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View Full Version : The Calgary New York Urban Density Comparison



Wooster
Aug 17, 2007, 5:00 PM
Comparing Calgary With New York
Taking a bite out of the Big Apple comparison

Calgary's footprint has recently been compared to that of New York City's, yet there are eight times more people living in New York. This comparison is meant to illustrate that Calgary is growing uncontrollably; however, the simple equation of dividing population by land area is simply incorrect when you consider Calgary's varied land use. For instance:

New York City: 8.2 million people / 830 sq. kms = 9,879 ppl per sq. km
Calgary: 1 million people / 745 sq. kms = 1,342 ppl per sq. km
By this logic, New York City is 7.4 times denser than Calgary.

The reality of the Calgary/New York comparison

While New York City is the most densely populated municipality in North America, it is only one small part of Metropolitan New York whose population of approximately 22 million people occupies 30,000 square kilometres and straddles three states.

The City of Calgary adheres to the UniCity form of municipal government. The premise of the UniCity model maintains that urban development is most efficiently and fairly achieved under one municipality, as opposed to the metropolitan form of government, such as New York's, comprised of multiple municipalities. The advantages of UniCity over the metropolitan form of government are the equity of service provision, standards and taxation, reduced fragmentation of municipal services and the efficiency of administration including seamless planning and development, and the protection of long term growth corridors.

View a graphical comparison between Calgary and New York City
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v311/joshwhit/calgary_to_new_york.gif

With the exception of Staten Island, all the other boroughs that constitute New York City are experiencing dramatic out-migration. In fact, Manhattan's population in 1910 was almost double its present population. Most boroughs reached their peak population in the 1950s and 1960s.

Conversely, Calgary is a city with significant in-migration, as it continues to increase density in future developments. Existing neighbourhoods such as Bridlewood, Mackenzie Towne and Tuscany, as well upcoming communities like Seton, already reflect recommendations made in The City's Sustainable Suburbs Study (1995) to build more complete new communities. There are also extensive redevelopment plans for the Beltline as well as inner-city communities, such as Bridgeland, East Village and Garrison Woods.

Other examples include developing high-density projects around priority C-Train stations, changing the scale of neighbourhoods in terms of their land use, and dedicating more resources to purchase of additional LRT cars, buses, extending LRT lines and building more platforms. Transit statistics show, specifically during peak hours, we are starting to implement strategies that are getting people out of the car.

A more reasonable comparison

There are several ways to measure Calgary's built up area, depending on what areas are included. Calgary is unique from other cities in that it contains within its boundaries many areas not developed for housing or industry such as a reservoir, a provincial park, large regional parks (Nose Hill), landfill sites, an airport and other features which contribute to the overall perception of the city's size. Stretching 19 sq. kms, Fish Creek Park is one of the largest urban parks in North America, as compared to New York City's Central Park which spans 3.4 sq. kms.

Calgary's true built up area

745 sq. kms Calgary Jurisdictional Boundary (2005)
- 272 sq. kms untouched land held in reserve for future growth
- 75 sq. kms landfills and industrial
- 66 sq. kms water and regional parks
- 6 sq. kms Transportation Utility Corridor
= 325.7 sq. kms Calgary's true built up area

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v311/joshwhit/built_form_map.jpg

================================

I thought this warrented its own thread. The City is definitely right. Although TUCs and Industrial should count as the built up area, no question.

Either way, it is interesting how this myth was perpetuated. Perhaps this can spawn a discussion about growth strategies to ensure we don't become an unmanagable sprawling mess (more than the extent that we are now).

LINK

http://www.calgary.ca/portal/server.pt/gateway/PTARGS_0_0_707_203_0_43/http;/content.calgary.ca/cca/City+Hall/Business+Units/Development+and+Building+Approvals+and+Land+Use+Planning+and+Policy/Land+Use+Planning/Current+Studies+and+Ongoing+Activities/Annexation+Information/Comparing+Calgary+With+New+York.htm

skrish
Aug 17, 2007, 5:31 PM
Calgary's true built up area

745 sq. kms Calgary Jurisdictional Boundary (2005)
- 272 sq. kms untouched land held in reserve for future growth
- 75 sq. kms landfills and industrial
- 66 sq. kms water and regional parks
- 6 sq. kms Transportation Utility Corridor
= 325.7 sq. kms Calgary's true built up area


This is a very interesting stat. If you just take the built up area into consideration, Calgary has about 3000 people per sq. km. Good on the city for doing this comparison.

craneSpotter
Aug 17, 2007, 5:39 PM
Hmmm, looks like somebody used a very selective comparison to meet a desired outcome.

