WORK IN PROCESS UNDER CONSTRUCTION
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The following dates and events are a collage of data from various researchers, journalists, etc. compiled in reverse chronological order by speechless as a personal research tool. At the last edit in June 2012 there may still be incomplete referencing. This is unintentional. Like all my posts it may at any time by updated and modified.
2012-08-20 “The Calgary Homeless Foundation’s last count was conducted Jan. 18, when it was –32 Celsius and at least 3,190 people were homeless — an 11.4 per cent decrease from the May 2008 count.” (Ferguson, Eva. 2012-08-20. “Homeless count in Calgary finds fuller shelters: Growing economy lures more job seekers to Calgary.” Calgary Herald.)
2011-06-09 One of the major reasons Canadian cities, including Calgary, are unable to implement sustainable solutions to affordable housing is the lack of money and power at the municipal level. In an article published in The Economist entitled “Canada’s cities Poor relations: Mayors need more money and more powers” there is a list of urban crises including growing ghettos of crime, poverty and drug addiction; soaring house prices, increasing homelessness, the middle class fleeing to the suburbs, deteriorating civic buildings, roads, bridges, sewage systems. Provincial governments have neglected their responsibility for such matters as social housing, welfare, mental illness, drug addiction and policing. “Canada’s big cities need at least C$238 billion to repair and expand infrastructure, according to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Municipalities get only eight cents out of every tax dollar. Their revenues come mainly from property taxes. Under constitutional arrangements that date back to the time when Canada was largely rural, mayors have fewer powers than their counterparts in some other developed countries.”
2011-06-06 In the statement released by Berry Vrbanovic, President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) on the 2011-06 Federal Budget Commitment to Develop a New Long-Term Infrastructure Plan for Cities and Communities, Vrbanovic applauded the federal Government for a budgetary commitment to a shift in the municipal-provincial-federal and private sector partnerships that will lead to “a reversal in the decline in our aging infrastructure, and also to keep police on the streets, fix cracks in our housing system, and protect core services.”
2011-06-04 In a recent poll conducted by the Canadian Union of Public Employees 89% of those surveyed supported increased federal and provincial funding for municipal governments.
2011 The City of Calgary is currently involved in the following affordable housing developments: Manchester North Comprehensive Development, Crestwood (Millican-Ogden community), Vista Grande (Vista Heights community), The Bridges: Affordable Housing (Bridgeland-Riverside community), Inglewood Residence Housing Development (Inglewood Community). These initiatives will create approximately 255 new homes for families, singles, couples and individuals with disabilities. It is curious that on closer inspection many of these are already completed. What are the current (2011-06) affordable housing developments?
2011-05-04 Alberta put out a $100-million request for proposals through the provincial 2011-12 Housing Capital Initiatives grant program. A minimum of 660 housing units could be developed, depending on the projects funded. In addition to this year’s funding, more than $1 billion has been invested in more than 10,000 housing units in Alberta since 2007. Increasing the supply of housing for lower-income Albertans is a key part of preventing and ending homelessness, under Alberta’s 10-year plan to end homelessness (more). The provincial government has committed $2.2 million to a 29-unit low income housing project to be run by the Meadowcroft Housing Society in a northwest neighbourhood. The Brentwood Apartments, located at 13535 115th Ave, an ideal location for low-income families (near a major shopping centre, close to the big west Edmonton bus terminal, across the street from Coronation Park). The provincial money covered about 45 % of construction costs for the project. The building contains two bachelor, and 27 one-bedroom units. The suites were supported through a previous housing capital initiative and include barrier-free units. The built-in green features, such as solar power, high-efficiency windows, and geothermal heating, will help lower utility costs.
2011-04-29 the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) calls for all parties in the House of Commons to turn campaign promises to cities and communities into action. “Forty per cent of federal investments in municipalities will expire in the next 36 months (FCM 2011-04-06),” including investments in front-line policing, infrastructure, public transit and affordable housing.
2011 Alberta > Provincial-Territorial Program Delivery> Under Canada’s Economic Plan > Alberta. “More than $1.3 billion over two years will be delivered by and cost-shared with provinces and territories on a 50/50 basis. As a result of this joint investment, more than 9,200 construction and renovation projects are underway or have been completed across the country including 467 projects for low-income seniors and persons with disabilities, and the renovation and retrofit of existing social housing projects in Alberta. An additional $200 million is being invested to address housing needs in the North, resulting in 213 projects underway or completed. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) & Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) Projects: Renovation and Retrofit of Existing Social Housing: $150 million will be delivered directly by CMHC to renovate and retrofit existing federally-administered social housing. To date 1,310 projects are underway or completed, including the renovation and retrofit of 122 existing social housing projects in Alberta. Addressing First Nations Housing Needs: A total of $400 million over two years will be delivered through CMHC and INAC to create new, federally-assisted on-reserve housing and to renovate and retrofit existing social housing. To date, CMHC has invested in the construction of 275 new social housing projects and the renovation and retrofit of existing social housing projects in Alberta. Municipal Infrastructure Lending Program: Up to $2 billion is available over two years in direct, low-cost loans to municipalities for municipal housing-related infrastructure. To date, 273 low-cost loans totalling more than $2 billion have been approved, including 2 low-cost loans approved for a total of $ 5.68 million in Alberta.” It is interesting to examine more closely the interactive map showing federal partnerships in Calgary. I found only one small affordable housing project, numerous recreation facilities upgrades, etc.
2011-03 Under the “Supporting Vibrant Communities” in the 2011 Federal Budget, the Next Phase of Canada’s Economic Action Plan announced additional support for culture and communities with new budget measures, including support for Aboriginal people, such as: Marking the 100th anniversary of the Grey Cup and the Calgary Stampede with $5 million toward each of the anniversary celebrations. “The Next Phase of Canada’s Economic Action Plan: A Low-Tax Plan for Jobs and Growth.”
