Calgary and Edmonton on Divergent Development Paths: Municipal Policy is Densifying Calgary

CALGARY, May 8, 2014 /CNW/ - Fuelled by the province's booming energy sector, Alberta's two largest cities have experienced extraordinary growth, both surpassing one million in the last decade. Traditionally, Calgary and Edmonton have focused on suburban expansion to accommodate their growing populations, but those cities are now moving down different development paths.

In a report released today by The School of Public Policy, authors Zack Taylor, Marcy Burchfield and Anna Kramer analyze Calgary and Edmonton's contemporary urban development challenges and patterns.

"Beginning in the late 1990s, the city (Calgary) shifted its focus to livability and sustainability, a move that saw policies introduced to promote urban intensification and greater transit use" the authors write, "Such debates have been more muted in Edmonton, where growth is slower and authority over urban development dispersed across several local governments."  

The result? "Analysis shows the density of Calgary's built-up urban area increased in the first decade of the 21st century." This policy in Calgary "has its fair share of detractors, including many in the development industry."

Calgary's new urban development policy hinges on several factors. City council needs to support the new planning direction, and local developers and builders must adapt themselves to the new policy. Moreover, the city needs to develop a framework for intermunicipal cooperation.

Notwithstanding Calgary's attempt to densify its population, urban policies are competing against demographic realities. Household sizes are getting smaller. People are living longer, starting families later, having fewer children and experiencing divorce. So, even with municipal policies that try to create urban density, more housing units will be necessary, as persons per household fall.

The author concludes by comparing Calgary and Edmonton to Toronto and Vancouver, drawing important lessons on urban development for Alberta's cities.

The report can be found at

SOURCE: The School of Public Policy - University of Calgary

For further information: Media Contact: Morten Paulsen, Phone: 403.399.3377, Email:­


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