Red tape holding up development, study finds

Red tape is slowing housing development across Alberta and it may be worse in Calgary, according to a new study.

The Fraser Institute last month surveyed 32 developers operating in the Calgary-Edmonton corridor, and asked a series of questions regarding land-use regulations and developments, including the timelines for project and permit approvals and the fees associated with applications.
While Strathmore, Cochrane and Airdrie held the top three slots for being least restrictive, Calgary ranked eighth of nine, followed by Rocky View County. The four communities included were Edmonton, Red Deer, Chestermere and Okotoks.

Calgary, for its part, disputed the findings, saying the report is based on insufficient data.
“If they had wanted a significant survey, they would have talked to everyone who works on projects – cities, developers, builders,” Rollin Stanley, general manager of planning development and assessment for the City of Calgary told The Globe and Mail. “They didn’t get all of the information necessary to draw their conclusions.”

Stanley pointed out that the city has land services and lots ready for thousands of single-home developments and the permit process has been speeded up by providing partial permits to allow for construction to begin while full permits move through the approval process.

One Edmonton-area agent thinks that in this economic environment development should be a carefully considered proposition.

“Right now, with there being uncertainty in the market, I can see why municipalities would be cautious and take action to slow development,” says James Knull, a real estate agent specializing in investment properties. “The last thing any city would want is large unabsorbed inventory of new construction. A surplus of this sort would only serve to further drive the market downward, which no one really wants to see happen.”

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