January 18 Meeting - Video and Q&A

Questions and Answer Summary

Section 1: Background Information and Planning Terms

When was Hamilton's boundary originally set?
With reference to the built boundary, it was established in 2006 through the Growth Plan. This was a consultation between City staff and the Province, and lands that were still vacant within the urban boundary (potentially with draft plan approval or anticipation that they would be developed in the future) were considered greenfield. This was 15 years ago, and there have been greenfield lands that have been developed, but the built boundary line was not changed in the most recent update to the Growth Plan, release in 2020.

Why is population growth taken as a given? Doesn't planning manage this? AND
Where do the numbers for projected population come from?
Municipalities are required to plan for the population forecasts that are provided by the Province in the Growth Plan. Through extensive background work, the 2031, 2041, and 2051 population forecasts were updated recently, to reflect current trends and assumptions. These updated forecasts feed directly into Schedule 3 of the Growth Plan. Forecasting is not a perfect science, but municipalities do need a number to plan towards in order to make long-term planning decisions and infrastructure investments.

Could the "whitebelt" also be described as periurban?
The difference between the whitebelt lands and the other rural lands directly adjacent to the urban boundary is the level of protection. Most of the rural lands are protected through the Greenbelt Plan, so there is no opportunity to expand urban uses into those areas, but the whitebelt lands, most being in proximity to our urban area, are not protected in the Greenbelt Plan and so there is the opportunity for municipalities to expand there urban boundaries into these areas, if it is deemed appropriate.

Can whitebelt lands in the NEF 30 zone be developed for commercial or office use as part the urban boundary expansion? AND
Is commercial/industrial development allowed in areas that are affected by the airport noise, in areas allowed for development in the Hamilton Official Plan?
Uses that would be permitted above the 28 NEF noise contour could include commercial uses or industrial uses. It is only sensitive uses (like residential and institutional) that might be sensitive to the noise impact and not permitted.

Are these limits changed with policies and who makes the changes to the boundaries?
There are a lot of boundaries that we deal with in our planning, delineated from the province. There is the built boundary, the greenfield areas, the Greenbelt protected countryside area. These are drawn by the province, and it would only be the province who would change these boundaries. If the City determines it needs an urban boundary expansion, and where we should grow and when we grow, it would be the City that would change the urban boundary line. The City would be taking them out of the Rural Area and adding them to the Urban Area.

Are there any Urban Boundary expansions proposed in Waterdown area? You mentioned that no Urban Boundary expansions will happen in the Greenbelt Plan Protected Countryside designated areas, can you confirm that you will not be proposing this in any refine?
There is an exception in the Growth Plan and Greenbelt Plan area, that allows expansion from Waterdown or Binbrook. These are identified as Towns in the Greenbelt plan. There is an exception that allows for a 10 hectare expansion to either or both of these areas through the Municipal Comprehensive Review, using criteria specified in the Growth Plan for evaluation of requests for expansion. Only half of that land can be used for residential purposes. It is an option and there are land owners in Waterdown that have an interest in seeing some urban expansion. It is a small amount of land compared to the other land areas we are going to be reviewing. This is something that will be reviewed in the coming phases of the GRIDS2 and MCR project.

Does the city have the authority to dispute the intensification targets set by the province?
Municipalities do have the ability to request a lower intensification target from the Province. That would require special approval and no guarantee. We also have the ability to plan for a higher target than what is required by the Growth Plan, so there is some flexibility.

How is ecological and human population carrying capacity taken into account to set limits to Hamilton’s population growth?
The City did not set the population forecasts or the amount of growth allocated to Hamilton from the Province. The province looked at the GTHA region as a whole by 2051, and then allocate the anticipated growth to the different municipalities. We are required to plan to the forecasts, but we are making sure to plan for this in the most sustainable way possible going forward.

Given that climate change has become much more of a pressing issue since the IPCC report was released... has the 2030 deadline to keep warming under 2 degrees Celsius affected planning?
The City has declared a climate emergency, and we are looking at it in our process and all other planning processes going forward. The City has set its own goal to be carbon neutral by 2050, so all the planning work that we are doing will consider how it does or does not help to meet that City goal.

