Special Report: Peak Oil

Whistle Stops and Sustainable Cities

Hamilton, with its extensive network of inner city rail lines and spurs, and proximity to an even more cost effective mode of transporting goods (marine!) is ideally suited to capitalizing on the skyrocketing cost of diesel.

By Jason Allen
Published March 26, 2010

I recently stumbled across Raise the Hammer's extensive list of postings about Peak Oil, and thought I would continue a thread that started there a few years ago.

In many of the posts, Ryan describes how land use is going to have to change dramatically in the face of $3-4 a litre gasoline.

It has been well documented how the days of suburbia are severely numbered, and yet the issue remains: all of those houses are there, but without a huge quantity of fossil fuels to power the machines needed to rip them all out, the land is useless for farming.

So what to do? People won't be willing to abandon their houses en masse and flee for the inner cities (which would soon become unlivable) or the countryside (where they would be trapped in one location by the price of gas).

Whistle Stops

That's when the discussion around our house turned to rail. I'm from out west, and on the Prairies, rail has an almost mythical quality to it. People I grew up with had grandparents who had been homesteaders - the area was settled that recently.

After reading a report in one of the RTH blogs about how rail was ten times as efficient at moving people or freight as road, it got me thinking about communities out west, and how they sprang up.

Basically, the railroad companies decided where the towns would be across much of the prairies by deciding to plop down small 'whistle stop' stations that were in areas where they could reach a reasonable number of customers (for the freight, mainly) within a one-day wagon ride.

Now, I don't think we'll be back to horse and buggy any time soon, but the general model may not be a bad one.

Hamilton right now is looking at adding a GO transit stop en route to Niagara Falls. This would mean a whole new cluster of activity and spikes in property values right around James St. North. The gentrification that has already begun would start to seriously accelerate.

Freedom of the Rails

All this is to say that in a world of only driving your car for 'special occasions', people are probably not going to want to just stay in their communities all the time, as walkable as they may need to be. Maybe our kids will, or theirs, but we are too accustomed to the freedom of the open road.

Maybe if we can't afford that, we'll settle for the freedom of the rails.

At the same time people are going to need to have relatively affordable access to goods - whether it be food, or building materials, or other essential items for daily living ($2.49 plastic toothbrush holders from Wal Mart do not count).

Stores and businesses located close to small rail spur lines, or even close to existing rail stops (which may become mixed use rather quickly) will have a decided advantage.

Hamilton Well Situated

Hamilton, with its extensive network of inner city rail lines and spurs, and proximity to an even more cost effective mode of transporting goods (marine!) is ideally suited to capitalizing on the skyrocketing cost of diesel.

Nearly everyone who has looked at the issue agrees we will be there in the next five to ten years.

So why, then, is the new president of the Chamber of Commercethreatening to bulldog through the approval of the Aerotropolis? Does he not realize that kerosene (jet fuel) is going to be every more expensive than diesel?

Somebody needs to do their homework.


First published on Jason Allen's blog

Jason Allen is a chronic hive whacker in the Kirkendall Neighbourhood.

34 Comments

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By Really? (registered) | Posted March 26, 2010 at 11:12:46

Hamilton is perfectly situated, actually... It's just too bad our 'Leaders' wont take advantage of that!

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted March 26, 2010 at 14:39:54

"In many of the posts, Ryan describes how land use is going to have to change dramatically in the face of $3-4 a litre gasoline."

"Does he not realize that kerosene (jet fuel) is going to be every more expensive than diesel?"

What evidence to you have for this? Do you not realize how much more fuel efficient modern planes are today?

Can you please give us a date when you expect to see gasoline prices hit $3-4/litre so we can then hold you accountable for these nonsensical doomsday articles?

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By thompsmr (registered) | Posted March 26, 2010 at 15:07:17

"all of those houses are there, but without a huge quantity of fossil fuels to power the machines needed to rip them all out, the land is useless for farming."

I'm not an engineer, but how is it that a modern wood-framed or brick house would be beyond destruction by some well-skilled workers with the right tools and skills. Folks like the Mennonites seem to be getting by without much fossil fuel for a while, no?

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted March 26, 2010 at 16:15:48

"I'm not an engineer, but how is it that a modern wood-framed or brick house would be beyond destruction by some well-skilled workers with the right tools and skills. Folks like the Mennonites seem to be getting by without much fossil fuel for a while, no?" thompsmr

And why do we have to rip them out at all? If the world sees $3-4 a litre gasoline many things can and will change. Perhaps more people will telecommute? Maybe the burbs will be forced to become more livable with a wider variety of zonings? Maybe people will just buy electric cars or ride mopeds?

