The Fraser Institute

The Fraser Institute

August 25, 2015 07:30 ET

Fraser Institute News Release: Rocky View County, City of Calgary Lead Calgary-Edmonton Corridor in Red Tape for New Residential Development

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - Aug. 25, 2015) - Rocky View County and the City of Calgary are the most regulated municipalities in the Calgary-Edmonton Corridor (CEC) and consequently the most difficult in which to build new housing, according to a survey of homebuilders released today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian policy think-tank.

"A growing body of research indicates that onerous regulation reduces new home construction and contributes to rising home prices," said Kenneth Green, Fraser Institute senior director of energy and natural resources.

"Despite a current respite in the local housing market, housing affordability continues to be a major issue in the Calgary-Edmonton corridor. Unfortunately, the results of this survey indicate that red tape at some CEC city halls is deterring development and exacerbating the problem."

New Homes and Red Tape: Residential Land-Use Regulation in Alberta's Calgary-Edmonton Corridor, compares jurisdictions across Calgary-Edmonton Corridor on several categories of red tape (construction approval times, density opposition, timeline uncertainty, regulatory costs and fees, rezoning prevalence and the effect council and community groups have on development) based on the experiences and opinions of industry professionals.

In an aggregate ranking of nine municipalities (municipalities that garnered sufficient numbers of survey responses), Rocky View County comes out as the most regulated municipality - by far - earning low marks in construction approval times (15.1 months compared to the CEC average of 10.9 months) and in regulatory costs and fees. The study finds that obtaining approval for construction costs a typical residential developer in Rocky View $33,333 per individual dwelling unit (more than 1.5 times than its neighbouring community of Cochrane) before a shovel even hits the ground.

The City of Calgary - the region's largest city in terms of population - ranks as the second most regulated municipality in the CEC. Of note, homebuilders perceive Calgary's council and community to be resistant to new development. Specifically, when asked how local council and community groups affect single-family and multiple-dwelling development, respondents ranked Calgary as a "mild" to "strong" deterrent to development.

By contrast, when asked the same question about Edmonton, homebuilders said that Alberta's second largest city was "not a deterrent to development."

"Interestingly, cities with higher dwelling values tend to have strong opposition to new housing development," Green said.

"This strengthens the hypotheses that policies strengthening NIMBY - not in my backyard - voices allow homeowners to deter residential development, increasing or maintaining high property values. That doesn't bode well for housing affordability in Calgary or in the region as a whole."

Strathmore finished as the least-regulated municipality, followed by Cochrane, Airdrie and Okotoks.

Edmonton finished in the middle of the pack overall but with a below average ranking on construction approval times (13.1 months).

The complete survey is available as free PDF download at www.fraserinstitute.org.

*Calgary-Edmonton Corridor (from least regulated to most regulated):

  1. Strathmore
  2. Cochrane
  3. Airdrie
  4. Okotoks
  5. Edmonton
  6. Red Deer
  7. Chestermere
  8. Calgary
  9. Rocky View County

* This aggregate index only includes municipalities that garnered sufficient numbers of survey responses

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The Fraser Institute is an independent Canadian public policy research and educational organization with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal and ties to a global network of think-tanks in 87 countries. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for Canadians, their families and future generations by studying, measuring and broadly communicating the effects of government policies, entrepreneurship and choice on their well-being. To protect the Institute's independence, it does not accept grants from governments or contracts for research. Visit www.fraserinstitute.org.

Contact Information

  • MEDIA CONTACT:
    Dr. Kenneth P. Green
    Senior Director, Natural Resource Studies
    Fraser Institute

    For interviews with Dr. Green, please contact:
    Aanand Radia
    Media Relations Specialist
    Fraser Institute
    (416) 363-6575 Ext. 238
    aanand.radia@fraserinstitute.org

    Aanand Radia
    Media Relations Specialist
    Fraser Institute
    (416) 363-6575 Ext. 238
    aanand.radia@fraserinstitute.org
    @FraserInstitute