Comment 52065

By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted November 23, 2010 at 12:41:02

A Smith>>If dense cities are models of economic efficiency, then why are both Hamilton and Toronto deeper in debt than the burbs?

Older cities have greater costs of infrastructure upkeep/maintenance. Mississauga and other "burbs" are younger in comparison to Hamilton and Toronto, and have not yet faced the lions share of infrastructure costs which the cities are facing. Let's see how Mississauga's balance sheets are doing when they have 75 year old water mains bursting. I have a feeling their low density growth will result in significant challenges.

>>That is your talking point, but it is not based on facts. Hamilton currently has lots of mass transit, more so than Burlington and yet Burlington's downtown area is filled with new condos, while Hamilton properties sit vacant.

The facts have shown that LRT, when properly implemented, attracts investment because it represents a long term physical committment to high quality high capacity transit in that area, much like subways. Portland is the oft-cited example.

However, I will concede that mass transit is not the ONLY factor that is relevant.

As for comparing Hamilton's downtown to Burlington, Burlington's "Downtown" waterfront doesn't have the industrial legacy that Hamilton's waterfront has, which makes developemnt in Burlington much cheaper and more attractive.

>>Than why do the burbs have better balance sheets than Hamilton and Toronto, even while having lower overall tax rates on investment?

See my point above about infrastructure costs of younger cities in general. Then go read the "Cost of Sprawl" article, and you'll see what kind of trouble these younger cities may be in down the road.

>> And if people are worried about energy prices, they will voluntarily bid up the price of properties along existing mass transit lines. The fact that there is so little demand for downtown properties tells us people currently value other things more than they do mass transit.

Just because energy prices aren't the most important thing on people's mind doesn't invalidate Ryan's point about it reducing our exposure to energy price volatility. It will decrease our exposure to energy price volatility, you just don't think that is an important point.

>>And if this starts to happen, we should see increased ridership along current mass transit lines and more development. Until this happens, there is no reason to build infrastructure that we don't need.

Transit infrastructure should lead growth, not lag it. Because it takes so long to plan, do environmental assessments, secure funding, and implement, transit infrastructure should be based on projected needs, not current needs. Yet we continuously lag growth with our transportation network. Why should we continue to do this? Why not lead for a change?

Where transit lags growth people complain about sub-par service (see most of the newer suburbs south of stonechurch), and compare them to older suburbs north of mohawk) and it serves as a potential drag on growth as some residents (like myself for example) are wary of moving into an area where there is no transit service.

Where transit infrastructure leads growth, it can only have a positive effect of accelerating that growth as people can "check off transit" as another advantage to living in that neighbourhood.

>> I wait your comments.

I know I'm not Ryan, but these are my thoughts. You don't have to respond to them since I know you're eager to debate with Ryan, but I thought I'd leave them here anyways.

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