Why does the author assume we will be tearing down suburbs when gasoline hits $3 a litre? Frankly that is a pretty ridiculous statement.

This article has some okay points (e.g., Hamilton is well situated) but too much of it is biased, speculative, clap-trap.

Comment edited by Kiely on 2010-03-26 15:16:55

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By thompsmr (registered) | Posted March 26, 2010 at 17:14:52

Why does the author assume we will be tearing down suburbs when >gasoline hits $3 a litre? Frankly that is a pretty ridiculous >statement.

I often wonder if there's a group of people out there that actually want to see energy prices rises in a way that is fast, disruptive and harmful to the core of society. Do we really want to hope to live in the violence that comes with a tribalistic resource/energy scarce environment?

Combine this with the continued us vs them mentality towards families who chose to live the suburbs, and I'm left wondering if we're just given up on working towards real civic problem-solving.

Comment edited by thompsmr on 2010-03-26 16:15:29

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By jasonallen (anonymous) | Posted March 26, 2010 at 17:16:29

@Kiely - 'Biased?' - It is an opinion piece, isn't it?
As for 'speculative claptrap' - How about more of a history lesson? In early 2009 the Globe and Mail reported that the city govts of Flint, MI was openly discussing allowing people in far flung suburbs to 'swap' their homes for ones closer to downtown at the height of the recession? Why? Because with the reduced tax base they could no longer afford to supply garbage pick-up, sewer and water to streets with one family on them. So they were going to bulldoze them and return them to farmland. At that point gas was around $1.40 or so a litre. Now, Hamilton is a more resilient economy than Flint at $1.40 a litre - but at $3.00? Sure technological improvements will help, but the reality is that parts of the suburbs are probably going to empty out - if for no other reason than that agriculture is going to be a pretty attractive job option for many people, and commuting won't be an option - in much the same way it was in Cuba during their peak oil crisis.
Oh - and at the risk of feeding a notorious troll - $3.00 a litre gas? 2025. We have just enough time to take action - if we start now.

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By jason allen (anonymous) | Posted March 26, 2010 at 17:17:06

@Kiely - 'Biased?' - It is an opinion piece, isn't it?
As for 'speculative claptrap' - How about more of a history lesson? In early 2009 the Globe and Mail reported that the city govts of Flint, MI was openly discussing allowing people in far flung suburbs to 'swap' their homes for ones closer to downtown at the height of the recession? Why? Because with the reduced tax base they could no longer afford to supply garbage pick-up, sewer and water to streets with one family on them. So they were going to bulldoze them and return them to farmland. At that point gas was around $1.40 or so a litre. Now, Hamilton is a more resilient economy than Flint at $1.40 a litre - but at $3.00? Sure technological improvements will help, but the reality is that parts of the suburbs are probably going to empty out - if for no other reason than that agriculture is going to be a pretty attractive job option for many people, and commuting won't be an option - in much the same way it was in Cuba during their peak oil crisis.
Oh - and at the risk of feeding a notorious troll - $3.00 a litre gas? 2025. We have just enough time to take action - if we start now.

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By thompsmr (registered) | Posted March 26, 2010 at 17:42:28

Now, Hamilton is a more resilient economy than Flint at $1.40 a litre >- but at $3.00?

Hamilton's major employers are now health sciences and education. That's a bit of a different employment/tax situation then Flint. So how is it that our economies are similar?

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted March 26, 2010 at 18:14:36

"So how is it that our economies are similar?"

People live and breathe. People need to procure goods and services to live, including food and other consumables. People need to travel to their jobs, friends, relatives, shopping, appointments, etc. People don't like having cancer and asthma. People don't like having cost of living too stressful or unattainable.

The similarities outweigh the differences, in that both cities are inhabited by HUMANS. /rant

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 26, 2010 at 20:36:45

So why, then, is the new president of the Chamber of Commercethreatening to bulldog through the approval of the Aerotropolis? Does he not realize that kerosene (jet fuel) is going to be every more expensive than diesel?

Umm, are you not familiar with which organization the new Chamber boss came from?

