Some at Brantford Ontario’s city hall appear to think that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing doesn’t quite grasp the downtown dynamics of a mid-sized Ontario city such as Brantford’s. The province did intensive study of small, medium and large cities in the context of the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (2006). (2006! Why is this coming up now? More on that later.) But, despite this, apparently they’re whining that people in far off Toronto just don’t get it because Brantford is “older and built.”
Does that mean Brantford is the only “older and built” city in Ontario?
Some think that the Growth Plan states (we’re still looking for the specific page) that Brantford must “tear down old heritage buildings (like it did on the south side of Colborne St?) and put up taller buildings” (like the Beckett Building and
Centennial Towers, Timbercreek Communities, downtown?).
The downtown has seen enough tearing down to last a lifetime. How about Brantford focus on what is THE issue downtown and elsewhere in the city: unused, underused and misused properties? Such properties are ripe for proper use. That’s why the Growth Plan makes sense when it says:
“It is important to optimize the use of the existing land supply to avoid over-designating new land for future urban development. This Plan’s emphasis on intensification (increased use of a piece of property) and optimizing the use of the existing land supply represents a new approach to city-building in the GGH, one which concentrates more on making better use of our existing infrastructure, and less on continuously expanding the urban area.” (Section 2.1)
At the same time, it looks like city hall is losing sleep over King George Road (KGR). What? We thought the ministry doesn’t understand downtown Brantford, do they also not understand KGR? Again, we’re looking for the page that says the buildings on KGR must come down to make way for taller buildings … whew!
The Growth Plan does say:
“Intensification corridors will generally be planned to accommodate local services, including recreational, cultural and entertainment uses.” (Section 2.2.5)
Why wasn’t the intensification on KGR altered after the Growth Plan came out in 2006? For example, there is still no recreation available along KGR. Too bad a parkette wasn’t created at 240 KGR and Farm Boy built at 573 Colborne St. (former Canadian Tire site).
Now, there’s some balanced urban planning!
As far as losing sleep, the Growth Plan states:
“The Minister of Infrastructure may review and permit an alternative minimum intensification target for an upper- or single-tier municipality located within the outer ring to ensure the intensification target is appropriate given the size, location and capacity of built-up areas.” (Section 2.2.3)
Sounds like there’s flexibility built into the plan.
Brantford citizens are fortunate to have a city hall that appears to be endowed with the ability of a soothsayer. City hall says the building of taller buildings “would create community tension.”
What was (is) the “community tension” meter reading of:
Centennial Towers (Darling & Wellington Sts.)
Beckett Building (Colborne St.)
Cooper Towers (Fairview Dr.)
Village Tower (West St.)
Lynden Place & Skyline (Sympatica Cres.)
The whining continues over the current level of 41.5 people and jobs per hectare of greenfield development. The Growth Plan’s 2041 target is 50 people and jobs per hectare. Okay, its now 2016. If our math is correct, that’s 25 (TWENTY-FIVE) years from now. We’re confident that Brantford is up to the task of adding 8.5 people and jobs per hectare in that time!
And last and the least is the opinion that the city only has 4.6 to 10.9 years of long term supply of land for residential growth (ah, now we’re getting to the root of the whining), which they say is below the provincial target. Hence the ongoing Brantford-Brant boundary babble about the supposed need for more land.
However, it’s fascinating how the report from Hemson Consulting (city hall appears to have lost its copy) states:
“No land supply constraints have been identified that would prevent any municipality (cities of Peterborough, Barrie, Orillia, Guelph and Brantford) from achieving the density and intensification targets established by the Growth Plan.”1
Did we just read that there are other “older and built” cities? Wow! Brantford is not alone; imagine that!
The city should stop wasting time and energy (aka taxpayers’ dollars) on diversions, excuses and obscurities. Let’s motivate our private and public sectors to focus on improving Brantford by making intelligent use of unused, underused and misused properties that abound within its current boundary. Now, that’s being practical.
1. Hemson Consulting, Greater Golden Horseshoe Growth Forecasts To 2041 Technical Report (Toronto: Hemson Consulting, 2012), 25
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