The big picture

Inventory increases and sales drop in September, but overall sales for the year remain higher than last year

Strong gains in the first half of 2017 have put Calgary year-to-date sales at seven per cent above last years’ levels and 11 per cent below long-term averages, but challenges remain with easing sales and rising new listings.

Inventories rose across all property types to 6,861 units, while both apartment- and attached-style properties saw the highest inventory on record for the month of September.

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Gian-Carlo Carra – Ward 9

CREB®Now: What is your vision for Calgary in terms of planning and development in the short and long term?

Carra: My goal is to build a city that:

  • Grows up vibrantly as it shifts away from sprawling (unsustainably) outwards.
  • Has complete communities, for people of all ages, wages and stages. with diverse housing and employment options and thriving community spaces.
  • Contains vibrant neighbourhoods sitting along transit corridors interspersed amongst Calgary’s working and natural landscapes.
  • Supports driving as an option, but not the only option, and not even the preferred option.
  • Ensures the physical habitat of our neighbourhoods nurtures the dense networks of connections that look after our most vulnerable neighbours and drive opportunity and innovation in arts, culture and business.

CREB®Now: What is your opinion on a potential land transfer tax for Calgary and/or all of Alberta?

Carra: I believe it was necessary to explore the land transfer tax as part of our charter discussions with the province, and I’m supportive of the finding that it is not a revenue mechanism that we should explore any further.

CREB®Now: What are your thoughts on the future of energy-efficient homes and how they could potentially be classified?

Carra: I’m generally comfortable with any reputable, third-party rating system. I support the move towards higher rankings for locational criteria, as true energy efficiency has at least as much to do with great neighbourhoods as it does with building science.

CREB®Now: How would you approach the issue of affordable housing in Calgary?

Carra: I’m pleased with where we’re getting to with affordable housing. We’ve now got provincial and federal partners who are recognizing their responsibilities and are beginning to significantly re-invest. We’re also approaching affordable housing in the context of great neighbourhoods – that is to say, affordable living, as opposed to just stand-alone housing. We’re understanding that affordable housing projects need to be as mixed-income and mixed-use as possible, so they act as supportive community hubs and generate enough return that they cover their long-term operating costs. Working with industry and not-for-profit partners, we’ve developed a pipeline for converting appropriately located, city-owned real estate assets into not-for-profit building sites.

CREB®Now: What are some infrastructure projects/improvements you would like to see in the next 25 years?

Carra:

  • Delivery of upstream flood mitigation on the Elbow and development and delivery of upstream flood and drought mitigation on the Bow
  • Increased identification and execution of main street streetscape master plans for all neighbourhoods through local area planning exercises
  • Associated water, wastewater, and stormwater upgrades
  • Associated park upgrades, with increasing attention to urban parks and plazas
  • Continued execution of the Green Line and the 17th Avenue SE Transit Way, with linking infrastructure identified and funded
  • Continued expansion and linkage of our cyclepath and cycletrack network
  • Refurbishment of our Olympic legacy facilities

CREB®Now: What is your position on the current secondary suite approval process?

Carra: I’ve been, and will continue to be, a vocal proponent of broad legalization of secondary suites throughout Calgary. The current process is untenable.

CREB®Now: What is your preferred location for a new Calgary Flames arena and how would you propose the City develop the surrounding area to best meet the needs of Calgarians?

Carra: I am 100-per-cent supportive of council’s vision for a cultural district emerging in Victoria Park, where the Stampede, the East Village and our downtown meet. With the connectivity offered by the Green and Red LRT lines, the river pathway system, and the proximity of the Beltline, Inglewood and Ramsay, a new arena and events centre is a perfect fit. Victoria Park’s future is as a high-density, vibrant, mixed-use neighbourhood along very similar lines to the East Village or the Beltline (it’s important to note that we don’t want Victoria Park to compete with our downtown’s focus on office space, particularly during this period of historic vacancy).

