21.5 C
Friday, August 12, 2022
Letter: Rather than fight developers, work with them

Dear editor: 

Since moving to NOTL almost two decades ago, I've noticed the relationship between our council, town officials and the development industry has been one of constant legal confrontation.

Empirical evidence teaches us that this is a zero sum game. Yes, you win some skirmishes but lose the war. The end result: we drain the treasury, residents lose and our taxes increase year over year to pay the legal costs.

Construction delayed invariably results in increased construction costs being passed along to the consumer in the form of higher housing costs.

We cannot continue to do what towns and cities have failed to achieve for centuries: stop progress and impede population growth. Accordingly we need an adult in the room to end this silliness and mediate a harmonious compromise between the town and the development parties.

Recently our council, frustrated at the present rate of development, attempted to redirect the blame at the Region of Niagara. (“We are waiting on the official plan.”) I would be shocked if such a plan, when released, will handcuff planners and developers tasked with meeting the demands of the three propelling forces outlined below.

Development in the next 10 to 20years in the greater Niagara Region will resemble nothing like we have ever experienced before. Of course this will encompass all the areas within NOTL: Glendale, St. Davids, Virgil and Old Town. It will also include Queenston and eventually we will amalgamate as one, perhaps as the City of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Residents can reflect on the changes in the last 20 to 30 years – now look forward 30 years and the future picture becomes clearer.

Alternatively, revisit your former hometowns, which you no longer recognize, as former farmland, orchards, golf courses, etc. are developed, all in the name of progress. The world landscape is an ever-changing one and expending energy fighting it is an exercise in futility. Redirecting and embracing it is more fulfilling.

Clearly the Los Angeles-style road construction at the QEW and Glendale is not to redirect tourist traffic to sleepy Old Town and the heritage district. No, it portends the future population explosion synonymous with and driving the development boom.

Accordingly, at what location will our next development be? Perhaps at a rezoned Mori Gardens, by Benny Marotta, town council's arch nemesis.

Town councils in Fort Erie, Ridgeway, Wainfleet etc. have also expressed concerns over the rate of development. Newsflash: The horse has left the barn on this one and the future is here.

 Additionally, our local hospitality Industry, in opposing the controversial hotel tax, has attempted to equate maintaining our increased home values as being dependent on tourism. Not so.

In towns and cities across Canada, and around the world, three contributing factors are driving both construction and home price increases.

Namely: population growth (the law of supply and demand); construction costs (increased labour and material costs); escape from the big cities (population redistribution, which was accelerated by COVID and the fact Toronto is the fastest growing jurisdiction in North America).

Incidentally, concurrent with this population growth and changing demographics (ie. a younger population), our visionary elected officials closed our high school, Parliament Oak and hospital, adding to an already lagging infrastructure.

Council should partner with our regional and town planners and work with the development industry to assure a smooth transition and, in concert, commit to the longer term master plan.

Eliminate the petty squabbles and the not-in-my-neighbourhood self-interest and shortsighted diversions.

Finally, infrastructure needs will become more critical as we move forward. Start by solving our abysmal in town parking problems. But more parking meters in residential areas are not the solution.

Samuel Young