Since the 1950s, most new residential and commercial development in Hamilton has been single-use suburban sprawl. Do you believe Hamilton needs to concentrate new development within the already-built area? Why or why not?

Responses to the question: "Since the 1950s, most new residential and commercial development in Hamilton has been single-use suburban sprawl. Do you believe Hamilton needs to concentrate new development within the already-built area? Why or why not?"

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10 Candidate Responses (top)

Ward 01
CandidateBrief ResponseFull Response
Allen, Jason Yes I have been pretty vocal publicly about the fact that suburban greenfield development is an urban planning Ponzi Scheme. Under provincial law, we are only able to charge developers 80% of the cost of providing new services (rec centres, parks, roads, sewers, and even 911 service) to a new subdivision. And the rules against ‘gold plating’ those services often mean we can charge less than that. Development in our city needs to turn towards increasing densification on already serviced land, which will ensure higher property taxes per square foot on land that doesn’t require significant additional costs to provide services.
Anderson, Sharon Yes Yes concentration or densification within the built up area is required. This will result in a better use of our existing infrastructure and help decrease the lifecycle cost. An increased number of households sharing the same infrastructure should also allow for a lower municipal tax rate going forward.
Cole, Sharon Yes I do not support single-use suburban sprawl - I support innovative urban designs as an alternative to traditional housing space and I support mixed-use development (business, residential, entertainment, etc.) with a clear understanding that mixed-use historically comes at a premium, which means we also need to address affordability and inclusive access to those from multiple levels of income and background. Second, urban sprawl creates a whole set of additional considerations in the undeveloped environs of a municipality from infrastructure, water, sewers, transit and reliance on automobiles, policing, public safety, impact on the environment and agriculture, etc.

There will always be those that on the surface claim to support infill and intensification initiatives in existing neighborhoods as long as they are "not in my back yard". I believe we need to, as part of the education process, help reassure residents that such types of development will respect and apply safe, green technologies, which are not only good for the environment, but provide assurances to residents that re-development protects vibrant green spaces, wetlands, etc.
Eroglu, Ela Yes I support the policy preventing expanding the city out onto farmland and instead building "up" on infill sites and intensification. I think it is a good policy and it has a lot of benefits such as optimizing new and existing infrastructure, create complete communities, revitalize downtown, encourages public transit investment and for future employment and economic growth. However, the way we implement intensification policies requires judgment, and respect to the characteristics of the City. Every City is unique and has its own distinctive ecological, geological, historical and cultural values. Hamilton is a beautiful City with unique features of escarpment, lake, history and culture.

Intensification should accompany with by-laws that ensures that building design respects these unique characteristics of the City; creating friendly streets and places that are healthy, accessible, safe; and respecting Hamilton`s rich architectural heritage.
Geffros, Sophie Yes Yes, I do. Increasing density is the only way to ensure that we are both able to house more people and also that those same individuals have access to the services and resources necessary to live. Hamilton is in an affordable housing crisis, and as a resident of Ainslie Wood -- an area that in the 50s and 60s was home to suburban sprawl extending to the geographic boundaries of Dundas and Cootes Paradise -- I believe strongly that mixed-density neighbourhoods can be a positive thing. I am strongly committed to increasing the affordable and geared-to-income housing in our city, and given that resources that low-income and working class Hamiltonians rely on tend to be concentrated in the lower city and downtown core, we must increase the density of housing along transit lines.
Massie, Richard Yes Yes, we should treat land responsibly and regenerate run down brownfield sites and decaying buildings into compact, sustainable mixed use communities. Everyone should be able to walk to their local centre or take public transit that is maximized for efficiency.
Miklos, Lyla Yes Urban sprawl is an inefficient and costly way to build a city. It also destroys the environment by eliminating invaluable green space and adding even more carbon pollution into our atmosphere. Intensification in urban areas enables those areas to thrive and become more vibrant.
Narducci, Linda Yes I do not think development should be concentrated on solely in these areas. Although there was in the past, rapid growth and development and a trend to living in suburbs, and perhaps it is still, the trend, however, appears to be shifting and changing. People are looking to live in urban areas that expose them to diverse cultures, accessibility resulting in less car ownership, they enjoy the urban sense of community and with working, socializing and living in a concentrated urban area rely heavily on several modes of transportation. Another trend that fuels the urban development and living there is the concern and care for the environment and the thumbprint they are leaving.
White, Harrison Yes Hamilton does need to concentrate new development in the already-built area. Intensification is a provincially mandated direction for city growth, according to the Growth Plan Act 2005, and the Golden Horseshoe Development from 2017. Intensification according to the province of Ontario, refers to any new residential development within the already existing built-up urban fabric of a given city, such as Toronto or Hamilton. Not only is it provincially mandated, but it is also the best direction that Hamilton could take. The City of Hamilton is facing an increase in debt level already, as we need to invest in capital infrastructure as well as service lands for economic prosperity and continued growth. The current infrastructure deficit is 3.5 billion dollars, a number that would only continue to increase if sprawl continues. Urban sprawl means implementing things like storm drains, streets, street lights, road lines, traffic lights etc. It means having to ensure we have staff capable to provide city services in the farthest regions of Hamilton. These are things that will cost Hamilton more money and are things the City of Hamilton is already having difficulty managing. Over 500 people in Hamilton with a life-threatening injury had to wait 20 minutes or longer in 2017. We are only spending HALF the recommended budget on implementing bike lanes, and our transit service is outdated and ineffective. These are challenges that we haven’t solved yet and are challenges that would only be aggravated through continued urban sprawl. Studies by the Neptis Foundation, an independent privately capitalized charity located in Toronto, found several major benefits to intensification. First and foremost, it prevents continued loss of green space throughout the area. Less urban sprawl means less reason to develop on our greenspaces or continue eroding the ever-decreasing Greenbelt. It will increase the use of public transportation and improve the service levels. Studies shown that when a city develops a high enough population density, desire to use automobiles as a method of transit decrease and other modes of transportation such as cycling, public transit and walking increase. Additionally, higher population density makes it easier to justify new routes for public transit as well as increases to the transit budget, the larger the population the service benefits, the larger the budget. Finally, Hamilton needs to concentrate new development on the already built area to ease the strain on our current infrastructure. Intensification has been shown to make more efficient use of urban infrastructure like sewer pipes and water pipes, as well as ‘soft’ infrastructure, like schools or social services. Basically, urban sprawl requires and expansion of our cities services and aggravates our weaknesses, but intensification allows us to avoid spreading our resources thin and provide a higher quality of life to all in the City of Hamilton.
Wilson, Maureen Yes Hamilton must concentrate its future development within the existing urban environment for four primary reasons:

