More and more building is being proposed for vacant land in the middle of Sudbury. But the development — known as infilling — is not always popular with neighbours.

For Susie Franklin, who treasures an unofficial park on private land that's been part of her neighbourhood since she was a kid, being labeled a "Not in My Backyard" neighbor is not an insult. She's fought plans to build hundreds of homes on a hill overlooking Ramsey Lake.

"I think it's natural for people to love where they live and I think that's a beautiful thing," she said. "I'd like to see it stay in its current state or … dedicated as a park."

But developers see the area as a perfect case for infilling — building within urban areas — which saves millions of tax dollars from being spent on new infrastructure in rural areas.


Greg Dalton hammers in a sign protesting development on the trail in the south end near Bennett Lake. He belongs to a group of neighbours who want to keep urban infilling development at bay. (Erik White/CBC)

The city has encouraged infill developments, but has sometimes turned them down in the face of public opposition.

A spokesperson with the Sudbury and District Home Builders Association said that has to stop.

"The onus is on the city of Sudbury to start doing some education about why we need to do infill building and not continue to build out in fields where no one sees it happening," she said.

Need for balance

Naomi Grant from the Coalition for a Liveable Sudbury said infilling is an important way to cut back on urban sprawl — but noted it has to be balanced with a need for inner-city parkland.

"You don't want to be infilling at the expense of no access greenspace," she said.

"With higher density, people … need even more access to a public greenspace because they often have less private greenspace."

Many resident groups opposing recent developments have suggested the city purchase property from developers to make new parks.

But Sudbury city councillor Dave Kilgour said that's a hard sell in a time of tight municipal budgets.

"When you've got literally millions of hectares of land that we already have out there for recreation, it's hard to rationalize spending money — which we don't have in the first place — to accquire more," Kilgour said.