Dear Mayor of Hamilton & City Councillors,
Expanding Hamilton’s Urban Boundary (GIC-March 29th, 2021)
The Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion is joining Environment Hamilton, Hamilton 350, Stop Sprawl Hamilton, and Hamilton’s residents to raise concerns about expanding Hamilton’s urban boundary. They are as follows:
- Environmental Concerns
- Future costs to the taxpayer through Infrastructure Costs
- Lack of community & civic engagement
In 2019, Environment Hamilton, along with other community organizations and residents, urged the City of Hamilton to declare a CLIMATE EMERGENCY. City Council stepped up and unanimously declared the emergency. Last week Chief Justice Richard Wagner stated, “the threat of climate change is so great that it demands a coordinated national approach; climate change is a pressing matter of national concern.” He went on to say climate change is real and it is caused by greenhouse gas emission resulting from human activities, and it poses a grave threat to humanity’s future.”  Environmental groups in Hamilton have made it known that expanding the urban boundary will increase Hamilton’s greenhouse gas emissions. Suppose we replace prime agricultural lands with single-family houses. In that case, we increase car dependency, increase water runoff into rivers and lakes, encroach on eco-habitats, increase air pollution, increase traffic fatalities, increase harmful effects on human health (high rates of obesity, high blood pressure, chronic diseases) and increase potential flooding incidents.
Future Costs to the taxpayer through Infrastructure Costs
When we expand the urban boundary, we use current taxpayers’ money to subsidize developers’ profits. As homes and businesses spread out from the existing urban boundary, the cost of providing community services increase, forcing local governments to increase taxes or look to upper levels of government for funding. All these options increase taxes for the residents of Hamilton. Some will state that building more homes on expanded urban boundaries will generate more revenue for the City. But as the City of Kelowna witnessed recently, the future capital costs, operational costs, maintenance costs and replacement costs of sprawl outweigh the property taxes generated in the short term. Is this fiscally responsible for Hamilton taxpayers? 
Lack of community & civic engagement
The decision to expand Hamilton’s urban boundary will have a seismic effect on the City for generations. As such, the City should be consulting as many residents as possible. We support Councillor Clark’s motion calling for the province to give municipalities like Hamilton more time to assess growth and land needs until all residents of Hamilton are consulted.
The number of residents and organizations delegating today is a testament to the work environmental groups are doing in Hamilton to build a sustainable, climate resilient, inclusive future for Hamilton.
Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion