Brownridge: Calgary is moving in a significant direction away from the traditional model of planning and development that contributed to urban sprawl. I support this trend towards greater sustainability in our planning and development model, and I would continue the move towards creating microeconomic zones throughout the city that would make it easier for our citizens to live closer to where they work. I would also favour building closer relationships with all stakeholders, so that developers and homebuilders, along with the municipality, all have an active role in shaping the future direction of the City of Calgary.
CREB®Now: What is your opinion on a potential land transfer tax for Calgary and/or all of Alberta?
Brownridge: Land transfer taxes are associated with a number of problems in other jurisdictions where they have been adopted. These types of taxes can influence decisions on where people will purchase their homes and can make homeownership less feasible for those who are looking to enter the market. I would solicit input from the real estate industry to ensure that any decision making on a land transfer tax has input from all stakeholders.
Non-resident speculation taxes (NRST), similar to what was introduced in B.C. and Ontario, also need to be reviewed in closer detail for their impact on the housing market.
CREB®Now: What are your thoughts on the future of energy-efficient homes and how they could potentially be classified?
Brownridge: Obtaining increased levels of energy efficiency is one of the ways that Canada can become a leader in new technologies and industries. The trends towards building more of these types of dwellings is not going away, and Calgary has an opportunity to be a leader in this area. These types of homes could end up with their own unique type of classification, making it easier for the real estate community to market these properties to the growing audience of buyers who are seeking these homes.
CREB®Now: How would you approach the issue of affordable housing in Calgary?
Brownridge: I would support the move towards changing the secondary suite bylaws so we are more in alignment with the way that other major Canadian municipalities approve these suites. The current process where council reviews and ultimately approved more than 80 per cent of these applications is inefficient and needs to be replaced.
I would work actively to promote an environment where those who have illegal suites would see the benefits on making their secondary suites compliant with the codes and regulations. I would also support the affordable housing strategy that was unanimously adopted by council in 2016.
CREB®Now: What are some infrastructure projects/improvements you would like to see in the next 25 years?
Brownridge: I would like to see flood mitigation and resiliency measures completed in the next few years, as the damage from the 2013 floods was catastrophic to many neighborhoods. There are a number of infrastructure projects that council has identified as priorities (like the Crowchild Trail improvement project and other various road improvement projects). I also want to see a commitment to having improved consultation and engagement with Calgarians so that we don’t continue to have the frustrations like what has happened with the ring road and gravel pit issue in Ward 6.
CREB®Now: What is your position on the current secondary suite approval process?
Brownridge: The approval process needs to be changed to be more in alignment with what takes place in other major municipalities across Canada. The current process is inefficient and over 80 per cent of these suites are currently approved by council. These applications can be streamlined so that they are reviewed by the planning and development department within the City.
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?
Brownridge: The plan to build the new arena in Victoria Park is likely the best option. The challenge for this project to be successful is that Calgary must ensure that the vacant and under-developed lands in the area are also developed into a vibrant area, similar to what took place in Edmonton with the Ice District. If a vibrant district is created, then the City and our taxpayers can benefit from the enhanced property taxes that will be collected. Council will need to adopt a strategy and policies where developers and builders are involved in making a commitment to this new arena district, so that the partnership is successful for all involved.