This compares the NEW York CMA area population density to the City of Calgary population density in a select built-up area!?!
Come on!

It is more appropriate to compare the City of New York density with the City of Calgary density in which New York handily wins. Or, you could compare the population density of each CMA, again with New York well ahead.

Also, the metro New York region also includes lots of water, harbour, parkland, undeveloped land etc., just like Calgary has much undeveloped land within its city limits. Also, wasn't Calgary successful in annexing 103 sq.km from Rocky View? This will lower the city density even more, for many years at least.

Sounds like alot of hot air being spewed by the city to make the residents feel better :haha: I don't think anybody with sense would even begin to compare population densities of relatively new western cities with much much larger and older eastern ones hahah!

That being said, it is good that Calgary is discussing density and talking about possibly ending the ever expanding sprawl on it's outskirts (the reason for annexing the extra 103 sq.km - to accommodate more sprawl), wow you can see that from the air. Hopefully Calgary starts doing something about density after all the talk and selective comparisons/junk-science.

Calgary's down-town is starting to nicely densifying, finally getting some quality projects too! But sadly many more SFD are built each year around the outskirts compared to multi-family.

Boris2k7
Aug 17, 2007, 5:57 PM
Calgary CMA = 5,083 square kilometres; 1.1 Million people... (2006)
216.4/sqkm

New York Metro = 17, 405 square kilometres; 18.8 Million people (2005)
1080.1/sqkm

But even that is an unfair comparison, as over 80% of the Calgary CMA is unoccupied and around 90% live in the City of Calgary, in that 325.7sqkm of area (so the region is maybe 500sqkm built up out of 5000, so likely less than 10% built up).

In such a case (theoretical 80% unoccupied):

Calgary CMA - 1016.6sqkm, still 1.1 Million people
1082.0/sqkm

Now, I would assume that most of the New York MSA is built up... but even that puts Calgary close behind New York.


(theoretical 90% unoccupied)
508.3sqkm - 1.1 Million people
2164.1/sqkm

If this is the case, Calgary may be nearly twice as dense as New York.

New York City is dense, but it has a HUGE amount of sprawl.

Wooster
Aug 17, 2007, 6:00 PM
I think the point is to say that New York has a metropolitan population, Calgary's in unicity. The vast, vast majority, save for a few satellite towns, of the metro is city of calgary, whereas, not even 50% of new york metro is city. Not comparable. Artificial political boundaries say nothing of the density of a whole city.

The figure of 473 sq km of Calgary's built up area including all the airport, TUC's parks etc compared to the built up area of New York metro is the fair comparison.

Ottawa has a population of about 800 000, with a total area of over 2700 sk km. That has nothing to do with its urban density, just an artificial municipal boundary. Similar, Calgary's 745 sq km says nothing about its urban density. Calgary's boundary could be 5000 sq km, it would not change its urban density in reality.

Metro new york, while having a super dense core, has some of the worst sprawl on earth on its periphery. Metro LA is more dense. Yes New York has lots of parkland WITHIN its urban built up area, and so does Calgary (Fish Creek, Nose Hill. The point is that the areas OUTSIDE the built up area (even if they are inside an arbitrary political boundary have nothing to do with density. If you are to say these areas count for urban density, might as well include all the forested area of western pennsylvania as new york's area as well.

polishavenger
Aug 17, 2007, 6:07 PM
I think the idea is to compare the dense areas of New York, which are conceptually though of as the city proper, the areas considered to be healthier and better developed than what is currently going on in Calgary. The states has huge sprawl problems, and even bigger traffic problems. I guess a comparision to areas like Atlanta, L.A, Phoenix would give Calgarians a good idea of how bad things get when cities sprawl out and rely mostly on roads to deal with traffic, and a glimplse into our future.

