Cities are becoming increasingly aware of the need to densify.
The infrastructure costs of suburban sprawl are not recoverable.
No one is prepared to pay the real costs that are imposed upon most city services because of continued expansion of suburbia.
Maximize what’s in place
There’s no doubt in my mind that urban densification is our future.
Saskatoon certainly has existing unused capacity which can be found on roadways, sidewalks, bridges and water and sewer lines.
The city has no choice but to approve well-designed high-density development to achieve the growth plan which includes an increase in population to half a million.
We have seen Saskatoon City Council vote in favor of several core area, infill projects in recent years.
They are making good business decisions which ultimately help mitigate our ongoing property tax increases.
There is, however, a problem with this solution that has not been properly addressed.
Sacrificing value to serve purpose
Much of the zoning of the lands found in the core area does not permit multi-family development.
If I, as a developer, obtain approval for a spot re-zone of a parcel for condo development, I could be negatively impacting value of the surrounding single-family homes if the rear/side yard privacy of those homes has been taken away.
The second single family home I owned in the early 80’s was located on a huge pie shaped lot at the back of a quiet caul-de-sac.
A couple of years after I purchased the property, I discovered a high-rise office tower was going up immediately behind me, taking away all privacy and most, if not all the equity due to its devaluation.
I put the house on the market immediately.
Plan ahead of consequences
Where it has not already been done, cities need to go back to the drawing board.
They need to identify each parcel which can be subject to infill, multi-family development.
Once the review and re-identification process is complete, it is up to the property owner if they want to stay until adjacent development is announced at which time further devaluation occurs.
Densification is not going away. This is the responsible solution.
Posted by Barry Stuart