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Next City is coming

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Rollin Stanley, the new general manager of planning, development and assessment at the City of Calgary, says, like it or not, change is coming to the way the city grows in future.

“It’s about a fundamental cultural change,” he told the 260 CHBA – Calgary Region members at the first dinner meeting of the new term Sept. 12, as he shared his vision for the future of the city, which he called Next City.

Many of his views aligned with the city’s new Municipal Development Plan and its implementation, although some things were his own ideas to make the city sustainable for the future.

And that is critical, he said, noting that with just one tax base (property taxes), the city cannot pay for the required infrastructure, but even more importantly, its ongoing maintenance, upgrading and eventual replacement. “With 95 per cent of housing single-family homes, you can never, ever raise the tax enough to replace the services.”

That means increasing density wherever it can work. “Higher densities will pay for growth – that’s the only way: it’s sustainable; and it boosts the tax base.”

Rollin said the processes, policies and implementation of applications at the City need to be changed to create efficiency to help both the industry and the city – and he promised to work with the industry. “You want to build; I have to think of how we will pay for the growth.”

His goal:  to bring “certainty and flexibility to the process.”

Plans included reviewing approved Area Structure Plans, looking at creating a template for high-rise development that would add density for developers that put in such things as green building components, affordable housing units, or tower setbacks.

And he challenged those in attendance to “get the dialogue going” on finding ways to change the regulations to allow such things as six-storey wood-framed apartments.

Rollin also told everyone to read the Municipal Development Plan so they would be aware of the plans for future growth.

Next step is the Growth Management Framework which will come to council in October – the policy that has a huge impact for future development and the potential to significantly alter residential development. “The goal is to give council some benchmark on how we will grow.”

For more on this topic, read CHBA – Calgary Region President Charron Ungar’s article in the next issue of Profile magazine.

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