News   Apr 03, 2020
 7.5K     3 
News   Apr 02, 2020
 8.1K     0 
News   Apr 02, 2020
 2.7K     0 

Suburban Development and Sprawl


Staff member
Member Bio
Sep 22, 2015
Reaction score
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Edmonton is losing money on every suburb it builds and won’t solve the housing affordability problem for its residents either until it embraces a different style of neighbourhood, housing expert Avi Friedman says.

“We’re repeating the same prototype for half a century,” said Friedman, a popular speaker and McGill University professor who is speaking at the St. Albert Housing Society’s annual fundraising breakfast Tuesday.

Edmonton currently counts on increasing its industrial base to offset residential taxes because each new suburb adds more expense that it yields in taxes. That only changes when you build neighbourhoods at a higher density, Friedman said. A city needs at least the density that comes from predominantly townhouses, low apartment buildings and narrow roads to make it pay.

Those neighbourhoods can also be easy to walk and support efficient, well-used transit.

But most North American cities are resistant to major change. “When I talk to officials in Canada they say, ‘Hmm, how will the fire truck arrive? How will the ambulance arrive?'” Friedman said. “I don’t think in Finland or Denmark they place citizens at risk at all (when they design differently). They simply figure it out. … In my opinion, we need to start to think outside the box.”

Full Story
In Copenhagen’s new Ørestad City, the new rail line is being surrounded by condo buildings with the attributes of a house, one built like a mountain rather than a tower so everyone has a large, outdoor terrace and another with a bike path right up to the tenth floor penthouse.

I've been there! I feel like I've been reading more and more about about how suburbs and car-centric development in general just does not pay for itself, and I can't figure out if it's because I'm hunting down these topics or if they're becoming more mainstream.

It would be interesting for an article like this to try to pull in local/regional/domestic examples of good or optimistic TOD.
Sadly I think that's because there are not many examples to pull from in North America in general.
Well there's that.

I was trying to think of some when I wrote the last post, and mostly ended up with New Urbanist projects. I know some of the outer suburbs around Toronto are really focusing on salvaging their downtowns and making them walkable again. But these are places that have been there a long time rather than new construction. And it's the new construction outside of urban centres that's the most interesting for sure.
@bennessb Yes, exactly. Today's concerns when connecting new suburbs with mass transit is park-and-rides, but I've always felt that if your biggest concern around expanding transit is where people are going to park, you're doing something very fundamentally wrong.
Do taxpayers subsidize suburban growth? Do houses cost less on the city’s fringes because mature neighbourhood residents are picking up the tab?

It’s a touchy debate that made headlines again this week after Calgary’s city council voted to end the “sprawl subsidy” and charge developers higher levies. They’ll be paying 100 per cent of the cost of new water and waste water infrastructure by 2018.

But does Edmonton have a sprawl subsidy? It’s a big deal because Edmonton estimates its cost just to build out currently approved neighbourhoods will be $2.1 billion.

Full Story (Edmonton Journal)
The city’s newest neighbourhoods won’t come close to paying for themselves and will leave taxpayers in other parts of the city on the hook for a $1.4-billion tab.

In a report going to council next week, city staff analyzed the cost of three new neighbourhoods — Decoteau and Riverview in the south and Horse Hills in the northeast — over the next 50 years, which they estimate will ultimately house 200,000 people.

The conclusion showed that, even with developers spending $3.8 billion to build the areas, the city will have a $10.6-billion bill, spent on new infrastructure and for its maintenance and renewal.

That bill includes everything from work on commuter roads that will face added strain to bringing in three recreation centres, five fire stations, two libraries and 396 hectares of park spaces.

At the same time the city will collect just $9.2 billion in revenue, through things like taxes and levies — leaving a major shortfall.

Full Story (Metro Edmonton)
Edmonton mayor looking to developers to cover more of the cost of suburban growth
Edmonton’s mayor is angling to follow Calgary’s lead, stop the “sprawl subsidy” and get developers to cover more of the cost of new suburban neighbourhoods.