1/ Financial

There are cost savings to be had from more efficient urban form.

The Halifax region, similar in size to Hamilton, calculated the annual cost of servicing an average suburban household at $3462 compared to an annual urban cost of $1416. (Halifax Regional Municipality - HRM: Quantifying the Costs & Benefits to HR, Residents, the Environment to Alternative Growth Scenarios. April 2013). The City of Edmonton calculated that 17 of 40 planned new developments would exceed a cost of $4 billion to residents over the next 60 years. (Diamond; Globe and Mail. May 11, 2018)

Knowledge of this cost impact has been known for some time. A 1995 study conducted by Dr. Pamela Blais revealed that the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) could save $700 million to $1 billion annually with a more compact form of urban development. (Blais. Perverse Cities, 2010)

Denser development can also generate significant revenues for a municipality. On behalf of interested cities, urban planner Joe Minicozzi calculates the property tax revenue from different kinds of development on a per hectare basis. He has proven that denser, mid-rise buildings in downtowns offer the best return on investment for cities (Minicozzi. The Smart Math of Mixed-use Development, Planetizen. 2011)

Despite this fiscal imperative, Dr. Blais and others have shown there to be hidden subsidies and a pricing system that serve as disincentives to urban development. Dr. Blais revealed that from 2001 to 2011, approximately 7000 residential units were added to Hamilton’s urban area yet the area still suffered a loss of between 6000 to 7000 people. During the same period, approximately 10,000 units were added to Hamilton’s greenfield area with a net population gain of 35,000. Despite the hopeful discussions of urban renewal in Hamilton, it is not keeping pace with suburban expansion and not enough to stem urban population loss.

2/ Environmental

Urban sprawl has resulted in the loss of natural areas and ecosystems with the fragmentation of forests and loss of wetland. Along with rising temperatures, this is the greatest threat to our biodiversity.

The loss of natural surfaces and forests affects our water supply and water quality. Asphalt and concrete cannot absorb water to refill our aquifers.

Finally, our land development pattern is dependent on the private automobile. The need to drive longer distances will continue to contribute to rising levels of harmful greenhouse gases. In addition, these developments must be serviced by energy such as garbage and recycling trucks along with the extension of pumped water sources.

As Ward 1 Hamilton City Councillor, I support a full and thorough review of Hamilton’s development charges bylaw to ensure it is structured in such a way as to remove disincentives to urban development.

3/ Stablization and Enrichment of Existing Neighbourhoods

Intensification has the potential to stabilize vulnerable neighbourhoods and address declining classroom enrolment and support existing commercial activity.

4/ Public Health

There are numerous negative health impacts associated with sprawl beginning with injurious air emissions from the greater reliance on the private automobile and the need to driver longer distance without a sufficient public transit system.

There is a also growing body of research linking illness to social isolation. Single use development (i.e. only residential) combined with an absence of density and reliance on the private automobile means that older residents are at risk.

Response Summary (top)

Brief ResponseCount% of Total

3 Candidates Have Not Responded (top)

Ward 01
Bakht, Syed
Geertsma, Jordan
Lazich, Carol E.