners, can build up to 4 units (depending on lot size) plus secondary suites, without a land use change. So we are not really building R-1 neighbourhoods any more.

My issue with many of the new communities is that the City is still asking for wide, hostile arterial roads with up to 8 lanes of traffic, which really prevent these communities from being walkable to adjoining neighbourhoods.
Restricting greenfield development is an incredibly bad idea.

1. Ample greenfield development is why Calgary is cheaper than Toronto and Vancouver.

2. Upzoning/density is NOT contingent on banning greenfield development. It's a false dilemma.

3. New greenfield developments today are not like they were in the 1980's. You can build relatively dense mixed use communities.

In many ways the "anti-sprawl" arguments today are just masquerading as anti-growth arguments.
Densify Calgay's current urban footprint to about 3000 people/ and I'll fully get behind more greenfield development. We under utilize so much of our current land that all these Greenfield developments just don't make sense. Us Calgarians have fooled ourselves into believing everyone needs to own a double garage detached home with a full sized back yard. But then we also complain about our city being so void of street life and taxes continuously rising. Plus with interest rates showing no sign of peaking, we'll eventually face a similar situation like we did post-2014 and 2008, where a glut of dirt cheap new homes in newer communities will have a negative impact on demand for inner-city homes. Many inner city communities will once again decline and then we'll all be back here complaining about the hollowing of our city and the tax burden we'll likely face. This pattern has been proven decade after decade now. Does a short housing boom, after so many years of talk about densification, make our city hall this short sighted?
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This is my problem with adding new communities:

Things have to change eventually.
This is precisely my problem as well. I can screenshot so many streets off of Google maps in older communities where redevelopment is restricted and many single lots can accommodate 2-3 units of attached homes. I don't even want to get started with how much space we waste on dead grass that is supposedly meant to serve as some sort of divider between roads and homes, or beautification of a road, or some potential 2070 lane expansion. We can easily stick up thousands of homes along such strips of grass and even wide off-roads in many of our 1970-90's era designed communities.

The picture of 64th ave NE isn't meant to be an example of where homes could be built but more so to demonstrate how much space we waste. It's almost criminal. Compare further below to a similar street in Surrey BC where the lots are tight up against the roadway. Hardly any wasted space.
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I'm always skeptical when things are framed as a zero-sum binary choice instead of an all-of-the-above choice. It's not pragmatic and assumes there needs to be a loser somewhere n order to make "progress".

In this case of prohibiting greenfield development the loss would be maintaining a reasonable cost of housing WHILE supply elasticity. And I think that's where some people are missing the mark. Population growth rates are a tricky thing and many municipalities can significantly underestimate them.

Calgary might need to be aggressive on both greenfield and existing urban redevelopment if it wants to handle growth while maintaining housing costs somewhat.

And despite ideals the political reality is for every one "pro-density anti-sprawler" there's ten "don't change the character of the neighborhood" types that are a political tour de force and will absolutely kneecap new supply.
Passed through Inglewood today, the place was buzzing even though it’s a weekday. I suspect half the people in the city took today off, as all the patios were full.

Just wanted to comment on a couple of things. Every time I go by this lawn bowling lot in the summer it is always full of young people and they look like they are having a great time. Things like this are why the inner-city neighbourhoods are desirable to young people.


The other thing I noticed is the intersection where Irvine is has become a very busy corner the last few times I’ve been by there. Torode’s building and Irvine have taken a lot of flack but I will say this, it is definitely a case of function over form as both buildings have created a very busy intersection. Whenever I pass by, both buildings have people sitting outside in front of the buildings.


This is my problem with adding new communities:

Things have to change eventually.
The other thing to add is that a good portion of inner city residential areas not coloured orange that you see on that map are still zoned for low density, semi-detatched R-2 and R-C2. This is not that big of an improvement over single family zoning, especially with how small households are nowadays. So infill neighbourhoods like West Hillhurst with potential to become higher density mixed use neighbourhoods are being relegated to duplexes of varying quality with the occasional high density development on arterial roads. I think a baseline for infill neighbourhoods should be R-2M which would give the market more flexibility for adding row house type developments to these areas.

Ultimately, I agree that directing our ire at modern greenfield developments is misplaced when so much needs to be done to improve the patchwork of land use that exists in developed neighbourhoods.
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