Hamilton unanimously endorses reversal of urban expansion


Published November 23, 2023 at 4:59 pm

Andrea Horwath

Hamilton Council has unanimously voted to restore urban boundaries expanded by the provincial government one year ago as part of the ultimately disastrous Greenbelt Swap.

In November of 2022 the Province announced it was extending Hamilton’s urban boundary by 2,200 hectares, resulting in the loss of 1,630 to 2,190 hectares of largely prime agricultural lands, as well as impacting the area’s natural heritage and water systems.

That decision, as well as expansions affecting several other GTA communities – notably Pickering and its Duffins Rouge Agricultural Preserve – were reversed last month by new Housing Minister Paul Calandra after a series of scandals that resulted in the resignations of several key cabinet ministers (including Calandra’s predecessor, Steve Clark) that forced the government’s hand.

Hamilton Council had already been on record saying the boundary expansions were not needed to meet those housing targets – with one councillor even calling on the RCMP to investigate the decision-making process – and made it doubly official Wednesday with the unanimous vote.

“To the thousands of Hamiltonians who have called, emailed, and organized on these issues – Thank you! We heard you, and we agree with you,” said Mayor Andrea Horwath. “We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again – though we hope we won’t have to – these expansions are unneeded and unwanted.”

The correspondence from most of the residents was the same: “Hamiltonians have been clear. We value our farmland and can meet our housing targets within our previous existing boundary. We expect our council to hold the line. “

“We have over 1,200 acres within the former urban boundary to provide a mix of housing types,” the letters continued. “Compact growth will allow us to make better use of our existing infrastructure, including roads, sewers and parks, while preserving valuable agricultural land. Further, it will help build more vibrant neighbourhoods, support better transit, and help keep schools open. With our present labour shortages, we need to prioritize construction labour and materials to projects which can quickly build the affordable homes we need, not McMansions on distant farmland.”

A few developers submitted letters as well, with those items of correspondence naturally taking a different tack.

Letters from Twenty Roads Development and Weizer Investments both pointed to a Municipal Comprehensive Review performed for the City in 2017 that “confirmed an urban expansion was required” and stated they supported that expansion.

That review, however, led to Council endorsing a ‘No Urban Boundary Expansion’ stance in 2022.

The vote comes at the same time as the release of the Housing Needs Assessment Report from the Alliance for a Liveable Ontario, with David Crombie, the former Toronto Mayor who oversaw massive housing construction in the 1970s, calling on all levels of government to “make it a priority” to get different housing types built and keep them affordable.

“Every big house that gets built out in the suburbs diverts labour and construction material from building the types of housing we need where people already live.”



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