2011-03-18 “The 14th Street N.W. Brenda Strafford Foundation Affordable Housing Initiative. The complex will feature 85 two bedroom apartments of which 33 units are targeted to support women and families leaving domestic violence. The Calgary Housing Company currently provides 24 units of housing to Foundation clients. Funding for the program included an additional from the $14 million Brenda Strafford Foundation and $7.9 million in capital funding from the federal and provincial governments under the Canada-Alberta Affordable Housing Partnership Initiative. (Calgary Herald 2008-06-27) .” The Canada-Alberta Affordable Housing Agreement is comprised of a commitment of $98.62 million from each of the two senior levels of government. In total, the federal and provincial governments have invested more than $197 million in the program, which provided over 3,600 affordable housing units in Alberta. (more)
2011-02 Of the 506,607 mortgages in 2011-02 in Alberta, 4,212 or 0.83% are in arrears compared to a national average of 0.45%. according to the latest data from the Canadian Bankers Association (2011-02). “Homeowners in Alberta this year reached a record high for percentage of mortgages in arrears in any month since statistics were kept by the association in the province starting in 1990, reaching 0.84% of total mortgages in January. The statistic shows Albertans are about twice as likely to fall behind as the national average of 0.45%. Manitoba had the lowest percentage, at 0.29% in arrears this year thus far. The national high was in January 1997, when 0.65% of mortgages were in arrears (CBC 2011-05-05).”
2011 Alberta government committed to a 10-year plan to end homelessness.
“There continues to be too much reliance on the for-profit sector in addressing affordable housing needs and too little investment in this issue. The waiting lists for low-income affordable rental housing are years long in the major cities of this province. Meanwhile some of our most vulnerable citizens, including children, people with mental illnesses, and seniors, are left in housing that is either far too expensive or far too poor in quality, and they all pay the price in their health and in their safety.This government eliminated funding of important social housing years ago, and a huge homelessness and housing problem soon developed in our province. With the return of a stronger economy under way and more people coming to Alberta’s labour market, we will see more difficulties (Brian Mason 2011).”
2011 Canada’s Economic Action Plan provides a meagre “$850 million to provinces and territories, over two years, for the renovation and retrofit of existing provincially/territorially administered social housing. Overall, the Economic Action Plan includes $2 billion for the construction of new and the renovation of existing social housing, plus up to $2 billion in low-cost loans to municipalities for housing-related infrastructure. Canada’s Economic Action Plan builds on the Government of Canada’s commitment in 2008 of more than $1.9 billion, over five years, to improve and build new affordable housing and help the homeless.”
2010-11-04 Ivy Zhang, Ivy; Walters, Patrick. “Why does the City of Calgary experience financial stress in providing services to Calgarians, even in good economic times?” A short answer is that, Calgary over-contributes to the balance sheets of the federal and provincial governments, leaving the local government with less than adequate revenue to fund its spending responsibilities.. . . [S]trong labour market conditions in Calgary have acted as a magnet for workers from outside the region. This has created an equally high demand for shelter and support services to address issues such as homelessness and affordable housing – issues that need all orders of government to address. Downloading of many government housing and support programs.”
2010- In Edmonton After the 2009 downturn, it was single-family subdivisions that came back quicker and stronger, representing the bulk of the 34 per cent increase in residential construction permits last year.
2010 In Calgary nearly 6,000 single-family detached houses were built in Calgary (most in the NESW suburbs). There were only 3,000 new multiple-family units under construction.
2010 Attainable Homes Calgary Corporation (AHCC) is a non-profit organization and wholly owned subsidiary of The City of Calgary. The goal of AHCC’s Attainable Home Ownership Program is to develop 1,000 well-appointed, entry-level homes at a price attainable for individuals and families earning $53,000 – $80,000 in household income annually. Attainable Homes partnered with Intergulf-Sidex developers to build the Beacon Heights multi-family complex.
2009 “Canada is one of the few countries in the world without a national housing strategy (United Nations, 2009). Many of the federal governments’ expenditures are cost-sharing, one-time only funding initiatives that lack long-term leadership on homelessness ( United Nations (2009). Report of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context, Miloon Kothari. Based on Mission to Canada 9–22 October 2007.”
2009 “The highest average monthly rents for two-bedroom apartments in new and existing structures were in Vancouver ($1,169), Calgary ($1,099), Toronto ($1,096), and Ottawa ($1,028). The apartment vacancy rate in the Calgary CMA rose 3.2 percentage points from 2.1 per cent in October 2008 to 5.3 per cent in October 2009. Average rent for a two-bedroom unit was $1,099 per month in October 2009, down from $1,148 in October 2008. The vacancy rate for row (townhouse) rentals was 4.7 per cent in 2009, representing an increase of two percentage points from the previous year. Calgary’s 2009 purpose built rental stock had 684 fewer apartments and nine more row units than in 2008 (more).”
2008-09 The Government of Canada announced $1.9 billion, over five years, for housing and homelessness programs for low-income Canadians. As part of this investment, the Affordable Housing Initiative (AHI) was extended until March 31, 2011. CMHC. Affordable Housing Initiative
2007 “Since 2000, Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative (SCPI) provided approximately $850 million in funding for strategic investments that address homelessness (Falvo 2007).”
2007 Nick Falvo (2007) presented various models for expenditure of a $100 million annual input to affordable housing. “Model 1: $125,000 of equity (i.e., up-front cash) provided at the development stage would be sufficient to create a 450-square-foot bachelor unit of non-profit housing in Toronto that would ultimately require monthly rent equivalent to a single welfare recipient’s (no dependents) shelter allowance from Ontario Works (c.$342/month). This model estimates a $25,000 cost for land, $70,000 for construction and “hard costs,” and $30,000 for soft costs. It also estimates that the units last only 30 years and then lose all of their value. $100,000,000.00 / $125,000 = 800 x 30 = 24,000 household years. $100 million spent on building non-profit housing provides sufficient equity to build roughly 800 bachelor units for 800 core-need individuals. Model 2: Provide an average monthly rent supplement c. government $500 or $6,000 per person per year. $100 million spent on rent supplements provides annual, one-time funding to take roughly 16,667 core-need individuals (most of whom are single) off the street, into shelter. Model 3: $166,000 of equity to create a 2-bedroom unit. The Math: $100,000,000.00 / $166,000 = 602 x 30 = 18,060 household years. $100 million foregone on tax credits awarded to individuals or corporations could provide sufficient equity to build roughly 602 bachelor units for 602 core-need households. $100 million in foregone tax revenue offered through a basic refundable tax credit program provides annual, one-time funding to 55, 556 welfarerecipient households (Falvo 2007).””
