Councillors Morgan Nagel and Alex Reed don't believe Cochrane's residential density target is set in stone and want to lower it.

The two have teamed up to give notice of a motion requesting administration prepare a report for the mayor and council on options available to reduce Cochrane's residential development density targets.

They believe population density for residential development established by the town were done so strictly on a voluntary basis and there's still time to lower them before the Calgary area growth management board takes full root and provincial legislation makes it binding.

 Cochrane's municipal development plan calls for a minimum density of eight residential units per acre (19.8 per hectare) and is largely based upon the model of the Calgary Metropolitan Plan. The pair believes it's wrong to group Cochrane together with Calgary.

"That is absolutely ridiculous," says Nagel. "We are not Calgary, we have our own look and feel and we should have our own right to set our own density target."

During his first four-year term, Nagel said he was repeatedly told there was nothing that could be done about the density requirements and is frustrated to find it simply isn't true.

"The full term went by and the density legislation actually never came into effect. So I'm starting off this term pushing back saying I want to get down to a more manageable level."

"If the last council had taken action on this density stuff it would have been fine because the provincial legislation hadn't come down."

Reed, who previously served as chair of the municipal planning commission, had been told the same.

What has really brought the point home for Reed was a Calgary radio show where a Cochrane resident referred to the Fireside neighbourhood as the "Ghetto of Cochrane".

"So I literally called him and said that was a bit harsh," says Reed. "He said, 'Have you driven through Fireside recently? Have you seen how congested our streets are? People are stealing each other's shovels'."

"You know what, he's right. Fireside and Heartland have density targets that are just not appropriate for our community and we shouldn't be dictated by others about what our density targets are, and we want to challenge it."

Nagel sees numerous pluses from reducing density.

"If reduce our density targets it forces the industry to build a higher quality product which will inevitably sell a little bit slower. So it will do something to protect the value of people's homes in Cochrane. People will build nicer homes and slow down development to a more manageable rate."

"We're flooding the market in terms of supply and demand and it's changing the value of the existing houses because it's hard to sell your 20-year home when you're up against 5,000 brand new homes. When you're building a neighbourhood that is not as nice as the older neighbourhood you're reducing the overall price associated with the entire community."

He also sees higher density neighborhoods with less outdoor space as having a negative impact on Canadian culture.

"We're forcing people to spend more time inside, more time on their phones, more time on their video games because our neighbourhoods are too small to enjoy outside."

The request follows a December report provided at the request of Nagel to provide council a consolidated of developments at various levels of approval. Of the 9,500 undeveloped homes listed in the report, about 1,500 have been given subdivision approval and lots sizes have been established. The density of other land has not been established.

The town's Growth Management Strategy estimates there are 2.6 people per residential unit. The strategy was based on a 50-year outlook when completed in 2012 and projects the town will reach a population of 66,000 people by 2062.

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