How well do you know your City? Part II
Part II – The impact of employment and demographics on development
It’s time to stop dealing in misperceptions and negative attitudes when it comes to thinking about growth and our city. Let’s see if we can bust even more myths about development in Calgary today.
Myth #1: The majority of Calgarians work downtown, so it makes sense to limit residential growth away from the city centre.
Get The Facts:
• Actually, just over 25% of all jobs (approximately 160,000) are located downtown.
• The majority of jobs are found outside the downtown core. About 70,000 jobs are located in employment centres such as the University/Foothills Hospital area, Macleod Trail south of Chinook Mall and 32nd Ave east of Deerfoot Trail. A further 150,000 jobs are found in the industrial areas surrounding the airport, and in Calgary’s SE. The rest are dispersed through the city.
• The City of Calgary has a plan (Employment Centre Strategy) to create concentrations of employment in strategic locations throughout the city. Encouraging more suburban employment will provide Calgarians the opportunity to live closer to where they work and increase reverse traffic flow in peak periods.
• Calgary is a hub for the logistics, warehousing and goods movement industry. These operations generally require big parcels of land to accommodate large buildings, parking and storage for a vehicle fleet, including trucks and other huge machinery. In some cases, they also include massive service yards for rail and air. In many other large cities, these uses fall outside municipality.
• This is important to note as this again impacts Calgary’s overall density numbers and ‘footprint’. We must take into account that these non-residential uses render large parts of the NE and SE inappropriate for residential development.
Myth #2: Why do we keep building single family homes? There are too many in Calgary already and it’s contributing to ‘sprawl’.
Get The Facts:
• Currently there are 264,445 single family homes in Calgary out of 459,339 total dwelling units. That’s only about 60% of the total.
• Calgary’s demographics also play a role in determining what kind of housing our citizens are looking for. We are a young city with a median age of 36.4, an average household size of 2.6 people and a recent ‘baby boom’ where children under 4 increased by almost 21% from 2006 to 2011. All of these factors influence what type of housing is needed to meet the expectations of both existing and future citizens.
• If we were to severely limit the ability of families to obtain or afford a home of their choice (in any area of the city) through restrictive policy or regulation, we could lose the ability to attract future growth to our city. They may decide to live just outside our boundaries which would mean more commuters on the road for longer distances.
• It’s worth paying attention to in light of recent census numbers. From 2006 to 2011, our neighbouring municipalities grew at a much faster rate than Calgary itself. While Calgary increased by only about 11%, Cochrane grew by almost 29%, Okotoks jumped 43%, Airdrie 47% and Chestemere just under 50%.
Hopefully some of these facts have got you thinking a little differently about development in Calgary. We are achieving so many positive things. Let’s celebrate our uniqueness and this incredible place we call home!
Source: Facts and figures taken from City of Calgary reports; ‘Calgary Snapshots 2011’ and ‘Developed Areas Growth & Change 2010’ as well as from Calgary Economic Development’s ‘Calgary Advantages’ presentation and Stats Canada. All reports are available to the public online