Council has approved the staff redrafting of the city’s planning legislation which was rewritten in order to comply with Council’s zero boundary expansion directive.
Hamilton’s zero-boundary expansion decision will result in a denser, more vertical city in the coming decades. It will mean significantly increased density to accommodate the 236,000 people and 122,000 jobs that will be added to Hamilton by 2050. In the downtown core the plan will call for 250 to 500 residents plus their jobs per hectare. Along the proposed LRT line the density will be 160 residents plus their jobs.
In arriving at the document there was extensive public consultation conducted which attracted over 500 attendees to public workshops and 550 written comments. The West End Home Builders Association recommended that to achieve the level of density required will mean removing things like height limits, shadowing restrictions, and policies referencing the maintenance of existing neighbourhood character. They also recommended allowing apartment buildings on 12 storeys in height without the developer having to request an official plan amendment. Staff are recommending this change be allowed.
One aspect of intensification that attracted considerable debate is a provision that will allow property owners to four-plex residences without requiring a planning permit. Councillor Lloyd Ferguson was particularly concerned about the effect this would have on Ancaster residents. He proposed that neighbours of properties that are being converted at least receive notification that the work is being planned. Councillor Nrinder Nann was fine with that as long as it didn’t created any false hopes that there was any hope of stopping the conversions.
What is still not clear is how all this work by staff will fare after the current provincial election. In his capacity as Municipal Affairs, Steve Clark wrote a letter to Hamilton council expressing his concern about the boundary freeze and suggesting the prospect of ministerial action to reverse some or all of the policy.