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An Open Letter to Diane Colley-Urquhart February 15, 2009

Posted by DustinRJay in Uncategorized.
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6 comments

On September 9, 2008, Calgary city council debated and approved $25 million in funding to be allotted for two pedestrian bridges in downtown Calgary.  This issue was revisited on January 12, 2009, when yourself and three other aldermen put forth a motion to halt the design of the bridge and the motion subsequently failed.

Calgary’s extensive pathway system and pedestrian bridges around the river are a primary reason why I chose and enjoy living in Calgary.  Currently, the pedestrian bridges are a part of my daily commute and habitat.  Calgary spends 4% of it’s transportation capital budget on pedestrians and cyclists and 0.37% of it’s operating transportation budget on pedestrians and cyclists.  This is disproportionately less than the 7% of people that use biking and cycling as the primary mode to get to work and is a minimal part of the overall transportation budget.

Calgary also spends much more costs due to suburban sprawl.  The cost of roads and interchanges, maintenance including snow removal, public transit, water and sewer is much higher in comparison to the revenue generated for low density suburban areas versus a high rise downtown condo tower.  To further illustrate my point, the estimated cost of the pedestrian bridges is small in comparison to the $2100 million cost estimate for Calgary’s ring road.

Although I’m not a city planner, it seems intuitive that from a city efficiency standpoint that a high density building could have up to a 20xfold increase in profitability, thus decreasing the tax burden on residents.  Alternatively, the extra profits generated from high density may be used to increase the overall quality of life for the surrounding residents.

Example:

Arriva 42
200 units per half city block
1/2 city block

Bridlewood Suburban Area
20 units per block
10 city blocks

The revenue generated in each example would be roughly the same, but the city’s cost would be much higher for the equivalent suburban area.

Recently, a private enterprise has entered an agreement to purchase the Shawnee Golf Course for purposing of developing residential real estate.  Subsequently, you submitted a motion requesting that city administration evaluate the option of using public funds to purchase and operate the golf course.  The Canadian Federation of Independent Business has requested that the City of Calgary embark on a plan to sell it’s golf courses to private enterprise.  Higher density residential zoning would increase the tax efficiency of the city of Calgary and allow private enterprise to develop an opportunity.  This is counter to your previous arguments regarding the pedestrian bridges that you were acting as an advocate on behalf of Calgary’s taxpayers.

I believe that by supporting private enterprise and transit orientated development , that public funding can be better targeted at improving quality of life for all Calgarians.

In summary, I fully support the development of the bridges and believe that city council should avoid NAMBIism and adhere to these policies:

  • Council should encourage development that minimizes sprawl to reduce the overall cost to taxpayers
  • Council should attempt to allocate equitable infrastructure funding that is proportional to the tax revenue generated
  • Council should not needlessly revisit projects that have already received approval unless there has been a significant new development

References:

Diane Colley-Urquhart’s website

Santiago Calatrava – YouTube Video

Santiago Calatrava – Wikipedia

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