2007 “The persistence of poverty, especially in a wealthy and industrialized nation like Canada, is clearly regarded by the treaty bodies as a human rights failure. http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/docs/ngos/PHRC_Canada42.pdf” (See “The Consensus on Canada.” The treaty bodies have repeatedly expressed grave concern, particularly about disastrous levels of homelessness (CESCR 2006, paras. 28, 62; CESCR 1998, paras. 24, 34, 35, 46) and resulting damaging effects, including damage to health (CESCR 2006, para. 57; CCPR 1999, para. 12), lack of adequate housing, especially for children and youth (CESCR 1998, para. 35, CRC 1995, para. 17), Aboriginal peoples (CESCR 2006, para. 24; CRC 1995, para. 17), and women (CESCR 2006, para. 26; CEDAW 2003, paras. 383, 384). http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/docs/ngos/PHRC_Canada42.pdf
2005 “Armine Yalnizyan pointed out – Canada had a population of 31 million. 1.7 million Canadians of a total population of 31 million were underhoused or non-housed (Canadian Housing and Renewal Association). That’s 5.5% of the Canadian population without safe, decent and affordable housing (Crowe, Cathy. 2005-01http://tdrc.net/resources/public/Crowe-Newsletter_01-05.htm).”
2006-06 “Municipalities have been under-investing in infrastructure because of fiscal constraints. A number of cities have attempted to measure the magnitude of this infrastructure gap or deficit. The City of Calgary currently has a shortfall, or infrastructure gap, of $5.4 billion over the next ten years (FCM. 2006-06.“Our Cities Our Future Addressing the fiscal imbalance in Canada’s citie today”).”
2006 Edmonton and Calgary combined account for 64.5% of Alberta’s GDP (Conference Board of Canada).
2006-06-22 “While the City of Calgary encourages builders and developers to create affordable housing options (the Planning and Regulation section of the city’s affordable housing strategy states that a primary goal is to “encourage competition and choice in the housing marketplace”) it has yet to implement any firm legislation or policies in this regard. The Municipal Government Act of Alberta prevented cities within the province from dictating affordable housing policies to any private builder or developer. The Act was due for review in November 2006, leaving the door on affordable housing legislation wide open (Evdokimoff 2006-06-22.”
Pomeroy, Steve. 2005-03. “The Cost of Homelessness: Analysis of Alternate Responses in Four Canadian Cities.” Prepared for National Secretariat on Homelessness.
2005 Calgary’s “homeless population grew by 49 per cent between 2002 and 2004; in 2003, two-thirds of Calgary’s poor were ‘working poor’ who received no income support; and close to ?ve per cent of Calgarians went to the Inter-Faith Food Bank for help “Looking Ahead, Moving Forward 2005“.
2004 There were 2,600 homeless people in Calgary (more).
2004-05 “Societal Costs of Homelessness.” Prepared for the Edmonton Joint Planning Committee of Housing and the Calgary Homeless Foundation, by IBI Group.
2005 “Outside the framework of the AHI, $1.6 billion over two years was pledged in the 2005 NDP/Liberal budget (a.k.a., Bill C-48). Most of this money was allocated into three housing trust funds by the Harper government in the 2006 federal budget. While not part of the AHI, this has added momentum on the affordable housing front. (2007). The leader of Canada’s NDP agreed to support the federal budget in 2005 if an additional $1.6 billion was allocated for affordable housing.”
2005 Social Researchers Sawatsky and Stroick (2005) presented their report entitled Thresholds for Locating Affordable Housing: Applying the Literature to the Local Context. City of Calgary.
“Canada stands out as one of the few Western nations that rely almost completely on the market mechanism to supply, allocate, and maintain its housing stock (Scanlon and Whitehead, 2004). The market is the mechanism by which about 95% of Canadian households obtain their housing (Hulchanski 2005).holds for Locating Affordable Housing: Applying the Literature to the Local Context (Hulchanski, David J. 2005-01. “Rethinking Canada’s Housing Affordability Challenge.” Discussion paper. For the Government of Canada’s Canadian Housing Framework Initiative. p. 1).”
2005 Ecological Footprint study found that Calgary residents have the highest Ecological Footprint of any Canadian city at 9.9 global hectares per person – a lifestyle that, if everyone lived that way, would require five Earths to support. 2004
2005-07-04 “Acquisition of Affordable Housing Lands for Municipal Purposes.” Policy Number: AMCW001; Report Number: LASC2005-123; Approved by:Business Unit: Corporate Properties & Building.
2004-2005 Affordable Housing Initiative (AHI) Phase II introduced new programs in the areas of home ownership programs, targeting of AHI-funded programs, cost-sharing arrangements and provision of rent supplements.
2004 Affordable Housing is a Council priority as identified in Looking Ahead, Moving Forward 2002-2004
2004-06-07, in response to the lack of new units, Council directed Administration to develop a short term affordable housing development strategy as phase 1 of a larger five year Sustainable Resource Management Plan (LASC2004-155). http://www.calgary.ca/docgallery/bu/cityclerks/council_policies/amcw001.pdf
2004 CPS99-39 & CPS2002-57 directed Administration to identify and set aside City owned sites for future affordable housing initiatives. http://www.calgary.ca/docgallery/bu/cityclerks/council_policies/amcw001.pdf
2004-07-24 The City of Calgary Council approved a short-term affordable housing development strategy, LAS2004-178 “Calgary’s Affordable Housing Sustainable Resource Management Plan.”as the first phase of a five-year Affordable Housing Sustainable Resource Management Plan. Council directed City administration to: (1) take a leadership role in the development of non-market housing; (2) solicit development proposals from the private sector to create new non-market housing units; and (3) identify City owned surplus sites to support the development of City led social housing initiatives (Sawatsky and Stroick 2005).”
2004-07-24 The City of Calgary Council approved LAS2004-178 Affordable Housing Sustainable Resource Management Plan – Phase 2: Short Term Development Strategy 2004. Council directed Administration to “take a leadership role in the development of 200 units of affordable housing annually to maximize the Affordable Housing Partnership Initiative funding”.
2003 “Cities experienced significant cuts to the social assistance systems in the mid 1990s. The reduction of income supports is universally seen as one of the main reasons for high poverty rates and the growing income gap. (ARUNDEL, ET AL, 2003) (more).”
2003-06-17 TD Economics. “Affordable Housing in Canada: in Search of a New Paradigm.” Urban areas comprised a staggering 80 per cent of Canadian economic activity and employment. Working to find solutions to the problem of
affordable housing is a smart economic policy. An inadequate supply of housing can be a major impediment to business investment and growth, and can influence immigrants’ choices of where to locate. Implementing solutions to resolve this issue ties in well with the TD goal of raising Canada’s living standards and overall quality of life.”
