Developers seek city's approval to build 11 new communities in Calgary
CALGARY -- A group of home developers are seeking the city’s approval to build 11 new communities on the outer edge of Calgary, but several councillors are concerned with the financial risk.
The Priorities and Finance Committee will review the business plans when it meets on Oct. 19, although city administration has already advised against approval.
In an open letter on the city’s website, Ward 7 Coun. Druh Farrell agrees that growth in Calgary is unsustainable at a time when council has already cut services for existing communities.
Farrell adds that council already approved 14 new communities in 2018 — against expert recommendations to only approve eight based on lower market demand — and says that approval flooded the Calgary market with a near-record total of 41 new and developing communities.
"Council’s decision included subsidizing these 14 new communities so that every Calgarian pays a property tax increase of 0.75 per cent in 2019 and will see 0.5 per cent increase per year to water utility rates from 2019-2022. The total 2018 tax increase to subsidize the 41 communities was 2.15 per cent," said Farrell.
The mayor says he’s looking forward to hearing the presentations on Monday, but is not in favour of adding even more communities right now.
“I think my colleagues on council and land developers really need to answer the question ‘why in the world would this be a good time to add to an already dangerous oversupply?’ And destabilizing an entire housing market and popping a bubble,” Naheed Nenshi said Thursday.
Council has already committed almost $500 million in funding to new community growth until 2022. It has also asked for a tax freeze in 2021, but there are further concerns that won’t be possible.
"It is simply an issue of spreading too little butter over too much bread," said Farrell.
More shortfalls could also mean more cuts to services like the Calgary Fire Department and Calgary Transit.
The Calgary Firefighters Association (CFA) says that its budget has been cut and its resulted in the reduction of five fire trucks in 2019.
“Firefighters are already stretched thin. As the city gets bigger, our budget has got smaller,” said Matt Osborne with the CFA.
“We’ve had over $30 million cut from our budget over the last few years and we want to make sure we have the tools to do our jobs.”
Developer Trico Homes will bring forward a business case of council to develop two parcels of land as part of their ongoing Belvedere development in east Calgary.
“We feel this area has been overlooked in the past with no real supply of new homes. We believe providing more choices within Calgary’s east sector will help mitigate market loss to smaller satellite communities outside of Calgary,” a spokesperson for Trico Homes said.
Monday’s Priorities and Finance Committee meeting will be open for public comments.