Are there any wetlands or other sensitive areas that are vulnerable to development? Are these areas identified and how are they accounted for?
The City has it’s own mapping in the Urban and Rural Official Plans where we have mapped the Core Areas which includes wetlands. Before any of these areas could be developed, they would need to be further studied, including a sub-watershed study, which would further refine the identified natural features, and areas that cannot be developed. Some of the whitebelt areas have been studied in this regard, and some have not been studied to date. This would need to occur before any development could take place. These natural areas are factored out when we look at how much land we have available for development, but the detailed study of these areas happens at a later phase of the planning process.

Section 2: Community Area Land Need

Will water servicing be available for rural properties on the boundary of the expansion areas? Will both sides of any potential expansion area be upgraded to include things like sidewalks etc?
In cases where there are properties that directly abut the limits of a potential expansion, we don’t know the answers to these questions until we get more into detailed planning if and when the area is expanded to become urban and develop. In general, if a property owner is seeing their water supply being negatively affected by adjacent development, the City would look at options for addressing the issues (ie. a deeper well, a cistern, or potential connection into an adjacent municipal water supply). All of the planning is at the early stages right now, but if there are any issues in the future the City would work with property owners to make sure that any negative impacts are addressed. As for the urbanization of the roads to include sidewalks, it is too early to say what the status of any of the boundary roads would be. That would come at the detailed design of future development phases.

How would citizens encourage Hamilton city planning to assess its own sustainable carrying capacity for human population within its boundaries (so that it may communicate with province of Ontario about what is appropriate)?
That would need to be a request that would come from Council, then they would direct staff to take this on if there was an interest in doing this work. It is a challenge because we are mandated to plan for the forecasts that are given to us from the province.

Could you please just mention what is meant by 50/60% etc. Eg. would 100% mean that our current density would be doubled?
It would mean a significant amount of growth in the built up area, but unsure if it would mean our density would be doubled.

Given the Provincial requirement to use market demand for planning, which of the scenarios would be able to meet this objective?
Any of the scenarios that were modeled would meet the market demand objective, with the exception of the ‘Current Trends’ scenario which doesn’t meet the provincial minimum targets. Any of the other scenarios would be in keeping with the provinces direction for planning for market demand. Modelling an intensification target that is in-line with the Residential Intensification Market Demand study, which demonstrates that a 50% intensification target would be a suitable target, would result in a selection of housing types that would address market demand. The ‘Growth Plan Minimum’, ‘Increased Targets’ or ‘Ambitious Density’ would meet those provincial requirements.

What incentives or initiatives has the City been pursuing to encourage more intensification within the existing urban area?
The City has been working hard to prioritize intensification for quite some time. The City has pre-zoned areas where we anticipate seeing lots of growth (eg. downtown, future priority transit corridor, and areas around our GO stations). These areas as well as the Commercial and Mixed Use zoning allow for significant growth as-of-right, meaning that people can develop these lands for higher density and higher intensification uses without having to get additional planning approvals (like Rezoning). The City also has financial incentives in place for intensification, such as development charge exemption, park land dedication exemption, and programs for lands in the downtown Community Improvement Plan areas and other BIAs. The City needs to keep working on this moving forward, especially if we want to achieve the finalized intensification targets.

Many architects refer to the missing middle (up to 6 or 7 stories in height) that they feel should be developed. Have they been considered in this process? AND
Can intensified neighbourhoods within the built up area be reconfigured to have more missing middle, more greenspace and more commercial. Walking neighbourhoods, with shopping, services and green spaces within walking distance?
In terms of determining our intensification potential, we would consider the missing middle through this exercise. Intensification isn’t limited to new tall buildings. There is intensification supply potential in areas that we call the ‘Neighbourhood’, and our Urban Official Plan has always encouraged intensification in these areas. It should be compatible intensification, and this is where the mid-rise, missing middle could fit. There are other opportunities for intensification in the City as well, such as second dwelling units in existing homes, and adding units to existing plazas or retail centres such as larger shopping mall areas. The existing greenfield areas in the city are anticipated to develop at a density of approximately 60 people and jobs per hectare, exceeding the density that the Growth Plan requires. There are some greenfield sites that the City had previously assumed would develop for lower densities, however, there may be potential that they could develop at higher density. The City will need to look at ways to encourage this. These areas could be appropriate locations to include some of this missing middle housing.

