As a growing city, we have had several community dialogues over the years to address the question “how do we grow responsibly?” Guelph was well ahead of its time when we initiated SmartGuelph before the Province had legislated Places to Grow or the Greater Golden Horseshoe Growth Plan regulations. In 2009, Council approved a made-in-Guelph growth plan — remember Envision Guelph? Residents told us they would rather grow “up” than “out” and our latest Official Plan incorporates that vision. New information about the capital, operating and environmental costs of sprawl illustrates why this was an excellent direction for Guelph.
Demand for single family residential development in Guelph is a fact of life. High density development cannot be the only form of residential growth in our city. Striking the right balance is tricky, and is more complex that simply supply and demand. Supply and demand variables change over time and differ between demographic groups. Perhaps the solution is overhauling the municipal taxation system to accurately reflect the true cost of servicing urban and suburban development? Or not. Perhaps using property assessment value to calculate municipal taxes is no longer a workable system at all, and we should consider using an income-based system like most European cities? What do you think? LP