Is redevelopment in older neighbourhoods inevitable?

The Smart Growth Initiative will educate Calgarians on the benefits of good urban planning and inner-city redevelopment.

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Is redevelopment in older neighbourhoods inevitable?

A recent report from a Calgary urban think tank has examined the pros and cons of inner-city development.

The Smarter Growth Initiative, a collaborative partnership between the Urban Development Institute of Calgary and the Calgary region of the Canadian Home Builder’s Association, suggests that there are more pros.

Up until recently, Calgary has been one of the fastest growing cities in North America.  While housing starts and property turn-overs have decreased in the past year due to slumping oil prices, Calgary’s real estate market has always rebounded to a “boom” economy.

The Smarter Growth Initiative was launched to open the conversation about smart growth, so that Calgary is not only a big city but a livable one.

The report “Raising a Smart City” stresses the important role redevelopment plays in many of Calgary’s older neighbourhoods.  The report also identifies hurdles both the City of Calgary and developers must overcome when mapping out plans to reshape inner-city neighbourhoods.

When a permit for redevelopment arises in an older neighbourhood, it is often contested by residents. As the appeal process stands today, it’s easy for property owners to fight redevelopment.  The time and money spent to fight these appeals can frequently delay or even kill a project. In a recent survey, Calgarians were asked about their thoughts on the city’s municipal development plan which calls for densification of Calgary neighbourhoods.  Most said they share the same goals as the City of Calgary when it comes to maintaining a good quality of life and creating more compact communities. Of the thousands of Calgarians polled, only 48% said they’re actually in favour of creating density, with 52% opposed to creating more dense housing. 

Plus, 63% of those who participated in the polls admitted that single-family homes and semi-detached dwellings are the preferred housing in Calgary.  Only 9% said that their idea of a home is an apartment.

It would appear that most want Calgary to be more livable, as long as nothing changes in their own neighbourhoods.

The survey also suggested that a big majority of Calgary residents feel that are not well informed about municipal issues such as redevelopment. The Smarter Growth Initiative hopes to provide education and encourage conversation around trends in urban growth and development.

Redevelopment in Calgary’s inner city will keep communities from aging-out and will bring consistent delivery of city services.

The Smart Growth report states that residents have to feel like urban planning and redevelopment is done “with them”, as opposed to “to them”.

Until a balance is struck between landowners, residents and the city, redevelopment will continue to be thorny issues in Calgary communities.

Smarter Growth by the Numbers

  • Average neighbourhood age when children leave/population declines:  21 to 36 years
  • Population living in redeveloped neighbourhoods by 2075:  50%
  • Property value increase in heavily redeveloped Altadore:  260%
  • Property value increase in similar unchanged area: 149%
  • Inner-city population supporting densification of inner-city neighbourhoods:  63%
  • Residents who have moved into established neighbourhoods between 2009 – 2015: 31,000 Plus
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