Sprawl

Raising Expectations

By RTH Staff
Published March 29, 2005

Here's an interesting piece from the Globe and Mail on condo development in the 905 areas arount Toronto.

In a highly apt metaphor, author Derek Raymaker notes that "residential lands are not like toothpaste and toilet paper: You can't go out and buy more when you run out." Too bad Hamilton still seem to think the escarpment is one big 24-hour drug store.

As much as builders like to publicly seethe in fury over the government's so-called intrusion into their marketplace, they also know that more opportunities would come in the form of redevelopment and infill projects no matter how many restrictions were placed on them by the province.

They've also discovered that there is a market for high-rise condominium suites throughout the 905 region, which comes as great news to municipalities desperate to build density and a real city core.

Hamilton already has "density and a real city core", putting us far ahead of the über-sprawl zones North and East of Toronto. One would think we're a prime candidate for condos, but our developers don't seem to think so.

There are two things that seem to guarantee a successful 905 condo project, aside from price: good public transit or transportation options nearby, and a semblance of a "downtown" - shopping, recreation, culture within easy walking distance.

Again, Hamilton already has all the pieces in place, but City Council is afraid to commit fully to a real city, continuing its destructive dalliance with exurban big box developments - a huge investment of capital in a dead end growth area.

Instead, we suffer a second-rate public transit system because Hamilton doesn't have a high enough density to support the economies of scale that make public transit worrk well. Instead of turning the focus downtown (and densifying the escarpment), Hamilton seems content to continue expanding outward until the whole structure pops like an overinflated balloon.

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