Sprawl is costly for our wallets, our health and our environment. We all pay for the cost either through our health, taxes or both.
Our governments subsidize sprawl by building infrastructure that supports low density development such as highways. But, studies show that low density development doesn’t pay its way. Municipal councils often think that development charges cover the cost of growth, but they only cover the capital costs. Ongoing maintenance, operations and replacement are left out of the equation.
We all subsidize sprawl when costs for energy systems, water, sewage, road building and maintenance are evenly distributed to taxpayers.
There is a better way. Compact communities have lower infrastructure and servicing costs.
If pipes don’t need to be extended, we save the cost of the lengthening pipes and building roads, and fewer pumps are needed to move water and sewage. Municipal water pumping is between 30 and 40% of municipal energy costs, so a reduction here makes a big difference. Encouraging redevelopment in our existing urban areas renews old, failing infrastructure and allows for economic renewal in underused parts of our communities.
Sprawl is slowly killing us:
When we build housing far away from where we work it affects our health. Commuting increases air pollution, a leading cause of premature death. Air pollution from cars has been linked to asthma, heart disease and lung cancer. When we sit for hours in traffic, we spend less time walking, going to the gym or spending time with our family. In essence, commuting shortens our lives.