Growth versus Non-Growth

Video game “Sim City” is instructive in studying the issues of growth versus non‑growth. Growth of course has to be firstly balanced against the municipality’s fiscal situation. Grow too fast and the costs of supporting the growth [roads, water and other services] outstrip the tax revenues from the growth.  Grow too slow and the municipal tax revenues don’t keep up. This balance is critical and requires constant vigilance.

If this weren’t complicated enough this balance affects landowners as well. Some landowners might suggest no growth – but policies restricting growth will have an adverse effect on land values with the potential collapse of land values if a no-growth tipping point is reached. Others want to hang out an open-for-business sign – and this can result in the fiscal imbalance described above.

It’s all very complicated and completely unavoidable. The issues must be addressed. In Rocky View County there is a competing dynamic between growth and no growth. Some want growth so that they can retire or pursue other interests. They had purchased land assuming that they would be able to develop it and resell it for a profit funding their retirement or other plans. Others, having established their beachhead and their 2-acre parcel want to pull up the drawbridge and prohibit any growth. The conflict between the two landowner groups is clear but it can be managed with an open mind.

Fortunately, Rocky View County is large enough and diverse enough that different approaches to growth can be taken with different areas.

But this requires a municipal government and a municipal plan that allows flexibilities – different responses for different regions. A municipal government and a municipal plan that can respond to changing circumstances and needs. For example, the new CN rail yards in Balzac will undoubtedly require housing support for the workers who will be involved in supporting that effort and the warehousing that will be associated therewith.

This flexibility of response and plan is absolutely essential for the future and for the growth of Rocky View on a sustained and rational basis.