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By schmadrian (registered) | Posted March 26, 2010 at 20:45:30

I'm always a bit stumped as to why people (apparently) assume that the fossil-fuel-reliant Personal Transport Vehicle paradigm is here to stay forever and every, Amen.

Why?

Why would anyone assume that in a world where innovation has driven corporate-based business (and our economy for God-knows-how-long), that because oil is going to run out, that therefore, the notion of people having cars is also going to go the way of the Dodo bird?

I'm on board for all manner of efforts to shift towards different community building, an increased emphasis on quality high-density urban living as well as public transit that facilitates these concepts...but I really don't follow the logic that 'the evil car' is going to go away. Disappear with the last oil barrel.

It's not.

It's going to change its profile, yes. It's going to change its fuel source, yes. But it ain't going anywhere.

(And this comes from a non-owner.)

I love some of the speculative thinking on 'a better tomorrow'. I'd just prefer it be a little more grounded in reality...even if this means that the person doing the thinking has to consider the unpalatable.

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By JonC (registered) | Posted March 27, 2010 at 10:23:51

@mike on the mountain That describes all cities, so.... we'll be as successful as NY? Flint had serious problems due to being entirely reliant on one industry that up and left town, leaving over half the homes vacant.

I fully appreciate that the existing suburb model isn't efficient enough to sustain itself post-carbon, but if people are going to make analogies, they need to make sense.

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By thompsmr (registered) | Posted March 27, 2010 at 11:03:44

but if people are going to make analogies, they need to make sense.

true, but you know how the internets are.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted March 27, 2010 at 14:21:29

Jason Allen, maybe I was a bit harsh but really a little less sensationalism might help you make your point, which in principal I do agree with. Things will need to change but the "teardown the suburbs" rhetoric is a little over the top don't you think? Our society will not be able to support a wholesale shift from suburban to urban living. I hear you, we need to start now and take action but there are a multitude of solutions to consider besides just eliminating suburbs.

As for my "bias" statement, yes I understand this is an opinion piece; but the intent of any opinion piece is to attempt to change other opinions is it not? What I'm suggesting is that perhaps starting from a biased opinion rooted in the extreme position (i.e., teardown the burbs) is not the way to get people to see things your way. Polar extreme opinions tend to be entrenched opinions with very little ability to find common ground.

Getting people to move miles starts with inches.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted March 27, 2010 at 18:11:06

Things will need to change but the "teardown the suburbs" rhetoric is a little over the top don't you think?

Actually, a number of US cities are in fact tearing down suburban neighbourhoods where the maintenance costs on foreclosed homes has become untenable. Abandoned malls and big box stores are being demolished as well. Many are also being re-purposed, so there's no reason to believe that the demolition of suburbs will become widespread, but neither is it an outlandish idea.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted March 27, 2010 at 19:50:27

"Actually, a number of US cities are in fact tearing down suburban neighbourhoods where the maintenance costs on foreclosed homes has become untenable. Abandoned malls and big box stores are being demolished as well. Many are also being re-purposed, so there's no reason to believe that the demolition of suburbs will become widespread, but neither is it an outlandish idea." - Highwater

Sure, but that isn't quite the same thing. The people left those neighbourhoods long before they needed to be torn down. And where did they go? Even further away from the urban centres.

Cleveland is a perfect example of what you mention. Euclid is a "first ring" suburb of Cleveland that has many largely abandoned sections. But don't believe for a second those people left that suburb for downtown Cleveland, in fact in most cases they have moved even further from the urban centre. Detroit, Cleveland, St. Louis are all examples of what you have mentioned (rotting, abandoned suburbs) but the suburbs were abandoned for suburbs even further from the city centre, so not quite the same thing highwater.

In those US cities, "white flight" (as it is known in the US) from the city core to the suburbs left the inner city poor that was followed by white flight from those first ring suburbs to suburbs being built even further away leaving the first ring suburbs poor. In St. Louis for example the suburbs are called the counties because the suburbs literally stretch right out into completely different counties.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted March 28, 2010 at 12:53:36

Sure, but that isn't quite the same thing. The people left those neighbourhoods long before they needed to be torn down. And where did they go? Even further away from the urban centres.

That certainly describes the "white flight" that hollowed out US inner cities in the 60's and 70's, but the people who abandoned the suburban and exurban neighbourhoods during the current ongoing foreclosure crisis haven't moved further out, they've moved, well, who knows where? I don't really have a read on it. The southwest, where water scarcity is becoming an increasing concern, is the hardest hit and this is where we are seeing most of the abandoned malls and big box stores. I'm not claiming Jason's predictions will come true necessarily, only that they are not as outlandish as you suggest.

