A New Suburban Levy Deal in Calgary?

Calgary Aiport by FlyingLemming
Calgary Aiport by FlyingLemming

New home prices in Calgary may grow by about $8,000 because of an agreement between the city and developers that would make developers carry more of the cost of building new suburbs.

The Calgary Herald claims that Calgary’s development industry urges City Council to approve the deal. The developers’ main group opposes the plan to force undeveloped areas to be used to help the city pay three-quarters of the price of the airport tunnel. The city and taxpayers have had to cover much of the costs of water systems, fire halls, and the new suburban infrastructure. The new deal doubles land levies to help close the massive gap, bringing Calgary into the top one-third of Canadian cities’ developer charges, explains Mike Flynn, executive director of the Urban Development Institute in Calgary.

Developers said that they accept the added costs as long as City Council doesn’t increase them, but they protest the assumption that the Airport Trail underpass primarily benefits new communities and that they should therefore pay for it. “The industry wants the city to accept that the tunnel mainly benefits existing developments, which would mean the city would only recoup 17 per cent of the roughly $295-million project from new levies,” added the Calgary Herald.

Ald. Druh Farrell claims that tripling the levies could help the city come closer to keeping the burden manageable. “It’s certainly an improvement. However, we’re still digging a hole — we’re just digging it more slowly,” she explained.

The group’s president, John Marotta, wrote to Mayor Naheed Nenshi: “Calgary has been known for years as a good place to do business. The massive proposed increases in the commercial development cost structure are poised to ruin that reputation.”

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