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Learn about the issues...

Blanket rezoning has been reverted in other cities as it leads to a range of issues including lack of specificity, gentrification, infrastructure strain, loss of community character, environmental impact, traffic congestion, affordability challenges, limited public participation, legal and regulatory issues, and long-term sustainability concerns. Without careful planning and consideration of these factors, blanket rezoning results in negative consequences for neighbourhoods and communities, affecting their livability, affordability, and overall well-being.

City Wide BLANKET UP-ZONING in CALGARY
What this means for the block.

Blanket Rezoning - Public Was Miseducated

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01

Infrastructure Strain

Rapid development resulting from blanket rezoning can put strain on existing infrastructure such as roads, schools, and utilities. Without adequate planning and investment, this can lead to congestion, overcrowding, and service deficiencies.

The concern regarding the law of diminishing tax dollars and the impact of additional residents on public infrastructure is as a city densifies, the cost per resident for providing public services tends to increase. This is because while the population increases, the cost of maintaining and expanding infrastructure such as roads, sanitation systems, parks, schools, and hospitals also rises. There is also a maximum number of residents that can be accommodated in a land mass sustainably.

Overcrowded schools may result in larger class sizes and decreased educational outcomes in a school district that is already over-capacity with certain high schools already on a lottery system. A strain on healthcare facilities can lead to longer wait times and reduced access to healthcare services. 

Rapid densification without proper planning makes this issue much worse. If the infrastructure is not expanded or improved in tandem with population growth, it can lead to overcrowding, traffic congestion, inadequate access to public services, and overall strain on the quality of life for residents.

02

Environmental Impact

Blanket rezoning encourages unsustainable development practices, leading to habitat destruction, increased pollution, and degradation of natural resources.

 

Blanket rezoning plays a pivotal role in shaping urban landscapes, but its implications extend beyond mere land use. As exemplified by a recent lawsuit brought forth by environmental groups in Minneapolis  for the protection of migratory birds, it underscores the critical intersection between zoning decisions and environmental conservation. The lawsuit highlighted the cumulative impact of a comprehensive plan, emphasizing how blanket rezoning could not only degrade public waters through pollution but also diminish vital green spaces crucial for wildlife habitats.

The impact on wildlife, including coyotes, deer, bears, rabbits, bobcats, and migratory birds, can be significant. As their habitats are disrupted or destroyed to make way for new development, these species may face challenges in finding food, shelter, and safe breeding grounds. Increased human activity and the presence of domestic
pets associated with denser populations can also disrupt wildlife behaviour and lead to conflicts.

 

The Minneapolis case serves as a stark reminder of the importance of balancing urbandevelopment with the protection of ecosystems and biodiversity, advocating for responsible zoning practices that prioritize both human needs and environmental stewardship. 

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03

Affordability Challenges

Rezoning incentivizes the construction of high-end housing or commercial properties, exacerbating affordability challenges for low- and moderate-income residents.

Developers tend to purchase older, more affordable (and more often than not
rental) properties without competition as they can purchase houses with cash and without contingencies. Developers either flip or demolish these properties to build new higher-density housing with higher prices/rents. This in turn ups the comparables in the neighbourhood market and therefore increases the housing market and decreases affordability.

Reports find agency site rezonings have been most effective at producing a high ratio of affordable to market rate housing, while neighborhood rezonings have been least effective. Only agency site rezonings have created affordable housing at both a higher ratio of affordable to market rate units and a larger percentage of deeply affordable units, than the numbers citywide. Neighborhood rezonings have produced both a smaller ratio of affordable to market rate units and a smaller percentage of deeply affordable units.

04

Long-Term Sustainability

Without comprehensive planning and consideration of long-term impacts, blanket rezoning may undermine the city's overall sustainability and resilience to future challenges such as climate change and economic fluctuations.

Calgary is renowned for its expansive city parks with extensive walkability and biking path networks. However, creating strain on parks and green spaces to accommodate the growing population contradicts other environmentally-friendly living and sustainability efforts.

Proper planning can help mitigate these challenges by ensuring that infrastructure keeps pace with population growth, ultimately creating more sustainable and livable communities.

 

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05

Public Participation

Blanket rezoning may limit opportunities for meaningful public participation and input in the decision-making process, leading to a lack of community buy-in and trust in local governance.

City Administration has suggested the proposed amendment is required to provide would-be developers with greater certainty. This ignores reality. Over this term, approximately 95% of the RC-G land use applications before Council have been approved. Beyond the automatic rubber-stamping of any and all applications, it’s difficult to understand how much more “certainty” developers require.

Council has said that a concerned citizen could still appeal the project’s Development Permit (DP) to Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB) once Council approves Blanket Upzoning. Of course, every citizen must check the City’s hard to navigate website every week to see what was happening in their neighbourhood because they no longer post the DPs in the newspaper. Then they must make a $200 application to appeal the DP and prepare a detailed submission to SDAB.

 

Over the last few years, the SDAB appeal process has become more judicial in nature that you need a consultant and/or a lawyer to navigate the
process. Simply put appealing a DP is more expensive, more time consuming and requires professional consultants to help you present your case in front of the Quasi-Judicial SDAB.

06

Gentrification and Displacement

Rezoning can lead to increased property values and rents, potentially displacing long-term residents and businesses, particularly in lower-income neighborhoods. This can contribute to gentrification and socioeconomic segregation.

Firstly, the development of new builds including multi-unit, often leads to gentrification, where property values rise, pushing out lower-income residents and businesses. As a result, housing prices in the surrounding area tend to increase, making it difficult for existing residents to afford their homes or find affordable housing options.

 

Additionally, new builds typically cater to higher-income individuals or investors, leading to a shortage of affordable housing options for middle- and low-income families. 

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07

Loss of Community Character

Rezoning without consideration for neighborhood character and heritage can result in the loss of unique architectural features, cultural assets, and community identity.

 

Replacing heritage homes with generic buildings would not only erase a vital piece of the community's identity but also disregard the cultural and historical value they hold.

These homes contribute to the unique charm and identity of our City, attracting residents and visitors alike with their architectural beauty and historical significance.

08

Traffic Congestion

Intensified development without sufficient transportation planning can exacerbate traffic congestion and reduce the quality of life for residents.

Insufficient road capacity results in heightened traffic congestion and can prolong commute durations and degrade air quality. Such circumstances notably affect residents, wildlife, and the environment. Moreover, this situation may pose safety risks for inhabitants utilizing the river and park pathways and children commuting to nearby schools, as heightened traffic often correlates with amplified volume and speeds.

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Learn About the Alternatives 

The following provides a comparison of the Blanket rezoning initiative versus Comprehensive Neighbourhood Planning coupled with an AHC in terms of addressing the City’s stated objectives. 

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