One person’s sprawl is another’s neighborhood
The movement to restrict future growth within existing urban boundaries is wrong in many ways.
Stop The Sprawl is based on fear and anger, not facts and common sense. Those who oppose the expansion of our border cite the loss of farmland and climate change to defend their point of view. Both are misguided.
There are better options. Climate change will be solved over the next 30 years by human ingenuity and technological advancements, not by undermining the quality of life of future generations.
Automatic emissions? All major automakers have pledged to use 100% electric cars by 2035. By the time these residential developments are completed, there will be virtually no gasoline-powered cars on the roads.
Homes are built for 100 years or more. Development should be linked to different criteria to make good long-term decisions and not to fear and gut reactions.
Changes can be made to reduce the climate impact of housing. Heat pumps instead of gas furnaces. Roof solar panels. More insulation. More trees preserved and new plants. Carbon capture. New materials. A green industry.
Houses could be smaller, roads narrower, setbacks reduced to reduce maintenance costs for the City.
There is no shortage of farmland to feed Canadians. More than half of our products are exported. Over 70 percent of our farmland is used for animal feed and grazing. If every Hamiltonian ate four ounces of meat or cheese less per week, we could save the 3,300 acres of land in question. If we reduce exports, we will have land for housing for the next century.
But that only tells part of the story. Today, much of our fresh produce is grown in greenhouses, which could be located in industrial areas. Every year more and more produce is grown in hydroponic warehouses, where multi-tiered cultivation creates more produce than could ever be grown on the land itself.
Rather than cramming unfortunate newcomers into the brownfields downtown, these lands could be zoned for industrial agriculture. Commercial developments generate more taxes than residential ones.
Let us put the well-being of Canadian families ahead of the export benefits of the agriculture industry.
In the meantime, is anyone thinking of the 230,000 who should move here? If we can’t provide people with the quality of life Canadians demand, should we build?
The debate focused on how to maximize development costs and minimize the cost of services provided by the City. The emphasis is on quantity, not quality of life. People are treated like commodities – where can we (store) them?
Who are these people and who speaks for them? What type of accommodation will they want? Right now, house prices are attracting higher income people to Hamilton. If we want this trend to continue, we need to provide them with the housing they want. Otherwise, we will only attract low income people. Which group will build a better city, support our sports, our arts and our charities; create jobs ?
Yes, we need to house our current low-income earners, but should we plan to attract more of them as high-income earners move to cities with better housing? Is this good planning?
Let’s ask the 90 percent of Hamiltonians who prefer new residents to be housed in concrete boxes stacked on top of each other in the less desirable areas of the city: “What kind of house would you like your children in, little ones?” -children and great-grandchildren being raised in? “
I think the answer would be: “in detached single family homes”.
Right now 56% of homes in Hamilton are single-family detached homes, so let’s build them along with multi-family dwellings. This will require new land, as downtown land is too expensive for single-family homes.
It’s interesting how people use the English language to bend public opinion. Critics call the housing estates “urban sprawl,” passing it off as a planning error.
In fact, our meticulously planned housing estates are the envy of the world. Talk to any parent and this “sprawl” would be their family’s favorite home. Likewise, the rest of the world scoffs at the claim that we have no more land for housing. Check the facts.
Canada has 10,000,000 square kilometers of land and a population density of four people per square kilometer (compared to 33 for the United States). We have over 2.4 billion acres of land. The 3,300-acre development on the edge of Hamilton will not have a major impact.
To suggest that we do not have enough land to house the next generation in quality family homes, and that housing cannot be part of the new green economy is simply not true.
Lee Fairbanks is a community activist. His latest activity was to ask the City to use LRT money to replace all public transportation with electric buses.