As an aside, and somewhat off topic, Phoenix has been referred to as a giant Ponzi scheme, an entire economy based on the continued construction of housing and attendant retail. It should stand as a chilling warning to Hamilton, where we are building ever more residential sprawl, not because people are moving here for jobs, but simply for cheap housing, and presto, we have councillors calling for the zoning on employment lands to be changed to include retail, as though the creation of a handful of low-paying retail jobs is going to save us. The sprawl developments in Winona and the South Mountain are being built on economic quicksand. Sooner or later the bubble is going to burst. The developers will have long since cashed in, and the taxpayers will be left holding the bag.

Comment edited by highwater on 2010-03-28 11:55:32

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted March 28, 2010 at 15:25:38

"That certainly describes the "white flight" that hollowed out US inner cities in the 60's and 70's" - highwater

60's and 70's Highwater??? I've been watching my relatives in St. Louis do this almost non-stop for the past 30 years. it seemed like every year you'd go down they would live further from St. Louis. If we're going to look at the US as an example, then the fact is many inner cities are on the verge of being bankrupt, some have seen the decay spread to the first level of suburbs. Yes, it has been exacerbated by the mortgage crisis, but this was starting even before that.

At the same time suburbs are becoming more urbanized, businesses are moving closer to their employees in the suburbs and many suburbs are building pseudo "downtown" walking malls. Alpharetta, Georgia, a "suburb" of Atlanta, is a good example of this. Siemens and many other large companies have located their offices and manufacturing facilities there, it has mixed and higher density zoning, etc… With all these factors working against cities and with a variety of solutions available besides "teardown the burbs", urban centres can't simply rely on pending $3-4 gasoline, they need to be doing everything they can to attract and retain businesses and people… or there may be nothing for people to move back to. That's all I'm saying.

Comment edited by Kiely on 2010-03-28 14:26:00

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By highwater (registered) | Posted March 28, 2010 at 16:10:42

60's and 70's Highwater??? I've been watching my relatives in St. Louis do this almost non-stop for the past 30 years.

Didn't mean to imply that it hasn't continued, just that the flight in the 60's and 70's is what really did in the inner cities. Everything since then has just been compounding the damage.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted March 28, 2010 at 19:14:54

True, highwater. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

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By adam2 (anonymous) | Posted March 28, 2010 at 19:46:22

People are falling in love with the city again. "White flight" in Hamilton was very localized over the past 40 years. It has not spread across the entire lower city. We have strong middle class neighbourhoods living within a few kilometres of the downtown core: south of Gage park, Kirkendall, Durand, Westdale. This is why we can see pockets of revitalization spring up so quickly like Locke St, James St N, the waterfront, Ottawa St.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted March 29, 2010 at 13:19:27

"People are falling in love with the city again. "White flight" in Hamilton was very localized over the past 40 years. It has not spread across the entire lower city. We have strong middle class neighbourhoods living within a few kilometres of the downtown core: south of Gage park, Kirkendall, Durand, Westdale. This is why we can see pockets of revitalization spring up so quickly like Locke St, James St N, the waterfront, Ottawa St." - Adam2

I don't think you can call what we have hear "white flight". I don't know of anyone here who has put their house on the market because someone with darker skin moved in next door, but I have witnessed that very thing in the US. I'm not saying racism doesn't exist here, far from it, but having spent a lot of time on both sides of the border I know it is much more tangible in the US.

I also see a large percentage of urban white poverty here. In the US urban poverty is generally black/hispanic and rural poverty is white. We don't have quite those same divides here.

What has gutted our urban centre is the death of the blue collar middle class, not white flight.

Comment edited by Kiely on 2010-03-29 12:25:51

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By J. Random Human (anonymous) | Posted March 30, 2010 at 12:07:35

The "white flight" from Hamilton might be more accurately characterized as "white collar flight".

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By highwater (registered) | Posted March 31, 2010 at 16:18:02

Timely article in the LA Times.

Thanks to overbuilding, demographic changes and shifts in preferences, by 2030 there could be 25 million more suburban homes on large lots than are needed, said Arthur C. Nelson of the University of Utah. Nelson believes that as baby boomers age and as younger generations buy real estate, the population will abandon remote McMansions for smaller homes closer to shops, jobs and the other necessities of life.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted March 31, 2010 at 16:36:38

"...the population will abandon remote McMansions for smaller homes closer to shops, jobs and the other necessities of life."

