I take no pleasure in saying it, but I told you so.
Ever since PlanIt Calgary, the city’s prescriptive growth policy, was unveiled for public scrutiny, I have warned what it would do to housing affordability, including this comment from Feb. 7, 2009: ‘The PlanIt program affects everyone in Calgary and will for generations to come. It will limit where people will be able to afford to live and the type of housing they will be able to choose.’ PlanIt, which morphed into the Municipal Development Plan (MDP), prescribed limiting the development of new communities, forcing development into established communities.
Limiting supply is the first ingredient in driving up prices.
Here’s my view from Aug. 24, 2013: ‘Enforcing growth in established areas relates directly to Calgarians’ concerns about the cost of living because it is making housing less affordable and with a shortage of serviced lots on which to build new homes, the affordability issue is getting worse and will soon be a crisis. A crisis that for all intents and purposes is being manufactured by what essentially amounts to a suburban development freeze in Calgary.’
And from April 5, 2014: ‘Let’s be clear, all housing inside city limits, not just newly built homes, will see price increases, which affects all Calgarians in one way or another.’ It is no longer ‘will see price increases’ and ‘soon to be a crisis’ — prices have increased all across the city and it is a crisis, but no one at city hall has acknowledged PlanIt Calgary’s responsibilities.
Who shall they blame, then? Well, why not landlords? In a CBC radio show, Mayor Naheed Nenshi laid some of the blame for unaffordability at the feet of landlords in Calgary, who, he said are “gouging your tenants.” “And there’s been way too much of that happening,” he said.
As a landlord, the mayor said he has not raised the rent on his property for four years, adding his mortgage payments and utility bills have not changed. He offers no evidence to support his claims, so it’s impossible to take them seriously until he outs the evil landlords by name and shows us his utility bills, especially the latter.
If his comments were made to encourage rental controls, it’s just another example of just talking about a problem rather than doing the heavy lifting and solving the affordability crisis. Attacking landlords isn’t the solution to a problem created by city hall — the solution must come from city hall, starting with the admission that PlanIt Calgary and now the MDP are the prime contributors to the affordability crisis.
And an acknowledgement the authors and supporters of PlanIt, which includes the mayor, were so busy patting each other on the back, they didn’t see Calgary’s net migration reaching record levels over the last three years and the inability of the PlanIt dogma to allow for enough accommodation.
By blaming a rogue group of landlords, the mayor is deflecting the blame from his development strategy and council’s inability to accurately forecast growth.
If that doesn’t change, the affordability crisis will worsen
Written By Mike Thomas of the Calgary Sun
I agree with Mr. Thomas. It is time to stop this madness. Please let the developers