Green­fields help push up taxes

The Hamilton Spectator - - OPINION -

RE: How fight­ing ur­ban sprawl in­flates hous­ing prices (June 26)

Wen­dell Cox’s su­per­fi­cial ex­pla­na­tion has one le­git­i­mate as­pect: Any re­stric­tions on ser­viced land will in­crease house prices. He fo­cuses on ur­ban bound­aries and con­ve­niently omits zon­ing re­stric­tions, build­ing costs and the “big­ger pic­ture.”

He in­ten­tion­ally side­steps the fi­nan­cial con­se­quences of greenfield de­vel­op­ment, in par­tic­u­lar the unan­i­mous con­clu­sion of ev­ery le­git­i­mate study done in the last 45 years de­tail­ing the fact that greenfield de­vel­op­ment actually raises taxes for all oth­ers.

Hamil­ton’s no­tice­ably high tax rates are par­tially due to a sprawl­ing, over­built, in­ef­fi­cient, un­der­funded and un­sus­tain­able in­fra­struc­ture built be­fore the es­tab­lish­ment of the green­belt. Nor does he men­tion the ob­vi­ous neg­a­tive ef­fect on the price of lo­cal fresh food.

Blam­ing the af­ford­abil­ity prob­lem on one fac­tor is fin­ger-point­ing at its worst. We need broad-based so­lu­tions that are good for so­ci­ety, the en­vi­ron­ment, over­all health, lo­cal food pro­duc­tion, mu­nic­i­pal in­fra­struc­ture, af­ford­able hous­ing and as­sisted hous­ing. Con­sider start­ing with re­new­ing post­war sub­urbs that are past their due dates. This can lead to af­ford­abil­ity, ef­fi­ciency, fewer taxes, bet­ter tran­sit and less in­fra­struc­ture per capita. David Braden, Puslinch

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