2003 Affordable Housing Initiative (AHI) Phase II began with a meagre federal commitment of $320 million nationwide to provide additional funding for housing targeted to low-income households in communities where there is a significant need for affordable housing. Under Phase II the maximum federal funding is 50 per cent of capital costs to a maximum of $75,000 per housing unit to reduce rents to levels affordable to low -income households. (CMHC)
2003-02-27 Alberta announced $8.5 million in new provincial funding which will be matched by a $8.5 million federal contribution under the Canada-Alberta Affordable Housing Agreement. This brings total funding for the initiatives to $17 million for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2003. This amount will also be enhanced through contributions from other partners including municipalities, local community housing authorities, non-profit organizations and private sector companies.” It should be noted that if one unit costs c. 90,000 to build. it costs c.
2002-07 City of Calgary submitted Corporate Affordable Housing Strategy “Implementing a vision for the future… “A range of housing options exist for all ages, income groups, family type.
2002-06-24 The Governments of Canada and Alberta announced the Affordable Housing Program Agreement which provided funding (2002-2007?) to help increase the supply of affordable housing in the province. Federal funding of $67.12 million will be matched by an equal contribution from the province and other partners to facilitate the development of affordable housing in high need areas of the province. It was the sixth affordable housing agreement signed in the past six months and confirmed the Government of Canada’s commitment to housing as a means to support strong and safe communities. “(more) NB. The total cost of one 100-unit apartment complex project was over $4 million.
2002 The citizens of Calgary sent $4.6 billion more in taxes and other payments to Ottawa than they received in various benefits from the federal government (K & L Spatial Economics).
2002 Annual spending on homelessness initiatives in Calgary were c. $72.4 million.
1996-2001 “Provincial/territorial and federal governments have enjoyed an average 25 per cent increase in their revenues from 1996 to 2001. Municipalities have experienced only an average 14 per cent increase in revenues during that period (FCM, 2005).”
2001-11 “Federal, provincial and territorial housing Ministers outlined broad parameters for bilateral Affordable Housing Program Agreements. Federal funding was limited to a maximum of $25,000 per housing unit, to a total nationwide of only $680 million in funding in Phase I for the creation of new rental housing, major renovation and conversion (CMHC).”
2001 “The federal government agreed to a framework agreement with the provinces and territories wherein it would eventually commit $1 billion towards affordable housing over a five-year span. There was no stipulation in the framework agreement around core need. The federal government’s agreement with each province and territory was different, with each province/territory having to commit matching funds of different types (a great deal of the “matching funds” were not cash and did not come directly from the province/territory in question). The entire process is called the Affordable Housing Initiative (AHI). The AHI represented a very different way of financing affordable housing. The minimum affordability stipulation was that each unit had to be at or below average to 20 years). Funded programs under the AHI included home ownership, rental housing, new construction, renovation, urban revitalization,” conversion, new rent supplements, and supportive housing programs(Falvo 2007).”
2001 The provincial and municipal social housing agencies (Calgary Housing Authority and Calhome Properties) merged created the municipally owned and operated Calgary Housing Company (CHC). CHC administers social housing programs (non-seniors) in Calgary through the ownership or management of approximately 7500 housing units. Calgary Housing Company (CHC) is a City of Calgary owned corporation providing safe and affordable housing solutions to citizens of Calgary. CHC operates and manages over 10,000 subsidized and affordable housing units and has a variety of housing options for low-income households including duplexes, townhouses and high-rise apartments. CHC has a reporting relationship to Corporate Properties & Buildings, but functions under its own independent Board of Directors with a mandate to provide affordable housing solutions to Calgarians.
2001 “The Government of Canada provides financial assistance for the supply of new affordable rental housing under the Affordable Housing Program. Then, in November 2001, after almost a decade of withdrawal from assistance for affordable housing, the federal government committed $680 million towards rental housing (to be spent over five years) (Falvo 2007). By the end of 2007-2008, the Federal Government’s investment in this program will total CAD$1 billion, an amount that will be matched by provincial and territorial governments.”
2001 Canada “is one of the one of the more inegalitarian Western nations (that is, there is a wide gap between rich and poor) and ranks near the bottom of the list in an eighteen-country comparison of net social expenditure by the OECD (Adema, 2001, Table 7 cited in (Hulchanski 2005). Hulchanski, David J. 2005-01. “Rethinking Canada’s Housing Affordability Challenge.” Discussion paper. For the Government of Canada’s Canadian Housing Framework Initiative. p. 1
1999 “One of the first signs that the federal government was interested in getting back into affordable housing was the 1999 announcement of the Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative (SCPI) (Falvo 2007).”
1998-11 Mayors of Canada’s largest cities at the caucus of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) passed a resolution declaring homelessness a national disaster.
1998 Canada alone “holds the dubious distinction of having received the strongest rebuke ever delivered by the United Nations for inactivity on homelessness and other poverty issues. In 1998, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights maintained that Canada’s failure to implement policies for the poorest members of the population in the previous 5 years had “exacerbated homelessness among vulnerable groups during a time of strong economic growth and increasing affluence” (p.15). The irony was that this rebuke was given in the midst of Canada having been named for several years in a row as the best country in the world in which to live. Thus, what we are seeing is a disturbing situation where a steadily increasing level of homelessness exists in the very heartland of prosperity and comfort. (Pohl, Rudy. 2001-11. “Homelessness in Canada.)”
The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights issued a highly critical and detailed report on the Canada’s social policies in its 1998 review of Canada’s compliance with these rights (United Nations, 1998) particularly about disastrous levels of homelessness (CESCR 1998, paras. 24, 34, 35, 46) and resulting damaging effects, including damage to health (CESCR 1998, paras. 24, 34, 35, 46) and resulting damaging effects, including damage to health (CCPR 1999, para. 12), lack of adequate housing, especially for children and youth (CESCR 1998, para. 35, CRC 1995, para. 17), Aboriginal peoples (CRC 1995, para. 17).
1996 The Calgary economy generated 24% of all new jobs in Canada, even though the city contained less than 3% of the population (k & l consulting, 2003).
