top of page
  • Writer's pictureHeather Ranson

The Economic Cost of Sprawl

Urban sprawl has long been criticized by environmentalists, and over the years some protections, such as the Agricultural Land Reserve, have been put into place, but now we have quantifiable data on the cost of urban sprawl, and we know that sprawl is an economic and a social cost to cities.

An OECD paper defines urban sprawl as “discontinuous, scattered and decentralized” development. We can identify sprawl when we see large numbers of people living on unconnected pieces of land. This is precisely the plan for development at 1465 Greig Road. Building 800 units of housing more than three kilometres form the nearest grocery store, is the very definition of urban sprawl.

So what are the costs of urban sprawl? One is disappearing greenspace. It turns out there is extensive data to support homeowners preferring to buy houses in neighbourhoods with parks, greenery and open spaces. As such they will pay more for these homes. This is a benefit to homeowners (who are selling) and a benefit to the city as these properties produce more tax revenue. If a city eats up green space with unconnected commercial or residential developments, they bring all the property values down.

Another benefit that relates directly to the Greig Road property is tourism. Green spaces attract visitors to an area. Natural, unspoiled spaces are appreciated for their recreational value. Visitors like to hike, bike and swim, and Top Bridge, the Greig Road property and Rathtrevor Provincial Park offer a connected recreational experience, directly across the road from Parksville’s high density tourism accommodation. Tourism revenue supports services for residents of Parksville, so we should work to preserve the amenities that benefit residents and visitors.

The last benefit I want to identify is that of stormwater flow. Stormwater collects and runs off of paved surfaces into storm drains. Cities spend tens of thousands of dollars treating the chemicals and pollutants that come from this water before they release it into rivers or the ocean. More paved area equals more stormwater and costs associated with stormwater. Preserving greenspace reduces these costs.

These are examples of quantifiable costs of urban sprawl. There are many more. We know better than to build like this. Let's do better Parksville!

160 views4 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Feb 09, 2023

Trees are necessary carbon sequesters. Our rivers and aquifers need protection. When I read that “commitments” will be made by the city and developers to protect the environment I fail to believe they will be honoured. We need to do the right thing now! Stop this development.

Feb 09, 2023
Replying to

Name and address of above comment:

Jennifer Duggan

279 Pioneer Crescent

Parksville, B.C.

V9P 1V5


Feb 07, 2023

This should not be allowed to proceed. I don't know were the water is going to come from. have been on water restrictions for years, and that was before the apartments were constructed. This was a nice little place before all the development now it's just another urban sprawl. Some one is looking to cash in to the detriment of the rest of the population.

Gord Gebhardt

755 Newcastle.



Feb 07, 2023

I completely agree. The highest and best use of this choice land is to treasure it just as it IS....

for picnics and paddling and relaxing and destressing.

Lets keep it that way.

Highrise apartment towers belong in town centres.

Janet Banks

363 Pioneer Cres, Parksville 250 586 4318

bottom of page