The Hamilton Spectator ran a story Tuesday detailing the progress being made by the grassroots group Stop Sprawl HamOnt in its campaign against the expansion of Hamilton’s urban boundary. A significant component of the campaign is the distribution of some 1,300 lawn signs which are popping up around Hamilton. Without getting into the merits of the issue for the moment, is a lawn sign campaign the right tactic to use to promote this issue? A lawn sign implies the householder displaying it actually has a lawn. That implies they live in a single-family house or at least a semi-detached. There is a certain irony in householders who already have their slice of the dream – an actual house, telling the next generation that they must live in a high rise for the rest of their lives; because there is only one way to stop urban sprawl– massive intensification and that means apartment towers, lots of them. Perhaps these single family householders forgot or possibly never experienced trying to live in a 900 square foot apartment with a kid or two in diapers.
Most every day my travels take me around the central mountain, as well as the Emerald City, (as I refer to Ward 6 with its breathtaking escarpment views) — and not once have I seen one of these sprawl signs on an apartment building or even a townhouse. So far, the only ones I have seen are on single family houses. It’s a classic case of “I’m all right Jack,” and just another example of our society’s growing tendency towards empty gestures and virtue-signalling. The issue is serious and requires people sitting down and trying to find workable solutions to perhaps the most critical issue of our time—finding homes for people. Not this simplistic non-solution.