News   Apr 03, 2020
 7.7K     3 
News   Apr 02, 2020
 8.5K     0 
News   Apr 02, 2020
 2.8K     0 

Suburban Development and Sprawl

This is a bit off topic, but I love that the thread on 'suburban sprawl' is one of the least utilized threads in this forum. Much like lands used for suburban development...
Haha! I think the main reason is that (for the most part) suburban development is kinda boring and doesn't have much inspiration to it. You could either be in the far north or far south end of the city and you wouldn't be able to tell where you are! It's all just a sea of 2-storey houses, strip malls and low-rise buildings which look like massive houses
 
I do like the 2-storey back garage narrow lots, but yeah, otherwise everything else is pretty lack-lustre out here. I mean, most things we need are a quick 5-10 minute drive from here, but it could be so much nicer if the transit service and bike infrastructure was better and the parking would be put in the back of all commercial developments.
 
Really good video here. Anyone know if edmonton has public data on the tax revenues of different neighborhoods? Would love to see basically a revenue, expenses, net operating profit, debt, and capital cost/depreciation schedule breakdown.

The city should just put a "5% of total sale value" one time tax on all new builds outside the henday...

 
Really good video here. Anyone know if edmonton has public data on the tax revenues of different neighborhoods? Would love to see basically a revenue, expenses, net operating profit, debt, and capital cost/depreciation schedule breakdown.

The city should just put a "5% of total sale value" one time tax on all new builds outside the henday...

Not Just Bikes' videos are sooo good! Always speaking straight facts about good vs. bad city design😁

I agree, true incentives like what you mentioned for people to build within established areas and densify (like a bonus/relief on taxes based on how much density you add to an existing plot of land) would really encourage faster-paced change for the better.
 
Not Just Bikes' videos are sooo good! Always speaking straight facts about good vs. bad city design😁

I agree, true incentives like what you mentioned for people to build within established areas and densify (like a bonus/relief on taxes based on how much density you add to an existing plot of land) would really encourage faster-paced change for the better.
Totally. All my friends keep buying in edgemont for 350 cause they're nice new homes vs 400 for an older one that needs work closer to the core. But those prices don't reflect the true cost to the city. The city needs to give incentives to buy older homes in mature areas, or needs to create disincentives for new areas or the math will never add up!
 
Anyone know if edmonton has public data on the tax revenues of different neighborhoods? Would love to see basically a revenue, expenses, net operating profit, debt, and capital cost/depreciation schedule breakdown.
I've done some quick searching through the City's open data, but have never been able to find anything that slices financials by neighborhood. I think it would be an incredibly important tool to have available though.

Winnipeg appears to be doing better at providing neighborhood-level data. This blogger has done some great work assessing various neighborhoods there:

https://www.dearwinnipeg.com/2019/0...hoods-that-dont-want-it-buy-them-out-instead/
https://www.dearwinnipeg.com/2020/01/14/its-all-downhill-from-here/

I'm sure it's fairly safe to assume we would see comparable numbers here.
 
Totally. All my friends keep buying in edgemont for 350 cause they're nice new homes vs 400 for an older one that needs work closer to the core. But those prices don't reflect the true cost to the city. The city needs to give incentives to buy older homes in mature areas, or needs to create disincentives for new areas or the math will never add up!
'give incentives'

You mean like working with partners to ensure higher quality transit, parks, upgraded schools, rec centres and public realm?
 
Our sprawl situation requires a much more integrated solution than simply incentives or disincentives. They can certainly be part of the solution, but on their own they are not an effective answer. Extreme disincentives could maybe solve the problem of sprawl, but at what cost? On the other hand, the "build it and they will come" incentives that we've seen implemented through the TIFs/other similar methods make it pretty clear that incentives alone aren't the answer.

I think it mostly comes down to financial realities of development. Our city's overarching policy on infill and urban development is actually pretty good. The new city plan, the infill roadmap, and certain ARPs are actually full of pretty good and detailed plans to build denser infill and stop the sprawl. But the development mechanisms to actually facilitate the infill that is detailed in the city policy docs is where the big failure is. The whole development framework and process is still geared toward greenfield development and is much less compatible with infill development. We need to figure out how to align the development framework to facilitate easier development in mature areas. The big thing the city needs to stop doing is using development agreements as a way to finance necessary infrastructure upgrades in mature neighbourhoods. This is completely killing effective infill on any large scale.

Unfortunately, some of this comes down to the limited financial tools that the province gives the city to work with. And on that front it seems unlikely that we will see change any time soon - especially with this government's municipal affairs approach.
 
