The environmental, social, and architectural consensus is that building up is better. Better for affordability, better for the environment, and better for livability. So, why would our council be trying to implement restrictive tall building guidelines that limit our city to 30 stories?
Some will defend these iron-fisted rules as protecting the view from the mountain. However, the view from the mountain is enjoyed by an affluent few who can afford housing on the mountain brow. Why are we sacrificing the greater good for their expensive views? (Not to mention the fact the view is already impeded by multiple existing tall buildings)
Others will say it’s because we should avoid shadows. I say to that, shadows serve a purpose, and make our city more livable for those who have trouble walking in direct sun, and for those that cannot walk long distances without needing to stop. Shadows and shade make our city better for them.
The most common defence is that tall buildings are out of our character. But, this is perhaps the most NIMBY-influenced point I’ve seen. For one, we already have buildings over 30 stories and they are not a drain on our city skyline and, secondly, take the Television City development for example, which will be surrounded by other buildings higher than 25 stories. It’s not a radical departure from our character in any way.
But, and this is just my personal opinion, the real reason behind the fear of height is that we’re scared of becoming Toronto. Let’s be real though, we’re not going to become Toronto, even with tall buildings. For better or for worse, we’re Hamilton, and we can remain in our own little bubble, or we can do what every modern, developed city has done and embrace height and urbanism.
With investors scrambling to get into our city and develop, we should be ensuring that 15% of their units are market affordable, as determined by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
Height has the power to change Hamilton to work for everyone and by shunning it, we’re shunning opportunity and displaying that we’re closed for business.