* Hamilton had 187,686 units in 2001. The city's Growth Related Integrated Development Strategy (GRIDS) assumes 80,000 more will be built by 2031 -- 58,400 inside the present urban boundary and 21,600 on greenfield sites in Stoney Creek and Glanbrook. Of the 58,400, 31,900 would be on vacant property and 26,500 on sites redeveloped at a higher density.
* While GRIDS focuses on urban growth, recent studies suggest rural areas need to maintain a population of at least 40,000 to meet long-range forecasts.
The current level of 43,992 is forecast to drop to 42,586 by 2031. The city is developing a separate strategy for those areas, plus an agricultural action plan.
* Between now and 2031, the average household size is projected to decrease by 11 per cent.
To maintain present population levels, more housing units will have to be squeezed in to prevent the loss of schools, stores, recreation programs and social services.
* Evidence of reducing household size can be seen in census data suggesting 18 to 20 per cent of the bedrooms are unused in existing single, detached homes and other family-oriented housing. Planners say building more homes for empty-nesters and other smaller households might free older homes for bigger families, to counter population loss.
* Based on the province's Growth Outlook for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, Hamilton is expected to add 52,000 jobs in the period 2001-2031.
Planners say that means the city needs 1,050 more hectares of commercial-industrial land -- exactly the number in the proposed aerotropolis business park.
* Projected demand for employment land is expected to outstrip the currently designated supply by about 285 hectares by 2021.
* The city's Official Plan says any new significant office developments should go in the downtown core.
* In the chosen nodes-and-corridors plan, higher-density residential and mixed-use development will be focused in existing downtowns and malls and on corridors connecting them. Steve Robichaud, in charge of the GRIDS study, envisions each node as a transit hub, with frequent service among them. A separate transportation master plan study is looking at reserving traffic lanes for buses, taxis and other high-occupancy vehicles.
* The present urban boundary would not be expanded for at least a decade.
* After that, the only new expansion for residential growth will create a new development node in Elfrida at Rymal Road and Upper Centennial Parkway.
* The Elfrida expansion would convert 1,130 hectares of farmland to housing. Another 95 hectares north of the airport would also become residential along with 230 hectares in lower Stoney Creek already approved by council.
* The boundary would also be expanded by 1,050 hectares to include the airport special policy area slated to become the aerotropolis business park.
By Nicole Macintyre
The Hamilton Spectator
(May 19, 2006)
Hamilton has its blueprint for the future.
Councillors set the city's growth plan for the next 25 years yesterday.
The approved Growth-Related Integrated Development Strategy will focus growth within nodes and along connecting transit corridors.
"This report is not about where Hamilton grows, it's about how Hamilton grows," said Mayor Larry Di Ianni.
The city's population is expected to balloon by 160,000 by 2031 -- demanding 80,000 new housing units.
The approved growth plan allows for some intensification and one major urban boundary expansion for new homes -- about 1,130 hectares -- at Rymal Road and Centennial Parkway. It also supports aerotropolis, the controversial plan to convert farmland around the airport to an industrial park.
Councillors heard from more than 20 delegates during the five-hour meeting.
The nodes and corridors plan, selected from five options, was endorsed by numerous developers, realtors and business people who urged the city to move ahead quickly.
But a few critics challenged the city to choose the no boundary expansion option and look for creative solutions to its growth.
Lawyer Kieran Dixon couldn't contain his disappoint with the report.
"It's profoundly uninspiring," he said, generating applause for his passionate appeal. "Let us be the leaders in intensification."
Councillors Bob Bratina, Dave Braden and Dave Mitchell voted against the option recommended by staff.
Mitchell said he wanted more time to consult with his constituents who've raised concerns about the level of development planned for Elfrida. The hamlet bordering Stoney Creek and Glanbrook is projected to grow to 40,000 people.
Bratina echoed the frustration of some speakers, who questioned why aerotropolis was included in every option. He would have liked an alternative to at least generate debate.
"How about Harbouropolis?"
Don McLean, of Citizens at City Hall, criticized the city for not engaging the public in the GRIDS process and questioned if the preferred option would be supported by the community.
He noted councillors have witnessed residents fight intensification in their neighbourhoods at every planning meeting. If the public isn't on board, the growth plan is destined to fail, he said.
"I think it's going to come back and bite us."
But Councillor Bill Kelly shot back, noting the city has worked hard to involve the public.
"We're not rushing the process, it has been going on for six years."
I think this option was a good pick for a number of reasons:
1) Places a 10 year city expansion ban
2) Majority of the housing growth will be in the inner city
3) Major brownfield redevelopment will take place for these new inner city housing development
4) Even though some don't like it I think the aerotropolis business park is a good idea. The city needs to gain more jobs and stop the flow of commuting
5) This option was the strongest for public transportation so DEFINATELY by 2010 Hamilton will have bigger and better public transit. Already there is discussion on creating LRT from McMaster University to Eastgate Square (West to East)
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