^^^ this is super insightful. I'll add that the private sector (both developers and consumers) are very driven by culture and emotional-social precedents and norms. Every generation from the Baby Boomers onwards was either raised (or families aspired to raise their children) in detached homes in the suburbs. there is huge emotional ties to the concept of a freestanding home, and associated 'big yard, big garage, lots of private green space' attributes; the associated commuter culture (some call it car culture, but it really isn't about appreciating the actual cars themselves) that goes along with it is seen as necessary, and something that should be accommodated and indulged by private and public entities. This culture in the consumer base drives decisions by developers/builders, who over the decades have fine-tuned their businesses to deliver a 'product' (i freaking HATE calling housing a 'product', but in this mass-produced context, it is) that meets these consumer expectations at a low price to the buyer. Consumers want (or think they want) a big detached house and yard, at the far end of a freeway from the rest of the city, surrounded by houses that all match. Developers deliver this. They buy land cheaply, usually develop it only to a minimum density to satisfy CoE standards, build their roads in anticipation of some freeway that may or may not appear (the whole Terwillegar area from the 1970s onwards is a result of this) and build a whole bunch of matchy-matchy housing, because that's what the consumer wants. No one is thinking about the implications of all this; it's just how things work, what people want and expect, and what the system is geared to do.
There isn't a lot of room for foresight or long-term planning in this setup (although this is changing, there are some really cool new developments starting to get off the ground that (being greenfield aside) are really urban and innovative) aside from the city's role, which @Hugh Jazz has highlighted in their post. This means, unless the city fights that steep uphill battle against not just existing policy, developers stuck in their ways, and mismatched previous development, but a culture and consumer base that doesn't appreciate the implications of their purchasing choices and sprawl in general. This last bit saps political will and makes any fight harder than it already is. Who wants to hear their beloved quiet neighbourhood of bungalows has been sapping city resources for decades and needs 2-3 times as many dwelling units in it to break even? And, given that, that we can no longer build any more quiet neighbourhoods of bungalows because those bungalows will cause the same issue? it's a real issue, and one we must address.We have the issue that very few people have the perspective to look at this issue and be willing to actually take it on.
I agree that CoE is doing great things with the new city plan, new Zoning Bylaw, and associated work. I'm doing my schooling in Calgary; for all their talk about being urban and cosmopolitan, their Land Use Bylaw is outdated, and their planning rationale old-fashioned in comparison to what we have here. less opportunity for mixed-use and densification (zone names aside, all of the RA series and most commercial zones here allow for mixed-use as permitted uses, the equivalent Districts in Calgary do not usually. as well, most of their R-Districts are still single-family only) and yet it's Clagary that is seen as the leader in urbanism on the prairies. We have good regulations here, and if we can make it all work, Edmonton has a bright future; we just need people willing to push for change in the other areas of the housing market, or else we won't meet our goals.
 
Oh boy, yes the commuter/car culture here is so very strong.

I know I just said that incentives/disincentives on their own aren't effective, but In the context of transportation and curbing sprawl specifically, most of the research indicates that the only real way to reduce driving is to make it inconvenient and costly. Building the greatest transit system in the world won't convince people to use it if driving and parking is easy and cheap.

Not to plagiarize a certain mayoral candidate, but I think it genuinely is time for a "war on cars".
 
Oh boy, yes the commuter/car culture here is so very strong.

I know I just said that incentives/disincentives on their own aren't effective, but In the context of transportation and curbing sprawl specifically, most of the research indicates that the only real way to reduce driving is to make it inconvenient and costly. Building the greatest transit system in the world won't convince people to use it if driving and parking is easy and cheap.

Not to plagiarize a certain mayoral candidate, but I think it genuinely is time for a "war on cars".
Making private vehicle accessibility harder/more inconvenient is definitely a strategy to use in curbing car culture, but it can become the slipperiest of slopes if it isn't used in measure. If things go even just a little too far we could maybe see things going the exact opposite way, with traffic around the city getting worse and many people being upset/enraged and pushing for "Car Culture 2: Bigger & BadderTM" after the supposed "dark times". I'm not saying it would happen, but it's a possibility to keep in mind 🤷‍♂️
 
"In the spring of 2019, council approved the Urban Character Small Lot Residential District; allowing for street-oriented single detached dwellings to be built on narrow lots. They approved 29 lots in SouthPointe, 48 lots Southfort Meadows and 40 lots in Sienna.

Since then, 26 have been constructed with all of them sold. Another 26 are currently in the works and, according to mayor Gale Katchur, sales are so far going very well.

Only two of the three locations are under development; Sienna is still getting registration approval but there is indication activity should be starting this summer."


 
Hey everyone!

Just thought I would share that a new Neighbourhood Structure Plan (NSP) is going to Council this Tuesday in the Horse Hills Area (North East), Horse Hills Neighbourhood 1A (LINK to proposed plan). I plan on speaking to council regarding this in opposition and have also drafted a letter and analysis doc to share with Council. I thought I would share this here since it would be awesome to have more public dialog regarding suburban neighbourhood design. Ultimately people will be living in these communities, and its super important to design these communities to support a diversity of people. Below is an image of the planned active transport network for the neighbourhood, with some of my comments. Also linked is some comments on specific policy concerns as well as a sample letter to City Council. If any of you folks are interested and agree with what I mention in the letter, it would be a HUGE help if you sent an email to council highlighting these concerns, as well as any of your own thoughts.

Thanks everyone in advance! And looking forward to some sick dialogue on suburban development on this forum.

Active Mode Figure.png
 

Back
Top