1996 CMHC deemed that 20% of Canadian households (1.7 million households) were in core housing need. These households could not
find adequate and suitable housing without spending 30% or more of their pre-tax income. CMHC found that a disturbing 656,000 households (7%) spent at least half of their before-tax income on shelter in 1996, up from 422,000 households, or 5%, in 1991. While accounting for only 35% of all households, almost 70% of those in core need were renters. Much of the analysis, advocacy and action on affordable housing suffers from three flaws, in our view:
• Income levels are taken as given. Too little thought is given to ameliorating the root cause of the affordable housing problem – that there are simply too many low income households in Canada. The focus has primarily been on measures to boost supply, with an emphasis on incentives to increase the overall rental supply – which has only a limited impact at the affordable end of the scale. Many of the measures that have been recommended
as a means of stimulating this new supply (whether expenditure-based or tax-based) are inefficient, which is to say that they entail a high public cost per unit of affordable housing created. TD recommended that governments adjust the design of federal and provincial benefit and tax systems to “make work pay” by reducing the clawback rate for benefits for low-income households. Programs such as the federal-provincial National Child Benefit (NCB) initiative have dealt with the poverty trap to some extent by effectively combining income support with social services. However, the high taxback issue remains. Provincial governments need to step up their efforts and become a leading contributor within the Affordable Housing Framework agreement. There also needs to be more recognition of the fact that municipal governments are currently in no position to live up to their side of the bargain. New responsibilities have been laid at their doorstep in recent years, as a result of provincial and federal downloading and offloading of services. Yet, municipalities have few revenue tools to draw on beyond the slow-growing (and flawed) property tax. As we have stated in all of our reports on Canada’s cities over the past year, municipalities need a more sustainable funding arrangement, which arms them with increased flexibility (TD 2003).
1996 In the city of Calgary, with one of the most acute housing shortages, only 16 new units of rental housing were built in 1996 (more).
1996“The federal government further removed itself from low-income housing supply by transferring responsibility for most existing federal social housing to the provinces (Hulchanski, J. David. 2009. “Homelessness in Canada: Past, Present, Future.”).
1996 “A survey in Calgary found that of the 615 homeless people surveyed on 26 May 1996, 20% were Aboriginals, 3% Asiatics and 3% Blacks (City of Calgary 1996 cited in Library of Parliament 1999).”(17) City of Calgary, Homeless Count in Downtown Calgary, Alberta, Canada, 1996, City of Calgary Community and Social Development Department of Social Research Unit, 1996.
1993 All funds for social housing were cut from the federal budget (Hulchanski, 2002: 8-15; Chisholm, 2003: 5-11). Most provinces, including Alberta, followed suit.
1992 Canada introduced the Home Buyers’ Plan which was the only form of federal assistance for home-buyers. Canadians who meet certain eligibility conditions can withdraw up to C$20,000 tax-free from their Registered Retirement Saving Plans (RRSPs) for house purchase. The money remains tax-exempt if it is repaid within 15 years. Since its inception in 1992, some 1.2 million people have participated in the programme, channelling C$12.0 billion to the housing market.
1984 – 1993 The Canadian Federal Government withdrew from providing housing assistance for low-income Canadians (Sawatsky and Stroick 2005).” This is not surprising given the general trend away from collective state solutions to a social and economic model that relies solely on the “the market” for services including shelter. It also represents a shift away from seeing housing as a home, to seeing housing as an investment. The problem with this approach is that the market will only provide housing to those who can pay for it – in other words, lower- and moderate income people who cannot afford market price for homeownership or, increasingly, for rental housing are priced out of the market. If the gap between the rich and the poor continues to increase as it has since 1980, housing issues will continue to be a concern (2011).” “The co-op and non-profit programs (with their novel “income mix” approach) introduced in 1970s were terminated in 1984 (Falvo 2007).”.
1986 Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion. WHO, Geneva.
1964-1984 The Canadian Federal Government “built 200,000 public housing units and established a variety of housing initiatives, including non-profit and co-op housing programs, as well as a native housing program. This period can be characterized as one with an ‘inclusionary philosophy’ in which the social need for affordable housing in Canada was being addressed (Sawatsky and Stroick 2005).”
1977 Canada did not have a homelessness issue (Hulchanski 2009-02-18).
1949 – 1963 The Canadian Federal Government was not significantly involved in the provision of affordable housing under PM Louis St. Laurent (1948-1957) and PM John Diefenbaker (1957 – 1963). Even with public concern for more social housing, only 12,000 units were built for low-income Canadians (Sawatsky and Stroick 2005).
1949 The Canadian National Housing Act was implemented with amendments.
1945- “After the Second World War, improvements in housing finance, residential land servicing and building techniques, materials, and regulations produced high-quality housing for the vast majority of Canadian households (Hulchanski, Davis J. 2005-01. “Rethinking Canada’s Housing Affordability Challenge.” Discussion paper. For the Government of Canada’s Canadian Housing Framework Initiative. p. 1)”
1938 The Canadian National Housing Act was established but it was not implemented pending amendments.
2011-06-09“Canada’s cities Poor relations: Mayors need more money and more powers.” The Economist. Vancouver.
Selected Webliography and Bibliography
- The Economist. 2011-06-09. “Canada’s cities Poor relations: Mayors need more money and more powers.” Vancouver.
Calgary Herald. 2008-06-27. “New project will shelter abused women.”
Evdokimoff, Natasha. 2006-06-22. “Is the Sky the Limit? Finding solutions to Calgary’s affordable housing problem.” Condo Living.
- Falvo, Nick. 2007-12. “Alternate Approaches to Addressing the Lack of Affordable Housing in Canada.” Paper presented to Professor George Fallis. Policy Alternatives to Reduce Core Housing Need AS SOSC 4099 3.00 A Directed Reading
Falvo, Nick. 2007-12. “Alternate Approaches to Addressing the Lack of Affordable Housing in Canada.” Presentation for PEF Panel: “Interdisciplinary Approaches to Economic Issues” Canadian Economics Association. Annual Meetings
Dalhousie University. Halifax, Nova Scotia. June 1-3, 2007
The Economist. 2011-06-09. “Canada’s cities Poor relations: Mayors need more money and more powers.” Vancouver.”Downtown Eastside, a ghetto of crime, poverty and drug addiction that is the country’s sickest urban area. Soaring house prices intermingle with homelessness. The middle class is being squeezed out to the suburbs.” “Provincial governments have neglected their responsibility for such matters as social housing, welfare, mental illness, drug addiction and policing. All told, Canada’s big cities need at least C$238 billion ($243 billion) to repair and expand infrastructure, according to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. But municipal governments lack both money and powers. They get only eight cents out of every tax dollar. Their revenues come mainly from property taxes.” “They have lobbied the federal government to make permanent C$2 billion in annual funding programmes for roads, housing and police set to expire in 2014.” “[R]ural areas continue to be over-represented in the House of Commons. But four out of every five Canadians now live in a city,
Hulchanski, David. J. 2002-12. “Housing Policy for Tomorrow’s Cities.” Discussion Paper F|27. Family Network.
