I’ve been pondering this post for too long, however after the mayor’s most recent column published today, the imperative to do so increased. So, first of all, here’s the first set of documents to read:
The second set would be the development charges report prepared for the most recent community development committee meeting. It’s embedded in its entirety below, but here are the charts from where Mayor Chris Friel is pulling many of the statistics he quoted in his column.
So, the problem is being framed entirely the wrong way. While yes, surrounding municipalities own more serviced land than the city, ask them how long that land has been for sale and how much of it has been sold recently. Based on my daily commute, there’s a lot of municipal industrial land out there because it’s not selling. Massive greenfield developments are not our reality. A nimble and adaptive city and economic development department would stop trying to amass land to hook a line on a big fish, and instead put more effort into scooping up the minnows.
The city, in reality, is not in the land game. It owns 23.7 hectares (58.7 acres) of serviced land compared to 129 hectares (319 acres) of serviced land in private-sector ownership. There are a further 266.7 hectares (659 acres) of zoned land for industrial/commercial development in private hands waiting for municipal servicing. Why does the city need to expand its boundaries to keep itself in the land-sale game? How about shifting from a priority of selling municipally owned land towards becoming an enabler? Facilitating the sale of privately held parcels? The ensuing investment, assessment and jobs will look the same on the tax roll.
Add to the equation the likelihood Brantford would need to buy land from whoever has been speculatively holding onto it, and what’s the point of moving the boundary? Intensification targets can be met within existing boundaries for the time being. It requires a different kind of wake up call than the mayor is calling for.
So instead of appearing to in any way compete with private-sector landowners, help them. You can’t “bonus” them, but maybe you make sure any clients they shop around town get a nice welcome. Make sure they know the right people in the development and building departments and at Brantford Power who can quickly and efficiently answer questions.
Whether you agree or not with everything I’ve said, you should still read the intensification studies above and the development charges study below.