Cutting ribbons and red tape
Less bureaucracy means increased housing affordability.
As of Jan. 1, 2020, the City of Calgary is simplifying its development agreement process. Before this year, developers needed to secure an Interim Indemnity Agreement, a Special Clauses Agreement and the Master Development Agreement. Only after all that, could they get to work actually building.
The staged approval process had its own logic. But it added time and costs to the process of developing new communities. Both factors impact the affordability of new housing. In announcing the new policy, The City said, “Getting everything approved and agreed to before requesting a Development Agreement should eliminate the potential for unforeseen requirements and costs….”
The Development Agreement specifies the fees developers pay The City for off-site infrastructure that connects a new community to surrounding areas.
Given the timing of the change to the application process, it’s tempting to see it as a new year’s resolution. The truth is that it’s the result of an ongoing commitment. The City and developers have been working for years to increase co-operation.
It’s work that happens on many fronts. The Industry City Work Plan was created in 2016 as part of the Off-site Levy Bylaw. Its initial task was to determine the fees developers would pay to finance new developments. Its work has continued with a focus on improving the development process.
The City has done its part by moving large portions of the approval process online. The new offerings include a toolkit that helps developers engage with communities they are working in. This obviously has greater significance for those working in established areas.
Community Outreach on Planning and Development has information for developers and residents. Among other resources, developers can find a checklist to determine how much public engagement they need to conduct. Residents get an overview of how they can get involved in the process as well as the resources that inform it.
The toolkit is still a work-in-progress. But the collaborative process behind it is well established.