Hulchanski, David J. 2005-01. “Rethinking Canada’s Housing Affordability Challenge.” Discussion paper. For the Government of Canada’s Canadian Housing Framework Initiative. p. 1
Hulchanski, J.D. 2009-02-18. Conference keynote address, “Growing Home: Housing and Homelessness in Canada: Past, Present, Future.” University of Calgary.
Pohl, Rudy. 2001-11. (“Homelessness in Canada.)”
Sawatsky, Janet; Stroick, Sharon M. 2005. “Thresholds for Locating Affordable Housing: Applying the Literature to the Local Context.” City of Calgary.
Vrbanovic, Berry. 2011-06-06. StatementFederation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM).
FCM. 2011-04-06. “FCM Releases Federal Election PLatform: Parties need plan as 40% of municipal funding expires.” Date accessed: June 05, 2012.
Library of Parliament. 1999-01-18. Homelessness.
Potentially Useful Links on Affordable Housing
- Composition of Homeless Population
- HOMELESSNESS IN CANADA
- May 2007: Canada’s Lack of Affordable Housing | Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
- New project will shelter abused women
secondarysuitesSES2007Calgary Looks Toward Lower-Footprint Future
dt Streetside Development Corporation : Past Projects
dt http://www.colliers-international.com/Calgary/Castleview/Castleview-Park-Apartments.pdfdt karoleena.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/graycie_spec_sheets.pdf
dt Jan Gehl lecture on ‘Cities for People’ – Great Public Spaces (Calgary, AB) – Meetup
dt Archived – Budget 2011 (March 22, 2011) – Chapter 4: Supporting Job Creation
dt canada budget 2011 – Google Search
dt FFWD – Calgary News & Views – News – Forecast? Cloudy with a chance of lawsuits
dt Affordable Housing Techniques Publication
dt City N. Van – Housing – Affordable Housing Policies
dt IZ Builder Conine
dt Cities for People – Google Booksdt Projects Map – Canada’s Economic Action Plan
dt Affordable Housing Money Counts – Google Docsdt
“calgary homeless foundation” “societal costs of homelessness” 2004 – Google Searchdt $140 square foot to build a housing unit calgary? – Google Searchdt 2011 November 21 « Decisions, Decisions, Decisionsdt 4 million to build 36 unit multi-family complex? – Google Searchdt A leg up for Britain’s generation rent – World – Macleans.cadt A practical framework for expanding affordable housing services in Australia: learning from experience | Australian Policy Onlinedt A Tale of Two Town Houses – Magazine – The Atlanticdt Affordable Housing – CPD – HUDdt affordable housing – Google Scholardt affordable housing – Google Searchdt Affordable Housing | CMHCdt Affordable Housing and Homelessnessdt Affordable housing debate heats up amid cutbacks – The Whig Standard – Ontario, CAdt Affordable Housing Initiative | CMHCdt Affordable Housing Institutedt Affordable Housing Institutedt Africa’s infrastructure: A road to somewhere | The Economistdt AHI: United States » OECD bubbles? LMNO bubbles! OSAR GSE M? Part 5, regulate rents, but not too muchdt Alberta budget promises record $33B in spending – Business – CBC Newsdt Amazon.com: Affordable Housing and Public Policy: Strategies for Metropolitan Chicago (A Chicago Assembly Book) (9780962675522): Lawrence B. Joseph: Booksdt Analysis of Urban Growth and Sprawl … – Basudeb Bhatta – Google Booksdt Analysis of Urban Growth and Sprawl … – Basudeb Bhatta – Google Booksdt Analysis of Urban Growth and Sprawl from Remote Sensing Datadt Australia’s affordable housing crisis: the price of poor public policy – On Line Opinion – 20/10/2003dt Backgrounder: 2010/2011 Housing Capital Initiatives Projects – Canada’s Economic Action Plandt BBC News – ‘Housing shortage crisis’ predicted in IPPR reportdt BBC News – Housing: David Cameron vows to ‘get Britain building’dt BBC News – Ken Livingstone pledges ‘London Living Rent’ systemdt Big cities back a pennydt Bronconnier floats idea of legalizing basement suites – Calgary – CBC Newsdt Building and Construction Canada – Spring 2010 [20 – 21]dt calgary multi-family 3 storey complex 36 units construction costs? – Google Searchdt Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra singing Tweets goes viraldt canada cost of homelessness – Google Scholardt canada’s economic action plan social housing – Google Searchdt Canadian Homelessness Research Networkdt Canadian Political and Economic Newsdt CARH – 2012 Mid-Year Meeting Brochure/Agendadt CBC: The fifth estate – No Way Home, The Cost of Homelessnessdt CBI: CBI comments on prime minister’s speech to CBI Annual Conferencedt Chartered Institute of Housing – Search Resultsdt Chris Tilly’s Research : Center for Industrial Competitiveness : UMass Lowelldt City Mayors: Affordable housing – USAdt CMHC :: INSURED FINANCINGdt Concerns raised with Calgary alderman over Eau Claire condo land dealdt Congress for the New Urbanismdt CUCS – David Hulchanski – Housing Policy for Tomorrow’s Cities (Report)
dt CUCS – J. David Hulchanskidt Dab_solver – affordable housing
dt Definition of general housing terms – Housing – Department for Communities and Local Government
dt Delivering Affordable Housing – Housing – Department for Communities and Local Government
dt Divided We Stand – Books – OECD iLibrary
dt Divided We Stand | OECD Free Preview | Powered by Keepeek Digital Asset Management | http://www.keepeek.comdt Divided we Stand: Why Inequality Keeps Rising
dt Do Rising Tides Lift All Prices? Income Inequality and Housing Affordability
dt Does Affordable Housing Detrimentally Affect Property Values? A Review of the Literature
dt Downtown land deal to go under microscope – Calgary – CBC Newsdt Economic inequality – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
dt Economics focus: House of horrors, part 2 | The Economist
dt FAST FACTS: “housing” that will lead to a need for more social housing | Canadian Centre for Policy Alternativesdt FCM – Housing
dt Five economic tests for the majority government | Canadian Centre for Policy Alternativesdt From Need to Affordability: An Analysis of UK Housing Objectives
dt From Need to Affordability: An Analysis of UK Housing Objectivesdt From Need to Affordability: An Analysis of UK Housing Objectives
dt Global house prices: Castles made of sand | The Economistdt Government program boosts Brazil housing market | Reuters
dt health and homelessness (PRB99-1E)
dt Help:Footnotes – Wikipedia, the free encyclopediadt Home – gltn
dt Homelessness | Here to Help, A BC Information Resource for Individuals and Families Managing Mental Health or Substance Use Problemsdt Homelessness in Canada – Wikipedia, the free encyclopediadt Homelessness: Past, Present, Future – Hulchanski – 2009dt House building scheme designed to kickstart market unveiled | Money | The Guardiandt Housing – Housing Need / Indicators of Well-being in Canadadt Housing Affordability and Needs Studies Based on Census Data | CMHCdt Housing Affordability Index – Wikipedia, the free encyclopediadt Housing and Urban Policydt Housing policy matters: a global … – Shlomo Angel – Google Books
dt Housing supply and demand – UK Parliamentdt Housing Unaffordability as Public Policy: The New Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey | Newgeography.comdt how much does it costs to build 1 family unit in a multi-family complex? – Google Searchdt Hulchanski 2008-2009 Homeless Families into and Out of Homelessness.dt ibi group. (2003). societal cost of homelessness. calgary: author. – Google Search
dt Initiative for Affordable Housing – Glossary
dt International perspectives on factors contibuting to homelessness (PRB99-1E)dt International perspectives on factors contibuting to homelessness (PRB99-1E)
dt International Standards – Adequate Housingdt intraspec.ca/2000_Hulchanski_Counting-Homeless-People.pdf
dt intraspec.ca/HOMELESSNESS_in_Toronto.pdfdt Is Housing Unaffordable? Why Isn’t It More Affordable?dt ITC – News
dt JACKY Q. ZHANG–MMP Engineering – Providing quality structural engineering since 1978.
