The Answer to Everything…

by David Biltek

Density…yes density is the answer to just about everything.

Transit, roads, sidewalks, taxes, carbon emissions….yup just about everything.  If we just had more people living in a smaller space.

That is essentially density.

Think about it. If you could walk to work, walk to recreation facilities, or if the transit could come by more frequently, if the city could use the existing sewer and water systems more efficiently, if there were fewer roads to clean….everything would be affected…affected in a postive sense.

Right now the City, spends more on services to suburban residential areas, than they take in taxes. That’s right the City loses money on your house.

This does NOT mean that City administration is incompetent. It is the situation in almost every city in Canada. Seriously.

Just recently Edmonton completed a study about this and it concluded:

                        “The report compared costs of building, maintaining and replacing infrastructure like fire halls, police stations, libraries —                                         developers pay for sewers and road in new neighbourhoods before the city takes over the maintenance after two years —                                   with the revenues from property taxes and user fees in 17 neighbourhoods.

                         The result was that on average, the city spent $1.36 for each dollar earned in revenue. Over 30 years, that cost added up to                                  about $34 million per neighbourhood.

                          The latest area approved for southwest Edmonton will accommodate 50,000 people over the next 50 years is estimated to                                 cost $250 million more than it will make.”

And this is Edmonton, with a larger industrial and commercial tax base. There has not been a similar study done here, but the situation is similar, and it is like this in just about every city in Canada.

A similar situation is true in Calgary as well, and Mayor Nenshi is focusing his 2013 re election campaign on this issue:

For details:

A large part of this could be solved by higher densities, higher density overall, and pockets of very high density. We would need to build fewer fire stations, fewer roads to maintain, all costing less.

So density is THE KEY to just about everything  and instead  candidates are yattering on about  taxes, efficiencies, P3s…and such nonsense as holding the line, while at the same time approving more new neighbourhoods, and annexing more land…they need to focus on sprawl and how to deal with its deleterious affects on the city.

So what could Council do?

1. start talking about the issue,

2. focus on the centre: develop policies and incentives to increase residential development on the centre. For example: allow 25 foot wide lots (no this is a slum waiting to happen, in Calgary there is a 100 year old neighbourhood based on 25 foot lots where the houses are highly sought after and are valued at $450,000 to $600,000, As well allow greater lot coverage, decrease front, side and backyard requirements. Reduce development fees, There are a host of other incentives the City can create

3. find out how much it is costing the City for new residential development

4. develop a new “deal” or “contract” with developers so that the entire costs are considered.

5. from time to time take threats from developers that they will move to the Count seriously, and take them at their word, after all if the City is losing money on the development, why bother?

And what do you think?

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****************** MORE ELECTION NEWS….

There is a New Website: GPVOTES .CA all about the Municipal Election in Grande Prairie: click here for a link to GPVOTES.CA

and the Chamber All Candidates ForumClick here for the details October 17th

and  I am told there are possibly other ones in the works:

There is a candidate meet and greet October 10th 630pm to 830pm. Francophone school in Westpoint.

and The GPRC Students Association has been planning a forum for the 16th as well and  Safety City may well have one, more about these next week.

More forums would expose the candidates and citizens to each other and allow citizens to see how prospective Councillors think, behave and handle themselves

And a NEW Party…. and it is NOT a political party….sorry all you political nerds…Kevin McLean is throwing an Election Party on Friday Oct 11 starring Jimmy Flynn, at DUKES click here for all THE DETAILS AND AN INVITATION, and if you do not know who Jimmy Flynn is, click here for to learn more about this funny guy

and to the Candidates and their teams,  I have offered space to you in this blog…you know how to reach me.