The cost of suburban development in Edmonton

The City of Edmonton has completed a study of the long-term fiscal impact of new suburban development.  The results are not good.

Suburban sprawl will cost the City of Edmonton and its taxpayers much more than it provides in revenues.

New neighbourhoods do not pay for themselves, and the financial gap is staggering. Over the next 30 years, just 17 of more than 40 developing and future neighbourhoods will cost the city more than $500 million more than they provide in taxes, user fees and other revenues.

This includes one neighbourhood with a relatively high concentration of commercialindustrial lands, which will provide net revenues over $400 million. If we ignore this one and only look at the planned residential neighbourhoods, the red ink is close to $1 billion.

It gets worse. After the first 30 years, the annual net cost goes up as aging infrastructure needs to be replaced. The net cost rises to over $100 million per year, every year. So the following 30 years will cost us over $3 billion. If you ignored the commercial neighbourhood, over those 30 years the bill would hit almost $4 billion.

I’ve looked, but I can’t seem to find the actually report.  The closest I can come up with is this presentation about the report.  I also can’t seem to view the city’s zoning map because they require some weird SVG viewer.  If anyone else has better luck, let me know.

Baby & Hood: Studies suggest urban areas are less risky for children


As an ongoing promotion for the upcoming ULI Minnesota YLG Annual Program on March 10th, I’m posting a number of articles related to the topic: kid-friendly cities.  Today’s link, from the National Post, is about safety, the perception of safety and how families choose a neighborhood.  Enjoy, and I hope to see you at the program.

Families like Ms. Roux-Vlachova’s say they find safety in their tightly packed urban communities, where tiny lots mean neighbours keep a watchful eye, where condominiums are staffed with security guards and parents can walk to most stores, schools and playgrounds.

Their arguments are bolstered by a growing body of research showing that the traditional family dream home — a large house on a big lot in a quiet suburb — may actually be more dangerous for children than many inner-city neighbourhoods.

While many parents worry that city living could mean their children will be abducted or caught in the crossfire of a gang shooting, it is exceedingly rare for children to be harmed or murdered by strangers, says William Lucy, a University of Virginia urban planning professor whose studies on safe communities are most often quoted by parents arguing for city living.

Perceptions about urban safety are still “lagging well behind reality,” Mr. Lucy says.

In reality, the greatest risk to children is car crashes, which are more likely to occur in the suburbs, where children spend more time in cars or playing next to busy roads.

“In terms of traffic fatalities versus homicides by strangers, it’s almost a 13-to-one ratio,” he says.