Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi isn't softening his war of words with some home builders and says a new mandate from voters in Monday's election has strengthened his hand.
"The challenge wasn't the development community," said Nenshi.
"It was a very small group of home builders who I still don't understand what they were concerned about — maybe they'll tell me now. But really it's about building a better community together, it's about more choices in more places for more people and I am happy to take that on."
- Listen to his full interview on the Calgary Eyeopener below:
He says he isn't backing down from his campaign statements on the cost of development and ending the "sprawl subsidy."
Nenshi campaigned on raising developer levies so that the cost of growth on the city's edges is fully paid for by the people who buy homes there. Now he plans to deliver on that promise.
He says every house built in a new neighbourhood costs Calgary taxpayers $4,800 — or $33 million a year.
"Even when we passed the last agreement in 2011, it was very clear, I think, for all members of council around that table that this was an interim step to full cost recovery," he said. "So I think that one's going to be OK."
Newcomer looks for change in tone
But one new member of council hopes for a change in the conversation's tone around development at city hall.
"I want to engage and I want to bring the developers to city hall," said Joe Magliocca, the councillor-elect in Ward 2.
"We gotta start [to] sit down together, we gotta hammer things out, we gotta negotiate.... We just can't start ditching 'em and fighting with them.... They're our bread and butter here in Calgary."
Guy Huntingford, who speaks for the Urban Development Institute on behalf of developers and home builders, predicts compromises are coming.
"We would really like to have this cost of growth meeting and talk about some really key issues as to where exactly we're going 'cause it's not just about this one issue. I think it's about a much broader issue which is the whole developer agreement itself."
The city's current five-year development agreement expires at the end of 2015, so there's still plenty of time to talk — but for now, the mayor isn't compromising on the results.
"It's not about me versus them," he said. "It's about doing what citizens want, and I think that mandate is extraordinarily clear."