Nenshi questions logic of adding 11 new communities to 'dangerous oversupply'

Calgary's mayor says he will keep an open mind but will have some hard questions on proposals for 11 new communities on the city's outskirts.

Just two years ago, city council approved 14 new growth areas, despite a recommendation from administration to only approve eight. 

Only half of those areas have seen any work as the housing market is saturated.

Despite that, a council committee will hear requests from developers on Monday to build 11 more. 

"We shouldn't have approved the 14 that we approved two years ago. We should have approved eight or nine. The remainder should have been approved this time," said Naheed Nenshi. 

"But since we already blew the bank and approved five or 10 years worth of new communities, it's going to be very hard to convince me that we should be adding more to that list in this economy and in this growth environment where fewer people are moving to Calgary."

Increase in taxes

On Wednesday, Coun. Druh Farrell said council was already being lobbied by the industry and warned the city would face even steeper cuts than what's already anticipated in the upcoming budget if the 11 new communities were approved. 

Druh Farrell
Druh Farrell

She said approval of the previous 14 raised both taxes and utility rates across the city. She and Nenshi were the only to vote against approving all 14 communities in 2018. 

The slower rate of construction has meant lower developer levies for the city leaving all ratepayers to shoulder the costs of servicing the new areas.

"I think my colleagues on council and land developers need to really answer the question: why in the world would this be a good time to add to an already dangerous oversupply which would risk destabilizing the entire housing market and popping a bubble?" said Nenshi.

"That to me, that's super dangerous."

The public is welcome to speak at the Oct. 19 meeting of the priorities and finance committee that will hear the proposals for the 11 new communities.