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Joey's Opening Note 
Antiquated Bylaws And In-Fill Housing

Hamilton's outdated zoning bylaws create some absurd situations, bylaws written as far back as the 1950s remain in effect for parts of the "new" City of Hamilton. (The "new" City of Hamilton is now 18 years old)

In Downtown Hamilton, a mix of old zoning regulations exist, combined with a 2005 Secondary Plan that was implemented at a time of economic downturn, it is costly and unpredictable to develop.  Today, Planning Committee approved (pending Council ratification) the new Downtown Secondary Plan which will implement permissive zoning, clear height limits, and guidelines for design.

While this will address Downtown planning, outdated bylaws will continue to reign elsewhere in Hamilton.

A great example of this problem is the City opposing the building of an additional bachelor and additional one bedroom unit in a existing apartment building at 2 Grant Blvd. across from University Plaza in Dundas because they lack parking spots.

For those not familiar, University Plaza is Hamilton's second best serviced transit area outside of the downtown core. During rush hour there are 14 buses per hour operate to Downtown, for comparison, there are ten Route 1-King buses per hour from Eastgate to Downtown, six B-Line buses per hour, for a combined total 16 buses per hour.

The Public Record didn't attend this Committee of Adjustment meeting because this application seemed straight forward. Thankfully, Hamilton Community News' Dundas Star was aware of staff opposition, attended, and filed a story about the City's opposition.

Hamilton's rental market is facing a crunch, rents are rising vacancies are down, new apartment building approvals take years to complete the planning process, the OMB/LPAT is backlogged, and Hamilton needs new rental housing now.

Secondary suites and laneway housing are two ideas that are gaining popularity to relatively quickly bring online new housing. But, these forms of housing often encounter outdated zoning bylaws. 

The Grant Blvd application is novel, proposing to convert basement storage units into small apartments as a minor variance. However, City staff have to oppose. 

HCN reports that some Committee of Adjustment members suggested the application should be a complete rezoning, the owner tabled the application to consult further with staff. 

The cost of a zoning application will be approximately $20,000, or $10,000 per unit in case. This doesn't include the cost of planners, architects, and consultants to complete the application. The cost of a surface parking spot is $10,000.

Hamilton's housing crunch will not be solved by one, or even a few big buildings alone. It needs secondary units and code-compliant new suites in existing buildings.

If we can't get units built across from a major transit node, then our City is doing it wrong.

– Joey Coleman


Hamilton Library Hosts "Conversations that Matter: Civic Engagement"

The Hamilton Public Library, alongside the City of Hamilton's Our Future Hamilton and McMaster Continuing Education, is launching a series of six public talks to build civic engagement capacity in Hamilton. The first is May 16 discussing Mental Health, Safety, Addictions and Young People, following by Minimum Wage, Small Businesses and Hamilton's Economy on May 23, and Affordable Housing, Transportation and Aging in the Community on May 30. 

Full list of speakers, and future topics on the McMaster CCE website.

Local Briefs:

The Public Record Recommends:

Be Engaged

Later in April

  • Thurs Apr 19, 7pm, Nash Jackson House in Battlefield Park, Olde Town Stoney Creek Community Assocation meeting. Details


  • *new* Thurs May 3, 4 to 6pm, Civic Stadium 64 Melrose Avenue North, Hamilton Port Authority Community Update meeting. Details
  • Sunday May 6, 1 to 4pm, Beasley Community Centres, Beasley Fair 2018: Finding Level Ground, a discussion on affordable housing and how to keep Beasley a complete community.  Details

Newsletter top photo: Cardinal outside of my office last week.