Sprawl subsidy issue spawns City Hall demonstration
Published Tuesday, October 8, 2013 4:44PM MDT Last Updated Tuesday, October 8, 2013 6:44PM MDT
Urban development is one of the key issues in this year’s civic election and a group of concerned citizens showed up at City Hall on Tuesday to bring attention to the future sustainability of the city.
Gerald Wheatley, with the Arusha Centre, pushed a pile of fake cash down downtown streets and handed out city hall funny money to passersby.
Wheatley says it is his way of saying he thinks developers are buying the election and promoting urban sprawl.
“I’ve just seen too many examples of financial unsustainability in the way we’re building new neighbourhoods and financing sprawl in the city,” said Wheatley. “More densification and more sustainable growth.”
Wheatley’s group says the bags of fake cash symbolize the money that developers are using to influence the election.
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi is promising to push for the elimination of the $4800 subsidy for every new home, if he is reelected.
Mayor Nenshi says developer subsidies should be closed and that growth should pay for itself.
"We need to stop these corporate subsidies and in fact, growth everywhere needs to pay for itself," said Nenshi.
In a race where the mayor is seen as a shoo-in builders have become the de facto opposition.
However, on Tuesday a report delivered at the developer funded Manning Centre agreed with Mayor Nenshi, at least in part.
“At the end of the day it's important that new home purchaser’s end up paying for the true cost of the infrastructure and services they consume,” said Ben Brunnen, Manning Centre economist.
Brunnen says inner city redevelopment also gets a taxpayer subsidy and that should end too.
“If we are looking at charging new developments their full cost of development then we should also be looking at making sure developments in existing communities pay their full cost as well,” said Brunnen.
Nenshi says his priority will be reassessing the way Calgary grows and he is sold on high density, inner-city developments.
(With files from Kevin Green)