Many communities across the GTA are changing.
They are developing by growing up and not out as mandated by provincial policy. However, many of the people in those existing communities don’t want change because they like their neighbourhoods the way they are. As a result, there is more opposition than ever to development projects.
Not-in-my-backyard sentiments or NIMBYism is not new, but today it’s stronger because Toronto and the rest of the GTA are intensifying.
The growing chants of NIMBY affect more than just developers. They are problematic for all of us, especially new home buyers, as they add to the GTA’s housing supply shortage, creating delays and additional costs which are ultimately passed on to the people buying new homes.
Developers don’t just build what they want and where they want it. There are numerous government policies and plans at all levels that dictate where and how development happens.
When the Ontario government introduced the Greenbelt and Growth Plan 10 years ago, it changed how development happens in the GTA. The plan mandated that 40 per cent of all new homes be built within existing communities to house our rising population, which grows by about 100,000 people each year.
In accordance with this policy, our industry now builds as many high-rise condos as single family homes. However, there is little public understanding and even less support for intensification. When these policies were first introduced, our industry encouraged the government to educate residents about how and why their neighbourhoods will change, but to no effect.
“Not in My Backyard” can be heard on everything from condos near subway stations to townhomes projects in Scarborough to semis in Burlington.
Developers are now increasing their efforts in working with community stakeholders by engaging residents earlier and working together to create projects that benefit everyone.
By communicating with residents in the early stages of the development process, community stakeholders can properly respond to the proposed changes. It’s important to help them understand the goals and benefits of intensification and specific projects.
New development and neighbourhood renewal can help our communities thrive, which is something we all want. Bringing more homes and housing choices can bring new life to established neighbourhoods. With more people come more amenities like shops and restaurants. All this leads to higher property values and means local governments collect more property taxes, which they can invest in things like parks and transit.
The GTA continues to grow, it attracts people and businesses. We need to build new housing to accommodate this growth, and work together to create thriving complete communities. It’s time to turn NIMBY to YIMBY and say ‘yes-in-my-backyard.’
BILD recently create a couple of animated videos on NIMBYism to raise public awareness of this important issue. They help show why are our neighbourhoods are changing and how development can benefit everyone. Check them out at YouTube.com/BildGTA.
BRYAN TUCKEY is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) and is a land-use planner who has worked for municipal, regional and provincial governments. He can be found on Twitter (twitter.com/bildgta), Facebook (facebook.com/bildgta), and BILD’s official online blog (bildblogs.ca).