City politicians speak their minds on Plan It Calgary

Fast Forward talks to every council member (except one) about long-range plan

After the city released a draft of Plan It Calgary, Fast Forward asked city council members for their thoughts on the document (full story here). Here are their responses:

Mayor Dave Bronconnier: “I think really what it is doing is taking a holistic approach to development in the long-term for the city. It’s strategically putting resources where we know they’re going to be needed — in and around transit-oriented development.”

Dale Hodges, Ward 1: “I’m underwhelmed. What they’re doing is proposing some major changes in the planning process and planning policy for the city. I don’t buy into a massive case for big, big changes.”

Gord Lowe, Ward 2: “I find the fundamentals of it sound. I’ve got some reservations that have to be addressed. Some of the prescription in there about density worries me because at the end of the day, it will be the market that prescribes density.”

Jim Stevenson, Ward 3: “I’m not happy with it. There hasn’t been enough consultation with the stakeholders. I believe that the marketplace knows better what should be built than some of the planners do. I’ll either vote for amendments to it, or I’ll vote to reject it altogether.”

Bob Hawkesworth, Ward 4: “There’s a lot about Plan It that’s deserving of support and approval, but I do think there are these criticisms about it that have to be addressed before we can move to the next step. How do we get from the very long-term and the very strategic to the tactical and the daily?”

Ray Jones, Ward 5“I have a gut feeling to vote no because I’m kind of more on the development industry’s side on this one. They create a lot of jobs for a lot of people and, in particular, I’ve got two kids that are in the industry. I think jobs are a very important part of livelihoods.”

Joe Connelly, Ward 6“While I appreciate the document — it’s very aspirational — we need to think about how we’re going to get there. And that means a plan for tomorrow and the next 10 years — not 60 years out. I have a lot of questions that need answered.”

Druh Farrell, Ward 7“I support the principles behind Plan It. We’re talking about many different housing forms and offering a variety of choice in each community, and looking at underutilized opportunities and filling in the gaps. And we have lots of them.”

John Mar, Ward 8: “It’s highly divisive. It’s for a greater good, but it is also something that is intangible at this level. We all know there’s something that has to be done. How do we do that and how do we implement it is to be determined.”

Joe Ceci, Ward 9: “I can see myself supporting this. I’ve been supporting this all the way along. I’m continuing to believe that ensuring that Calgary grows in a sustainable fashion is what people want — and what I believe is necessary.”

Andre Chabot, Ward 10“It’s maybe a little aggressive in its objectives. I would prefer to see it not move forward until we have an agreement with our regional partners because I don’t want to force development outside our boundaries.”

Brian Pincott, Ward 11: “We, as a city, have the right to choose the kind of city that we want. This is about saying what kind of city we want. I think that now is the time to actually start moving forward and to make the decision.”

Ric McIver, Ward 12“The document is so long and unwieldy, and it goes between being too prescriptive to too nebulous. And I think it’s going to be really hard to get any intelligent planning done in the future with a document like that.”

Diane Colley-Urquhart, Ward 13: (Declined to be interviewed.)

Linda Fox-Mellway, Ward 14: ”It just makes statements, but it doesn’t really say, ‘And here’s how we implement it, and here’s the value added.’ Unless they’re going to get really big, big help from the province and the feds, it means big, big tax increases.”

Comments: 7

Albertosaurus wrote:

Dear Ald. Stevenson:

So ... the magical, all-powerful 'market' knows better then urban planners ... you know, EXPERTS in the field.

on Apr 30th, 2009 at 2:26pm Report Abuse

Stuart R wrote:

Of course the market knows better than a city-hall drone. A free market business has only its performance to allow it to succeed or fail. Free market businesses also employ urban planners; usually better ones, as they can cherry pick the labor market for staff by offering better salaries/benefits, etc. They are profit driven and MUST perfrom. City Hall can repeatedly fail and yet somehow still remain as an entity. Not very evolutionaryis it? An inefficient behemoth that snowballs year after year.

on Apr 30th, 2009 at 4:20pm Report Abuse

fang wrote:

Stuart R.

