Comment 113398

By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted August 13, 2015 at 10:01:53 in reply to Comment 113393

This is great news -- with some caveats that we need to work with (i.e. solutions for poor, solutions for evictions due to higher rents)

As a percentage of property value, property taxes aren't going up. But house values are, thanks to the LRT. It's simply by the sheer value increase of property alone, creating this. One possibility is that if assessments increase so much, we may one day afford to trim property taxes. Not to kill the golden goose, but use a little bit of the windfall to readjust Hamilton to be more in line with the average Canadian standard, tax as a percentage of property value. The golden goose would remain. This might not be doable for a quite a while (e.g. till next generation) but this would affect mountain taxpayers, especially if an A-Line LRT enables more tax-sustainable developments along the Upper James corridor.

The word that needs to also be communicated -- property tax assessment increases are totally different from a property tax rate increase. Many Hamiltonians are somewhat misinformed as to how this works in the LRT era.

Residents who are not served by LRT, and think their area is underserved tax-wise, this need to be a marketed as a benefit for them too, and to make future LRT extensions more palatable that serves them too including further elements of the BLAST network proposal.

The LRT needs to start somewhere, and there will always be opposition by far-away residents for any starter stub, no matter where it goes -- simply because a stub cannot be able to serve the entire city at once.

There are people who are very fearful that this will be similar to the stadium circus (West Harbour vs nearer Gage) and create an LRT that doesn't have as many concurrent revitalization opportunities (e.g. separate LRT lane for Main and for King, committing them to stay 1-way streets that are harder to revitalize given the adversion against removing lanes) and rather not have the LRT built because of the fear of a screwup.

It is important that both the City and Metrolinx sets up the LRT office quickly and works to allay fears with real facts and data, from other cities too, as part of its mandate.

People complain about high property taxes. Good point. As a homeowner, the assessment increases are going to hit me fairly hard as I am right smack on the LRT route, a mere 2.5 block walk to the Sherman LRT station. But a matter of perspective -- my house increased in value in a mere 1 year, equal to 20 years of my own property tax assessment. Okay... I still come out ahead -- I can stomach that, considering I still have 19 years of property market left, which is probably in my favour anyway.

And I can understand the desperation of house hunters who feel permanently priced out of the property market (I was one of them too -- I just eventually gave up on Toronto and committed to Hamilton). Units need to be made available to these people too, even if it's a more sustainable densified low-rise-townhouse-condo hybrid with a great parkette and amenities and easy transit access -- rather than a detached house with large yard. Or condos that are made almost attractive as a house. More good paying work now needs to be available locally as well, too, as part of the whole solution.

Retirees who are property-tax-priced out of their homes -- are going to be an issue too. I've read in the comment boards of a news site, that one already complained being property-tax-priced out of their fully-paid home (Dundurn/Locke area). They could sell their house and move a 30 minute walk eastwards for a big windfall of a retirement egg massively bigger than the future massively increased property tax assessments for the rest of their lifetimes. And they'd still live walking distance to the upcoming LRT. (Tip to those retired readers living in expensive areas such as Locke and considering moving out of Hamilton because of this...consider a crosstown move instead)

There is also the concern for the poor and the need for a corresponding increase in subsidized housing. The assessment increases are going to hit them hard indirectly, via increased rents, if we do not take action on corresponding increases in availability of units (e.g. densification) and subsidized housing.

My friends who have little income, hairstylists and others, as well as also the poor, now I have to think of them: How can we help them? Just a mere 5% of this assessment windfall would kick off an awful lot of subsidized mixed-income housing (that may actually be profitable to developers, while still also providing low-rent units). So such people on tight budgets do not have to move to a rentroom in a very remote corner of Stoney Creek or Mountain, even though their work is downtown.

We have seen what can happen to certain parts of Vancouver where the transit-oriented developments has evicted the poor renters for condo developments, favouring foreign landlords buying multiple condos as an investment and renting them out at high rents (or simply leaving them empty as an investment).

We simply cannot let this Vancouver situation happen here in Hamilton, but we shouldn't be anti-developer in this City. Where possible, bylaws need amendment to discourage the desirability to foreign investors intending to do high rents or unoccupied real estate investments -- this prevents interfering with our poor people via reduction of units (and artificially raising the rent market, too).

A more properly done transit-oriented development is the mostly-successful Toronto Regent Park revitalization, which I wrote about earlier, turning a community-only housing district into a mixed-income district (with a large increase in number of community housing units at the same time).

All in all, this is good news -- but requires wise action in parallel to this.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-08-13 10:27:58

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