Council must re-think approach to residential density
Thursday, Feb 22, 2018 06:00 am
Our current municipal government was elected on a democratic mandate to manage growth and fix traffic.
I am happy to report that we are working a number of critical traffic infrastructure projects: 1) Vehicle crossing on Horse Creek Road. 2) New bridge. 3) Griffin Road and James Walker Trail connection. 4) Centre Avenue four-lane railway crossing and 5) Exploring options for an additional northern access to Sunset from Highway 22. I am confident that these projects will significantly improve traffic for our current population once they are completed.
However, I’m convinced that traffic congestion in Cochrane is a result of rapid residential development. We have been growing faster than we have been building infrastructure and I believe we need to rethink our approach moving forward. I think we need to take policy measures to actually strive for our stated (but currently unenforced) four per cent annual growth target.
Over the past few months, I have been introducing motions to council, which will help us manage growth. The report that I requested from administration regarding residential approvals confirms that previous councils have approved “land use zoning” for approximately 9,500 more homes.
However, the majority of these areas have not received their “subdivision approval,” which means that the neighbourhoods have not yet been designed to match our land use bylaws in their respective zones. If we take steps to change our land use bylaws today, we can still influence how each of those already zoned areas are designed.
That’s why I am now asking council to rethink our approach to residential density. Residential density refers to how many homes we squeeze in per acre. If we push for fewer homes to be built per acre, the number of houses in each of those previously approved zones will decrease. The approximate number of approved homes will therefore be reduced from 9,500. Furthermore, because those lower density neighbourhoods will be a nicer, more expensive product, it’s likely that they will also sell slower.
If we want to get serious about managing development in Cochrane, lowering residential density is the way to do it.