One question. When many people are ill prepared for retirement and even more people's homes are their retirement, how do you ditch a home supposedly no one will want for a high demand urban residence?

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By highwater (registered) | Posted March 31, 2010 at 16:50:34

The gist of the article is that the oversupply of homes will cause real estate values to fall across the board, making the high demand urban residences more affordable, and eliminating much of the need to 'drive till you qualify'. The suburbs then become the new slums as Leinberger has predicted. The gated community profiled in the article is a classic example of this phenomenon.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted March 31, 2010 at 20:43:19

how do you ditch a home supposedly no one will want for a high demand urban residence?

You take a bath and kick yourself for not reading the market better.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted April 01, 2010 at 09:20:19

"The gist of the article is that the oversupply of homes will cause real estate values to fall across the board, making the high demand urban residences more affordable..." - highwater

But what this article is saying is you will have essentially two markets. A low demand suburban market and a high demand urban market. I don't see a wholesale shift from suburban to urban living driving down urban house prices. I wouldn't count on a "cross the board" drop either low demand markets coexist right next to high demand markets now, (e.g., Burlington and Hamilton) why will this situation be any different?

Do some people not realise the negative effects on our economy and society this will have? Some folks here seem to be quite eager for this "shift" to happen. Careful what you wish for, if and when these shifts happen it will be the middle and lower class that get screwed. We need to be thinking of ways to avoid this: urbanizing suburbs, mass transit solutions, alternative energies, smaller more efficient vehicles, etc… Sitting back eagerly wringing our hands in wait for the collapse of the burbs will have significant consequences.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted April 01, 2010 at 09:23:28

"You take a bath and kick yourself for not reading the market better." - z jones

Sadly, that is probably exactly what will happen and I don't know how many more people "taking a bath" our society can handle.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted April 01, 2010 at 10:33:58

But what this article is saying is you will have essentially two markets. A low demand suburban market and a high demand urban market.

There is a way to bring down the entry price for the urban housing market: build more of it. Hey, we could start now! :)

I don't see a wholesale shift from suburban to urban living driving down urban house prices.

People will move when it makes more sense to cut their losses and move than it makes to continue trying to make suburban living workable.

I expect we'll eventually see something of a restoration of the traditional urban model (wealthy people in the core, less affluent people in the periphery). Of course, there are plenty of things we can do to transform our suburban built environment to make it more livable:

  • Streetcar Suburbs based around commuter transit nodes;
  • Infill construction on those big suburban lots, adaptive reuse (e.g. of garages) and relaxed zoning rules (e.g. to allow small commercial businesses to locate in residential ares);
  • Adding sidewalks and off-street paths to make curvilinear suburan road networks like this one more navigable to people on foot or on bike;

and so on.

RTH actually ran a series of articles a few years ago looking at opportunities for making the suburbs more livable in the event of declining oil production. We managed to get some great essays by people like Nikos Salingaros, Lakis Polycarpou, Richard Register, Al Cormier, Dan Chiras, David Holmgren, and Paris Rutherford.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted April 01, 2010 at 11:34:03

"There is a way to bring down the entry price for the urban housing market: build more of it. Hey, we could start now! :)" - Ryan

Absolutely, you will have to have excess properties available in order to accommodate the shifting demographic otherwise there will be a housing shortage and that is not going to lower prices. But will anyone build it if they don't see demand??? That is going to be something that will need to be addressed. The current situation with the Connaught demonstrates many developers will not build until demand is there… or millions of dollars in government money.

"Of course, there are plenty of things we can do to transform our suburban built environment to make it more livable..." - Ryan

In my opinion, this is going to have to be part of the equation.

Thanks for the link Ryan, I will have to read that series of articles on making suburbs more livable. I have seen some efforts toward this goal firsthand during my travels but would like to read more about it.

Someday I'm going to have to read that guide to comment formatting... : )

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted April 01, 2010 at 12:31:53

But will anyone build it if they don't see demand?

It's a funny business. Due to the entwined legacies of low-density, single-use zoning and the building industry's experience and expertise at building to the code, there really aren't many examples around here of newly built urban forms.

