The180·The 180

Neighbourhood improvements make neighbourhoods unaffordable

When developers want to build condo towers, cities often make them cough up extra cash to build or improve neighbourhood amenities. According to Toronto writer John Lorinc, that process may improve communities, but it might be making housing less affordable too.
Vancouver House, a development in Vancouver. Part of the development application was the promise to build extra daycare spaces in the neighbourhood. (Vancouver House)

It sounds like a civic win-win. 

In cities like Toronto and Vancouver, when condo developers want to build towers, local governments are able to leverage community amenities — parks, daycares, community centres, public art — from them in exchange for permitting that additional density. 

But the problem with the trade-off, according to Toronto writer John Lorinc, is that cities might be making housing in those neighbourhoods even less affordable.

Property values are rising already...and then because of these fees, the city ends up re-investing even more in these areas and effectively making them that much more desirable than they already are- John Lorinc

While Lorinc doesn't deny that in some cases, the amenities are needed, but he argues the trade-off system that Vancouver and Toronto have adopted only exacerbates an "increasing spacial social segregation "

Instead, he'd like to see the amenity put into neighbourhoods that actually need the improvements. 

Whether we need an amazing super-duper playground in an area where the houses sell for a million dollars or more, I'm not so sure.- John Lorinc


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