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Srinivas Ganti – Ward 4

CREB®Now: What is your vision for Calgary in terms of planning and development in the short and long term?

Ganti: My vision in the short term is supporting greater levels of urbanization, and in the long term, attracting lightweight, green, digitally focused businesses whose work and products will/can scale. Promoting an atmosphere that is conducive to startups and innovation. Downtown revitalization (during weekends), additional recreation facilities and efficient transit are other short-term vision items.

CREB®Now: What is your opinion on a potential land transfer tax for Calgary and/or all of Alberta?

Ganti: While there is technically speaking no land transfer tax in Alberta, there are title and mortgage registration fees, which have increased by more than 100 per cent in recent times. It has been a few years since we Albertans received our “prosperity bonus” cheques and we are unlikely to receive one in the near future. Despite the increase, Alberta has the lowest title and mortgage registration fees. It is a much-needed step in the right direction.

CREB®Now: What are your thoughts on the future of energy-efficient homes and how they could potentially be classified?

Ganti: It should be classified as a capital expense, and there are currently many rebates and grant programs available for homeowners that they should take advantage of.

CREB®Now: How would you approach the issue of affordable housing in Calgary?

Ganti: Affordable housing stock needs both renewal and replenishment. Expiring federal operating agreements represent a risk to social housing providers. To alleviate affordable housing challenges, the city needs to leverage the federal government’s National Housing Strategy and Affordable Housing Initiatives. Besides stacking municipal-level efforts on the preceding initiatives, easily available financing to social housing developers, starting from the pre-construction phase, and access to federal lands, are some ways to approach the problem of affordable housing.

CREB®Now: What are some infrastructure projects/improvements you would like to see in the next 25 years?

Ganti: I would like all the transportation infrastructure projects currently in planning or evaluation stage to be brought to fruition in the next 25 years. Some of them are the Green Line (north and south), northeast and south LRT extensions, branch line to Airport, Shaganappi HOV, and the north and south cross BRT. Our water services and road infrastructure needs to be world class, too.

CREB®Now: What is your position on the current secondary suite approval process?

Ganti: The secondary suites approval is very inefficient. This matter is very tricky to resolve using logic, as tension will always be between illegal suites and a blanket re-zoning which will upset the implicit promise to home buyers that there will be no re-zoning without their express consent. Instead of council hearing all applications, I propose an amendment to the appropriate bylaw to take the matter out of council hands and let the Calgary Police Service look into these applications on a case-by-case basis.

CREB®Now: What is your preferred location for a new Calgary Flames arena and how would you propose the City develop the surrounding area to best meet the needs of Calgarians?

Ganti: The proposed location by Victoria Park is far better than the West Village location. I am a strong believer in using the existing infrastructure optimally and the current Saddledome is fine and is not crumbling and can seat nearly 19,000 people. The new arena will also seat the same number of people and thus a new arena is not mandatory. However, in the interest of delivering a stimulus to the city economy, I will support a new and a modern arena provided the project is structured right.

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Shane Keating – Ward 12

CREB®Now: What is your vision for Calgary in terms of planning and development in the short and long term?

Keating: Short term, we need to identify low-hanging fruit for development. While growth overlay may make sense in some cases, we should be open minded about allowing development to move forward where there are no additional costs to the City. Medium term, we need to keep investing in complete communities. This means communities with multiple housing types, appropriate levels of density and abundant community amenities.

CREB®Now: What is your opinion on a potential land transfer tax for Calgary and/or all of Alberta?

Keating: I would not support a land transfer tax for Calgary and/or Alberta.

CREB®Now: What are your thoughts on the future of energy-efficient homes and how they could potentially be classified?

Keating: Difficult to answer without a clear definition of energy efficiency. This is certainly something that the City, in co-ordination with the province, should find ways to support.

CREB®Now: How would you approach the issue of affordable housing in Calgary?

