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It’s just the beginning: intensification vs neighbourhood concerns

It’s just the beginning: intensification vs neighbourhood concerns

The developers of a proposed high-rise and hotel complex at the northwest corner of King and Queen streets are taking their case to the provincial land tribunal. The developer had originally been given approval for development of a ten-storey hotel and a six-storey multiple dwelling with eight, two storey attached units having frontage on Market Street. But in January 2020 the owner came back with a much-expanded application calling for a 25-storey multiple dwelling and a 12-storey hotel, plus reduced setbacks and parking.

Under provincial law, a municipality must render a decision on zoning applications within 120 days. Once the deadline passes a developer can take the case to the Provincial Land Tribunal for a decision, which is what has happened in this case. The city had sent out a request for comments from the Strathcona Neighbourhood about the expanded development plan and received 66 replies with concerns that included:

  • height, density and shadow impact;
  • compatibility and transition to the surrounding neighbourhood;
  • that the proposal is not in keeping with the neighbourhood and will cause increased
  • traffic and noise;
  • visual impact of the development;
  • lack of parking being proposed;
  • loss of greenspace being proposed combined with the loss of mature trees and the
  • impact this development may have on the environment;
  • impact on the existing infrastructure; and,
  • the overall process and public consultation methods.

In making its appeal, the developer has two provincial policies that could tip the scales in its favour; The Places to Grow legislation which encourages intensification within urban boundaries as well as the Major Transit Station Area policy (MTSA). Under MTSA, significant high-rise development is not only allowed, but encouraged on properties adjacent to major transit stations—in this case the proposed Queen street LRT stop. The MTSA policy can be applied to all 17 stops on the LRT route and no doubt will be invoked.

This comes on the heels of a letter from the province that has anti-sprawl advocates fuming. The letter suggests the province will not look kindly on a proposal to halt any expansion of Hamilton’s urban boundary to accommodate the expected influx of 231,000 new residents by 2051.

The dispute underlines the complexity of urban planning. The developer’s proposal to greatly increase the size and density of its Queen Street project is what Hamilton will see a lot more of with or without urban boundary expansion. It appears Places to Grow and MTSA policies will trump neighborhood concerns about shadowing, parking and noise in order to accommodate population growth.

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