Dr. Pamela Blais Audio Recording

Posted on Nov 26, 2015 In Audio Latest Updates

“Transit-oriented, midrise development is a revenue star.” ~ Dr. Pamela Blais

Progressive city building — a Hamilton Chamber priority — requires input from multiple perspectives. That’s why we’re keen to encourage conversations that identify fresh approaches to growth planning and development.

Said Chamber president and CEO Keanin Loomis: “We need infrastructure and an urban form that enable 21st century commerce and support quality of life. In Hamilton, there’s no shortage of ideas on how to get there.”

One source is the Useful Knowledge Society which runs a speaker series that is “organized by Hamiltonians for Hamiltonians.” Last month, the society held a talk titled Shift: Changing Directions in City Building that featured Dr. Pamela Blais (centre of above photo), an urban planner and author of Perverse Cities: Hidden Subsidies, Wonky Policy, and Urban Sprawl.

Organizers asked Blais to suggest how our city’s current development framework might be strengthened to enable Hamilton to unlock the full potential of the local light rail transit (LRT) program now in progress.

She said the long term success of LRT in Hamilton will come from a mix of ingredients, including increased population density along the route, compact development, ubiquitous public transit, complete streets, and walkable commercial corridors.

To achieve these goals, Blais suggested Hamilton focus on:

  • Initiatives to help re-urbanize areas of central Hamilton that have existing infrastructure and the capacity to absorb growth. Key nodes and corridors are generally ripe for renewal, she said.
  • Area-based development charges that more accurately reflect costs associated with servicing different parts of our city with linear infrastructure. In general, built up urban centres are less expensive to service and maintain, she said.
  •  Zoning that invites a mix of uses and midrise development. “These are revenue stars,” said Blais.

Blais said the lead up to LRT in Hamilton provides a unique opportunity to “shift” people toward public transit and government spending toward higher density development. She pointed to cities such as Markham and Kitchener that have introduced differentiated development charges tied to alternative growth patterns.

Blais joined a panel discussion that featured Steve Molloy, project manager, Transportation Management, City of Hamilton; Rick Lintack architect; and, Steve Robichaud, director of planning, City of Hamilton.

Robichaud explained that the City is now reviewing its development charges with a focus on downtown Hamilton. This review extends to an analysis of population growth projections and related costs, including those for infrastructure upgrades and mandated service level enhancements. This, he said, will set the stage for a “public policy debate” on development charges and local growth patterns overall.

Blais encouraged Hamilton to seek out lower cost development opportunities that generate higher tax revenues per hectare. “It’s a winning combination.”

This event was sponsored in part by the Hamilton/Burlington Society of Architects.

LISTEN NOW to Pamela Blais’ Opening Talk ~ 36 Minutes

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Panel Discussion Audio ~ Ryan McGreal, Moderator

Steve Robichaud

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Pamela Blais

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Steve Molloy

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Rick Lintack

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