Keating: We should be offering more private-sector incentives for investments in affordable housing.

CREB®Now: What are some infrastructure projects/improvements you would like to see in the next 25 years?

Keating: Completion of the Green Line LRT, completion of the ring road and long overdue upgrades for Deerfoot Trail.

CREB®Now: What is your position on the current secondary suite approval process?

Keating: The process is broken. Having all applications come before council is a poor use of time. Council must come together and provide clear direction for an administrative process that protects the rights of homeowners, while allowing secondary suites where they are appropriate. The previous council had polarizing figures on either end of the secondary suite debate that refused to find common ground and change the process – that needs to change.

CREB®Now: What is your preferred location for a new Calgary Flames arena and how would you propose the City develop the surrounding area to best meet the needs of Calgarians?

Keating: Victoria Park. The site has better access to existing utility hook-ups, a stronger transportation capacity and greater potential for redevelopment with existing work going on in East Village.

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Diane Colley-Urquhart – Ward 13

CREB®Now: What is your vision for Calgary in terms of planning and development in the short and long term?

Colley-Urquhart: There is too much micromanaging by some members of council when it comes to land-use planning and development. This results in costing the private sector hundreds of thousands of dollars on residential and commercial projects. It also adds to considerable delay in getting these projects to a public hearing of council. Time is money. As an elected official, I am a legislator not a micro-manager. We have City staff who are experts in this area. We need to foster a competitive business environment and eliminate as much of the bureaucracy as possible. Also, the chairing of public hearings needs to be tightened up and stay on topic.

CREB®Now: What is your opinion on a potential land transfer tax for Calgary and/or all of Alberta?

Colley-Urquhart: This is a tax grab and I am not in favour of this. Increased taxes, such as the land transfer tax, add to the cost of doing business and ultimately increase the cost to the consumer. This fuels inflation and makes homeownership more onerous for citizens.

CREB®Now: What are your thoughts on the future of energy-efficient homes and how they could potentially be classified?

Colley-Urquhart: The province has jurisdiction in this area and hasn’t made their green-energy strategy entirely clear. I believe that climate change is real and is resulting in unpredictable weather patterns. We need to do all we can to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce consumption by having energy-efficient homes. ENMAX, the City-owned utility, is providing more solar options for consumers. We need significant citizen consultation before any home classification system is imposed on citizens.

CREB®Now: How would you approach the issue of affordable housing in Calgary?

Colley-Urquhart: There is a strong partnership now that has resulted in council’s 10-year Plan to End Homelessness, between the three orders of government. The RESOLVE Campaign is a leading best practice in Canada. We need to continue to lobby both the federal and provincial orders of governments to incent through tax exemptions. We are still lagging in the affordable housing industry and need to continue the commitment.

CREB®Now: What are some infrastructure projects/improvements you would like to see in the next 25 years?

Colley-Urquhart: There is a strong partnership now that has resulted in council’s 10-year Plan to End Homelessness, between the three orders of government. The RESOLVE Campaign is a leading best practice in Canada. We need to continue to lobby both the federal and provincial orders of governments to incent through tax exemptions. We are still lagging in the affordable housing industry and need to continue the commitment.

CREB®Now: What is your position on the current secondary suite approval process?

Colley-Urquhart: The province needs to amend the Municipal Government Act to enable garden suites, small homes and secondary suites across the province, rather than each municipality doing something differently.  We need to avoid citizens having to come before council and feeling they have to divulge personal circumstance to get approval for a suite.

CREB®Now: What is your preferred location for a new Calgary Flames arena and how would you propose the City develop the surrounding area to best meet the needs of Calgarians?

Colley-Urquhart: We don’t just need an arena. We need a multiplex field house for the Flames, Roughnecks, Stamps and Hitmen, plus junior hockey and concerts. The location is a moot point, just as long as the field house remains within the City of Calgary boundaries.

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