Comment 23983

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 27, 2008 at 08:24:02

Hi A Smith,

I've been touting the King-Spadina Secondary Plan as an excellent example of how to attract reinvestment for a few years now. Here's an essay I wrote last year:

In brief, the King-Spadina plan mandates the following simple rules:

  1. Urban public transit (Spadina streetcar)
  2. Build to the curb
  3. No parking requirements
  4. Buildings open onto the street
  5. Relaxed zoning based on performance, not use
  6. Simple, fast approval process

Eliminating parking requirements takes over $20,000 per unit off the cost of a condo development, and light rail transit means people living there don't need cars to get around.

The performance based coding allows compatible uses to mix so that a variety of amenities and destinations are all nearby.

In terms of your Reaganomics, I think you're playing fast and loose with your definitions. Bush's tax cuts were deeper than Clinton's and more tightly targeted to corporations and the very rich, and his "social" spending increases went more to enforcement, failed "faith based" initiatives driven by narrow morality and bureaucratic overhead for NCLB than to actually helping the poor.

However, I don't want to get sidetracked into an unproductive debate about the merits of corporate and income tax cuts, since municipalities don't control those taxes anyway. My point is that tax cuts in themselves can be good or bad depending on how and where they're implemented, and on what else is done concurrently.

In Toronto, the residential property tax is much lower because Toronto's businesses carry a much higher share of the total tax burden. In Hamilton, we have cut the business property tax several times and it has resulted only in residential taxes having to cover a bigger share of the total.

In 2008, the city's planning and economic development department projects zero percent tax assessment growth.

I think the real problem in Hamilton is not "attack[ing] capitalism" but rather rank parochialism: backroom deals with connected players, lax and inconsistent bylaw enforcement (particularly on property standards), looking the other way when developers cheat (e.g. building houses without permits), approving endless sprawl on the lowest greenfield development charges in the region, rezoning employment lands for single-use residential, building highways we can't afford, maintaining mandatory "free" parking requirements throughout the city, and maintaining a property tax system that rewards property owners for demolishing buildings for surface parking but punishes them for actually constructing, maintaining or restoring useful buildings.

Again, when we run the city like this and then try to compete on cost, we end up attracting only the bottom feeders.

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