The developers defend their ongoing sprawl construction (e.g. Summit Park) by pointing out that this is what customers buy; but since it's still more or less illegal to build anything else, those customers aren't exactly making their decisions in a free market.

In places where zoning codes are replaced with form-based codes (e.g. the King-Spadina Secondary Plan, which I keep banging on about), developers have no problems filling up high quality urban properties and charging strong prices.

In Hamilton, the few urban buildings that have actually been constructed have been very successful at building out and filling up (e.g. the 66 Bay South conversion).

That tells me the demand is there but it's latent.

The first order of business is to establish a level playing field by a) fixing our building regulations and b) cutting out the perverse incentives to build low density single use on suburban greenfields.

Then developers might get a better sense of what people are looking to buy.

I have a friend who grew up in Portland and whose father was a property developer. When Portland first established its visionary urban regulations in the 1970s (firm urban boundary, form-based codes, dense mixed use, high quality transit), the developers went ballistic. They saw their way of life (building single family houses on greenfields) go up in smoke and insisted that the changes would put them all out of business.

Of course, what really happened is that they discovered there's a huge demand for high quality urban life, switched from building houses to building condos, and started making money by the truckload.

As I argued in my recent survivorship bias article, existing business owners don't always know what's best for their own business prospects, let alone for the city as a whole.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted April 01, 2010 at 12:41:41

Someday I'm going to have to read that guide to comment formatting... : )

Here's a mini-guide to get you started. The idea behind Markdown was to use the established formatting conventions from email/listservs rather than invent a whole new syntax.

Block Quotations

To quote an extended block of text, enter a greater-than symbol > followed by the text you want to quote:

> quoted text

It displays like this:

quoted text

Emphasis

To emphasize some text (i.e. have it displayed in italics), surround the emphasized word(s) with asterisks:

This sentence has some *emphasized words* in it.

It displays like this:

This sentence has some emphasized words in it.

Strong Emphasis

To strongly emphasize some text (i.e. have it displayed in bold), surround the strongly emphasized word(s) with double asterisks:

This sentence has some **strongly emphasized words** in it.

It displays like this:

This sentence has some strongly emphasized words in it.

Hyperlinks

To add a hyperlink to some text, surround the words with square brackets and then follow it with the URL surrounded by parentheses:

This sentence has some [hyperlinked text](http://raisethehammer.org) in it.

It displays like this:

This sentence has some hyperlinked text in it.

Notes:

  • The text comes first with square brackets around it.
  • The URL comes second with parentheses around it.
  • There can be no spaces between the bracketed text and the parenthesized URL.

Ordered Lists

To make an ordered (numbered) list of items, start each line with a number, followed by a period, followed by a space, followed by the list text:

1. This is the first item
2. This is the second item

It displays like this:

  1. This is the first item
  2. This is the second item

Notes:

  • It doesn't matter what number you use; Markdown will automatically order it 1, 2, 3... for you.
  • Don't forget the period after the number, and the space after the period. If the list item doesn't have all three, Markdown will ignore it.

Unordered Lists

To make an unordered (bulleted) list, start each line with an asterisk, followed by a space, followed by the list text:

* A list item
* Another list item

It displays like this:

  • A list item
  • Another list item

Notes:

  • You can use an asterisk * or a hyphen - to denote a list item.
  • Don't forget the space after the asterisk or hyphen.

HTH!

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2010-04-01 12:21:09

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted April 01, 2010 at 17:02:43

The first order of business is to establish a level playing field by a) fixing our building regulations and b) cutting out the perverse incentives to build low density single use on suburban greenfields.

Agreed, the best thing to do now is get everything in place so when the demand is there (and I agree, hopefully before) the required changes can be made quickly to get the higher density urban residences we will need, (i.e., it doesn't take 2 years to get approval for a condo building in a run down warehouse).

They saw their way of life (building single family houses on greenfields) go up in smoke and insisted that the changes would put them all out of business. Of course, what really happened is that they discovered there's a huge demand for high quality urban life, switched from building houses to building condos, and started making money by the truckload.

Fear of the unknown is a major obstacle to many things. Status quo is an awfully comfy place for many people even when it is inherently unsustainable. The human brain has a strong urge to rationalize even in the face of obvious folly on the part of its host. What challenges change faces and the mindset of the opponents are part of that whole culture thing Ryan : )

Yes, it worked! Thanks for the formatting info Ryan!

Comment edited by Kiely on 2010-04-01 16:04:17

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