The mantra between Calgary's Mayor and the development community is getting simply ridiculous.
Recently Mayor Naheed Nenshi released a "End the $4,800Subsidy " campaign. The problem is....there is no subsidy. In an attempt for socialized engineering to create higher density in the inner city, the Mayor went full assault on the evil developers daring to sprawl Calgary to appease market demand. Now I am not saying he may have his own style of math, but we certainly are only getting a portion of the real story.
While there is certainly no arguing as the City expands further outward that costs of maintaining it will rise equally. To claim a subsidy though?! Not quite. When a developer builds a new suburban community, right off the top they pay for 78% of the infrastructure costs which is passed on to the new home buyer. Until the city signs off the development as complete, the developer is also responsible for all maintenance and up keep in the community (road clearing etc..), with many of them also putting in parks and as far as community centres. As has been with every neighborhood in Calgary (yes, even inner city dwellers) the remainder of the infrastructure costs are recuperated via utility bills by home owners over time. In fact even Druh Farrell said "Existing infrastructure has been paid for many times over." So this of course leaves me wondering why is it being called a "Subsidy"? It has been a framework every neighborhood built, whether outskirts or inner city, has been entitled to. Now all of a sudden inner city screams it's not fair. Good grief.
Let's look at the costs of increasing density in neighborhoods that were not designed for it. Roads in the inner city are not designed for increased density. How many houses would have to be bought and bulldozed to accommodate? (Look at 16th Ave) The 100 year old water and sewer systems have some at peak already, who is going to pay for the millions and millions in upgrades to meet the density? Back to roads...oh right...we have the transit...don't need them is the battle cry. Guess what, not only is inner city transit SUBSIDIZED, it is also not capable of handling increased density. The other thing we may want to look at is the recent flood. The city was built initially around the waterways for ease of access, so naturally when the devastating floods hit in June of this year the inner city was hit hard. Is this a logical place for high density neighborhoods? Once in a hundred year flood or are we to see more extreme weather patterns as scientists predict.
While it is certainly easy to attack developers in an election, is it realistic. Not everyone wants to live in a densely populated area. These suburban communities do contribute property taxes for a hundred years to come. Driving people to live outside the city in bedroom communities such as Airdrie, Cochrane, Chestermere, etc... only drives tax revenues out of the city. People will still drive in to enjoy the amenities Calgary offers, only now Calgary will forgo the revenues for them to do so. One certainly needs to contemplate what the subsidy paid to Calgary developers actually is.