Urban sprawl to cost city $1.2 billion: report
Published Thursday, May 10, 2012 6:46PM MDT
The rapid rate at which Edmonton is growing will cost the city $1.2 billion, according to a new report about growth in the city.
City council had previously approved 44 new neighbourhoods on the outskirts of Edmonton before learning how much the neighbourhoods would cost.
Now a draft report of the Growth Co-ordination Strategy says infrastructure such as fire halls, police stations and parks to be built for those new communities, will cost the city an additional $1.2 billion.
That figure does not include costs for operating and maintaining the facilities.
"The reality was [that] a year and a half ago council opted to grandfather a whole bunch of neighbourhoods, not waiting for the strategy to come out," said city councillor Ben Henderson.
"How we're going to negotiate that control of growth now, I'm not sure."
Whatever the solution may be, Henderson says city councillors have some big decisions to make.
"Maybe we can't get a bus within 400 metres of every single family house, maybe it's going to take longer to get that fire hall out there, maybe it's going to take longer to get those schools out there," he said.
Realtor Ezmina Samaroo says regardless of how the city chooses to deal with paying for the new infrastructure, it has to be done.
"We're growing," Samaroo said. "So there is no real option. They've got to be provided."
Samaroo says she's been selling homes at a busier pace than she has in the past five years. Buyers are showing interest in both newer and established neighbourhoods but she notes there has been an increased interest in areas on the fringes of the city.
"We do see a lot of interest in any areas that are surrounding the Henday, " Samaroo said.
It's that interest that's got some Edmontonians worried.
Conrad Nobert lives in the city's core and thinks the $1.2 billion price tag to support urban sprawl will mean a higher tax bill for Edmontonians.
"I'm very upset with how the city is growing and is planning on growing in the future," Nobert said.
"I'm upset when the infrastructure around my house isn't adequate and yet we are paving over farm land to really subsidize developers to build cheap housing way on the outskirts. Anyone who is in Edmonton's existing tax base should be upset about this."
The full report will be released in six months.
With files from Kevin Armstrong