11 business cases were rejected by the Calgary City Council. SCREEN PHOTO
Eleven proposed community business cases will be transferred to the council after a one-day meeting attended by all stakeholders, including citizens.
The discussion took place at a special meeting of the City’s Committee on Priorities and Finances focused on Calgary’s growth management strategy.
After hearing from all parties and asking questions, the city gathered possible changes to the administrative recommendations and passed them on to the council meeting on November 2-3.
The administration began by stating its reasons for recommending that the business cases be postponed to the 2023-2026 budget cycle.
In many cases the developments were in line with the objectives of the Urban Development Plan (MDP). In some cases, they met the criteria of not including city funding – capital or operations – in the projects.
For the city, it was a matter of market demand.
They said there is already a “healthy, competitive market” and that additional capacity “is not currently required to keep housing affordable”.
The administration acknowledged that there were some infrastructure efficiencies in certain cases, but said it was not across the city.
They said that out of the 11 business cases, only three brand new communities would be added. The others were part of the 14 previously approved areas (2018).
Later in the discussion, Kathy Davies Murphy, the city’s manager of growth and strategic services, said that if all 11 new business cases were approved, the city would receive $ 23 million in operating costs for the 2023-2026 business cycle. They have already included future property tax generation in their budget, and this would go beyond that.
That would mean a 1.5 percent tax hike to cover those costs, she said.
Developers describe business cases in the council
Most developers and / or their development consultants presented 10 of the 11 business cases to the council on Monday.
They took a very detailed approach to explaining the intricacies of each development, how it fit in with many plans of the city’s transportation network and how they would fit into existing developments.
One thing that came back was the developer’s perspective of market demand.
Michael Brown of Trico Homes said homebuyers’ needs have changed in the face of COVID-19. They want to meet different needs.
“What we saw in relation to our buyers when they just passed a time in their homes where they found their homes didn’t necessarily work for them,” he said.
“We have seen more and more people wanting to buy new homes on that basis, looking for homes that when you think about moving from four or five hours a day to 24 hours a day, something changes what you expect to do from.”
According to Brown, people are currently more interested in single-family homes than multi-family houses. He said they are looking for yards during COVID.
“There is a real movement in the market from people looking at a different type of product,” he said.
City councils also heard from the developers that their land supply projections and those of the city were not necessarily alive. Also the idea of segment market demand – that is the demand for a specific product in a specific area.
Part of the partnership between the city and the developing industry is to ensure market selection in these new growth areas.
Other deals were smaller and involved niche products. There was a project for a senior citizen facility in Northern Calgary.
Citizens’ contributions to growth, climate and taxpayer costs
Greg Miller, a resident of northern Calgary, said the government’s recommendations are consistent with Calgarians’ sentiments about it.
“The administration tells you what the Calgarians already know,” he said.
“Calgary already has more land available for new development than it needs.”
Rev. Anna Greenwood Lee, chair of the Calgary Alliance for the Common Good, said her groups represent more than 35,000 members from various races, communities and religious groups and are unanimously opposed to the new growth.
“We’re not too far from some November budget considerations. And we know the city is looking for general cuts to cope with these challenging financial times, ”she said.
“At a time when it comes to service cuts, it makes no sense to invest in new communities.”
Others, including Dr. Noel Keough, who represented Sustainable Calgary, spoke outwardly about the environmental impact of continued growth. Dr. Keough also touched on the idea of affordable housing versus affordable housing.
He said the two things are very different. While living in the suburban communities could make real estate affordable, the overall real cost of living is likely to be much higher.
Former Calgary MP Kent Hehr also spoke out against the proposed developments.
Questions from city councils
Councilor Peter Demong questioned the city’s definition of an accomplished community.
The administration said it is a neighborhood with fewer than 50 single-family homes available. He named several that ranged from 50 to 100 lots and would likely be completed soon – yet they belonged to a category that had longer term expansion.
He suggested making the land supply data too biased against the development proposals. Demong asked for updated maps and with a clear understanding of where these communities were with a view to expansion.
Coun. Joe Magliocca spoke at length about the communities that wouldn’t cost the city extra. He said they would now create thousands of much-needed jobs in Calgary’s economy.
Magliocca proposed an opposite series of changes to the administration. He applied for all eleven new business cases to be approved.
Changes will go to the council
Coun. Diane Colley-Urquhart led the amendments, keeping roughly the original recommendations of the administration. She asked for more clarity on the housing supply and census data.
Coun. Gian Carlo Carra discussed changes in connection with the expansion of the business cases in East Calgary on the border with neighboring Chestermere.
Changes from Coun. Jyoti Gondek urged the city to review its portion of the proposed capital infrastructure projects that would not start before 2026, which comes with the off-site dispensing statute. She would like to see the money diverted to a fund for the established areas of the city in the meantime.
City councils approved the city’s growth management report and forwarded any changes to the city council’s agenda from November 2-3.
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