Pericles, the first Mayor of Athens said, “All things good of this earth flow to the city”. With the high level of urbanization in the world that has occurred in the past 200 years, some may argue this point with Pericles today.
The first modern city to reach one million people was London, England, in 1810, and then New York City in 1875. Today there are over 300 cities worldwide with populations of greater than one million people. In a Regina context, we have calculated that if our city continues to grow at its current accelerated rate, we will reach one million people in approximately 100 years.
Regina’s humble beginnings started in the same way as most world cities. First it was a settlement surrounded by simple farming. Over time, people began to take on more specialized occupations, more trade occurred, more food was stored, and power began to be centralized. In time, that centralization lead to Regina becoming the capital city of our great province.
Today, some would suggest that the growth of our city is unsustainable, wrong, it is sustainable when a city is true-to-cause in understanding what its purpose is. The purpose of a city is simple, to facilitate affluence for its citizens and alleviate poverty. Housing affordability is a crucial component in that cause.
Economic growth plays an imperative role in the health of a city. We have heard the criticism that with the increase of affluence in a city, it does not distribute to citizens completely equitably, but make no mistake; economic growth is the only way that affluence can increase for all citizens regardless of their starting point.
Nor can we take economic growth for granted. Look at the city of Detroit, for example, which grew to a population of 1.5 million by 1970, but today is now under 700,000 people. Citizens are not better off today in Detroit than they were in 1970. Economic growth matters.
The residential construction industry does its part to respond to an ever changing housing market in Regina, and as a result, our industry creates billions in investment in Regina that created thousands of jobs for Regina citizens. Those jobs provided millions in wages that showed up in purchases right across the whole economy. In addition, the purchase of new homes contributed millions of dollars to all three levels of governments through different forms of taxation.
Some would suggest that the housing market is in need of regulation by the municipal and provincial governments to address the housing issues in Regina. From my perspective, what is needed is facilitation that will allow the market to innovate ahead of, and faster than public policy can be developed, in order to address the issues.
The current Regina housing market demands lower-priced housing. Builders and community developers continue to adapt housing product and lot types to keep home prices affordable to maintain sales velocity.
Community developers (those who assemble land for residential development) and home builders are already aligned with the city’s goals of incorporating smart growth principles, higher density development, and the provision of more affordable housing product.
Our hope for the City of Regina is to get on with its purpose of creating more economic growth, and therefore more affluence for Regina citizens.