Will there be more green space if you increase the density? Can the existing sewer and water systems take all this development?
In the residential greenfield areas, the higher the planned density, the more opportunity there is for other uses such as open space, parks etc. Having these lands in a natural state is an advantage from a climate change perspective, to mitigate risk of flooding etc. Any opportunity we have to increase the density and have more natural open space is beneficial and should be considered. These questions are going to be addressed further in the planning process, at the secondary planning phase, when we look at land uses, parks, open space and other community facilities that are needed.

The servicing capacity is being reviewed through this process, as this is an integrated planning process that is combined with updates to infrastructure master plans – water, waste water, stormwater. The City is also reviewing the transportation network. These areas will be reviewed to determine if there are upgrades needed to the existing infrastructure to support the anticipated growth.

Have changing demographic needs, such as those from the baby boomer generation, been taken into account in this process? And has COVID been considered in the sense of where and how people are working into the future?
Yes, these factors have been incorporated into the analysis. Consideration for the baby boomer generation moving out of their housing, and having that housing supply be taken into account into the land needs assessment. While this housing can accommodate a certain amount of the future population, the findings are that the baby boomer generation is aging out of their housing at a later timeframe, closer to 80 years old, and this is anticipated later in the planning horizon (approx. 2040). While there will be some turnover of these units to those looking for that type of family oriented housing, this will not be enough to satisfy all of the demand for this type of housing.

COVID was also considered. The province’s background document for the population and job forecasting by Hemson Consulting, did consider the repercussions of COVID as an assumption. The speculation is that by 2023, there should be a return to office use similar to before COVID, although with some adjustment that there will be some shift to more remote working, however not as high as current levels.

Is the survey only applicable to the parts of the City shown in the maps in the presentation, or does it include broader areas (ie Waterdown, Flamborough, Dundas etc)?
The survey is open to everyone in Hamilton. Some questions are more general, for things like the intensification target (higher or lower rates) which will have an impact across the City. The potential growth areas (whitebelt areas) are unique areas, but the growth impacts are City-wide.

Please elaborate on how the provincial requirement to consider market demand has changed how the city is approaching its land needs assessment. Is it fair to say that this is an approach that unavoidably requires more land?
Yes. The province had released a new LNA methodology a few years ago that was not a ‘market-based’ method. It was focused less on ensuring we had enough of specific unit types, but overall accommodating the anticipated population. If that method had been used, it may have required less land, but how much less is unknown because the City did not complete a Land Needs Assessment using that methodology. The ‘market based’ method does likely have the potential to require additional land, but how much is unknown.

At the December 14 GIC Meeting city planning staff and city councilors stated that the city is considering phasing development over the 30 years to 2051. Will that phasing be based on Provincial Preservation of Prime Agricultural Lands in the later phases?
This is the next part of the project work, once the LNA is final and we know how much expansion land we require. The next step is looking into where the expansion lands could be located (of the whitebelt lands) and when they should develop, which is the phasing of development. We know that that we don’t need all the land right away, so we will look at how much land we will need for each decade of growth. Then we need to consider how this development is phased – do we plan to develop in an east to west direction, west to east, or parts of each area at once? These are just some of the phasing scenarios to consider. In the next part of the City’s work, we will be looking at these different scenarios and evaluate them using modelling to determine potential infrastructure or financial impacts, climate change implications, and creation of complete communities. These scenarios will be reviewed through community consultation, with a recommendation back to Council on the preferred growth scenario later in the year.

Famous architect and planner Christopher Alexander had identified a planning pattern referred to as "city-country fingers" whereby urban corridors are extended outward like a star (or fingers); so that urbanites and farmers could be within walkable distance of each other (a good symbiosis).. would the city consider the merits of such an elegant regional design plan? (1.19.25) clarification: my question about "city and country fingers" pattern is about the where.. it has to be thought of when choosing where to expand. (please read the questions as asked :)
Once we know where the growth areas will be, the next step is Secondary Planning, where a land use plan would be developed to delineate the road network, open space network, and land use designations etc. In particular when we are developing lands that were formally rural, we need to consider what that rural-urban interface looks like. The potential impacts on the agricultural community need to be considered, and what are appropriate buffers between these uses.