dt Joint government funding increases affordable housing across Alberta – Canada’s Economic Action Plan
dt Keeping to the Marketplace
dt Knowing when it’s green: A Citizen’s Guide to (LEED for) Neighborhood Development | Kaid Benfield’s Blog | Switchboard, from NRDC
dt Land Economy Staff – Ms Sarah MONK
dt Land Economy Staff – Professor Christine WHITEHEAD
dt Laying the Foundations: A Housing Strategy for England – Housing – Department for Communities and Local Government
dt Lessons from the History of Affordable Housing Cooperatives in the United States: A Case Study in American Affordable Housing Policy – page 12 | American Journal of Economics and Sociology, The
dt Lessons from the History of Affordable Housing Cooperatives in the United States: A Case Study in American Affordable Housing Policy – page 16 | American Journal of Economics and Sociology, The
dt Lessons from the History of Affordable Housing Cooperatives in the United States: A Case Study in American Affordable Housing Policy | American Journal of Economics and Sociology, The | Find Articles
dt Life of luxury
dt Manitoba Local Government | Province of Manitoba
dt Mayoral candidates split over housing – Calgary – CBC News
dt Mayoral hopefuls demand probe of land deal
dt Mayoral hopefuls demand probe of land deal
dt Mayors want $2.5B break; Big cities demand GST rebate, plus fuel, income, sales taxes Ambitious agenda draws cautious nod from Martin envoydt Measuring Housing Affordability: Looking Beyond the Mediandt Methodology for the Housing Affordability Indexdt mhupa.gov.in/w_new/AffordableHousing.pdfdt MIT CRE : Measuring Housing Affordability – The HAI Affordable Housing Index
dt New April 19, 2010 CMHC Canadian Mortgage Rules Summarydt Next federal budget must put rental housing market on solid ground – thestar.comdt Notes and definitions for affordable housing supply – Housing – Department for Communities and Local Governmentdt NRDC: LEED for Neighborhood Developmentdt Perspectives on Labour and Income – Measuring housing affordabilitydt PolicyOptions Wiki / Affordable Housing
dt Progress being made in Attawapiskat: Red Cross | CTV News
dt Public housing – Wikipedia, the free encyclopediadt Public Policy in Municipalities – Publicationsdt Publications and Reports | CMHCdt publications.gc.ca/collections/Collection/NH18-23-55-4E.pdfdt QAHC – About Affordable Housing
dt Rebuilding an affordable, sustainable community in Galveston | Kaid Benfield’s Blog | Switchboard, from NRDC
dt Relationship between Housing Affordability and Economic Development in Mainland China—Case of Shanghai | Browse – Journal of Urban Planning and Development
dt rental market data canada – Google Search
dt Restructuring housing systems : from social to affordable housing? – LSE Research Online
dt Rich-poor divide widens in advanced economies – FT.com
dt Scientific Commons: A practical framework for expanding affordable housing services in Australia: learning from experience (2004), 2004 [Vivienne Milligan, Peter Phibbs, Kate Fagan, Nicole Gurran]dt Search Results | CMHCdt Shelter poverty : new ideas on housing affordability / by Michael E. Stone | Miami University Libraries
dt Sloan: Municipalities are seeking more stable fundingdt Social housing being renovated in London – Canada’s Economic Action Plan
dt Sprawl brawl
dt Talk:Affordable housing – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
dt Taylor & Francis Online :: An affordability crisis in British housing: Dimensions, causes and policy impact – Housing Studies – Volume 9, Issue 1dt The affordability of homeownership to middle-income Americans
dt The Case for Congestion – Neighborhoods – The Atlantic Cities
dt The City of Calgary – Research on homelessness
dt The City of Calgary: Older Adult Housingdt The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco: Economic Research, Educational Resources, Community Development, Consumer and Banking Informationdt The good, the bad and the ugly: Housing demand 2025 > Publication :: IPPRdt The Homeless Hub – Resource Precarious Housing and Hidden Homelessness Among Refugees, Asylum Seekers, and Immigrants in the Toronto Metropolitan Area
dt The LaCaille Group – Building and Construction Canada Magazine
dt The New Blackwell Companion to the City – Gary Bridge, Sophie Watson – Google Booksdt The New Blackwell Companion to the City – Gary Bridge, Sophie Watson – Google Books
dt U.K. fares worst on income inequality among advanced economies: OECD – The Globe and Mail
dt UN-HABITAT.:. Housing rights
dt UN-HABITAT.:. Land and Housing | Events | International Housing Summitdt Urban and Regional Planning – The Canadian Encyclopedia
dt What does the literature tell us about the social and economic impact of housing? Report to the Scottish Government: Communities Analytical Servicesdt Wikipedia:Cheatsheet – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
dt Will Housing Projects Boost GDP? – Economic Observer News- China business, politics, law, and social issues
dt http://www.affordablehousinginstitute.org/resources/library/DS_saopaulo_best_practices_2008.pdfdt http://www.ahuri.edu.au/downloads/NRV3/NRV3_Research_Paper_1.pdf
dt http://www.bov.com/filebank/documents/25-34 Joseph Darmanin.pdf
dt http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/odpub/pdf/63057.pdfdt http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/odpub/pdf/63390.pdf?lang=en
dt http://www.cnhed.org/download/123321_U127242__746634/Continuum of Housing Report.pdf
dt http://www.fcm.ca/Documents/reports/The_Housing_Market_and_Canadas_Economic_Recovery_EN.pdfdt http://www.fig.net/pub/figpub/pub48/figpub48.pdf
dt http://www.freethechildren.com/getinvolved/youth/campaigns/onenightout/docs/One Night Out Fact Book.pdf
dt http://www.gltn.net/images/stories/gltn_capacity_development_strategy_-_overview.pdfdt http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=4&ved=0CDQQFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.communityhousing.com.au%2Fresources%2FBP3%2520-%2520Objectives%2520and%2520Targets.doc&ei=DknlTsKFMOft0gGumI2ABg&usg=AFQjCNHxOdRH1-NTyfPPuTI6axmEXXEFkg