You are right, Free market business only have their performance to allow it to succeed or fail.

On the other hand, I think you're delusional if you claim that the decisions that are made by these companies will, by definition, result in a better city for the rest of us.

The success of a free market business is always tied to its profits. Usually, the success is directly related to its short term profits. One thing is for certain - profits are not the only thing that makes a city better. They never have been. Even worse, decisions made to maximize short term profits are terrible for the city!

When it comes to urban planning I would hope that our city leaders would balance the need to allow Free Market businesses to do what they do best, while ensuring that the decisions they make won't do long lasting damage.

ps. I agree that not all profit-based decisions are inherently bad. I also agree that given the right perspective, along with a long term plan to maximize the success of a company, the decisions will usually be MUCH better than those made on the short term. However, very few companies have this long term perspective. Far fewer take into account the well being of anyone, but their shareholders.

on Apr 30th, 2009 at 8:33pm Report Abuse

MCIP wrote:

The planners are being idealistic, which is not bad. Where they fail is trying to create another Vancouver, which Calgary will never be. The market forces drive development, legislating it will not work. The need to facilitate the type of development they want (i.e. blanket rezoning to make it easier for infill development. Also by allowing secondary suites in all single family district (still require a DP) they would instantly achieve their target of increasing "density"and providing more affordable housing options by increasing supply. Plan It in its current form is un-usable- where did the $6.3 million go...not on spell check that's for sure! The ideals need to be converted into workable and implementable solutions.

on May 1st, 2009 at 11:23am Report Abuse

Jackie wrote:

Encouraging alternate means of transportation? What a joke. Yes, Calgary brags about the length of their cycling paths, but they don't go anywhere serious. I cycle to work every day -- on the road. During my leisure time, the last thing on my mind is navigating through dogs, buggies, runners, skaters, and walkers on the paths. When I'm not riding, I find the speeding cyclists a bother. Bikes belong on the road. When the city makes a real effort to incorporate cycle traffic, then I'll take them seriously.

Even walking to work can be a hassle. Direct routes are blocked with brick walls, barbed wire, unscalable fences. It's going to be the kingdom of the cars long past my life time.

In addition,, Ive always thought Transit should be free, so everyone can take advantage -- in a storm, with a flat tire, no change, late at night. That would be a serious commitment by the City also.

Self-propulsion supporter,

on May 2nd, 2009 at 10:16am Report Abuse

Jeremy Klaszus wrote:

Here's a link to Ald. Diane Colley-Urquhart's take on Plan It:

on May 8th, 2009 at 9:53am Report Abuse

Agent666 wrote:

The underlying problem that isn't being addressed here is continued population growth--something that's neither inevitable, nor desirable. The bulk of this comes from our staggering immigration volumes: over a QUARTER MILLION people a year (actually, closer to 400,000, when illegal and 'temporary' immigration is included). All of those people WILL need more land, regardless of how dense and New Urbanist new developments are. This means a continual loss of farmland and natural greenspace, in addition to overtaxing our freshwater supply and increasing CO2 output. (People who move from warm climates to Canada need to keep warm by burning fossil fuels.)

Contrary to what the demographic pundits say, the only beneficiaries of mass immigration-fuelled growth are developers and the construction industry, and the banking sector. These industries need a constant influx of warm bodies to justify construction and issue mortgages. The mainstream environmental movement has completely sold out over this issue. The David Suzuki foundation recieves funding from BMO and RBC, both of whom advocate nearly doubling immigration. The Sierra Club imfamously got nearly $100M in donations from David Gelbaum, under the condition that it NOT discuss immigration or overpopulation. Then, there is the matter of political correctness. People are afraid of being labelled 'racist' for opposing our unsustainable tsunami of immigration, since most of the newcomers are 'people of colour'.

Unless we reign in our insane immigration volumes, the battle against urban sprawl is lost.

on Jun 25th, 2009 at 12:56pm Report Abuse

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