Who provides the forecasting to the City? And what are the risks to the City if the forecasts are not followed? AND Q: Who are the population and density "forecasters" (names/departments)? How do treaty people living in Hamilton reach these Ontario forecasters to discuss our concerns about their imposed mandates?
Population forecasts are set by the province, through the Ontario Growth Secretariat, which is part of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. The Hemson background technical document (Hemson Consulting – Greater Golden Horseshoe: Growth Forecasts to 2051) would be the best reference for how these forecasts were determined. What happens though if the City plans for these forecasts and does not achieve them? That is what we are trying to address through this process by phasing development, it will allow the City to periodically review if more urban lands are required, as population forecasts are updated. The City is also completing a fiscal impact assessment to determine the most cost effective way to accommodate anticipated growth.

Section 3: Employment Area Land Need and Climate Change Considerations

How is the City engaging in a meaningful way with Indigenous communities through this process, and honouring the Dish with One Spoon Wampum treaty?
Consultation with indigenous communities is an important part of our planning process for this project and all other planning projects. The City has engaged with local indigenous communities at earlier phases in this planning process, and we have reached out to engage again about this phase of the GRIDS project.

Is the Hamiton Airport still expected to grow to the degree that the AEGD's size is still justified?
There are lands in the AEGD that are currently vacant, but it is anticipated that they will develop in the future to 2051 and accommodate jobs. There have been some announcements recently about larger projects focused on warehousing and logistics in that area. We anticipate that the demand for these uses will continue in the future. However it is not anticipated that we need to add any additional land to the AEGD. When it was first approved, there was anticipation of a second phase of development that would be required, but it has been determined that it is not required at the present time, and the existing designated lands are sufficient.

It was mentioned that no new employment areas would be needed in these planning scenarios. Yet the idea of "complete communities" was also mentioned as an intention. Wouldn't complete communities' include walkable / neighborhood employment opportunities?
It is anticipated that Community Areas will have a certain percentage of jobs, likely related to commercial, retail, some office, and institutional jobs (schools) which will contribute to the achievement of complete communities. It is the traditional manufacturing and industrial jobs that are not planned for the Community Areas, these would be located in Employment Areas. The whitebelt lands that could be included through future community area land need are very close to some of the business parks on the mountain and the AEGD. This would allow the opportunity for new communities to be places to live that are closer to these Employment Areas.

Doesn't it make sense to develop the closest Whitebelt lands to the Downtown Community Node in Phase one of the residential urban boundary expansion to reduce commute times and greenhouse gas emissions instead of "Leap Frog" development?
That will be evaluated when the City starts to look at where and when growth will occur, and potential scenarios to consider. Connectivity to the existing urban area will be a key consideration when we are evaluating growth options. The connectivity of development also plays into our evaluation through a climate change lens, especially considering estimation of the number of vehicular kilometers travelled in each scenario to different destinations in and around the city.

Is it possible to include local power generation in the lands need assessment? -community owned power generation, that is.
It has not been part of the assessment to date, but could be reviewed especially in community (secondary) planning stages. When planning these new communities, there may be opportunity to incorporate this in the early development plan.

How does the City ensure that developers and builders meet higher building codes so that all new homes are built to the highest insulation and heating standards, instead of providing the cheapest products to complete the development?
The City is currently working on the development of a Green Standards document. It is a work in process at the moment. It would provide staff and developers a guideline to push for higher building standards that are more efficient.

What is the responsibility of the City to adhere to the provincial forecasts. Can the City choose not to work to the provincial forecasts? What are the risks if the City does not plan to these forecasts?
The City must plan to the provincial forecasts. The conclusion to our Municipal Comprehensive Review process is an Official Plan Amendment that has to be sent to the province for approval. If the City submits a document that does not plan to their mandated forecasts than we would likely not get approval of our Official Plan Amendment.