The Geographer
Aug 17, 2007, 8:34 PM
The five boroughs are NOT experiencing net out-migration. They have grown significantly since 1990, and will add another million people by 2030.

And why is Central Park "built up" while Fish Creek and Nose Hill Park aren't? I don't think you can necessarily divide parkland from the city, as it is performing an urban service that improves the livability of the environment. It is a pet peeve of mine when people exclude Nose Hill because it is a big contiguous park, while places with a larger number of smaller, scattered parks have theirs classified "urban". This means there is at some point an arbitrary threshold of park size.

Admittedly, there is something to the city's argument, as I am sure Calgary does have more parkland meaning that the people are squeezed into deceptively less land. However, the methodology is weak to say the least; by blatantly taking advantage of arbitrary measurement techniques that work to support the city's hoped for conclusion, the study loses viability.

ExcaliburKid
Aug 17, 2007, 9:13 PM
I apologize if this comes off as arogant, but whats this trying to prove?

Riise
Aug 17, 2007, 9:23 PM
Comparing Calgary With New York
Taking a bite out of the Big Apple comparison...

I thought this warrented its own thread. The City is definitely right. Although TUCs and Industrial should count as the built up area, no question.

Either way, it is interesting how this myth was perpetuated.

You know, I actually kind of like this myth. In my mind it's the city getting a taste of its own medicine; stretching the truth and using deceptive statistics. I believe the positives out-weigh the negatives, yeah Calgary is getting a bad rep but the city is very deserving of it. The City is sprawling into a wretched state and it needs to be brought into the limelight.

I think the idea is to compare the dense areas of New York, which are conceptually though of as the city proper, the areas considered to be healthier and better developed than what is currently going on in Calgary. The states has huge sprawl problems, and even bigger traffic problems...

People always say it's comparing apples to oranges but at its heart it's comparing right and wrong, a way of showing good and bad. What's the point of comparing Calgary to cities that have a similar, history, geography and demography? This will probably limit the comparison to other North American cities that are guilty of sprawl that is worse than ours and it'll end up making us look good. Personally, I think Calgary should be comparing itself with cities like: Copenhagen, Stockholm, Post WWII New Towns (ones in Germany, Scandinavia, and the Netherlands), and New Towns in China.

Boris2k7
Aug 17, 2007, 9:25 PM
I apologize if this comes off as arogant, but whats this trying to prove?

It's actually attempting to DISPROVE something. Everytime Calgary gets mentioned by the non-local media, the usual "same size as NY, 1/10th the population" bullshit gets thrown out there.

ExcaliburKid
Aug 17, 2007, 9:30 PM
Ah ok. Haha thats quite an extreme viewpoint, imo. It always seemed Calgary was "big" but I would bet if the 21 municipalities that make up Greater Edmonton were combined into Edmonton propers' limits, people would likely have the same perception, if not already seen that way.

Wooster
Aug 17, 2007, 9:41 PM
I apologize if this comes off as arogant, but whats this trying to prove?

I think the point is that it is constantly cited in the media that Calgary is "the same size as New York, but 1/10th the population". The worry is that it gives the city a bad reputation, and is based on a ridiculously skewed comparison.

Rusty van Reddick
Aug 18, 2007, 12:27 AM
I think the point is that it is constantly cited in the media that Calgary is "the same size as New York, but 1/10th the population". The worry is that it gives the city a bad reputation, and is based on a ridiculously skewed comparison.

It also ignores the fact that, even if it IS true (which it isn't- the most generous comparison is that NYC is 7.4 times as dense as Calgary, as this article first points out), OTHER CITIES ARE LESS DENSE THAN CALGARY. That's not what this report is about, but I've actually heard and read people saying that Calgary has "the worst sprawl in North America." This is complete nonsense- and if we want to talk density, consider that the Calgary and Regina CMAs are the same area! Calgary has five times as many people!!!

Habanero
Aug 18, 2007, 9:46 PM
Hmmm, looks like somebody used a very selective comparison to meet a desired outcome.