Calgary’s Mayor Naheed Nenshi coined the phrase and in January, secured an agreement that sees developers pay substantially increased levies to cover new interchanges, waste water lift stations, wet and dry ponds and traffic signals on major roadways.

Mayor Don Iveson says he’ll start that process here, asking administration to work with local developers on fair rates to cover interchanges, parks and fire halls. He’s hoping changes to provincial rules to be announced this spring will let the city make those demands mandatory, and that other municipalities in the capital region follow suit.

“If we can all agree that we’re going to not undercut each other and grow responsibly,” said Iveson. “(Because) if you push growth away from the core of the city, you’re going to undermine efficiency of the whole region.”

Full Story (Edmonton Journal)
Make developers pay more for suburban development in Edmonton, poll says
Developers, rather than taxpayers, should bear the responsibility for covering a shortfall in funding new suburban neighbourhoods, Edmontonians say in a new poll.

The Mainstreet Research-Postmedia survey asked more than 1,000 city residents to share their views on how the city should handle municipal growth, including issues around infill development and paying the costs of roads, transit and amenities in newly built communities.

Nearly one in four respondents said developers should be forced to take on the outstanding costs of building out Edmonton’s last three residential growth areas. Increasing property taxes on businesses was the top choice for 18 per cent of respondents, followed by 17 per cent who preferred raising taxes on homeowners.

Another 12 per cent said they wanted the city to look at other funding sources such as toll roads, while 15 per cent were undecided on the issue.

Full Story (Edmonton Journal)
Denser developments on Edmonton's fringes to be debated
Despite being far from Edmonton's inner city, both Eaux Claires and Glenridding Ravine may in the future see major density that you won’t find in more established neighbourhoods

On Monday, city council is set to examine two bylaws regarding the communities, located in northern and southern Edmonton, respectively.

City administration is supporting the development of medium density and multi-family dwellings near a transit station. Prior to that, single-family, detatched residences were recommended.

In Glenridding Ravine, administration is also supporting high density near the proposed transit hub.

Full Story (Metro Edmonton)
Paying for the suburbs
Edmonton’s growth areas — not including annexation land in Leduc County — will cost Edmonton $1.4 billion in capital projects, things like roads, sewer trunk lines, parks and fire halls.

That’s in addition to the $3.8 billion developers will pay. For the city, maintenance and replacement costs for the next 50 years will be another $1.4 billion more than the property taxes new homeowners in those areas are expected to pay.

Last year, council asked city officials to sit with developers and figure out solutions, whether that’s reducing services or increasing the amount new homeowners pay in their house prices. On Tuesday, officials are expected to tell council’s executive committee they need another year to complete the work.

“It’s mightily complex,” said planning branch manager Peter Ohm, saying they were able to bring the group together, but not yet find solutions.

“We’ve kind of got the riverbanks and we know many other cities are asking the same questions,” said Ohm, hoping to bring in experts from the Monk Institute or elsewhere this year. “By ourselves, we will be challenged to take on these questions.”

The costs are for the residential areas of Horse Hill, Decoteau and Riverview.
to be fair - and accurate - neighborhood 14 is just one of the neighborhoods in heritage valley (which was first approved when the city adopted the heritage valley servicing concept design brief in 2001). the following neighborhood structure plans have since been adopted to further guide development of certain portions of the area:

• allard in 2007
• blackmud creek in 1998
• callaghan in 2005
• cashman in 2005
• chappelle in 2008
• desrochers in 2010
• heritage valley neighbourhood 12 in 2011
• heritage valley town centre in 2009
• macewan in 200
• richford in 1999
• rutherford in 2001

none of them on their own could support the servicing and infrastructure costs needed for each of them. when fully developed, heritage valley's 2,115 hectares is projected to be home for 99,000. at 46.8 persons per gross hectare (which also includes roads and parks and school sites and commercial and institutional sites etc.), the overall community will be one of the densest in the city when built out.
Similar to section 3.4 in this document about promoting employment within the area the parr's about the Town Centre, the recent City Plan outlines Heritage Valley as one of the important future nodes in the city.

Reading this older document with its photos really makes me sad that many of the old growth forests were cut down rather than preserved.