Would novel zoning regulations be considered in order to allow for more 'complete communities' such as small workshops in residential areas or certain urban agriculture allowances?
The City has been updating the Zoning By-law over the past number of years in an effort to consolidate the Zoning By-laws of former municipalities into one comprehensive Zoning By-law. It is being developed in land use stages, right now the residential zones are being reviewed and completed. The new zoning regulations in each of the land use sections are more liberal and permissive than those in the former by-laws. Overall, the intent is to be flexible and permissive. When new communities are developed, at the secondary planning stage, perhaps there can be consideration of changes to policy or zoning to be more flexible or permissive to achieve certain land uses.

Additional questions which were not addressed during the meeting

Are there refinements with the MCR process? (specifically within the Greenbelt Plan Natural Heritage system).
if refinements are required, the City would have the opportunity to complete them through the MCR.

Is the white belt the only rural land in Hamilton that is not protected by the greenbelt?
Yes.

Are there any large scale plans for cleaning up and using old industrial areas?
The City encourages the redevelopment of brownfield sites and offers incentive programs to support development efforts.

Many think the Climate Change needs to be a lens through which development is planned. Should it not be considered first given that?
Many factors will be considered during the planning of new communities, including climate change, which will be a key consideration.

Why is the city only looking at greenfields? What about redevelopments on things like large surface parking lot?
Redevelopment of non-greenfield sites including parking lots, infill projects and commercial redevelopment is anticipated and encouraged.

Thank you for the informative presentation. With the onset of the COVID crisis what consideration is the City giving to an increased work from home culture theoretically requiring less density/intensification AND
Is your planning accounting for the increase in working from home brought about by the Covid crisis. In other words, are you accounting for the desire for larger, ground related housing that seems to be what people are now desiring?
The long term impacts are currently unknown and there are many differing views on this subject, but the background reports (Hemson Consulting – Greater Golden Horseshoe : Growth Forecasts to 2051) suggest a return to overall pre-pandemic growth projections within 3 years.

Can you describe your idea of what the ambitious plan would look like in Hamilton? Would we be looking to utilize all of the grey lands in the built up area. Is affordable housing included in the plans?
The ambitious density assumes higher levels of intensification and density within the City and new growth areas. We assume a significant amount of intensification will occur which includes development of some greyfield lands. Affordable housing is not directly addressed through the land needs assessment, but will be an important part of new community planning going forward.

Is the tall building plan by the city part of this intensification?
Intensification assumptions are in line with the Downtown Hamilton Secondary Plan and tall building guidelines.

One aspect of climate change are dramatically increased precipitation events. What provisions with expanded areas for watersheds have been made?
Subwatershed planning is required as part of the future Secondary Planning process for the development of new communities.

With increased intensification has consideration been given for mixed use where more people might be able to shop, work and live in a more compact form so that it will be more accessible to active transportation?
The creation of compact, mixed use communities which facilitate active transportation is a planning goal and will be considered in the design of new communities.

What considerations are made to improve transportation methods to accommodate increased population in the urban areas?
The City is completing a transportation network review as part of the GRIDS 2 which will include consideration of enhanced transportation infrastructure requirements.

How many hectares of good farm land gets paved over in your various scenarios?
The scenarios range from 1,300 ha to 1,600 ha of land required for urban expansion. Some parts of the whitebelt lands are currently in agricultural production. As part of the next round of the project, an agricultural impact assessment will be completed to examine impacts on agriculture arising from the growth scenarios and identify ways to minimize and mitigate impacts.

Is expansion being "encouraged" by the provincial govt? They are very cozy with developers.
The Province requires municipalities to plan for forecasted growth in accordance with the land needs assessment methodology.

What do you see as the main risks of not expanding the urban boundary? for who? Thank you
A no urban boundary expansion scenario may result in the City not achieving its growth forecasts if a balanced supply of housing is not available to accommodate the growth.

If there is a surplus can we stop Business parks like 03/6 gobbling up Ag. land?
The land needs assessment has not identified a need for additional employment lands. The City’s existing employment lands are assumed to be fully developed by 2051.

Is laneway housing part of this discussion? there are environmental impacts.
The City is currently completing a study on regulations to permit secondary dwelling units, which would include laneway housing, more widely throughout the urban area.

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