This compares the NEW York CMA area population density to the City of Calgary population density in a select built-up area!?!
Come on!

It is more appropriate to compare the City of New York density with the City of Calgary density in which New York handily wins. Or, you could compare the population density of each CMA, again with New York well ahead.



Neither is a fair comparison, because it's apples to oranges. CMA to CMA isn't fair because the vast majority of Calgary's CMA is unused. If Calgary was setup the same as most NA cities, we would have something like 300k of people in the city proper with 1.1 million metro. That 300k would be a better city to city comparison.

newflyer
Aug 19, 2007, 6:46 AM
As a person living in Calgary I am imbarrassed to know that someone at cityhall is actually comparing the massive sprawl of Calgary to the density of NYC. Please .. oh please say this is a sad joke.

Talk about completely misrepresenting the facts.... Calgary should face the reality and look to decrease its seemingly endless sprawl and not try to pass of some form of misleading report which is barely worthy of lining the kitty litter box. Where are the standards? Just another mindless attempt by the local government to create a Calgary feel good story.

Calgary is still in many ways a small city.. and such an article only goes to prove that Calgary has a long way to go. I would expect much more from a city like Calgary.

Ginty
Aug 19, 2007, 9:52 AM
someone shoot me. please

Nouvellecosse
Aug 19, 2007, 11:32 AM
And why is Central Park "built up" while Fish Creek and Nose Hill Park aren't? I don't think you can necessarily divide parkland from the city, as it is performing an urban service that improves the livability of the environment. It is a pet peeve of mine when people exclude Nose Hill because it is a big contiguous park, while places with a larger number of smaller, scattered parks have theirs classified "urban". This means there is at some point an arbitrary threshold of park size.
That's what I was thinking too. NY proper may not have a park as large as Fish Creek Park, but it does have one as large as Nose Hill Park, which is odd since the original post compares Calgary's largest park with Central Park, which is only NY proper's 5th largest. And NY proper also has a large amount of non-residential land. The Jamaica Bay National Recreation Area, two major international airports (JFK & LaGuardia) etc. JFK alone is 20km²
Admittedly, there is something to the city's argument, as I am sure Calgary does have more parkland meaning that the people are squeezed into deceptively less land.
To be honest, I'm not quite so sure. Do u actually have statistics for Calgary? Because in NYC, the Department of Parks and Recreation alone has 113 km², and that doesn't count the land managed by the NY Department of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation and the National Park service.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_New_York_City_parks

Claeren
Aug 19, 2007, 3:51 PM
I wish there was a way to compare the entire metro area of each city MINUS lands used for commercial farming.

I don't think Calgary should have to include any land being used for such farming but should have to include its outlaying towns and all of the <20 acre sites with monster homes pushing ever outwards, especially to the West and Northwest of the city.

Inversely, there is a LOT of land sprawling outwards from NYC with homes on huge lots (both of the super rich and comparativily, the upper middle class) that are there simply due to poor lifestyles and planning (from a sustainability standpoint) that i am guessing really start to hurt the NYC average persons/km2.


Regardless of all of that, i interpreted the entire point of this excercise as simply a dismissal of the entire comparison. I don't think that by invalidating the comparison between Calgary and NC you have to prove the opposite point (that Calgary is not at all sprawling). The point is far more simple - that to say Calgary is 10 times less dense than NYC is misleading to the public.


Claeren.

freeweed
Aug 20, 2007, 1:32 AM
I don't think that by invalidating the comparison between Calgary and NC you have to prove the opposite point (that Calgary is not at all sprawling). The point is far more simple - that to say Calgary is 10 times less dense than NYC is misleading to the public.

I think it's telling these days that everything quickly devolves into these idiotic meaningless Black vs White arguments. It's no longer just the Internet either, people honestly and truly seem to think this way. :koko:

I don't think ANYONE ever tried to say Calgary doesn't sprawl. The city sure as hell didn't. All they tried to point out is the stupidity of the "NYC vs Calgary" comparison.

