Council committee puts Calgary’s growth under the microscope, but vote on new development delayed

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According to a report presented Monday, with the 14 new suburban communities council approved in 2018, there’s already sufficient land to meet housing demand over the next eight to 12 years. Most of those communities aren’t expected to meet the development targets they anticipated when they were approved.

There was a large volume of public submissions urging council not to approve the developments, and speakers during Monday’s public hearing echoed that call.

Several speakers representing the collective Calgary Alliance for the Common Good also spoke against the approvals, saying council can’t possibly justify cuts to services during November’s budget process if they grant these developments.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said individual developments on their own might make sense, but council has to consider them, and their impact on the housing market, in total.

“Because we approved so many of them in 2018 and they’ve been so slow to start, that’s where we end up in debt, because we have to lay those water pipes anyway even if there’s only going to be five people living there,” he said.

“In this situation, we cannot afford all 11 of these cases. As citizens, we can’t afford it, I believe it’ll be bad for the development industry because people will get overextended … and we’re in an environment where people aren’t moving to Calgary. So who are we building all these houses for?”

City staff said none of the proposals met every piece of city criteria to get off the ground. That list includes no capital dollars from the city to start development and no added city operating costs until 2027 without a “mitigating solution.” The city is also looking for proposals that complete newly developing areas that have already been approved and help generate property tax.

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