Calgary mayor and homebuilders plan to 'work together'

Calgary's mayor has met with the head of a local homebuilder's group following a public rift over the city's future growth.

Developers paying thousands more to build on suburban lots

Calgary's development future

10 years ago
Duration 3:09
Calgary's mayor met with a homebuilder's group following a public rift over future growth.

Calgary's mayor has met with the head of a local homebuilder's group following a public rift over the city's future growth.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi issued a brief statement Tuesday, saying he'd met with representatives of the local chapter of the Canadian Home Builders Association "to discuss issues related to their continued participation in City of Calgary advisory groups."

"The meeting was productive and both parties have committed to work together to find a way forward. I'm confident that the parties will reach a mutually satisfactory solution," he said.

The dispute began last week when Nenshi’s office told Charron Ungar, president of the association's Calgary region, his group has been suspended from participating in all city hall proceedings.

That suspension was set to last until Ungar provided a written apology for "inaccurate assertions" he made about the city imposing a suburban development freeze, a letter from Nenshi’s chief of staff Chima Nkemdirim said.

The comments that bothered Nenshi were made last month at a homebuilders’ association dinner. Ungar said he was reacting to the suggestion by a city manager that only two new suburbs will be built in Calgary over the next 10 years.

Council went behind closed doors on Monday afternoon to review the decision to suspend the builders' group from city deliberations. Calls from CBC News to the homebuilders' group weren't returned Tuesday.

Debate over urban sprawl

Just over a year ago, city hall hiked the fees developers pay for building roads and utilities in the suburbs from $8,000 per lot to $15,000.

Architect Jeremy Sturgess, who serves on the city's planning commission, said Nenshi isn't alone in promoting "smarter" city growth.

"The developers have a remarkable opportunity to do very well, as long as they come along with the vision that city hall and city council are purporting, which is we need to use the land we have more judiciously."

But real estate agent Doug Hayden says city planners need to give people a variety of choices.

"The reality is if you are going to build higher density you have to accommodate for that higher density. You want to get cars off the road? You need to give people [another] option."

He said he recently helped a family move to Airdrie, just north of Calgary, because that city offered a "better value" than Calgary.