Saying "no, this extreme view is not correct" does not mean "I believe the opposite extreme view MUST be correct". All of the people getting uppity about the city doing this.. I'm not entirely sure just where you're coming from. It would explain a lot about recent politics in the USA if people actually do think this way, though. :haha:

Boris2k7
Aug 20, 2007, 4:34 AM
I don't think ANYONE ever tried to say Calgary doesn't sprawl.

Oh, there's someone who has said that...

http://img170.imageshack.us/img170/4936/minomisxn4.png

LordMandeep
Aug 20, 2007, 4:46 AM
you guys have 5 landfills in your city???


and is that transportation utility corridor a future ring road???

Wooster
Aug 20, 2007, 4:46 AM
Regardless of all of that, i interpreted the entire point of this excercise as simply a dismissal of the entire comparison. I don't think that by invalidating the comparison between Calgary and NC you have to prove the opposite point (that Calgary is not at all sprawling). The point is far more simple - that to say Calgary is 10 times less dense than NYC is misleading to the public.

Claeren.

I think you're exactly right.

Habanero
Aug 20, 2007, 7:59 AM
As a person living in Calgary I am imbarrassed to know that someone at cityhall is actually comparing the massive sprawl of Calgary to the density of NYC. Please .. oh please say this is a sad joke.

Talk about completely misrepresenting the facts.... Calgary should face the reality and look to decrease its seemingly endless sprawl and not try to pass of some form of misleading report which is barely worthy of lining the kitty litter box. Where are the standards? Just another mindless attempt by the local government to create a Calgary feel good story.

Calgary is still in many ways a small city.. and such an article only goes to prove that Calgary has a long way to go. I would expect much more from a city like Calgary.

You've obviously missed the whole point of this thread.

Wooster
Aug 20, 2007, 8:03 AM
you guys have 5 landfills in your city???


Yeah. We prefer not to ship it to michigan. ;)

LordMandeep
Aug 20, 2007, 2:06 PM
its going to London ONT in 2010 lol...

wild wild west
Aug 20, 2007, 5:56 PM
I, for one, am glad the City has called the bluff on this ridiculous old wive's tale, although their own arithmetic is equally faulty. The most valid comparison, IMO, is the total developed area in both CMA's/MSA's, including industrial, transportation and parkland.

The stat that gets me even more agitated (and I have actually heard experienced professional planners buy into it) is the one that Calgary covers the biggest land area of any municipality in North America - not just wrong, but severely wrong!

But overall, I think if we examine our overall land use pattern, the low densities in the established communities are offset by the relatively higher densities and small lot sizes in the newest suburban communities (compared with most other North American cities, anyways) and lack of exurban sprawl that gives us an urban footprint that is less consumptive than many would think. For example, looking at an urban area about the same size such as Ottawa, while their inner city communities and transit nodes are much denser than ours, the preponderence of satellite towns, acreage areas and semi-rural areas that are part of their metro area give them what I would consider to be, overall, a less efficient and more consumptive land use pattern.

feepa
Aug 20, 2007, 6:06 PM
and is that transportation utility corridor a future ring road???

Future - as in being built right now (At least the northern and Northeastern sections). Ab gov decided Edm/Cal needed ring roads...

Rusty van Reddick
Aug 20, 2007, 8:25 PM
The stat that gets me even more agitated (and I have actually heard experienced professional planners buy into it) is the one that Calgary covers the biggest land area of any municipality in North America - not just wrong, but severely wrong!

When I was hired at U of C, this was among the "Facts about Calgary" I got with housing info and such. "Calgary is the largest city, in area, in Canada!"

This was never close to correct, and as long as we're talking municipal boundaries, Ottawa is nearly triple the "area" of Calgary now- and it's the new municipality of Halifax larger as well? (yep- 5490 sq km! Now THAT is sprawling!)

There are dozens of cities in the US that are larger in area than Calgary, too.

Lobstick
Aug 21, 2007, 2:45 AM
In before TrueViking pulls stats out of his ass and proves Winnipeg is the worlds densest city.

sync
Aug 21, 2007, 12:53 PM
In before TrueViking pulls stats out of his ass and proves Winnipeg is the worlds densest city.


:haha: