Across the GTA our neighbourhoods are intensifying and it’s affecting all of us.
Our communities are growing up and not out as development follows the Province’s growth planning policies. However many residents in existing communities like their neighbourhoods the way they are and don’t want change, and more and more development projects are facing opposition.
NIMBYism or not-in-my-backyard sentiments has long been around, but it’s stronger now because of the intensification taking place in Toronto and the rest of the GTA. It’s a challenge not just for developers but for all of us and especially new home buyers.
The growing chants of NIMBY are adding to the GTA’s housing supply shortage. They cause delays and increase costs which are ultimately passed on to people buying new homes.
Developers don’t just build what they want. Government policies and plans at all levels dictate how land can be used and where and how development happens.
Ten years ago, the Province of Ontario created the Greenbelt and introduced the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe to change how development occurs in the GTA. It mandated intensification and required four out of 10 new housing units to be built within existing communities. Those new units are necessary to house our growing population. Each year the region adds by about 100,000 people due to immigration and growing families.
In accordance with policy, our industry has been building to a more intensive pattern of development. Today we are building at least as many high-rise multi-family homes as ground-related single family homes.
Unfortunately there is little public understanding of and even less support for intensification. When intensification policies were introduced the industry encouraged the government to educate the public on how and why their neighbourhoods would change, but we have yet to see anything.
“Not in My Backyard” is being heard on everything from proposed high-rise condo projects near subway stations to townhouse projects in Scarborough and mid-town Toronto, to plans for semi-detached houses in Burlington.
The home building and land development industry is increasing its efforts to work with community stakeholders. Community engagement has been in practice for years, but today developers are engaging residents earlier and working alongside community stakeholders to create projects that benefit everyone.
It is critical that our industry communicate and share information early in the development process to help residents properly respond to proposed changes. We also need to help community stakeholders understand the goals and benefits of intensification and specific projects.
We all want our communities to thrive, and new development and neighbourhood renewal helps that happen. New development brings more homes and more housing choices and it can bring new life to established neighbourhoods. More people in neighbourhoods mean they can support more amenities such as shops and restaurants. All this leads to property value increases and means local governments collect more property tax which they can invest in things like parks and transit.
The GTA is a growing region that attracts people and businesses. To help keep it growing we need housing and we need to keep working together to create thriving complete communities. We need to find ways to turn NIMBY to YIMBY yes-in-my-backyard.
To help improve public awareness of these issues, BILD has created a couple of animated videos on turning NIMBY to YIMBY. They explain in a simple and fun way why are our neighbourhoods are changing and how development can benefit everyone. Check them out on youtube.com/bildgta.