Here at BILD, we’ve have seen numerous examples of NIMBYism when it comes to the introduction of new developments to neighbourhoods. So let’s look at a few misperceptions about the role development plays in communities and municipalities play in the approvals process.
“NIMBY” stands for “Not In My Back Yard” and is a common term used to describe those opposed to new development in their neighbourhood. Some of the common arguments given by NIMBYists include potential increase in noise or traffic, introduction of unfamiliar people to a quiet community or just fear of change.
As city builders, it is our responsibility to build quality, affordable, complete communities for up to 100,000 people that choose to move to the GTA every year. Working together with our partners in government, our members are tasked with implementing Places to Grow – the provincial growth plan which places an emphasis on intensification, causing a shift in housing type toward high-density development.
What some of you may not know is that our industry is one of the most regulated in the province. Every new development introduced into a community undergoes a rigorous, multi-stage government approval process that can last up to 10 years, often including strict urban design guidelines.
One of the most common causes for a lengthy development approvals process revolves around zoning. Municipalities use zoning by-laws to determine the rules a proposed development must follow. Those who oppose new development will be quick to point out that the proposed project in their neighbourhood does not conform to the existing zoning bylaw. They may be surprised to learn, however, that some of these bylaws are badly out of date.
While municipalities review their official plans every five years, most of them are still operating with outdated zoning bylaws, some dating as far back as the 1950s. As you can imagine, community needs have changed dramatically since then, most notably in the last 10 years and especially following the introduction of Places to Grow.
The disconnect between old and outdated zoning bylaws and municipal and provincial policies does not allow for a clear understanding of land-use planning policies.
This results in the development being delayed, bringing thousands of dollars in additional cost for new-home buyers.
It is important that we move to an “as of right” approach to zoning permissions in areas that benefit from intensification, such as transit corridors and city centres. Avoiding unnecessary delays means avoiding unnecessary costs for new-home buyers.
In order for our members to continue to build safe, affordable, complete communities, it is important for zoning bylaws across the GTA to be in conformity with Places to Grow. This will assist our industry’s efforts to build homes people can afford.