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Suburban Development and Sprawl


An explanation between Edmonton and Toronto.

IMO the author has a point about restricting development, but I'll ask why they're not bringing up the other half of the argument and resorting to a dilemma like that. In Canadian cities, middle-density housing and mixed use opportunities are extremely restricted and the urban form is usually large, low-density suburban areas with pockets of mid to high-rise towers around transit stations or activity nodes, uses often separated in both cases. This is another (arguably larger) example of the restriction of urban development which artificially increases the cost of living. If we want to effectively tackle this problem, every city should take a look at Edmonton's book and grant more zoning freedom to their neighborhoods and encourage projects which increase density and bring more uses, making the housing pool in a city much larger without bringing on huge future costs.
 
Many of the critics of greenfield do not have a response to this article though. Restricting supply through creating a greenbelt will drive up prices as already seen in Toronto. Lot prices will continue to rise when developers know that council will continue to restrict new neighborhoods, this will then cause all other inventory to also rise in cost. This is probably the most illustrative quote:

In 2004, the average price of a single, detached house in the Edmonton market was about $200,000, while in Toronto it was $320,000. March 2021 real estate reports indicate that the average Edmonton price is now a bit over $500,000, while in Toronto it has risen to nearly $1.7 million. In other words, prices are up about 150 per cent in Edmonton but nearly three times that (430 per cent) in Toronto. In the mid-2000s, Edmonton’s median multiple was 2.8 and Toronto’s was 3.9. By 2021, Edmonton’s median multiple had risen to 3.6, while Toronto’s was a staggering 10.5. The difference between the two cities rose from 1.1 in the mid-2000s to 6.9 in 2021.
 
But those price jumps happened without a greenbelt, so that's not really proof that a greenbelt will increase prices. Now, it absolutely would increase things more if they didn't update policy to streamline infill, but a greenbelt itself doesn't cause that. Also a large reason for the jump is from measuring the price of Single Family Homes instead of just housing.

We need to stop looking at Single Family Homes as a measure of housing prices. Toronto is a City of more than 5 million people, there's only so much land available within an hour of downtown, of course Single Family Homes are going to shoot up in value. An increasingly large number of people are fighting over the fixed amount of land that sit under the single family homes. What's important is housing prices, we should be looking at something more general, like "the average 2/3 bedroom dwelling unit" for a more complete understanding. Single Family House prices are going to continue to go up because of the land scarcity, but If they reform their zoning to allow for more missing middle housing etc. they could theoretically bring down the price of the average dwelling unit to something more reasonable. No one expects to be able to own a single family home within 20 minutes of Central Paris, London, or New York, so I'm not sure why it's still the expectation in major Canadian cities.
 
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The yimby answer to greenfield restrictions causing price inflation is to implement a mileage tax, developers pay way more of infrastructure costs to new devs, taxes are more tied to sqft than home value, reform zoning city wide for density and infill opportunities. Toronto has moved in the opposite direction of most of those for years, widening highways and cutting car costs, protecting SFHs, and having little zoning change until recently.
 
Meh

It's nothing out of the ordinary for north American development post 1980.

If SEC is illegal, where do you stop? Highway overpasses and freeways take up a similar amount of space.

What people are overlooking is that Edmonton is now extending so far south that SEC could probably become a central redevelopment zone in about 20 yrs. When that day arrives, having contiguous land becomes a major advantage, not a downside.
 
A few years ago, I was working in Connecticut and went shopping with some coworkers at the Clinton Premium Outlets. Instead of having multiple parking lots, you have one and then you have to walk your way through a village of shops. It's a fantastic use of space. It's a great experience, even during the colder months. I wish they designed the South Commons in a similar fashion.
 
I know this may sound like a fever dream but
Windermere Should be an independent City
and Maybe Also Heritage Valley area
In 20/30 Years Edmonton May Break up into smaller Cities
Just an interesting Thing ;)
 

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