Our current planning system is failing us. It’s time to move away from the bureaucracy, overregulation, and small-town thinking and embrace progressive planning policy.
END THE HEIGHT LIMIT
Unfortunately, in the new Downtown Secondary Plan, the city has imposed a regressive height limit. Rather than review projects in the big picture, City Planning has taken a decidedly NIMBY approach to growth by stating no building can be taller than the Escarpment. HamiltonForward believes that we should completely end the height limit, and embrace upwards growth as an environmentally, economically, and socially good policy.
ABOLISH FLOOR-SPACE-RATIO (FSR) LIMITS
Through programs like the Tall Buildings Guidelines and the Design Review Panel, the city has targeted density as an enemy through restrictive FSR regulations that make it tough to build anything other than a blocky midrise or skinny tower under-utilizing prime lands. We believe the city should remove FSR regulations and give property owners more freedom over desired density.
IMPLEMENT LAND VALUE TAXATION
Our current property taxation system encourages land speculation, surface parking lots, and poor land uses. Under a Land Value Tax (LVT) system, land would be taxed on it’s ‘unimproved’ value, rather than the ‘improved’ value or current use value. This system would encourage property redevelopment and fairly tax land speculation, rather than encourage vacancy and under-utilization.
REMOVE AESTHETIC RULES
Developing in Hamilton is made harder by ever-increasing aesthetic rules and regulations that are about micromanaging design. Regulations on tower shading, neighbourhood character, and more are contributing to a systematic culture of NIMBYism and negativity in our city planning department. HamiltonForward supports and advocates a reduction in rules and regulations based on character, shade, and aesthetics.
BRING BACK THE ONTARIO MUNICIPAL BOARD
The 2017 replacement of the Ontario Municipal Board was little more than populist politics to appease local NIMBYs against intensification in Ontario. As we have seen, the LPAT lacks the teeth to fight back against bad planning decisions that the OMB was empowered with. Without the OMB, the housing crisis in Hamilton and Ontario and set to get worse, with cities now only needing to meet the bare minimum of provincial growth policies.
COMMUNITY BENEFIT AGREEMENTS
HamiltonForward believes Community Benefit Agreements (CBAs) should be used sparingly. Almost every residential, commercial, or mixed-use development has brought benefits, services, and more to the communities they are built in. In a time where housing is increasing in cost and decreasing in supply, we are especially concerned about the increased push for residential developments to be subjected to CBAs, which result in decreased supply and increased unit creation cost.