ALBERTA

Calgary Population Boom: City, Suburbs To Boom Over Next 5 Years, Says Report

05/15/2013 05:06 EDT | Updated 05/15/2013 05:06 EDT
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Calgary sprawl-haters beware: the city's suburbs are going to continue to get bigger and bigger.

According to the 2013-2017 Suburban Residential Growth report, the population of Calgary is expected to grow by almost 120,000 people over the next five years, with 94 per cent of the growth in Calgary's outer-lying communities.

The report predicts 50,600 additional housing units will be built over the next five years, with 77 per cent of them going up in new suburban developments.

“The city’s long-term goal, as set out in the Municipal Development Plan, is to strike more of a balance between inner-city redevelopment and new suburban development,” the city said in a written release.

“However, striking this balance is very challenging based on current growth patterns.”

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The report, used to ensure and maintain enough serviced land to support a competitive housing market, states Calgary has approximately 10-12 years of planned land supply, which will accommodate 310,834 people in mixed single, semi and multi-residential housing.

The report says over the next 3-5 years the city has enough serviced land to accommodate 130,047 people, and will add more to that supply this year.

According to the 2012 civic census results, Calgary's population has grown to 1,120,225. The Canadian Press also reported Wednesday a 10.4 per cent increase in Calgary housing sales compared with April 2012.

Mayor Nenshi told the Calgary Sun the forecast proves city hall is not trying to halt development on the edges of the city.

“Clearly as everyone now agrees, there’s no such thing as suburban development freeze,” he said.

“The city is prosperous and growing and we will continue to grow and there will be lots of choices for people in more neighbourhoods.”

The city is currently constructing a municipal growth framework which is expected to limit suburban development and manage debt by focusing on building other infrastructure including storm sewers, water pipes and roads.

The plan will limit the number of developments that begin at once, so council can better spread the money around.

“The framework is essential in helping us determine our financial priorities and historically we have simply responded to the desire to build wherever, whenever,” Ald. Druh Farrell told the Sun.

“We’re saying that development needs to be thoughtful, we need to be able to budget for it and we need to do in efficient, cost-effective manner.”

Homebuilders are wary of the plan, however, arguing the land supply will diminish while demand grows, potentially leading to layoffs in the industry.

“There’s less and less subdivisions for people to choose, and these builders won’t have any inventory,” said Jay Westman, of Jayman MasterBuilt , who told the Calgary Herald he thinks the city wants to “social engineer” more urban density.

Urban Development Institute - the industry’s lobbying voice - is trying to sell city council on a new strategy that would allow developers to shoulder the debt of starting new communities, rather than wait for the city to dole out the cash.

“It will hopefully expedite some of the projects so we wouldn’t have to wait for the city’s 10-year capital list,” spokesperson Mike Flynn told the Herald.