Calgary's young population demands diverse housing

Calgary’s Millennials want density and walkability.

The Millennials are the largest generational cohort the world has seen since the baby boomers. As a result, “Generation Y” will soon wield an inordinate amount of power when it comes to shaping our economies, markets and cities moving forward.

Calgary is a destination city for Millennials. Not only has Alberta posted 19-straight quarters of job growth, Calgary also boasts the highest density of entrepreneurs per capita in the country.  Career opportunities and a small business friendly climate are why 20-somethings are flocking to Alberta. That influx, in turn, has lowered the province’s median age to just 36 years old, the youngest in Canada.

So what does that mean for a growing, evolving city like Calgary? What is the next generation looking for and how will that influence our developing communities?

Walkability and Mixed Use

According to a recent article by Sustainable Cities Collective, major companies in North America are starting to relocate their headquarters to dense, downtown areas. Why? To chase the young talent, who prefer communities that blend home, work and play.  

The younger tail of Generation Y are just starting their careers and are mostly single. As a result, they are apt to seek out small, rental properties that are close to work. In fact, 76% of 20-29 year olds say they value “walkability” when it comes to choosing a neighbourhood, while over 60% prefer communities that feature a mix of shopping, dining and office space.

Though their preferences for housing tends to be more diverse than their parents’, young, first-time home buyers are still interested in single family homes. A recent Environics Research Group survey found that over 50% of first-time buyers in Canada over the last two years bought a single family dwelling, while in Alberta, 59% bought a detached house. In addition, 70% of Millennials expect to telecommute to their job at least part of the time, meaning they need room for a home-based office.

This suggests that as Millennials start families and become more established in their careers, they’ll likely progress from rental apartment living to owning their own home. That doesn’t mean, however, that they don’t still value accessible amenities and the “urban village” feel that they get from dense, inner city communities.

Calgary’s Developing Options

Informed by these preferences, Calgary has been developing new communities to better reflect the increasing demand for walkable, mixed-use neighbourhoods. From inner city to the outer edges, here are some of the new urban villages growing in Calgary:

East Village

A blend of high density condos, apartments and townhouses set amongst retail, dining and entertainment options, East Village in Calgary’s downtown stresses alternative forms of transportation like walking, public transit and biking over cars. In fact, it will host Calgary’s first and only residential building with no native parking stalls for residents.

Currie Barracks

Just seven minutes outside of the downtown core in Calgary’s Southwest, Currie Barracks was designed to set new standards of sustainability in the city. From traffic calmed streets and a strong pedestrian network, almost all of Currie’s residents are within a five-minute walk of shopping and public green spaces.

Quarry Park

This South East suburb contains a wide variety of housing options and includes a collection of local shops, grocery stores and pubs. Not to mention over 1.7 million square feet of office space.

West District

A proposed community located in West Springs and Cougar Ridge on the Western edge of Calgary, the West District is slated to be a “complete community” with an innovative mix of housing, amenities and services. The stated goal of Truman Developments is to engage with the city and the existing community around the proposed development before submitting a finalized, formal plan. In fact, you can read their community feedback report here.  

Published
March 1st, 2016


Urban villages and placemaking developing in Calgary.


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