Density and Fiscal Sustainability

Suburban sprawl is bankrupting Edmonton. It's time we legalized an alternative.

Edmonton can't afford its infrastructure — and building new neighbourhoods makes the problem worse

The city has an infrastructure maintenance deficit of $470 million per year. That's more than our entire public transit budget ($385 million) and more than we spend on police ($407 million). And since we can't afford to do critical preventative maintenance, that number will only grow with time. To fill the deficit at its current value, we would have to raise property taxes by 28%.

Why can't we afford to maintain the roads, bridges and sewage systems we already have? It's because we've been growing in an unsustainable way for decades. Urban sprawl has wrought havoc on our balance sheets because the city loses money on every new neighborhood that gets built on the outskirts. For example, the new neighbourhood of Decoteau will add hundreds of millions of dollars to our budget shortfall.

Revenue vs Expenditures for a typical new neighbourhood

Source: Urban Planning Committee Aug 23, 2022

The solution: Build up our existing neighbourhoods

We need to make it easier to build new middle-density homes in mature communities. That helps lower property taxes for everyone because increasing density raises our tax base without substantially increasing costs for the city

There are two reasons for this:

  1. Upfront costs are lower. In our mature neighbourhoods, roads have already been built and utilities are typically underutilized due to declining populations. The city doesn't need to pay for a bunch of new infrastructure if we can use what already exists.

  2. Servicing costs are lower. It's much cheaper to provide road maintenance, transit, and garbage disposal services to higher density residences.

Get Involved

Step 1: Sign up for our mailing list.

We're empowering housing advocates with resources and information to make an impact. Get started by joining our mailing list.

Step 2: Follow us on socials. Visibility generates attention. Help us get our message out to people where they're at by following us and sharing liberally.

Step 3: Join Discord. Get to know other housing advocates, attend live events together, and build a movement towards change