NIMBYs and YIMBYs: why is this de­vel­op­ment hap­pen­ing in my neigh­bour­hood and what can I do about it?

The Hamilton Spectator - - HAMILTON BUSINESS - Suzanne Mam­mel Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer HHHBA For more in­for­ma­tion on this ar­ti­cle or to con­tact Suzanne Mam­mel, 905-575-3344, info@hhhba.ca; www.hhhba.ca, @HHHBAOf­fi­cial

En­gage­ment. In­volve­ment. These are things that the pub­lic doesn’t of­ten think about when it comes to de­vel­op­ment and re­de­vel­op­ment is­sues in their cities and neigh­bour­hoods. Of­ten, it is an afterthought when the con­struc­tion equip­ment rolls onto a site and de­mol­ishes a build­ing, and ser­vic­ing starts. And peo­ple ask, why didn’t I know about this? Why is this hap­pen­ing here?

Many com­plain. It isn’t what they want. They un­der­stand that their city or town is grow­ing… but they don’t want it here. Not in my back yard (NIMBY).

But there’s a grow­ing group of peo­ple, gen­uinely in­ter­ested in what re­de­vel­op­ment can do for their neigh­bour­hood: per­haps its re­viv­ing a neigh­bour­hood with pop­u­la­tion de­cline over the years, that is older, more es­tab­lished, and closer to an ur­ban core. Or per­haps it’s a neigh­bour­hood with big­ger lots that can be in­ten­si­fied by sev­er­ance, or other means, to add den­sity to a neigh­bour­hood. They’re known to say: Yes, in my back yard (YIMBY).

Re­gard­less of which side you fall on, let’s look at why this is hap­pen­ing. There are lots of rea­sons, and it is of­ten com­pli­cated. A few of the main points are dis­cussed be­low.

There are pro­vin­cial rules of course: The Growth Plan cur­rently man­dates that each year, 40% of new pop­u­la­tion want­ing to live in our cities is ac­com­mo­dated within the “built bound­ary” – that is the limit of where hous­ing was in 2006. That may oc­cur as a re­de­vel­oped school site that is sold for de­vel­op­ment, a lot sev­er­ance, the con­struc­tion of a mid rise or high rise build­ing where there was once a two story struc­ture. Mean­ing, for ev­ery 100 peo­ple who move here, 40 are to be ac­com­mo­dated in ex­ist­ing neigh­bour­hoods. Of course, in Burling­ton it’s re­ally 100% - the last big sub­di­vi­sion is be­ing built now, and be­cause it’s ur­ban bound­ary has been reached, it is now 100% re­de­vel­op­ment. And as time goes on, the Pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment has in­di­cated that in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion num­ber will in­crease: to 50% by the next mu­nic­i­pal re­view for each town/city/re­gion and 60% by the year 2031.

Then there is the fi­nan­cial as­pect: it makes sense to lo­cate peo­ple close to ex­ist­ing in­fra­struc­ture, and make the best use of those in­vest­ments. Re­gard­less of whether the in­vest­ment is pub­lic or pri­vate, an in­vest­ment into tran­sit, parks, busi­ness/com­mer­cial uses, sew­ers, wa­ter and roads should be well uti­lized. This isn’t to say there aren’t costs as­so­ci­ated with re­de­vel­op­ment: there sure are. While there may be some ca­pac­ity in sew­ers or roads, it isn’t in­fi­nite. But an in­vest­ment into some­thing like LRT or Go sta­tions, war­rants a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of riders, for whom it makes sense to pro­vide liv­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties in close prox­im­ity. An LRT rider is not typ­i­cally from Bin­brook or Wa­ter­down – it will ben­e­fit a grow­ing num­ber of res­i­dents along its route. Sim­i­larly for Go sta­tions: the City of Burling­ton is work­ing on its mo­bil­ity hubs study, look­ing at ways to de­velop/re­de­velop ar­eas in close prox­im­ity to their Go Sta­tions and down­town tran­sit hub. The two Go Sta­tions in Hamil­ton are driv­ers for re­de­vel­op­ment ac­tiv­ity there.

And lastly there is im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy: our Cities are ex­pected to grow sig­nif­i­cantly be­tween now and 2041 – Hamil­ton’s pop­u­la­tion is ex­pected to hit 780,000 and the Re­gion of Hal­ton, 1,000,000 peo­ple.

So re­de­vel­op­ment is go­ing to oc­cur. Our cities are not al­lowed to say “no we won’t”. And we all know that change is of­ten dif­fi­cult to ac­cept. What can you do about it? Be in­formed. Be­come ed­u­cated on the why, the how, etc. It can be a good thing – gen­tle den­sity (like sec­ondary suites in larger homes, a lot sev­er­ance, laneway hous­ing) can bring new life and vi­brancy to a com­mu­nity whose pop­u­la­tion has been de­clin­ing. It can take an un­der-uti­lized com­mer­cial build­ing and trans­form it into a mixed use com­mu­nity. Va­ri­ety in sup­ply helps hous­ing prices stay more rea­son­able – one of the is­sues with soar­ing prices over the last few years is a lack of the right kind of sup­ply – hous­ing choices in a form and lo­ca­tion where peo­ple want to live.

But you can have a say. Our Cities man­date pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion for many de­vel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tions. Open houses and in­for­ma­tion ses­sions for res­i­dents are of­ten held, or in­for­ma­tion pack­ages made avail­able. Go. Ask ques­tions. But un­der­stand that say­ing “I don’t want de­vel­op­ment to oc­cur here” – isn’t likely go­ing to be suc­cess­ful. There are ar­eas where de­vel­op­ment will be lim­ited, and oth­ers where it will be sig­nif­i­cant. Learn why. Ask what’s in store for your neigh­bour­hood.

Be­cause when the ex­ca­va­tor is pulling up next door, it’s too late.

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