The Hamilton Spectator

Boost home supply, not density

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Re: We need homes families can afford (March 15)

Suggestion­s to solve Canada’s housing affordabil­ity crisis by “gentle density” don’t work in real life. For instance, Hamilton’s decision to abandon decades of proven urban planning and allow people to convert single-family homes is creating rental spaces and fewer, not more, ownership options.

Case in point: My family sold a single-family home on the Mountain. The new owner then converted it into three rental units. This helps the rental market, but has removed another affordable single-family home. As this happens across the city, the remaining single-family homes will become more expensive, partly because there is less supply, and partly because buyers will have to compete with investors.

This is happening because of a shortage of affordable land for single-family homes. It can’t be solved without zoning new land for housing.

Popular belief suggests we have a shortage of farmland in Canada, but again, economics don’t bear this out. According to the Canadian AgriFood Trade Alliance, we export almost 50 per cent of our produce ($82 billion per year).

We are forcing Canadian house prices ever higher to allow farmers higher profits from overseas sales. We have more than 150,000,000 acres of farmland. If we allowed developmen­t on just 10 per cent of that land, we could build almost two million detached single-family homes or 12 million high-density homes. This would still see one-third of our produce being shipped to foreign markets.

Increased supply in the only way to create affordable homes.

Lee Fairbanks, Hamilton

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