Calgary - Contemporary Issues

Contemporary Issues

The economic boom and rapid growth recently experienced in Calgary has led to issues such as urban sprawl and an infrastructure backlog. With no geographical barriers to its growth besides the Tsuu T'ina First Nation, the city has seen suburbs spread increasingly further out at an accelerated rate. This has led to difficulties in providing necessary transportation infrastructure to Calgary's population.

With the redevelopment of the Beltline and the Downtown East Village at the forefront, efforts are underway to vastly increase the density of the inner city, but this has not stopped the rate of sprawl. In 2003, the combined population of the downtown neighbourhoods (the Downtown Commercial Core, the Downtown East Village, the Downtown West End, Eau Claire, and Chinatown) was just over 12,600. In addition, the Beltline to the south of downtown had a population of 17,200, for a total of around 30,000.

Because of the growth of the city, its southwest borders are now immediately adjacent to the Tsuu T'ina reserve. Recent residential developments in the deep southwest of the city have created a demand for a major roadway heading into the interior of the city, but because of complications in negotiations with the Tsuu T'ina, the construction has not yet begun.

The city has many socioeconomic issues including homelessness. Certain portions of downtown core and inner city have been singled out as being home to much higher proportions of disadvantaged residents, as well as some neighbourhoods in the city's east. The share of poor families living in very poor neighbourhoods increased from 6.4% to 20.3% between 1980 and 1990.

Although Calgary and Alberta have traditionally been affordable places to live, substantial growth (much of it due to the prosperous energy sector and the northern oil sands projects) has led to increasing demand on real-estate. As a result, house prices in Calgary have increased significantly in recent years, but have stagnated over the last half of 2007, and into 2008. As of November 2006, Calgary is the most expensive city in Canada for commercial/downtown office space, and the second most expensive city (second to Vancouver) for residential real-estate. The cost of living and inflation is now the highest in the country, recent figures show that inflation was running at six per cent in April 2007.

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