dt http://www.homelesshub.ca/ResourceFiles/Documents/6.2 Menzies – Homeless Aboriginal Men.pdfdt http://www.huduser.org/periodicals/cityscpe/vol1num3/winnick.pdf
dt http://www.ippr.org/images/media/files/publication/2011/05/Good bad and ugly – Housing demand 2025_1829.pdf
dt http://www.nationalhousingconference.org.au/downloads/1999/DayOne/judy_yates_paper.pdfdt http://www.ncsu.edu/ncsu/design/cud/pubs_p/docs/UDinHousing.pdf
dt http://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/Manitoba Office/2011/04/housing and elections April 2011.pdf
dt http://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/National_Office_Pubs/socialwatch2004.pdfdt http://www.ppm-ppm.ca/SOTFS/Hulchanski.pdf
dt http://www.rbc.com/economics/market/pdf/house.pdfdt http://www.rbc.com/newsroom/pdf/HA-1125-2011.pdf
dt http://www.ucalgary.ca/cities/research_series/AffordableHousingInternationalExperiences.pdfdt http://www.umac.mo/fba/irer/papers/past/Vol7_pdf/1-30.pdf
dt http://www.uml.edu/centers/cic/Research/Tilly_Research/Housing-Tilly chapter-GRBT106-2299G-01-020-037.pdf
dt http://www.urbancenter.utoronto.ca/pdfs/researchassociates/2005_Hulchanski_Conference.pdfdt http://www.urbancenter.utoronto.ca/pdfs/researchassociates/Hulchanski_Concept-H-Affd_H.pdf
dt http://www.vchr.vt.edu/pdfreports/Richmond_Affordable Housing Demand.pdf
dt http://www.vibrantcalgary.com/uploads/pdfs/VCC_Cost_of_Living_Fact_Sheet_August_2009.pdfdt YFile – York MES student coordinates first heat registry program
Filed in affordable housing, economic efficiency, Economics, Power and everyday life, risk management, Robust conversations, Social History Timeline, social media, wealth disparities will intensify
Tags: affordable housing, Calgary, Federation of Canadian Municipalities, fiscal imbalance, homelessness, The Economist, urban studies, urbanism, yyc
July 19, 2010
In his 2010-04-30 blog entry entitled “A Gift to the Street” sustainability activist, author, blogger, architect and photographer Steve Mouzon  suggests that the best expression of neigbourliness is giving a gift to the street. For example, planting a street-side garden or shade tree, is a simple offering that might helps get people outside, delight a stranger or make the neighbourhood a better place to walk.
“Frontage gardens are by far the most common forms of gifts to the street that delight people.”
I had not thought of my frontage and lane side gardens in this way and it is a delightful thought for this avid gardener.
In order to sustain longer hours, days, weeks and months of Calgary gardening I wear an unattractive but very practical combination of knee pads attached with velcro, well-worn work boots, jeans tucked into my socks (fire ants protection), a wide variety of multi-coloured garden gloves, long sleeved shirts, even hats to protect against sunlight, rain jackets against the rain or warm jackets, scarves and gloves against the cold. Appearances have not prevented passersby from initiating friendly conversations as I work slowly weed, seed, plant, replant, expand beds, move rocks, prune, mulch or water this garden that some call a “work of love.”
Although I enjoy working inside the fenced off area in the back of the house, sharing the space with a very large dog that wasn’t mine, encouraged me to spend most of my time in the front, which is a street-side garden. Gradually as I replaced grass with ever-expanding garden beds I began to work outside the fences which meander around the rest of the property offering seemingly endless possibilities for even more garden beds. Maintaining these laneways was already a chore so why not remove the grass/weeds and plant more waterwise, hardy, perennials that will maintain themselves? Besides Calgarians are asked to be more water wise and less grass means less water usage.
In the past year I have enjoyed many spontaneous conversations with neighbours, friends and strangers while leaning on my spade. Once a man from the city’s more vulnerable population asked if I would let him use the garden hose to cool his face covered in cuts and bruises. Two others reminisced about when they too had large gardens before life’s challenges left them homeless. On another occasion I found myself inside the car and then the architect-designed unique home of strangers still wearing my knee-pads and carrying my garden gloves. They liked the fact that I was improving the lane that they used all the time and wanted to share the beauty of their home/garden experience. It was magic. Sometimes we end up sharing plants and gardening tips as well as encouragement. A new neighbour from Saudi Arabia and her young daughter Neda helped me start a new bed in the far back laneway, one that will be visible from the escarpment in the park a few blocks from here. On a large river stone Neda wrote “Happy Family Garden” and it does make me happy to see these words every time I work or walk nearby.
1. In his book entitled The Original Green, (2010) Mouzon argues that instead of going “gizmo green” we can all take simple steps towards sustainable living. Why not live in smaller homes with rooms that have multiple functions or perhaps raise a victory garden?
Mouzon claims that, “The walkability of a place is a high indicator of the sustainability of a place . . . the more walkable a place is, the more sustainable it is. And also the healthier the people are.”
I think his blog entitled Useful Stuff which he describes as “blogging as memory” is like the front garden or the garden outside the fence. It’s where ideas are not kept within a secret gated garden but shared with strangers. Instead of worrying about theft and vandalism he gardens in a space that is completely accessible to passersby.
Mouzon, Steve A. Useful Stuff: Things I’ve dug up that I don’t want to have to dig up again.
Mouzon, Steve A. 2010. The Original Green: Unlocking the Mystery of True Sustainability. The Guild Foundation. Press.
Olwell & Waldhorn. 1982. A Gift to the Street. St Martins Pr.