Comment 116716

By Haveacow (registered) | Posted March 02, 2016 at 12:56:13

Well its quite clear that the city of Hamilton and CHH is caught in the same trap that most municipalities are. Their insight and operational rules are designed have view what the value of assets, in this case land and or housing units is currently, not what it could be after improvements like LRT and new GO Stations are built. Rules for these types of operations for municipal organizations are specific and clear they can't speculate on what will be. Therefore they often undervalue their assets, they are just not allowed to say were going to value it higher because these improvements and changes in building styles mean this is now more valuable, they legally have to provide evidence of this. This type of evidence is quite difficult and time consuming to bring forward and prove. Individuals and developers for that matter, don't have this limitation on them when they sell assets like homes and land. The whole private system of land development is based on the fact that asset value is tied to what will or could be, not necessarily what it is right now. Municipalities and their organizations like HCC, will always have one hand tied behind their back in this fight because they are legally required to look in the present only, not necessarily what will happen to the value of something in the future.

Hamilton also has a few other issues hampering it. The lack of development has produced a wide gap in the absolute value of land here compared to even other municipalities geographically close by. My sister's house in Whitby can be sold for just its tax value and she could probably easily buy 2, maybe even 3 homes in Hamilton's North End. This by its very nature creates a vacuum sucking prices upward, as long as improvements occur. On top of that, the basic dynamic that has existed in North America regarding how and what is value in developed land is fundamentally changing. The suburbs were the preferred place to live compared to neighborhoods in the core of the city, for too many reasons to get into here. However, that is now changing and in most cases turning right over on its head. Inner city neighborhoods are now the desired place in many cities causing quite a headache, especially in the housing development industry. Hamilton is just relatively late in experiencing this phenomena.

The lack of belief that this is actually occurring, a kind of inner core urban value denial movement, has taken hold in many suburban dwellers and their politicians because it runs absolutely counter intuitively to the perceived value of the dominance of the traditional suburb, (like a form of climate change denier). This change or in some cities, an outright reversal in the value of city core land in comparison to the suburb as well as the associated change in lifestyle values connected with it, will force a big change in how certain places, like how your harbor lands are developed. That change forces a need to severely modify our approach to developing so called, "affordable housing".

For example, section 37 money that municipalities use to get stuff from developers so they can build beyond what the limiting zoning rules permit, helps equalize or help nullify the advantage a private developers have over the municipality due to the operational limits forced on them by their enabling legislation and how they must view relative land and asset value. Unfortunately, it is now becoming the rule not the exception it was originally intended to be. That being said, municipalities have had varying degrees of success when applying these rules and it does help somewhat, equal out the advantage, the private market has over municipal governments. Cities like Hamilton, are still playing "catch up" when dealing with the wants and desires of new and existing core urban dwellers vs. the process on how they value and develop new or reused land parcels in the core areas of the city.

There is a sense of frustration for everyone involved because of the multiple differences regarding how the various players in Hamilton view how this core area land should be developed. For example, certain suburban players deny this property has actual value as housing and view it purely as a simple transaction or purchase from one owner to a buyer, just like the suburbs. Certain long time residents of the core see this as selling out the population who already lives their and to somewhat fight the force of change these new properties will bring. Still others see it as a possible improvement to a undervalued place as long as, the important local common social beliefs and benefits around what is good development, are maintained. Still an other group, sees it as way to make a lot of money, pure and simple, so everyone else, get out of the bloody way and don't whine to me about community values, this is commerce! The city of Hamilton has to now suddenly be the arbiter in a dance of values & beliefs on what does or does not make a good place. I hope the City of Hamilton's actual government and staff have the appreciation and sophistication to handle this new reality in the core of the city.

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