Another shot was fired in the debate over urban boundary expansion in Hamilton with the release of a Nanos Survey at a news conference Wednesday, that showed urban boundary expansion the most favored option by a narrow margin. The survey, conducted on behalf of the Ontario Real Estate Association, the West End Home Builders Association and the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington garnered 700 telephone responses and has a margin of error plus or minus 3.7 percentage points 19 times out of 20.
The Nanos survey showed close to four in ten residents of Hamilton (38%) say the best approach to handling growth in Hamilton is to allow for an expansion of the urban boundary to help accommodate new residents, while 32% say boundaries should be kept the same and should fit additional people into current neighbourhoods, and 22% oppose both the boundary expansion and intensification by saying Hamilton should slow down its growth. Younger residents of Hamilton (18-34) were twice as likely to prefer expanding the urban boundary (50%) compared to older residents of Hamilton (55 plus) (25%)
Nanos was commissioned to look at the validity of a city survey on urban boundary expansion that showed 90 percent opposed. Nanos found that eight in ten residents of Hamilton (80%) say they do not recall receiving an official survey from the City of Hamilton in the mail that asked how people felt about expansion. Renters were more likely to say they do not recall (90%) compared to homeowners (73% do not recall). In addition, Nanos pointed out in the news conference that a survey that relies on participants self-selecting does not provide an accurate snapshot of public opinion. The Survey garnered over 18,000 responses following a social media campaign by expansion opponents that included posting roughly 1,300 lawn signs.
The survey also reveled that a large majority of respondents would consider moving elsewhere to get the type of housing they desire. More than three in four residents of Hamilton (76%) say they would consider moving out of the City Hamilton to a nearby community if their preferred type of housing was not available for the price you could afford. More important, Younger residents of Hamilton (18-34) were more likely to say they would consider it (89%) compared to older residents of Hamilton (55 plus) (65%).
Over eight in ten residents of Hamilton are concerned (66%) or somewhat concerned (16%) about the affordability of the cost housing in Hamilton today. Women were most likely to say they were concerned (70%) or somewhat concerned (16%) compared to men (61% concerned, 16% somewhat concerned). The survey also showed 75 percent favouring single, detached homes over other forms of housing.
This latest research, coupled with the letter from provincial officials earlier that expressed concern about the no-expansion option, should give council lots to chew on when the whole matter comes to a head at a special meeting in November.