Part 1: Up or Out: A story of adolescence

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mC:t    2015.04.20    #makecalgary

“Calgary would be the only city in the world to grow from adolescence to adulthood” –Jane Jacobs

 

Cities, like people, go through various stages of growth and development until they reach a relatively stable state that we could describe as “adulthood”.  For each city, the timeline to reach this vague state of relative stability is different, and some cities may never reach it. In Calgary, growth and development has been rapid over the past thirty years, as the city has gone from approximately 600,000 residents in 1985 to now over 1,100,000. Because of the pace of change in Calgary it has become popular to describe the city as currently in a state of “adolescence”. And like most adolescent people, the city can either grow up, or grow out.

The growth pattern in Calgary for the last thirty years has largely taken the form of ‘out’. To maintain the analogy to human growth, this would be only seem natural and could be described as ‘baby fat’.  But proponents of so-called ‘smart growth’ and many city officials are now lobbying for a different type of growth, which can be described as ‘up’. To accomplish this, City policies have been changed, and new City plans have been created to direct growth back towards established communities in the form of infill development. New communities, the City argues, are too expensive to service in the long-term and come with a variety of concerns that are worth avoiding. Developers, on the other hand, argue that new communities are an appropriate and affordable way to accommodate Calgary’s growth, which occurs largely in the form of young families. The consumer voice, the one heard least in the debate which has taken over Calgary politics, probably lies somewhere in the middle. This series of articles will investigate the ‘up vs. out’ growth debate in Calgary, looking at it from these three different perspectives.

 

 

 

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