“A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public transportation.” –Gustavo Petro, Mayor of Bogota
A recent study by Real Estate Investment Network found that one of the key factors when determining the value of residential property is the proximity and ease of access to amenities. Homebuyers are placing more and more value on a community’s “walkability”, opting for a lifestyle that is not car dependent.
With potential homebuyers being more attracted to a car-light lifestyle, the price of homes has grown tremendously in the city’s core neighbourhoods, such as Victoria Park and Connaught, in Calgary’s Beltline region. Home values in these inner-city communities increased anywhere from 205% to 265%, the most of any area in the city. In addition to being very pedestrian friendly and having access to downtown and the network of public transit, many of these areas have been undergoing aggressive revitalization. Several new businesses and residential properties, particularly condos, are being developed and older buildings are being completely refurbished.
So just how well does Calgary rank for walkability? According to the American company Walk Score, Calgary ranks last out of the top 10 biggest cities in Canada. However, we may not have to wait long to see this standing improve; city council has recently approved new programs, RouteAhead and Next City - two urban design strategies with the goal of making residents of Calgary less dependent on their cars. RouteAhead will see the city developing more high-density residences as well as retail and office space at existing LRT stations. Meanwhile, Next City plans for a complete shift in the city’s neighbourhood planning process, opting for new layouts for new communities and upgrades for existing ones, straying away from the typical large cul-de-sac communities that were once favoured in the suburbs.
It’s not just inner-city neighbourhoods that are striving for a walkable community; one SE neighbourhood that’s being praised for its walkability is Cranston. Shane Byciuk, President of the Cranston Community Association, says that many residents choose this neighbourhood because it is easy to get around without having to use a car. Cranston was thoughtfully designed with a network of pathways connecting neighbourhoods to one another, and amenities located conveniently in the middle of the subdivision.
Now, at the forefront of every new development and revitalization project in Calgary, from the suburbs to the downtown core, an increased emphasis will be placed on accessibility to shops, services, restaurants, parks and transit stations. You can bank on the fact that homebuyers are willing to pay a premium for houses and condos in walkable neighbourhoods, which now represent one of the city’s greatest real estate investments.
Krista Kehoe, Calgary real estate agent & REALTOR®