Housing Stops

By Jason Leach
Published January 10, 2006

Housing starts dropped off dramatically in Hamilton during 2005 compared with 2004, according to a recent news clip on CHML.

It quotes an analyst placing the blame on lack of serviceable land in Hamilton.

Actually, there have been thousands of acres of serviceable land in Hamilton over the past decade. The developers and owners of that land chose to waste it all on ultra low-density sprawl in the hopes that City Hall would continue to bend over backwards in an attempt to open up more prime agriculture land for them to pave.

You'll notice that in the outlying areas of Burlington are several mid-rise condo and apartment buildings. The same was true in Portland, Oregon when I lived there.

The reason was quite simple: both cities, especially Portland, which is a real city like Hamilton, drew a firm urban boundary and told the developers that once the land was built on, that was it.

That leads to more proper development and land owners looking at using their land with more wisdom and more bang for their buck. In Hamilton, City Hall refuses to draw a firm urban boundary largely due to fears of losing significant election campaigning funds.

The result is more sobbing over the "lack of serviceable land" for both housing and industry.

Over 3,000 acres of serviced industrial land exists in lower Hamilton and the Glanbrook Industrial Park is zoned for development and has sat empty for 25 years.

Trust me, folks: lack of land is not Hamilton's problem. Lack of vision is.

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 10, 2006 at 07:06:20

Another angle: housing starts dropped off nearly everywhere. It's not a Hamilton problem, but a continental housing market problem.

Here are a few more likely culprits than lack of land: rising interest rates, rising gasoline prices, rising natural gas prices, and the slowly dawning realization that sprawl doesn't have very good long-term prospects.

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