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Calgary admin recommending approval of three more new developments

City administration is recommending the approval of three additional communities, but there are some bureaucratic hurdles to leap.

In July, Calgary city council approved five additional new communities, with three others contingent on further analysis. That analysis has been done and will be presented at the Infrastructure and Planning Committee meeting on Friday.

It involves business cases in Rangeview (Trafford / West Creek) and Glacier Ridge (Qualico and Cabana Brookfield.)

Administration is recommending the removal of the growth management overlay, which allows development to proceed.  Before that happens, the City must approve already planned expenditures in the upcoming 2023-2026 budget.

Business Case Location Map by Darren Krause

The City also identified risks and opportunities with the approvals.

First, it would increase supply in fast-growing neighbourhoods, and increase competition and choice, the city said.  It would also leverage the aforementioned infrastructure investments and realize development along key streets, the report read.

One issue is the approval of $48 million for the 144 Avenue NW extension between Symons Valley Road and Panorama Road. They would also need a $5 million pump station upgrade at Mountain View.

The City also outlined the issue of operating costs exceeding revenue for the area while services are being introduced. They said flexible provision of services could mitigate that impact.

There’s also a risk with the approvals not aligning with infrastructure capacity, the report outlined. Further, there would be increased pressure to fund infrastructure as new communities continue to grow. Beyond 2027, the city cites a new growth cost of $4.4 billion.

Though it’s buried in the city admin report, it does cover another “notable” risk.

“Removal of Growth Management Overlays in these and other business case areas is not well aligned with the Climate Strategy and will make it more difficult to achieve mitigation and adaptation goals,” the report stated.

Where are the houses?

Ward 7 Coun. Terry Wong said there’s always going to be added cost when approving new communities. Wong said it has to be absorbed sooner or later.

Further, he said we already have many new community business cases still waiting from the last mass approval in 2018.

“At what point do you stop adding and adding and adding new communities that really don’t see the development, but you’ve got latent demand and increased operating costs,” he said.

Wong said some of those developments haven’t even seen a shovel in the ground.

But Ward 13 Coun. Dan McLean, said much of that is due to hang ups at city hall.

“It takes five years sometimes to get a (DP) a development permit ready,” McLean said.

“So, we’ve got people that are to go but they need their permits, or it keeps getting referred back to city council back to administration. That’s why you’re going to see them not moving as fast as they could,” McLean said.

With interest rates continuing to rise and it having a correlative negative effect on real estate, McLean was asked how the city could justify adding more new communities when the others aren’t built out.

McLean, who voted in favour of the new community approvals, said the city is expecting 27,000 people this year. He said even with interest rates jumping up and affordability in question, Calgary is an affordable place to live. Particularly when it’s compared with Toronto or Vancouver, he said.

 McLean said he supports further density in the inner city – but not everyone wants to live there. Families want backyards or room to move in their extended families.

“We need all the above strategy,” McLean said.

If the item is approved, it may be added as an item of urgent business for the Sept. 13 meeting.